Perspective: Teachers train to launch academy instruction

More than 35 individuals who work with students in grades 9-12 in the Jefferson City Public School District met for an academy institute at the Simonsen Ninth Grade Center on June 9-10.

The purpose of the institute was to help teachers develop relevant units of instruction.

Teachers had training on designing student learning opportunities that are meaningful, that emphasize 21st century skills, and that support the theme of one of the seven career-oriented academies at Jefferson City High School. (As you may be aware, JCHS academies will be in place at the freshman level for the 2014-2015 school year, and will be phased in to grades 10-12 the following three years).

The training was designed to help teachers focus on important competencies, technology, literacy and solving legitimate problems in today’s world. All of that makes learning more interesting and more relevant to students.

Before they started working on lesson development, the teachers watched video segments of how these types of lessons were utilized in the Simonsen building during the past school year.

In the video, students spoke of their experiences.

One said, “It’s more realistic than just doing a worksheet. It’s easier to see when I’m actually experiencing it.”

Another one said, “I think it’s better when it’s more hands-on.”

The training was organized by JCPS central office administration in conjunction with secondary principals. JCPS Literacy Coordinator Dr. Pauline Moley provided instruction during the workshop and building principals were present to provide guidance for the work.

Moley spoke of the importance of helping students accomplish much more with their literacy skills.

“Literacy is not just the ability to read,” she said. “Literacy means you are able to get information and use it to solve problems. They’ve got to apply what they’ve learned. That’s what it means to be literate.”

The teachers also watched a thought-provoking online video presentation by author and educator Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs.

She is the author of Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World and she spoke of how schools must view things differently today.

She said most schools are preparing their students for the year 1991 but they should be preparing them for the future.

“We have a new kind of learner,” Jacobs said. “We need a new kind of classroom.”

David Wilson, EdD, is one of the assistant principals at Jefferson City High School. You may e-mail him at david.wilson@jcschools.us.

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