In order to make this effective, we created units that were supportive of independent study. We also trained our teachers with Rich Kiker, a Google Education partner and eLearning expert. His workshop, Drive your Classroom, assists teachers with setting up their lessons and online meetings. The online portion of our AP classes are set to run beginning in January, 2016.
We also created an innovative college-like space for learning. The room is modern, colorful, and outfitted with two Chromebook carts. Teachers can book the room during blocks 1,2, and 4. During block 3, the room is staffed by a certified math/English teacher. Students can receive a pass from a teacher to work in this quiet study room during lunch, assisted by a teacher. iBCIT wanted to expand the program and ensure that it was utilized and fully-staffed. We created the Genius Bar, a place where students can book peer-tutors during their lunches. The tutors receive volunteer hours, and the students receive assistance with coursework.
In October, we held our second iBCIT meeting. Because of the success of our first year of initiatives, we more than doubled our staff participation. Twenty-seven teachers signed up for our second meeting, so many that we needed to create focus groups with individual goals. We decided on the following groups:
Tech Integration: Plan, devise, and implement innovations in technology integration. Specifically, this group was to evaluate and update our Tech-Tool Tuesday's (weekly after school PD led by teacher leaders), and find new ways to support the use of instructional technology.
Parent Involvement: Plan, devise, and implement a series of parent and community engagement nights. Because we draw from an entire county, we need to find extra-creative ways to encourage parent involvement. This group was to focus on these programs.
Creative Scheduling: Evaluate and choose creative scheduling programs to implement in the coming year. We are currently rewriting our science curriculum to meet the Next Generation standards. This group, which included several science teachers, were working on creative ways to implement these standards in the classroom, specifically inquiry-based learning.
BCIT Reads: Plan, devise, and implement innovative literacy strategies. We try to build a culture of reading in our schools. BCIT Reads is an established program to build a community of readers. This group was evaluating plans in place and discussing options for improvement.
In order to build collaboration and engage our creativity, we began our meeting with an competitive design activity (thanks to Long Branch!). Given a set of supplies, each group competed to build the highest structure possible (in ten minutes). What a great way to begin a meeting! The teams had fun and teams built collegiality. Parent Engagement won the contest by a long shot, but all teams enjoyed the experience.
Once we finished our contest, we got down to work. I circulated among the groups to assist with questions and focus goals; the teachers did the hard work. Our outcomes will be posted in future entries.