•        What is going on in my child’s classroom?

    The evolution of teaching and learning in our schools today

    There are exciting shifts occurring in schools across America, as educators respond to the challenges and opportunities our children face in the 21st Century. Mill Valley School District, our teachers, staff, and funding partners like Kiddo! and the PTAs have been working together over the past few years to ensure our students receive an education that prepares them for high-school and college, as well as becoming constructive global citizens. Here is an overview of how and why your child’s classroom may look different than you remember school.

    WHAT:

    • Common Core State Standards are designed to build higher-order thinking, spark curiosity, encourage exploration and help students make relevant, real-world connections.  In MillValley schools, instruction emphasizes creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, presentation and demonstration, problem solving, research and inquiry.
    • Our teachers have worked for the past four years to build curricula that help our students work with ideas in more involved ways. Students are getting hands-on experiences, opportunities to experiment and make mistakes, and a chance to try new approaches to solving problems.
    • Our students are learning to use information like cooks use ingredients. This means learning the qualities of good information, what it can be used for and how to combine information to create new opportunities. So, expect fewer worksheets with questions that only have one right answer, and more projects that require students to really think and apply what they know.

    HOW:

    • MVSD educators have always worked to differentiate instruction, meaning they strive tomeet each child at their level.  Personalized learning is becoming even more important aswe meet Common Core standards and ensure that each student gains competency in key academic areas.
    • Student-centered learning also gives our children the opportunity to take more ownership of their learning, building responsibility, confidence and resilience. MVSD is providing our teachers and students with powerful new tools that enable personalized, student-centered learning by blending the best of teacher-led instruction with new technology. 

    TOOLS:

    • Allowing for teacher exploration and support for teacher training is a key to the successful evolution of learning today. Over the past four years we have done extensive training on Common Core implementation, but also on allowing our teachers to experiment and test innovative teaching methods and tools.  This culture of teaching innovation is one where pilots are encouraged and principals and the District strive to support teacher risk- taking and exploration
    • New technologies allow instant feedback to teachers and students, greatly improving targeted instruction and intervention. Our teachers are learning how to use this technology to decrease time-consuming, administrative work, and increase opportunities for high level student engagement during classroom lessons.
    • Examples of professional development activities related to technology:
      • Technology training on effective use of Apps to connect students with teachers and enhance inquiry based teaching and learning at the middle school
      • Teacher tech field trips to observe outstanding 1:1 program implementation
      • iPad Summit 3 day conference in San Diego made possible by strategic planning gran
    • Thanks to funding from our PTAs and Kiddo!, the district is implementing a 5 year technology plan that will provide grade and age appropriate education technology devices to our students. The computers and education programs are tools that enable our teachers to provide personalized instruction and help reach the objectives set out in the Common Core standards. Teachers will determine how best to use these tools in their classrooms and there will be much experimentation and review. An exciting 1:1 pilot (one device per student) is beginning in our middle school in February. https://www.mvschools.org/Page/4585
    • Thanks to funding from Kiddo!, we now have an Instructional Technology Coach that is helping teachers discover and use these powerful new technologies for teaching.  KateSprague, our new coach is working with teachers in the following areas:
      • Organizing and facilitating professional development trainings for teachers
      • Performing background research to determine effective technology software and apps for teachers
      • Providing model demonstration lessons for teachers on integrating technology into instruction
      • Assisting teachers in designing lessons using technology as a tool to enhance deeper lesson exploration

    As always, we look to the parents of our students and our community as partners on this journey of evolution in teaching and learning.  The District welcomes feedback on efforts to strengthen instruction by integrating technology effectively.

    For additional information, comments, or questions, please contact:

    Jim Bowlby, Director of Technology jbowlby@mvschools.org

    Kate Sprague, Instructional Technology Coach ksprague@mvschools.org

    Additional resources: