Friday, June 26th, 2009...10:46 am

SummerSALT Sparks Teachers’ Creativity

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What do artichokes, plantains and squash have in common with GPS, laptops and wikis?  A Wilson County conference in June challenged teachers to integrate a variety of tools into 21st Century teaching.

SummerSalt stands for Study and Learn Together. Wilson County developed the professional development week as “an acrobatic combination of skills and agilities integrating the best of curriculum and technology.”

Wilson County teachers

Wilson County teachers

This year, The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning proved a perfect workout partner, providing four day-long sessions:

  • Engaging Inquiring Minds
  • Designing Instruction for Consistently High Levels of Learning
  • PLCs That Work
  • The Role of Assessment in the 21st Century

Closely aligned with QTL’s emphasis on high quality teaching, SummerSALT’s revolutionary approach included fresh course offerings in a full agenda that improved instructors’ “strength, balance and flexibility in both instructional disciplines.”

So what about those artichokes? “We were told that after lunch we will have a project that involves an artichoke, a plantain, a eggplant and an acorn squash,” said teacher Victoria Bennett.  That piqued her interest. “I wonder what it could be?”

Afterwards she confirmed, “Engaging Inquiring Minds has been very interesting. We have begun talking about information processing models and I am excited to put this to use in my classroom.”

QTL instructor Steve Puls said teachers’ confidence grew as they added creative skills to enliven and enhance student performance. “A learning community that promotes innovation and open discourse helps ensure best practice implementation for everyone.”

Teacher Vanita Sharma added, “It’s nice to get a chance to socialize with everyone across the county in the teaching fraternity.”

Some 450 teachers filled up the SummerSALT sessions with enthusiasm and left with instructional strategies to better reach students.

The sessions led by QTL staff were part of the organization’s 21st Century Classroom Series, sessions which can be offered to school staff during professional development conferences like SummerSALT, or on teacher workdays or early release days.

“QTL added relevant and exciting workshops to a successful and productive conference,” said conference organizer Wynn Smith, Executive Director of Technology for Wilson County Schools.  “Our teaching will be stronger and our students will have a greater learning experience next year thanks to the ideas that were generated and the work that was done at SummerSALT.”

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