Summer Seminar Helps Teachers Add New Content, Methods
JUNE 29, 2007--K-12 teachers in St. Croix and Pierce counties are gaining fresh ideas for curriculum content and new teaching methods in their classroom at a two-week summer workshop at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
The workshop is hosted at UWRF and funded by a grant from the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides professional development for educators.
Teachers can earn graduate academic credit and are taught by faculty from the UWRF College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Professional Studies, and the College of Business, as well as peer K-12 teachers.
For the past three years, UWRF has offered the seminars to teachers in less populated, northern Wisconsin counties where professional development opportunities are not readily available. Now for the first time the seminars are being offered in this region.
Mary Manke, associate dean of the college of education and professional studies, said that it was time to "bring the project home" for local teachers.
Some 37 teachers from Prescott, Ellsworth, River Falls, St. Croix Central, Hudson, Somerset and Osceola were invited to attend the seminar to introduce new content to use in classrooms through techniques called "backward design" and to enhance learning for all students through "differentiated instruction."
Backward design means that teachers first decide what concepts the students will learn and then design the classroom activities to teach students those concepts. Traditionally teachers begin by planning activities for their classes and then plan concepts to teach around those activities.
Differentiated instruction is a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The process recognizes the diversity of students' background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning, interests, and ability to react responsively. The intent of differentiated instruction is to maximize each student's growth and individual success by meeting or assisting each student at where he or she is in the learning process.
Combining backward design with differentiated instruction helps teachers adapt instruction so all kids along the spectrum of abilities are able to benefit from the unit, Manke said.
The first week of the seminar focused on new, exciting content to apply in classrooms from new studies, current literature and other timely materials available in their content areas.
In the second week, teachers used backward design and differentiated instruction to plan units for use in their classrooms.
The workshop will offered next summer to selected districts, Manke said.
Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:23 Central Daylight Time
University of Wisconsin - River Falls