When you know the team you work with is aligned in the vision and direction for where you want to go with students, you're able to build professional trust and distribute leadership. We have two personalized learning specialists who were empowered to lead this program and work with teachers to identify shared priorities. Across the district, the cohort included teacher leaders and teacher librarians who are already advocates for this work. Our personalized learning specialists asked principals to identify a representative who demonstrated leadership among their peers and would join this cohort of teachers from across the district committed to learning and sharing digital and media literacy visioning. We promised great conversation, new tools, and connections.
We already had some experience and success with the cohort model through our work with Discovery Education, and we saw power in cross-district collaboration. Using some of our lessons learned in creating meaningful, collaborative learning experiences and leadership opportunities for teachers in other work, we launched the personalized learning cohort to increase internal ownership of the content and implementation.
We budgeted to pay teachers for monthly two-hour sessions outside of their contractual time. There are more than 30 teachers involved, with 90 percent of our schools having representation.
The Chief Academic Officer is also a champion of the program, communicating support to school leadership broadly across the system. This communication provides vision, rationale, and alignment to our strategic plan around the expectations of the digital citizenship work that is required to take place in all schools.
For personalized learning at large
This program is a benchmark on our journey to personalized learning district-wide. Foundational digital media and literacy is a primary goal of our strategic mission, so we began our personalized learning cohort with this topic in mind. This also allowed the cohort to dive deeper into project-based learning and its future iterations. Within these areas, we needed to identify markers to know we are on the right track. Shifting from being digital consumers to creators is a critical part of our mission, knowing that the measurement of student growth is much more nuanced than number of minutes spent using an edtech tool. Our goal is to foster a culture that goes beyond the number of instructional minutes.
For digital and media literacy
We looked toward the ISTE Standards (which were also adopted by Washington state) to create an assessment for fifth, eighth, and tenth grade, and understand where we want students to be at each of those stages in their academic career. This baseline data will inform our future content and help us understand the needs of the system moving forward towards attaining our goal. Getting clear on what we’re measuring in the area of informational literacy was critical to begin our work.
In this first iteration of our personalized learning cohort model, our teachers meet for two hours each month. We have had to be very strategic about how we use that time. We curate resources and facilitate sessions using the course we created on Canvas and modules we created with resources from Common Sense Media.
Additionally, we have integrated some resources from existing partnerships with Microsoft and Discovery Education. Microsoft provided all the devices (Surface Pros and Laptops) to cohort members to ensure teachers have the hardware necessary to navigate and learn together, and there was complementary professional learning for cohort members in the Microsoft Office Suite. Finally, we also added educator micro-credentials from Digital Promise to provide supplementary outside-of-session professional development to complement the material.
Personalized learning cohort members are tasked with sharing their learning back at their school sites. They work with school leadership to identify the key stakeholders to share digital citizenship content with and engage in implementing assessments. As we work toward more school-based ownership in the future, our goal is that the sharing will take place more consistently across all schools.
As teacher leaders are sharing resources across schools, we have many more teachers across the district who want to be involved. We have already seen increased interest in participation, and hope to increase capacity to support more teachers in the future.