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Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) can watch a video of a teacher presenting a mathematics lesson, analyze it with other teachers, and then try it out. This professional development program is offered by the LAUSD/UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Collaborative Institute. The program is designed to help educators reflect on their teaching on their own and with colleagues. Included: A description of the interactive teacher-training program.


Letting teachers watch and discuss approaches to teaching mathematics -- and then try them out -- is proving to be effective teacher training for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

The interactive teacher training program, offered by the LAUSD/UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Collaborative Institute, also known as LUCI Math, gives teachers a chance to analyze classroom situations online and in face-to-face discussions.

Funding for the program comes from the University of California president's office.

"It's a chance for them to become more reflective of their practices," said Shelley Kriegler, director of the UCLA Math Content Program. "Generally, teaching is a very private activity. This way, they are able to talk about teaching practices and their effects on kids."

DISCUSSING WHAT WORKS

The program serves kindergarten through fourth-grade teachers, and they can earn salary or university credits after they complete the course. Last year, about 6,000 teachers participated in the program, according to Kriegler. "We are continuing to offer instruction all of the time."

During the program, teachers first watch a video of a classroom situation and then analyze online what the teacher in the video is doing. The videos include lessons on counting, assessment, and classroom practices.

"The online work they do takes place over a few weeks," Kriegler said. "The questions are broken into sections, and they must complete parts by certain due dates. Some of the tasks within the sections require that they do something in class and then write about it online."

In one video, for example, a teacher is encouraging kindergarten students to count into the hundreds. Teachers in the workshop discuss why that lesson is valuable, and predict how high children the children will count, said Kriegler.

Teachers go back to their classrooms and try the lessons from the case studies over several weeks. While teachers are using the lessons, they are monitored by teacher- coaches in the district who have been encouraged to complete the LUCI program.

Teachers report about their in-class experiences online -- and a facilitator verifies the reports and uses responses to orchestrate whole group discussions or online discussions, according to Kriegler.

EFFICIENCY OF ONLINE TRAINING

LAUSD is moving more of its teacher training programs online, largely because it is more efficient, said James Konantz, assistant superintendent for instructional technology.

"Our goal is to maximize learning, and I think we can do that with 60 percent of our training online," Konantz told Education World. "But 40 percent still is interactive. We need to continue with human interaction. There is a lot of transfer of pedagogy and knowledge going on between teachers."

Most teachers also are able to do the training at their own schools, Konantz said. "You can get good, quality training over the Internet."

The math workshops provide teachers with necessary enrichment in content areas and teaching strategies, according to Matthias Vheru, a high school math specialist for the LAUSD. "The online component tells us the teachers' needs in terms of time andconcepts," Vheru told Education World.

And LAUSD is not stopping with professional development training via the Internet. The district already has a television station, and by June 2003, will launch a digital broadcast system, with staff development and student instructional channels. "We're looking for anywhere, anytime learning for students, teachers, and administrators," Konantz said.


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