Instructional leaders from throughout the region and country were in the El Paso Independent School District to speak with students and teachers about how the Active Learning Framework is transforming education in our schools.
The visit to Lee and Coronado High School gave dignitaries like Texas State Board of Education Member Georgina Perez and Amy O’Rourke, a former educator and the wife of Congressman Beto O’Rourke, a glimpse of the successes EPISD has had implementing the Framework in the classroom.
Principals and educators from the Canutillo Independent School District also took part in the visits.
“My favorite part of Active Learning is in the end there’s always a big project that you get to do that you work on with your team,” Lee fourth-grader De’lon London said during a conference-style panel discussion that included other classmates. “Active Learning has helped me do better. It will help me with jobs I may have in the future. Active Learning is fun.”
EPISD is considered a national leader in the implementation of Active Learning strategies, which changed instruction from a sit-and-get model into an engaging, small-group and project-based model. EPISD’s Active Learning Framework allows teachers to use interactive, technology-based and researched-backed strategies to let students learn state standards in a much more effective and long-lasting manner.
The visitors were given access to students and classroom teachers who have embraced the Framework and have seen results in student performance.
“We heard from our students and they talked about how they are able to work in groups and established norms. They talked about how they are able to accomplish their learning tasks. They talked about the work of the teacher and how the teacher has become a facilitator,” said Tamekia Brown, EPISD’s Chief Academic Officer.
Brown said students like De’lon’s are seeing the difference the Framework is having in the classroom.
“They want more of it,” she said. “This is a note to us as adults, as those individuals who are charged with helping them to experience this, to do it better and bigger and to continue to get better in how we are providing Active Learning experiences.”
Lee teacher Cecilia Perez has seen the changes in her students, whom she taught first as third graders last year and now as fourth graders.
“I saw a dramatic improvement in them,” Perez said. “I was the same person, and they were the same students. It was just that I changed the way I was teaching. I’m proud to be part of this. I’ve been teaching for 20 years and I’ve tried lots of different things. This is something I am going to stick with. I’m glad that we are supporting it as a district.”
Bonham Elementary School principal Sandra Sanchez visited classrooms to watch Active Learning in progress. She and other principals took notes and posted sticky notes with accolades on the doors of the classrooms.
“This has definitely been a great experience learning the different aspects and the different components of active learning and how our educators in EPISD are working together to provide our students with those opportunities.”
Inside the classrooms she’s seeing rigor and activity engagement among students.
“We’re looking for that exploration process of learning,” she said. “We’re seeing here at Lee Elementary that the teachers have taken a shift and they’re no longer standing up and teaching and delivering that instruction directly. The students are now taking ownership of their learning.”
Brown is encouraged by the demonstrated active learning occurring at Lee and throughout EPISD.
“The future is bright and EPISD,” Brown said. “In about 2022, every classroom in every school will have quality seats because we will have every teacher coached and trained on the Active Learning Framework, so we are really excited. There are great things to come and this is the time to be in EPISD.”
The visits were held last week.