In late June we hosted our very first Summer Institute for 2.5 days of professional development, networking, and fun in Palo Alto.
- “This has been the best PD in the 20 plus years of my teaching career. Nothing else comes even close.”
- “Thank you so much for this great opportunity. I always try to be a better teacher for my students and I am taking away so many ideas, concepts, resources and contacts, I know I will be much better next year.”
- “My expectations were definitely exceeded. I wondered how much we would get done in so little time, but the time we had was well organized and spent intentionally, which teachers really appreciate.”
Learning to Innovate at the Stanford d.School
The Summer Institute kicked off with a quick trip to the Stanford University campus where Stuart Coulson, d.School professor, led us in an engaging design thinking workshop (link to workshop materials and details about the Stanford d.school).
After a very brief introduction, we partnered up and Stuart put us to work applying this framework to a project, the Gift Giving Experience. Miraculously, in about an hour, we progressed through this roadmap and developed and tested some prototypes for products and/or services to meet the gift-giving needs of our partners. The prototyping step allowed us to channel our “inner child” as we got to choose supplies like pipe cleaners, Post-It notes, cardboard and construction paper to bring our ideas to life.
In terms of application to the classroom, many felt that this would be a great hands-on activity to give students the tools and confidence to succeed in the workplace. Design Thinking also provides an excellent methodology for lesson or activity design as teachers look to update their curriculum.
Power of Collaboration: “I Wish I Knew What Other Personal Finance Teachers Do About…”
We listen when finance teachers tell us they need more opportunities to network and share best practices, which is why we wove collaborative sessions throughout our workshops. Collaborative sessions included:
- An “I wish I knew what other personal finance teachers do about…” session where teachers wrote their responses on an index card. We then collected them, grouped them into specific categories and facilitated a conversation that engaged the entire group. Here were some of the challenges that teachers identified:
- How to differentiate instruction
- Organizing personal finance resources
- Engaging students in career preparation
- Teaching difficult topics such as taxes and investing
- Our two Breakfast Briefings on Paying for College and Investing elicited discussion by asking such thought-provoking questions as:
- Is the “Stock Market Game” the best way to teach investing?
- How can you teach student loans in a balanced way without discouraging students?
- We allocated time for a Resource Share where teachers curated their favorite NGPF resources (See what they selected here) and then discussed their reasons for selecting them and how they used (or planned to use them) in their classroom
- During our Create sessions (see below), teachers shared their case studies and projects at various stages and received feedback from other teachers that they could incorporate. We utilized a PLC model to provide the structure to make these feedback sessions productive.
Teachers As Innovators
Without the daily demands of a classroom, summer provides an opportune time to develop new resources for the classroom. You know that kernel of a new project idea that you wrote down in March with the promise that “when I have the time…”
We wanted to use the Summer Institute so our Fellows could turn their ideas into resources they could use in their classrooms. With that end in mind, we created several “How-To” sessions for our teacher-innovators:
- In our Creating Case Studies workshop, Tim provided educators with a framework to plan and design their own case studies. It was fun to see how teachers were using their case studies as a vehicle to hone the decision-making skills of their students, in areas such as investing in a 401(k).
- Here is a planning worksheet so you can bring your case study idea to fruition.
- In our Project Workshop, Jessica shared her secrets for making engaging, rigorous projects that not only reinforce skills and concepts taught but also push students to learn even more. Each teacher was able to brainstorm and begin creating a new project to use in their classrooms this year.
- The best part of our Rubric Workshop was seeing all the various approaches to rubric creation — some start from scratch, some others have old standby templates they prefer, while others use online software to generate great rubrics. NGPF learned a lot about what teachers value in a rubric, which will inform our work during 2016-17.
And, of course, we just had to hit up a Giants vs. A’s game at AT&T Park:
We loved working with all 12 of our amazing NGPF Fellows and look forward to hosting our Summer Institute again in 2017.