Marylin Fehringer, Peetz, CO firstname.lastname@example.org
Ladies and gents, fellow teachers in the trenches, do I have advice for you!
Take the time to apply for Academy of Best Practices – Veterans (APB-V). It is professional development you will actually use!
I know, a week of summer is like gold. No one wants to spend precious time away from family for (gulp) learning. After all, as a veteran CPM teacher, what could CPM possibly have to offer you? Oh my! How about networking, math all-stars, challenges, and fun? If you are in the market for re-energizing and rejuvenating your teaching mojo, the week at ABP-V is worth the time. Let me tell a tale of how ABP-V changed my year and saved my students.
Every day at ABP-V, our fearless leaders (Bruce, Cheryl, and Laura) modeled the CPM pillars and procedures, starting with ice breakers, grouping strategies and other CPM tidbits. Daily themes that challenged our teaching mindsets made ABP-V unique. “What is the level of cognitive demand in your classroom?” “How effective are your study teams?” “What’s new in technology and how are you using it?” Each day we were faced with perception-changing thoughts and discussions. How did this change my year and save my students? These discussions forced me to dump my mental toolbox out on a virtual worktable, and re-evaluate each teaching tool as to its current value, making room for new, exciting, thought-provoking, student-engaging tools.
Many of us use the Desmos graphing calculator in our classes. Students love the access and ability to test graphs and equations. At ABP-V, one day was dedicated to learning about the Desmos class activities and applications from the creator, Eli Luberoff, himself. That contact alone (he reads and personally answers emails – love it!) was worth the week away from home. Several times in this last semester I have ditched previously planned lessons for Desmos activities which have the students engaged, exploring concepts, and learning at a deeper level. Eli changed my year.
As with many CPM professional development workshops, ABP-V had assignments. While at the Academy, we were challenged to create movie trailers/teasers for textbook chapters and book cover teasers for the courses we teach. Some participants jumped into action, used their technological expertise, and whizzed through the projects. For some of us, more life-experienced people (okay, old dogs learning new tricks), it felt like climbing up a mental mountain as we made our way through the technology challenges of creating videos and slideshows. However, the productive struggle sparked deeper thoughts. As a result, I have completely revamped my school-required semester finals. I will be replacing the pencil and paper test with a choice of projects. My students now choose from creating a Desmos-based art project, a movie-style trailer, or a book cover teaser, each demonstrating application of true understanding of the content we have covered this semester. My students are stoked! Engagement, interest, and student buy-in have risen to previously unknown heights and it is all because of ABP-V resources and mind-blowing information. Productive struggle saved my students.
One word of caution: this is a tough week. It is not for the faint of heart. It is definitely not for those who like status-quo. If you are comfortable being stuck in a rut, then no, ABP-V is not for you. (Actually, if you are, I cannot believe you have read this far.)
However, if you are willing to be tested, challenged, and ready for the newly improved professional you…what are you waiting for? Quit reading this and go apply! Then pack the vitamins and strap in for an educationally wild ride!