Thursday, March 2, 2017

Professional Development - Teachers as Inquirers!

Last Friday 24th February, the Elementary hallways were abandoned as the students stayed at home to allow teachers to attend a professional development workshop.  All homeroom teachers were fortunate enough to attend the Japan Association of Curriculum Design (JASCD) two day Spring Conference, hosted at The New Sanno Hotel and the International School of Sacred Heart.  There were two presenters at the conference: Dr. Mary Ehrenworth and Jon Nordmeyer.

Dr. Mary Ehrenworth is Deputy Director of the Reading and Writing Project, a not-for-profit think tank at Columbia University. Mary shared a vision of how we, as teachers, can turn writing into a transformative force, and ensure that each and every student becomes powerful at narrative, information, and argument writing. Our teachers who attended the workshop were given practical tips on how to focus their mini lessons and conferences with students, and were given the opportunity to practice and share techniques for the teaching of reading and writing with other professionals from international schools across Japan.

The Reading and Writing Workshop was hosted at International School of Sacred Heart last weekend.
Seisen teachers reflecting on their practice. 
Seisen teachers practicing a book club read-aloud and discussion. 
Jon Nordmeyer is an ESL/ELL specialist with an MA in TESOL and is the International Programs Director at WIDA, a research centre at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jon shared his belief of how English language learners can often be associated with their limitations rather than their potential. Below is a provocative video clip of Moises, an English language learner, trying to solve a mathematical problem.  As you watch this short video clip, try to identify some of Moises' strengths - what strategies did he use to help him solve the problem?  Then think about the reaction of his classmates and teachers - were they aware of these strengths?  

The EAL workshop focused on how we must transform the conversations from focusing on what EAL students can’t do, to building on what they can do.  A recurring theme of this workshop was that there needs to be a shift from viewing multilingualism as a problem, to viewing multilingualism as a right, and eventually as a valuable resource for any classroom.

We are looking forward to further developing the areas of reading, writing and EAL in the future and are all excited to see what new experiences we can bring into the classrooms from our weekend of learning.

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