Professional Development

Arizona Teachers Create DIY Professional Development

Mindful of the tight budgets dominating public education, teachers in the Higley Unified School District (HUSD) in the southern suburbs of Phoenix decided to create their own one-day professional development program.

With the Higley USD Professional Development Café, teachers and district staff members volunteered to lead one- or two-hour sessions during the October 13 all-day event that was attended by hundreds of teachers.

More than 30 different sessions were held with titles ranging from "Writers Workshop" and "Strategies for Working With ELL and Struggling Students" to "Close Reading" and "Teach Like a Champion!" On that list of sessions were several involved with incorporating technology into classroom teaching.

"These activities will be great to use with my sixth-graders," said Lori Pascual who teaches at the Higley Traditional Academy.

Pascual said she attended classes on Web page development for students, an update on math standards and one on how to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into the elementary school curriculum.

Janet Williams, who works with gifted students at Gateway Pointe Elementary School, said the best takeaway of the day for her was a session that introduced her to the flipped classroom concept in which students study lessons the teacher prepares on video at home the night before and then use classroom time for practice.

"I'll use it all," Williams said.

"Teachers were engaged and active," said HUSD Assistant Superintendent Steve Nance. "They clearly enjoyed the learning and the new ideas. We hope to continue this in the future."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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