Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013 - (Page C5)

Study Aims to Evaluate Tech- Related Teacher PD By Michelle R. Davis As technology is integrated into teacher professional development in new and different ways, researchers are working to answer a key question: What approaches featuring digital tools work best? A research project on professional development in the 103,000-student Memphis school system in Tennessee is working toward some answers. The initiative is evaluating two different technology-related methods of professional development to see which may have the more significant impact on student achievement. In one group, teachers are videotaping themselves in class and then working with coaches by telephone and email to boost their skills. In the other group, teachers are tapping into an online community that features discussion boards and resources for improvement. Evaluators will use a student survey and achievement data to determine the impact of each form of professional development. A final report on the findings is slated to be published in 2014. The project is important because there’s a serious lack of data about online and other technology-related professional development, said Stephanie Hirsh, the executive director of Learning Forward, an Oxford, Ohio-based nonprofit focused on educator learning. Learning Forward is not involved in the Memphis study. “Fundamentally, we need to do more research around the impact of these different, new learning opportunities for teachers,” Ms. Hirsh said. Video Analysis The research has received $2.7 million in funding from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also helps support Education Week’s coverage of business and innovation. As part of the research project, teachers in one group, which include elementary, middle, and high school educators, videotape their lessons for about 30 minutes at least eight times during the school year and send those recordings to a coach. The mentor evaluates a teacher’s skills based on principles set out by a coaching model called MyTeachingPartner, which emphasizes approaches to help teachers improve interactions with students. Those principles are based on the “seven C’s”: care, control, clarify, challenge, captivate, confer, and consolidate. Coaches highlight the C’s in which the teachers are performing well and point out areas for improvement, then work with teachers to change practices, said Monica W. Jordan, the coordinator of reflective practice and instructional support for the Memphis schools. Robert C. Pianta, the dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, who helped develop MyTeachingPartner, is training the coaches working with the Memphis teachers. The coaches are being provided by Cambridge Education, a Westwood, Mass.based nonprofit education consulting company. Mr. Pianta said some teachers were worried at first that they might feel disconnected from a mentor they didn’t see face-to-face, but those worries have largely dissipated. In the second professional-development sce- nario, teachers were presented with access to an online environment that features instructional materials, videos, articles, and links to information, which all line up with the categories laid out by the seven C’s. The online environment also provides opportunities for interaction through discussion boards for sharing best practices, lesson plans, and new ideas. “There’s content there, but teachers can also build the content they want to see,” Ms. Jordan said. Tracking the Results The initiative has its roots in the Tripod Project for School Improvement, a survey that questions students about their experiences as viewed through the seven C’s. The survey has been found to be highly reliable in predicting student achievement, according to a report by the Gates Foundation. Ms. Jordan said there are few results from the initiative so far, but she said teachers who are actively participating in the intensive video training have called it “the most transformational form of professional development they’ve ever received.” Brittany Clark, an English teacher at Middle College High School in Memphis, said the coaching “made me more reflective and attuned to certain things.” For example, the coaching highlighted a need for multiple checks of student understanding. Now, Ms. Clark said, she’s incorporating several methods of determining whether students are catching on, from using clicker devices to a thumbs-up or thumbs-down system. This article originally appeared in Education Week. Sharpe Elementary School teacher Ikeysha Hall works on a lesson with her 4th graders. She is participating in the Tripod Professional Development Research Project, a study in the Memphis schools that is comparing two different methods of technology-related professional development. Online Tools Playing Greater Role In Teacher PD By Sean Cavanagh Teachers and principals are becoming increasingly comfortable using online tools to hone their professional skills and are turning to options from social networking to Web-based classes to do so, a nationwide survey reveals. The findings, which cover a lot of ground, are included in the Speak Up survey, “From Chalkboards to Tablets: The Digital Conversion of the K-12 Classroom.” Speak Up is an effort led by Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit group based in Irvine, Calif., that seeks to improve students’ academic preparation through technology and other means. The survey found that the number of principals who said they support professional growth through some form of social networking more than tripled, from 8 percent in 2008 to 25 percent today. The proportion of teachers who reported using social-networking tools also jumped, from 22 percent to 39 percent, during that time period. The percentages of teachers and principals participating in online classes and virtual professional learning communities also rose significantly, the survey found. With some specific technologies, the evolution in usage is particularly striking. In 2008, just 26 percent of principals used webinars for professional growth. The number is 63 percent today. At the same time, the opinions of teachers, principals, and others were, perhaps not surprisingly, divided on whether educators’ job evaluations should include a measure of how adept they are in using technology to boost instruction and student achievement. While substantial proportions of parents, principals, and district administrators support including that information in evaluations, just 43 percent of teachers backed the idea. The survey also appears to reflect parents’ growing ease with some forms of technology as tools for communicating with schools. Thirty-seven percent said they would like their children’s schools to communicate with them via text message, compared with just 5 percent two years ago. The results are based on responses from a nationally representative sample of 364,240 K-12 students, 39,713 parents, 53,947 teachers, 2,399 librarians, 1,564 district administrators, 3,947 school administrators, and 500 technology leaders, from 8,020 public and private schools. The survey was conducted online using a customized data-collection tool. The results also underscore school officials’ mounting worries about ensuring teachers’ and students’ access to the Web, as demand for online capacity increases. In survey results from five years ago, just 12 percent of schoolsite administrators regarded concerns about digital equity as a primary challenge; now 41 percent say that is so. And while only 10 percent of technology leaders in the survey identified Web capacity and bandwidth issues as a critical issue in 2010, 34 percent say it is their most challenging tech issue today. This article originally appeared in Education Week Digital Directions EDUCATION WEEK 2013 CALENDAR OF EVENTS & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DIRECTORY www.edweek.org/go/calendar 5 DIGITAL PD TAKES OFF Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal http://www.edweek.org/go/calendar

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013

Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013
Contents
Flipped’ PD Initiative Boosts Teachers’ Tech Skills
Study Aims to Evaluate Tech-Related Teacher PD
Online Tools Playing Greater Role in Teacher PD
MOOCs Provider Targets K-12 Teacher PD
Opinion: Getting Real About Educational Technology
Cultivating Tech-Savvy Teachers Should Be Higher Priority, Report Says
Opinion: Want Better Classroom Tech?
2013-2014 Calendar of Events
Sponsors of Events
Subject Index
Directory Table of Contents
Directory Index
Directory Listing

Education Week - Calendar of Events - August 21, 2013

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