On Monday, February 17th, educators throughout Toms River Regional Schools participated in a day of district-wide professional development. Educators began their day targeting building goals and training on equity. Then, more specialized workshops were offered in all learning areas.
Educators participating in the Title IV, Office of Naval Research TR:TechReady, and NJDOE CS4TR grants along with business, technology and 21st century life skills educators celebrated a great day of personalized learning at Toms River Intermediate North.
Funded by Title IV, elementary media and tech instructors gathered to cross-train one another on more than a dozen types of programmable classroom tech tools that will be shared across the district. These included: differentiating instruction with K-1 non-readers with robotics and coding using Ozobots, Code and Go Mouse, and Dash and Dot; differentiating instruction in grades 1 and 2 with robotics using Lego WeDo, Root, and Osmo; differentiating instruction in grades 3-5 with robotics using Lego EV3, Sphero Bolt, and Sam Labs.
Careers and finance secondary educators began preparing for next year with new tools and resources from NextGen Personal Finance. Teacher leaders Jamie Tesoro and Danielle Nese shared their recent professional learning with staff who were then given the opportunity to collaborate and integrate activities into the curriculum.
Sessions facilitated by Sarah Lowey from Clear Touch trained secondary educators with tools for interactive touch panel instruction. Educators learned how to differentiate instruction and move their technology implementation beyond substitution and augmentation of traditional classroom tools and into the modification and even redefinition of classroom practices using touch screen interactivity.
The next day, additional small group instruction and opportunities with educators in the Early Learning Center extended the reach of this programming and training.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Marc Natanagara worked with secondary educators developing capstone activities for academy and honors level courses designed around problem-based learning. These authentic challenges include students defining problems; conducting research and collecting evidence; choosing tools and materials; and assessing and presenting their work with adequate time for reflection and revision. Teachers learned by doing and tackled challenges encountered in a variety of scenarios including food deserts, life down the shore, and even a zombie apocalypse.
In the afternoon, funded by the Office of Naval Research, Matthew Cheng worked with teachers on solving problems using the Python programming language and micro:bits. Educator Jaime Tesoro stated, “It was a lot of fun, I never thought of using the micro:bit that way!”
Jackie Gerstein demonstrated how to use the Inkscape program to design tools that can be laser cut using a cutter located in each secondary building. Fashion design educator Jenny Neuhoff shared that she had never seen material worked with in this way and is looking forward to the additional resources shared by Mrs. Gerstein.