Surry County teachers capped off a summer peppered with developmental activities with the fourth annual Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) Monday at Meadowview Middle School.
According to Surry County Schools Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Scott, the annual conference gradually has transitioned to become a teaching and learning event. Monday’s session was held for prekindergarten through grade five, and today it will be geared towards teachers for grades six through 12.
Scott explained that school principals also participate in the two-day conference. She said the first one and a half hours of the conference sessions focus on technical skill sessions. Teachers bring their laptops for hands-on experience in the Haiku software that will be “rolled out” this school year.
A team composed of Scott, School Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Jill Reinhardt and Dr. Jeff Tunstall, director of Accountability and Technology, has produced a podcast video directed furthering educator’s understanding of the software. One of Haiku’s inherent features is fostering collaboration among students and teachers.
Scott said that the conference’s second part is devoted to lesson plan content sessions. Teachers can use many of the pre-loaded features on the software to swiftly access lesson plans by “master” teachers, in effect fast-tracking knowledge of effective lesson plans based on the new Common Core Curriculum. The software already has plans pre-loaded for five days for elementary educators and 10 days for high school teachers.
She explained that the educator’s professional learning communities (PLC) will use these plans as examples to draft their own and author lesson plans not only for the first five to 10 days of the school year but throughout the rest of the year. Haiku also will allow students to view their lesson plans from home and parents can view as well.
“We are focusing on making lesson plans engaging,” said Reinhardt. “Haiku is a learning management system and we are one of the first systems to use it in this region.”
Reinhardt said that students have a login code now but in a few months parents also may create an individual access code for themselves and get access to their children’s grades course-by-course. Another advantage for Surry County teachers is that they can post their own tutorials for students for access beyond the classroom.
Reinhardt said Haiku expands the classroom beyond four walls and beyond the school day. Parents can even watch their children’s tutorials from instructors so they can help their children with homework.
She said that all collaborative content that is created by local teachers is viewed by trained curriculum writers who determine when content is transferred to the lesson plan example site where teachers can copy the plans to their own Haiku site. Later on, parents will be able to access teacher lesson plans for students; a further aid to parents who want to help their children with homework.
Scott said where education standards were aimed at proficiency at every grade level, the new standards are focused on making students proficient at college and career-ready levels. She said it is an emphasis on not solely giving students facts but teaching the skills to do what they choose to do. Students will be encouraged to be problem solvers and thinkers not just consumers.
“I have received reports that estimate that information doubles every 18 hours,” said Scott. “There is no way to teach or retain all that information. We are trying to teach students to find information and manage it.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.