Teachers gain tech skills under NW BOCES grant program
January 18, 2017
Steamboat Springs — When trying to incorporate technology into his fifth-grade classroom, Hayden teacher Karl von Ahn said he struggles to wade through all the apps, programs and devices available to educators.
"There's a plethora of technology out there," said Von Ahn, who is hoping other educators can help him test out and narrow down the programs that will work best for his students.
"It's great having all of us together to try out the different resources and narrow down what works," von Ahn said Wednesday to a group of a dozen other educators from around Northwest Colorado.
The group was gathered to learn how to enhance classroom instruction by thoughtfully integrating technology. It was also the first meeting of a new Teacher Learning Community coordinated by Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
NW BOCES is able to organize the professional development community and two others this semester as part of the organization's i3 grant — a federal $2.9 million grant it received in late 2014.
The semester-long technology-focused group will meet twice in-person and carry on their learning through an online classroom and resource library.
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Another group of educators aiming to develop “classrooms of inquiry” met Tuesday, and the last group, aiming to engage all students, kicks off with an in-person meeting Thursday.
Teachers that participate earn three graduate credits and benefit from longer-term professional development, as opposed to a one-day or weekend professional development gathering on the Front Range, according to Beth Melton, the i3 SEED lead innovation coach and grant coordinator.
Melton said the long-term program allows teachers more time to test out new ideas in the classroom and reflect on what works.
"The real learning, as we know, takes place in the classroom," Melton said.
The three Teacher Learning Communities, or TLCs, in place this semester each align with portions of an extensive rubric that Colorado teachers are evaluated on, meaning the teachers who participate are gaining knowledge that can directly reflect on their evaluations.
Melton said the program tackles new topics each semester and will offer professional development to teachers under the grant money through the 2019-20 school year.
The program is open to educators in NW BOCES' seven member districts, which include Steamboat Springs, South Routt, Hayden, Moffat County, North Park, East Grand and West Grand.