One hundred ten Shenandoah County Public School teachers and administrators met on June 16 and 17 at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School to share with each other different ways to help students learn and be ready for the challenges of college and careers in the 21st Century. These educators voluntarily participated in SCPS’s second Instructional Challenge and Innovation Projects (ICHIP) Symposium.
Approved by the Shenandoah County School Board in September 2013, the ICHIP grant program provides funding for SCPS educators to try “emerging and engaging” teaching and learning methods that have the potential to improve instruction and thus impact learning. ICHIP projects have to include skills considered essential for the 21st Century —skills such as Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication. These essential skills known as the 4C’s along with the 2 P’s --Persistence and Problem Solving -- have been approved as the Cornerstones of Education for Shenandoah County Public Schools.
Assistant Superintendent of
Director of Elementary Education
Director of Secondary Educatoion
Ebbie Linaburg (Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment), Dave Hinegardner (Director of Middle and Secondary Education), and Chad Hensley (Director of Elementary Education) developed the symposium which centered on two components:
1. Presentation of the 2014-15 ICHIP grants with the expectation that other teachers will adapt the new methodology or technology for use in their own classrooms and
2. Introduction to the creation of a “culture of deeper learning” in Shenandoah County Public Schools
These topics are connected since ICHIP grants provide teachers the perfect opportunity to create deeper learning in their classrooms.
Ms. Linaburg welcomed everyone and opened the Symposium with a PowerPoint that included a photo collage of last year’s ICHIP event and a motivational video that began with these words: I am a teacher and I believe that if I am not passionate about education how can I expect my students to be passionate about learning? I believe our students were born in different times and we have to teach in different ways.”
Our students were born in different times,” Ms. Linaburg affirmed, “and we do have to teach in different ways.” “We also have to acknowledge the SOL’s,” she added. “They are important – they are used to determine accreditation. At the same time, it is important for us to do what is best for students who will need a different skill set for the 21st Century.“
Ms. Linaburg explained, ”Now, more than ever, students need to think critically, to know how to find information, how to analyze that information, and then go forward to apply what they have learned. To be successful in the 21st Century, students must also be able to communicate, collaborate, and become life-long learners because the world is not static. Students need to take their learning to a new level. The SOL requires minimal knowledge. Our students need a strong foundation in core academics—they need to be rooted in rigorous content knowledge. We need to establish a culture of deeper learning in Shenandoah County Public Schools. It is almost hard to make that shift away from the SOL mindset to focus on deeper learning,” stated Ms. Linaburg.
Participants in the Symposium received a folder with several articles on the topic of deeper learning. According to all4ed.org, “Deeper learning is simply what highly effective educators have always provided: the delivery of rich core content to students in innovative ways that allow them to learn and then apply what they have learned."
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation first introduced the term “deeper learning” in 2010. According to the Hewlett.org website (http://www.hewlett.org/programs/education/deeper-learning), “deeper learning” is a term that includes these basic deeper learning skills that students should accomplish
1. Master Academic Content
Students need to master content on a basic level and on the next level –move content to real life application and apply across content areas.
2. Think Critically and Solve Complex Problems
3. Work Collaboratively
4. Communicate Effectively
5. Learn How to Learn
6. Develop Academic Mindsets (become life-long learners)
“The basic concepts of deeper learning are not new,” noted Ms. Linaburg. “We just need to re-acquaint ourselves and re-focus.”
“Teachers are the most important part of instruction,” she said. “Many teachers incorporate these concepts into their lessons. …we treasure our teachers. They can help us create a culture of deeper learning throughout Shenandoah County Public Schools.”
Ms. Linaburg’s PowerPoint included a slide of puzzle pieces identified as components of Systems Thinking. Each puzzle piece had a label: ICHIP, SCPS Cornerstones, Curriculum Unpacking, and PBL or Problem Based Learning. These puzzle pieces are some of the components of Deeper Learning. There are other puzzle pieces that need to be added—these were indicated by question marks on the slide.
“The challenge is to identify all of the components, all of the puzzle pieces, of the learning system that creates deeper learning and then make these components work in an integrated manner, “ said Ms. Linaburg.
During both days of the Symposium, teachers presented their ICHIP Grants often giving the audience of educators the opportunity to in some way participate in the presentations. Most ICHIP grants did incorporate deeper learning strategies. John Woods and Christine Richmond’s Grant titled “Using Problem Based Learning for 6th Grade Science” is a great
John Woods, NFMS
Christine Richmond, PMMS
Mrs. Richmond and Mr. Woods, who both teach Earth Science 6, completed two years of professional development through VISTA (Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement), including a month-long summer workshop.
“VISTA training was all about Problem-based Learning, Inquiry-based learning, hands-on science and using the Nature of Science framework to teach real-life problem solving that engage the students: Learners become invested in doing real science to solve the problem and share out their solutions in culminating activities or a public forum,” said Mr. Woods.
As a result of their commitment to VISTA, John and Christine received funds which they used to purchase materials for their Energy Unit: wind turbine, solar energy, and biomass kits, safety goggles for students, Snap Circuits (for study of electricity), density cubes, etc.
Last fall, Dr. Raley, Superintendent of Schools, visited Christine’s and John’s classrooms to issue a real-world challenge to their students: How can the Shenandoah County Public Schools integrate alternative energy in order to reduce dependence on the grid? Mr. Woods flipped his classroom and the students engaged in learning the content by viewing video clips, practicing real-life science through multiple hands-on explorations and investigations, using computer simulations to analyze data, searching the Internet for examples of how alternative energy is used in schools and local communities. Then they applied their knowledge specifically to their school and Shenandoah County by making recommendations to Dr. Raley and the community for implementing alternative energy systems.
