Teachers Educate Teachers At ‘Leader Academy’

By Jocelyn Rhodes Cook, Contributing Writer
FULTON, NY – An event involving education recently brought together the sort of students who never really stop learning – educators.

“Teacher Leader Academy and Project Based Learning for the 21st Century” was an event to showcase the presentations of several teachers who benefited from a grant given to Oswego County BOCES.

Teachers presented the end results of student participation in their lessons in different forms at the event.
Teachers presented the end results of student participation in their lessons in different forms at the event.

The 2011-12 school year represents year three of a three-year Title IID Grant awarded to Oswego County BOCES through a Federal Enhancing Education Through Technology Grant.

The primary purpose of the grant is to improve student achievement and enhance instructional strategies through the use of technology.

Grant funds have purchased the following technologies for teachers at Oswego County BOCES and six of its nine component school districts: webcams, cameras, SMART technologies, clickers, ELMOs and video cameras.

Each Title IID Grant teacher created a project-based learning unit/lesson utilizing a grant-funded technological component and shared it at the day-long event, explaining their projects and the impact that the PBL project has had on increasing the collaboration in their classroom as well as their students’ communication and overall critical thinking skills.

The event, held at the River Vista Conference Center in Fulton, put the project-based learning units/lessons of participating teachers on display for a room full of fellow educators and others interested in the findings.

It demonstrated how project-based learning in collaboration with the use of technology can serve to encourage collaboration between students and enhance their learning experience.

It exhibited lessons from the current 2011-2012 school year, the third and final in the three-year Title IID Grant.

One teacher, Kathy Stropp, made affording college the focus of the project she created for her students to study and take on themselves in groups.

The driving question of the project, she explained, was, “How much can I afford to spend on my college education before the benefits are outweighed by the financial burden?”

Stropp felt that her students, juniors and seniors studying Pre-Calculus, learned a lot from the projects, but she believed it was a learning experience for herself as well.

“There are little things I’d like to change in the future,” she said. “I was told by some of my students after that it was a little depressing, which I can understand.”

“But, I wanted honest opinions,” she added.

Stropp went on to explain that for one part of the activity, the class compared the range of jobs one can obtain without college versus the kind you can receive with an education, along with salaries and other factors.

They found that college generally appeared to be the better option; but, that the student loan process needed to be more of a focus for students considering it.

Stropp was all enthusiasm for the event itself.

“I knew today was going to be awesome!” she exclaimed.

Peri Nelson, a technology resource coordinator at Oswego County BOCES (“my title changes all the time,” she joked), worked with the teachers who benefited from the grant.

She said that Stropp’s presentation was the first of the day, and that all the projects presented had been very good.

Another guest at the event, Liane Benedict, said the event was an opportunity for all the educators to “learn from each other.”