Muddling through the blogosphere

Teachers Teaching Teachers – PD Models that Work


In a recent phone conversation (via Skype) with Paul Allison, Paul mentioned he had been asked by the NWP to think about ways to continue supporting and providing teachers with professional development opportunities for integrating technology into their teaching practice. His concern is for the teacher who already has a start in that direction, and wants more (like me:-). I realized after finishing our call that he already has the model in place. His Wednesday evening Teachers Teaching Teachers Skyepcast is an hour’s worth of sharing ideas, questions, ramblings, and possibilities within an online community of like-minded educators.

In my search for the Teachers Teaching Teacher link, I stumbled upon a great post by educator, activist, writer, and teacher advocate Linda Christensen of Rethinking Schools. In reading through her Teacher Quality: Teachers Teaching Teachers article, I am reminded of the power of the TTT model. I’m pulling one paragraph, but, truly, the entire article a excellent read.

“During my seven years as a curriculum specialist designing professional development in Portland Public Schools, I wanted teachers to see themselves as curriculum producers, as creative intellectuals rather than technicians serving out daily portions of someone else’s packaged or downloaded materials. I attempted to create spaces where teachers could work together to develop their own curriculum and discuss education issues. “

Four years ago, I sat in a training at my county office of education and listened to a “curriculum expert” (a former PE teacher who had never actually taught ELA) hype the power of the newly adopted ELA text and program. I remember feeling physically ill when she told us to go back to our districts and site and tell teachers to “put away their favorite units.” At some point in her presentation, she used the term “teacher-proof” lessons. Four years later, it’s still a struggle and juggling act for many teachers to dodge the curriculum police, but they are doing it. While they appreciate the additional materials made available through a textbook adoption, they continue to craft their lessons to meet the needs of their students. They find support, validation, and inspiration through the TTT model.

And the good news is that Web 2.0 tools (great resource posted by NWP colleague Eric Hoefler) make a TTT model even more deliverable.
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  1. UGH, about the canned curriculum. I like having the text to go to, but the unit themes are not always well fleshed out, or the activities they have around unit themes aren’t scaffolded/broken down well.

    I use my web site to try to tie it together. Blogs are more interesting for students to both create and read on. I get a lot more comments and comments that are read with the blog, than I did with a Question/Concept (Open Court) board, where those lonely little post-its just sat up there ignored by the other students, until we needed to clean them off at the end of the unit. If you are using a curriculum in a can, technology is a way to tie it together, add your own activities, engage your students, and have them synthesize and create. I don’t know if it’s the only way to do that, but for me, it’s the best fit.

    Most of those curriculums come out of the elementary teacher shortages of the 1990s when there were way too many emergency credentials out there, and the curriculum started to reflect that. I can’t imagine how insulting it must have been for teachers who had been in the profession for a while.

    Q – did you send me a link to a rubric for blog writing from a high school/middle school? I can’t find it now.

  2. Alice, I think you put it in a nutshell with: “If you are using a curriculum in a can, technology is a way to tie it together, add your own activities, engage your students, and have them synthesize and create.” Literacy is all about making those intertextual connections – something that is not likely to happen in a read-the-story/answer-the questions approach.

    Oh, and I mentioned your name to Rita Phillips in a phone call this week. I had barely started my sentence in praise of the awesome work you are doing with kids, when she interrupted with “don’t even think about tying to steal Alice from our district!” Since she is on my “favorite people list,” I agreed:-(.

    Rubric? Ah, I created on a couple of years ago for a high school AP English teacher. But it’s time to work on one for the elementary level. Let me see what I can find or come up with and get back to you on that.

    See you in the blogosphere:-)

  3. Someone on ed tech talk sent the link to me. I’m guessing it was Sharon Peters. I can’t find it on Diigo/ Driving me nuts! It was a high school level rubric, so I was going to have to redo it, but still, it would be nice to have a starting place!

  4. Alice, my latest post is in response to your request. Thanks for the reminder to revisit evaluation student blogging:-)

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