PD Perspectives

CTC Teacher Induction

CTC Teacher Induction

How are you supporting new educators in your district? CA districts are required to provide teacher induction programs for new educators - and an updated version of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing program standards mandates 'individualized, job-embedded system of mentoring, support and professional learning'.

Summer Professional Development: Field Trip

Summer Professional Development: Field Trip

Do you remember how excited you felt as a student when your teacher announced a field trip? Or how your students react when they have an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom? Embrace the field trip feeling this summer! Whether you're planning a vacation or an excursion as a tourist in your own city, there are so many ways you can learn while you're out and about.

Technology & Education: It's Elementary

Technology & Education: It's Elementary

"21st century skills" is arguably one of the biggest buzzwords in education today. Digital literacy, tech competency, collaboration and problem-solving skills are getting the attention they deserve, however they're generally addressed at the middle- and high-school level. Many elementary-school students have to transition from a traditional cut-and-paste, alphabet curriculum into the new digital world of education with little practical knowledge. While they may be whizkids when it comes to playing on an iPad, they aren't necessarily prepared to apply that knowledge to their education.

Gamification: Hands-on Learning

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In this series, we're delving into the world of gamification. This week, we'll be focusing on how games provide hands-on opportunities for learning.

You might remember the proverb made famous by Jack Nicholson in The Shining: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." But the reality is that play and work can be one in the same. (If you're sitting amongst a pile of ungraded papers, we understand if you disagree!) Aside from making fun, animals, babies and even adults play to learn--even if it's not necessarily a conscious decision.

Think back on your childhood: what did you learn while playing pretend? Perhaps social skills, and a way to make sense of the grown-up world around you. Battleship? Plotting coordinates. Climbing trees? Gross motor skills. The same goes for animals. In a 2013 BBC article, ethologist Robert Fagen explains that some animal play is a form of practice. "The distinctive aspect of playful practice and learning is that they are generic and variational, requiring varied experiences and stressing interactions between simple components."

Gamification fulfills basic psychological needs, including competence and social relatedness. "Every human strives to feel competent when deliberately influencing the environment they interact with," and has a "basic desire [...] for coherent integration with the social environment." Unlike in "sit-n-git" professional development, gamified learning allows educators to interact directly with subject matter, while experiencing collaboration and friendly competition.

Gamified learning can be truly transformative when it is used to encourage real-life application. While gamified platforms can be useful, learning should not exist solely in a virtual vacuum. Learners should be rewarded (if not required) to exercise their new skills in order to "advance" to the next level.