Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ACDS & Davidson- All About Teaching and Learning


Davidson College is known as a very academic liberal arts college that is dedicated to supporting the craft of teaching by its professors. Davidson's professors do research, write articles and books but their primary focus is on teaching. To support their efforts, as part of the strategic plan, Davidson in August opened its Center for Teacher and Learning (CTL) in the school library.

The connection to Alexandria Country Day School is that we also opened our Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) in August. What is striking in reading an article from the Fall 2011 Davidson Journal is how similar the two programs are. It demonstrates the forward thinking and student-centered nature of our administrators and TLC staff when we are mirroring the program of a college such as Davidson.

Central to the work of our TLC team members, Liz Hendrickson, Jill Millet, Kathy Heyder and Dianne Bartalot, is the focus on collaboration with the classroom teachers. This partnership looking at how best to reach learning goals as well as meeting the individual student needs drives how the TLC teachers help design instruction and provide one to one support for our students.

An additional part of this "collaboration team" approach to supporting teaching and learning is the involvement of our instructional technologist, teacher librarian and director of technology. As part of the iPad pilot program the fifth grade teachers worked with our technology and library team members over the summer to review and adapt the fifth grade curriculum to further support the students in attaining skills for the 21st century. The curriculum was further adapted to meet the information, media, and visual literacy standards supported by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) along with the technology literacies published as the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students. The collaboration team in January will be joined by members of the TLC as they review the sixth grade curriculum in preparation for next year and the continued roll "forward" of the iPad Pilot program.

The Davidson Journal article describes the same team effort of their Center for Teaching and Learning.

"(the CTL)...brings together  these centers- along with the instructional technologists and information literacy librarians- to help students take a comprehensive approach to strengthening academic skills. The CTL also advises faculty who want to experiment with new teaching tools and to discuss different approaches to teaching."

One might say that Davidson College is in good company with its pioneering efforts. :)

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blended Learning at ACDS

Student learning obviously does not stop when the students leave school in the afternoon. Students read textbooks, do math problems, create presentations, play their musical instrument, etc. all in preparation for their classes the following day. We use the term "blended" or hybrid learning when technology gives students outside of school further access to learning materials while also being connected to one another and their teacher so that they can use class time for discussions and other learning activities as opposed to teacher delivery of content.

Previous posts reported how blended learning takes place at ACDS. Mr. Ros authors an online textbook as well as using Evernote for sharing documents. Haiku is the class learning management tool. Ms. Cook and Ms. Weaver use Haiku extensively delivering content while also collaborating via the forum feature to have discussions outside of class. The 5th graders through their class blog review content and then collaborate by using the comment tool. Take a look at the comments by the 5th graders as they offered feedback on a social studies app called City of Wonder. This online sharing really expands the learning communities of our classrooms giving students time to reflect and share their ideas at their own pace.

One aspect of blended learning that is taking place in the lower school is through subscription math and reading online tools to support self-paced learning while offering reinforcement and enrichment activities. Students interact with Raz-Kids at school and at home working on individualized reading programs. They also are gaming (and learning) through the EveryDay Math online games which records their individual progress. The 1st graders are about to pilot the XtraMath program which reinforces their learning of math facts. The lower schools students also have access to our Web Resources site which is filled with educational learning links that they also use at school and at home.

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