Students groups presented their ideas to save energy and money within our
school division to members of the school system and community.
Peter Muhlenberg Middle School students (above)) are showing how methane can be used
The students used chicken manure (biomass energy) to produce steam.
to show how
the school system could
use leftover food from lunch
for the cafeteria.
PMMS students (above) suggested SCPS use solar powered buses.
Their ICHIP Grant provided materials needed to implement the Water PBL Unit including water testing kits and materials to build watersheds; Christine’s students built their own watersheds. John’s students conducted water tests at various locations on Smith Creek and the North Fork Shenandoah River, conducted benthic testing for macro-invertebrates at two locations, then created a Google Sites web page and a Google Earth overlay linking to the water quality data that had been collected at various locations in Shenandoah County.
PMMS Students tested surface runoff on various surfaces to help solve our PBL problem. The
from these tests were used to help students design their watersheds.
North Fork Middle School students conduct benthic testing (macro invertebrates) at the
covered bridge in Shenandoah County.
Using Problem Based Learning both Ms. Richmond and Mr. Woods completed 75-80% of the Grade 6 Science SOL’s through completion of the Energy Unit and the Water Unit.
Other ICHIP Grant recipients presented their projects
Bug-in-Ear Coaching (Blue Tooth): Maximizing the Most Challenging Learners Levels of Participation
Heather Miller and Kristina Zaccaria
Central High School
Using a webcam and Blue Tooth Technology, Kristina Zaccaria coached Heather Miller as Ms. Miller worked with her students in the LIFE class, a program for post-graduate, secondary Special Education students. Ms. Zaccaria is a Competent Learner Model coach and usually observed Heather’s interaction with her students from outside the LIFE classroom.
Kelly Stinnett and Kristy Strader
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Ms. Stinnette and Ms. Strader ‘s objective was to put resources for STEM in teachers’ hands through purchase of both consumable supplies and non-consumable items. They also found a central storage location at SHE that was easily accessible to teachers.
Massanutten Regional Governor's School Engineering Challenge
Kara Bates and Katherine Klus
Katherine Klus and Kara Bates created competitive engineering challenges for students: Whose wind turbine can generate the most voltage? Who can program a robot to navigate through a self-sustaining city collecting energy bricks that will be used to energize the city?
4C’s +8 Comp’s+2P‘s+STEM = Brain Power!
Bethany Holt, Christine Jenkins, Rebekah Simmons
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Bethany Hott, Christine Jenkins, and Rebekah Simmons used ICHIP funds to purchase additional STEM resources including carts for each grade level K-2. Because STEM resources were more readily available, more teachers incorporated STEM projects into their lessons. Resource teachers including GATE, Special Education, Art, Reading Resource, and Music also completed STEM projects. Students worked with their classmates and with students from other grade levels..
Making and Learning: Creating a Makerspace in the Media Center and
Studio CHS; A Music and Film Production Studio Michelle Kessler
Central High School
Through two separate ICHIP Grants, Ms. Kessler converted Central’s library from a traditional library to a flexible learning commons. She wanted to change with the times: to build a space that has the capability to meet the needs of students.
What’s Your Superpower? Augmented Reality & 3D Imaging in the Math Classroom
Melissa Arnold and Chanda Greco
Signal Knob Middle School
Students in Ms. Arnold’s math class used a 3D Structure Sensor to measure real areas and objects to determine perimeter, area, volume and more. Students created a Powtoon to present their projects.
LittleBits for Little Makers (and More)
Carol McFarland and Denise Henry-Orndorff
Sandy Hook Elementary School
Ms. McFarland and Ms. Orndorff used LittleBits to teach electrical circuitry and magnetism to “little makers.” Students used the design process to “build something that does something.”
Flipping the Classroom
Strasburg High School
Chris Georgarakis videotaped her lectures and downloaded them to
TeacherTube so that her student could learn content at home and use class time for labs and other activities. Her students were able to complete 6 extra labs; the videos were an excellent resource for absent students.
One School, One Goal: Videotaping Instruction to Make Change Happen
Central High School
Through the One School, One Goal initiative, CHS teachers explored the question "What can we do to be more effective teachers and in turn improve student learning?" As part of a solution, Tara Mason used ICHIP funds to purchase video cameras and tripods for instructional reflection purposes. On a voluntary basis, teachers videotaped their lessons, reflected on what went well, and identified target areas for growth. Some teachers used recordings for self-evaluation while others shared with colleagues for non-evaluative feedback. Video cameras were also used for student self-reflection and as an instructional coaching tool.
Hands on Science: Enhancing the Classroom through Inquiry-Based Learning
Jamie Armentrout and Brittany Palmer
Stonewall Jackson HIgh School
Jamie Armentrout and Brittany Palmer ‘s project created student-centered, hands-on, partially flipped classrooms where the inquiry method of instruction helped students gain deeper understanding of content. Purchase of additional Probeware allowed for real-world applications.
After lunch provided by the SCPS Food Service department, participants met for discussions, collaborative projects, video clips, and more. The focus all afternoon was on creating a culture of deeper learning in Shenandoah County Public Schools.
As a culminating activity, teachers created their own representations of “deeper learning." he presentations completed by ICHIP grant recipients and many of the representations of “deeper learning” will be available on the ICHIP website later this summer.
Teachers and administrators left the ICHIP Symposium passionate about their profession.