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This summer it’s all about school and classes for teachers

Andy Rooney:  Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.
Andy Rooney: Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.

Traditionally, school summer vacation time is when teachers hustle back to varying educational institutions to secure hours for continued state teaching certificate/license requirements or for the pursuit of a master’s or doctorate degree to enhance their credentials which helps to further their career options. But lately, many are returning to “bone up” on a number of new and improved approaches that the educational system is executing for what some may say will be an educational overhaul across the nation.

Many teachers in Martin County are going to classes for a number of professional development opportunities offered by the Martin County School District, nicknamed “Summer Institutes.” During the first week of the summer recess, the District’s Educational Technology Department presented the “Digital Learning Institute,” an intensive four-day program offering a wide-range of technology-related learning opportunities during 59 individual sessions. Held at Jensen Beach High School, hundreds of teachers participated at the Digital Learning Institute from June 9-12.

Marilyn Gavitt, Instructional Technology Coordinator for the District, said, “It is uplifting and inspiring to see so many teachers come out to the Digital Learning Institute. Their enthusiasm for learning new things about integrating technology in the curriculum is contagious. Best of all, the reason they attend is to become better teachers for their students".

During the second week of the summer recess, June 16-19, approximately 130 teachers from the District’s 12 elementary schools participated in “Constructing Knowledge for a Balanced Literacy Classroom” at Pinewood Elementary School. A consultant and literacy coaches from the District’s elementary schools engaged teachers in collaboration, demonstration, and thoughtful review of their practices as they relate to balanced literacy, and they received some free resources. Sessions were also held for administrators and coaches.

“Knowledge gained from this institute helps teachers to not only have a better understanding of how interactive ‘read-alouds,’ shared reading, guided reading, word study, and writing can all be incorporated to strengthen students as readers and writers, but they also are empowered as learners,” said Shannon Blount, Coordinator of Reading / Language Arts for the District.

“Teachers Hit The Books To Master New Education Standards” is a recent article written by Cory Turner where he informs us that almost all of the states and Washington, D.C. are grappling with a big challenge as the new school year nears: getting teachers up to speed on the Common Core, a sweeping set of new education standards for English language arts and math.

The Common Core will soon apply to most of America's students from kindergarten through high school. The policymakers behind the Core know that it could fail if they don't help teachers make the change. So this summer, the state of Maryland has been hosting what it calls "academies" to do just that. The article emphasizes on the fact with comments from the following teacher:

Shannon Landefeld is an elementary school reading specialist in Maryland. But today, most of her students are older than she is. Landefeld is one of many "master teachers" the state has called in to help her colleagues work through. "Common Core's new to everyone. We're figuring this all out together," Landefeld tells her teacher-students. "So there are going to be stumbles and falls where there are misconceptions and people believe different things."

The article by Turner addresses the fact that one misconception is that the Common Core standards tell teachers what to teach. They don't. Instead, they're benchmarks that lay out what kids should be able to do by each grade. What Common Core Standards actually say, for example, "write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure." In most states, kids will be expected to read more deeply and more critically than ever before. And if they can't, they'll run into a buzz saw next year, when schools will administer the first Common Core-aligned tests.

Thank you teachers for “boning up and getting prepared” so that students, regardless of any pre-conceived obstacles, will continue to be in good hands with America’s genuine educators who are nobly known as . . .just Teachers.

REF: Martin County School District e-Newsletter, July 2014.

REF: Article, ““Teachers Hit The Books To Master New Education Standards” by Cory Turner

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