Delaware teachers training peers, sharing lessons and materials
Forty-five teachers from the first two cohorts of Delaware’s Dream Team recently trained 215 of their peers on how to create close-reading lessons in English language arts and how to use student work in discussions in mathematics. Those recently trained teachers will join Dream Team members in creating more lessons and materials to share with their colleagues state- and nationwide.
“This is an example of how we are scaling a relatively small project – the Dream Team -- to reach many more educators and build capacity statewide,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said.
Two years ago, the Delaware Department of Education partnered with LearnZillion, a standards-aligned digital curriculum and professional learning provider, to launch the Delaware Dream Team. Team members, selected through a statewide application process for their content expertise, grit and collaborative mindset, participated in a professional development program that allowed them to build lessons iteratively as a cohort.
The work of the Dream Team is available to Delaware teachers and others online at www.learnzillion.com. The Delaware teachers’ contributions include narrated video lessons to help educators understand the lessons and how to use the materials in their own classrooms.
Past participants continue to cite the work as among the most valuable professional development of their careers.
"The takeaway from this type of professional development is huge. I've been given the tools to diagnose what's going on in the classroom, which allows me to build action plans to overcome any shortcomings in my students,” said Jesse Parsley, a special education teacher in the Milford School District and a member of the first Dream Team cohort. “This is real work, not just sit and get. The plan is to take what I've learned to my (professional learning community) or end-of-year professional development to share the process in my school."
Shannon Lapinsky, a Caesar Rodney teacher and Cohort 1 member, agreed: "This is giving me the opportunity to delve into a subject to produce something that students will actually use. We're creating products with students in mind, and they're more in line with what students want. I recruited 13 other teachers to attend (the recent training) because I believe in this approach so much."
Shani Benson, an educator in the Capital School District and a member of Cohort 1, said her students have benefited tremendously from her involvement.
“I've created a product that lends itself to differentiation. Students can go home and use it on their computer, too, and I organized family engagement nights to help families help students with math at home,” she said. “I'm only a five-year teacher, but now I'm already a hundred times more confident about my math teaching capabilities. I'm making kids who didn't like math like math because I'm more enthusiastic."
For assistance setting up interviews with Dream Team members, contact Alison.May@doe.k12.de.us.