Tampa, FL (Thur., Aug. 10, 2015) - Hillel Academy takes great pride in investing in its academic and professional staff in numerous ways throughout the year. This past summer many of the school’s faculty members attended seminars and workshops. Students at the community day school benefit greatly as their teachers learn best practices and new and innovative ways to engage and teach.
Hillel Academy first grade teacher Lisa Caine attended Writer’s Workshop, a four day training session at Shorecrest Elementary School and a 30 hour Ortin Gillingham training session presented by the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education. During the Writer’s Workshop Mrs. Caine participated in a book study of The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy Calkins. She learned that “teaching children grammar in isolation or without the benefit of mentor text or peer and individual conferencing is not the way to teach children to become the writers we know they can be.”
Tools for implementing teaching techniques into the classroom were presented. For example, it is important to gather the students, teach them a mini-lesson and the have them write. As they write, Mrs. Caine will also take five minutes to write to demonstrate the importance of writing. She will then walk around her classroom complimenting and guiding the students as they write. This will not be the time to critique the writing but an opportunity to advise in a way that will help each student with writing.
Rubrics, standards of performance, are used In grading the students with each being rated as an expert, practitioner or apprentice. Mrs. Caine can then assess whether the community day school student is using the tips and mini-lessons, practicing them or still working to master them. Mrs. Caine says “writing is a process and can always be improved upon.”
During the Ortin Gillingham training Mrs. Caine was provided with strategies and tools needed to implement the program to the benefit of all the children in her classroom no matter their strengths. The program is designed to teach children spelling rules systematically and at the time they are ready to master spelling and minimize frustration. It allows the children to learn at their own pace and comfort level.
According to Mrs. Caine, the training session helped her “learn how to teach the spelling rules and phonics needed for elementary students as well as those student who might have gaps. This was an intensive, worthwhile training with great implication and impact for my classroom and for all the students.”
Hillel Academy third grade teacher Elizabeth Glidden attended a two day professional development workshop presented by the PPPSS (Parentally Placed Private School Services) Summer Institute of Hillsborough County Public Schools. Day one was dedicated to training in the Expanding Expression Tool, a multi-sensory program that targets organization by providing a standard framework which can be implemented according to the level of the oral or written goal. Students learn to answer the following questions (among others) in order in their definitions and paragraphs: What does it look like? Where does it come from? Where do you find it? Anything else? Day two explored differentiation for individual students within a specific lesson or learning goal which can be achieved by variation of content, process or product based on students' readiness, interest and learning style.
Ms. Glidden said of the workshop, “I was especially interested in learning about Executive Functioning and Self- Regulation: providing preventative support and interventions for 22 different brain functions used to accomplish tasks, ranging from motivation through time management and organization.”
Debra Campbell, Hillel Academy’s visual arts teacher, attended a symposium presented by Constructing Modern Knowledge, a minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing. Mrs. Campbell was one of only two art teachers who attended along with 200 educators from around the world. The symposium was developed to encourage action on the part of the attendees rather than listening to a series of speakers. The participants worked on computer-rich team projects that connected technology to their disciplines. Educational experts concerned with maximizing the potential of every learner guided the teams.
Mrs. Campbell’s team created a talking, singing mural of Tampa that included a component that lit up the Hillsborough River. She plans to re-create the mural with her 8th grade students using Makey Makey boards, a 21st century invention kit designed to get students excited about electronics, and SketchUp, a 3D modeling computer program.