Professional Development

District Gets Teachers Up to Date With New Training Subsite

A K-8 school district in Bakersfield, CA, created a subsite on its district-wide Web site to help its 900 teachers make a transition to a 1-to-1 system that put 6,000 laptops in students' hands all at once.

The challenge, said the Panama-Buena Vista Unified School District's coordinator of curriculum assessment and instructional technology, Brad Grumbles, is that "teachers teach in isolation."

"They want to learn from their peers and view each other in action," Grumbles said, "but we needed a solution that would provide the opportunity for teachers to virtually visit their peers' classrooms."

So Grumbles went to the district's Web site host and content management system provider, Schoolwires, for help with the challenge of getting so many teachers up to date on the transition that would eventually involve 18,000 students in 23 schools.

"We needed a solution that would provide the opportunity for teachers to virtually visit their peers' classrooms," Grumbles said.

Schoolwires created a training subsite on the district's Centricity2 Web site called the Teachers' Lounge that incorporated existing features like blogging, video streaming, discussion boards, Web link libraries and social media feeds.

A district technology team of three, in collaboration with Schoolwires, rolled out Teachers' Lounge at the beginning of the recent school year with curriculum links, instructional videos, shortcuts to third-party systems, district assessment programs, on-boarding information for new teachers, an online chat feature and contacts to support staff.

Grumbles said the subsite is getting more than 6,000 hits a month and he estimates that close to 75 percent of the district's teachers use it on a regular basis. What's more, the district has opened up the site to teachers in neighboring districts and to the county education office.

About the Author

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

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