Video + Story: Hundreds of EPISD Teachers get Active Learning Training

Hundreds of EPISD teachers took a break from their summer vacation this week to participate in the Active Learning Institute at Chapin High School.

The institute featured more than 200 presenters speaking about instructional topics such as dual language, blended learning, special education and gifted and talented. The institute started last week at the Marriot Hotel and continued at Chapin this week. Approximately 350 teachers registered per day to participate.

“Our presenters are active learning leaders, teachers and central office administrators who are sharing their knowledge and skills with other educators in our district,” said Kathy Seufert, EPISD’s Director of Staff Development. “Active learning is the now and the future of EPISD. This institute offers our teachers an opportunity to collaborate with other teachers and learn different strategies to further engage their students in active learning for the upcoming school year.”

unnamed (16)Feedback from the training sessions has been positive from participants.

“Teachers like that they have a chance to explore a lot of different topics,” Seufert said. “It’s a one-stop shop for training.”

Milam teacher Donna Serna enjoyed the sessions and the active learning initiatives, which are inline with the curriculum she has taught gifted-and-talented students for many years.

“That is what we are — active learners,” Donna Serna said. “We are constantly learning and evolving so we can pass our knowledge on to our students.”

Eva Marie Ruelas, a sixth-grade English and reading teacher at Morehead Middle, wanted to learn more about integrating technology into her classroom.

“I have always seen myself as a creative teacher, but this is a whole new thing,” she said. “I love books but that is not the way to go.” unnamed (15)

Her campus received iPads as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning grant.

“I have to become more comfortable with it, so I can implement lessons with it,” Ruelas said, holding her iPad during the “Retell a Story with TeleStory” session.

The session gave teachers ideas to implement the free TeleStory app into their lessons. The app gives students an opportunity to write, direct and star in their own TV show.

“Teachers are figuring out what they can do in their classroom with the app when they get back,” said presenter Michelle Wagoner, TLI program manager. “As teachers, they could tell if a student comprehends a story by what’s in their video.”

Sarah Venegas, Title 1 instructional coordinator, said sessions are for all grade levels and content areas.

unnamed (14)“We are trying to meet teachers needs all in one place,” she said. “It has been awesome. Teachers have been coming in on their own time to expand their horizons on topics they may not be comfortable with or want strengthening in.”

The institute is particularly important professional development as the district continues to move forward with active learning initiatives.

“Active learning makes students more interested in what is going on in the classroom. They feel more empowered,” said instructional technology specialist John Roach, who also helped coordinate the event.

Christy Hines, a Lincoln Middle School humanities teacher, agrees.

“We have so many new initiatives, but it seems we are headed in the right direction,” she said. “It has been beneficial for our students.”