Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NJELITE 2007 Conference: Summer of Learning

NJPSA/FEA/NJASCD One-Day Summer Convention Wildwood, NJ 07/17/07

Summer of Learning 2007

At the convention there was 4 main workshops. They included School Law, Teacher Leadership, Blueprints for Student Success and Differentiated Instruction. I attended the workshop of Differentiated Instruction. Willa Spicer, Jennifer Hunsinger and Tina Gordon presented on technology in differentiated instruction and how it could be incorporated within the classroom. The definition of differentiated instruction by Tomlinson is "Differentiating instruction is not an instructional strategy or a teaching model. It’s a way of thinking about teaching and learning that advocates beginning where individuals are rather than with a prescribed plan of action, which ignores student readiness, interest, and learning profile". The main focus is teaching all children to understand and finding evidence of learning. Students need to be information managers. Jennifer Hunsinger presented a powerpoint presentation with hyperlinks related to the concepts of differentiated instruction. Then Tina Gordon and the Math supervisor of Wall Township School District, Erin Embon showed a video on how differentiated instruction is implemented in Wall Township. Different teachers at different grade levels demonstrated how differentiated instruction was adapted in different subject areas by ability grouping. At the end of each teaching strategy, teachers were interviewed on what they thought about differentiated instruction and the changes they would make for the next implementation, the time and planning necessary to have a success lesson.

There was an exclusive keynote luncheon with Pedro Noguera, Ph. D. in the afternoon. He presented on "What Do Educators Need to Know to Reduce the Achivement Gap". He showed a powerpoint presentation that discussed the achievement gap and how this can be achieved. He discussed about confronting the achievement gap and the normalization of failure that is accepted in the school culture. The conditions needed to raise student achievement included shared leadership, collaboration, on-site ongoing professional development, etc. Placing the best teachers in the classroom with the lowest performance students is not the usual practice of most schools. Normally the best teachers are teaching the AP courses and teaching the high scoring students. Effective teaching strategies mentioned included simulations, Socratic seminars, project-based learning, constructivist methodology, etc.. The presentation was well received by everyone.

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