Teachers spend their summers learning
Teachers in Somerset have spent their summer taking training to stay current with the rapidly changing scenario in education.
School District Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Trish Sheridan said a large number of staff members have taken part in a wide array of professional development opportunities promoted by the school district.
Because there had been so much change in technology in recent years, training in the technological areas like SMARTBoard usage have been a focus in those summers. Sheridan said this year, the focus has preparing the staff for the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) role in common assessments and the Response to Intervention (RtI) program.
A number of teachers were involved in summer school this year as they learned the diagnostics for the RtI. Sheridan said the staff was able to set benchmarks for all students in grades K-4 during summer school. The district is preparing to begin its initial implementation of the RtI model across the district.
In the fall the district will evaluate the implementation, which will help them identify actionable items at each school building.
Last summer, the school administration team attended a conference called "PLC at Work." This year, two staff members identified as leaders within each building were selected to join the administrators in attending the conference this year.
Members of the elementary school staff and new elementary principal Darren Kern held a five-day training in the Responsive Classroom program. This program involves a number of threads including character education and classroom management.
High school teacher Erin Wilson last week completed a two-week course at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. This demanding 12-hour per day class is the training Wilson needs to teach the biotechnical engineering class of Project Lead The Way at the high school this year. This will be the fourth PLTW class offered in Somerset. There are already more than 20 students signed up for Wilson's engineering class.
Teacher Deb Cardell has worked with a class through the Kahn Academy this summer on "flipped classrooms." This system takes a different view of education. In this program the students listen to lectures at home, then do their homework in the classroom. This gives them access to the teachers if they have any questions while doing the homework.
Every summer there is curriculum development being done in the district. One of the main projects of the summer has been adding an AP U.S. History course that will be taught by Dennis Potter. Sheridan said there has been extensive work done to get this curriculum up to the rigor of the U.S. College Board.
School-to-Work coordinator Matt Steffeck has been working with high school teachers and counselors to develop an employability skills checklist. This will also involve several business owners from the community, in an effort to better prepare students for life after high school.
All of the school districts within CESA 11 are working together to develop common assessments. One staff member from each building in Somerset was selected to work in this process. All of the districts in the CESA will have access to all the assessments from each of the schools. This will help them to compare and contrast plans, helping every district involved.
High school business teacher Jen Grambort served as an instructor to district staff during the summer. Grambort gave instruction to all the office staff within the district to further their knowledge of the Microsoft Excel computer program.