MetroWest Students Going Back to More Engaging Classes
Students going back-to-school this year will experience classes that are more engaging thanks to a two-year initiative to teach 40 MetroWest Boston teachers how to create technology-rich courses.
Maynard, MA & Natick, MA – It’s a problem that has plagued educators for years--how to better engage today’s technology generation by bringing courses up to 21st century teaching and learning standards. In 2009, the ACCEPT Education Collaborative (http://www.accept.org), a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting excellence and innovation in educational practice in partnership with Virtual High School Global Consortium (http://www.goVHS.org), the pioneer of K-12 online learning and course design for teachers, sought to address this problem through Project ABLE (Achieving Blended Learning Environments).
“We have many longtime teachers in the MetroWest area who wanted to develop an approach to teaching and learning that would better prepare their students for career success in the 21st century,”said Susan Rees, Executive Director of ACCEPT. “As a result of the intense work these educators have done over the last two years, MetroWest students will see and experience many positive changes in their courses this back-to-school, such as flipped classrooms, project-based courses, more stimulating in-class discussions and enhanced use of online resources.”
ACCEPT received a two year professional development grant for Project ABLE from the Massachusetts Department of Education to educate teachers on how to create blended learning courses. The Project soon turned to Virtual High School (VHS), experts on the blended learning method of instruction that teaches how to combine face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities. The Professional Development team at VHS worked with ACCEPT to create six online courses to help achieve the goals of the grant. The courses did everything from introduce teachers to blended learning to provide the skills necessary to facilitate it in the classroom.
Forty educators completed the program and, along the way, a number of different instructional methodologies were effectively tested in the classroom. One math teacher experimented with flipping her classroom. Course materials were posted online and students were expected to do the work beforehand and come to class ready to discuss and work on projects.
“The work these teachers have done has enabled them to develop a mindset around facilitating a student-centered classroom,” said Liz Pape, President & CEO of VHS. “The focus is no longer on lecturing to students and having them passively listen, it’s about creating an in-classroom experience that is very much like how effective meetings in the workplace happen today where individuals show-up prepared and ready to exchange ideas. Now our focus is on helping these teachers mentor their colleagues so that this knowledge can spread throughout each school district.”
The Project has been so well-received by district administrators that a second cohortwas formed in the spring to continue its work.
“We are developing a series of workshops that teachers throughout the MetroWest area can use to learn about things like using personal learning networks and mobile technologies in the classroom, how to ask good questions and more,” said Rees.
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About Virtual High School (VHS)
VirtualHigh School is the pioneer of online course design and instruction for teachers and online education for high school students. Virtual High School partners with schools to provide rigorous, student-centered online courses that help expand rather than replace existing curriculum options. The VHS collaborative includes 770 member schools and 15,000 enrolled students from 35 U.S. states and 45 countries. The recipient of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) 2005, 2007 and 2008 awards for Excellence in Programming and Excellence in Best Practices and the Stockholm Challenge2001 Award for exemplary use of technology in education, VHS was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.goVHS.org or call 978. 897.1900.
About the ACCEPT Education Collaborative
ACCEPT Education Collaborative (“ACCEPT”) is a regional service organization that offers a wide range of high quality, innovative programsand services to meet the evolving needs of their member districts. ACCEPT’s mission is to use the collective power of member school districts to unlock the potential of students, their families, educators and communities. Currently, ACCEPT provides Special Education Programs, Behavioral and Educational Consultation, Professional Development, Educational Technology, Parent Training, and Medicaid and E-rate claiming. Care and respect for human differences, best practices, continuous improvement, open and honest communication and integrity in decision-making are ACCEPT’s core values. ACCEPT was founded in 1974 and is headquartered in Natick, MA. Their member school districts include: Ashland, Dover, Dover/Sherborn, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Natick, Sherborn, South Middlesex Regional/Vocational District, and Sudbury. For more information, visit www.accept.org.
Press Contact: VHS: Carol Arnold, Arnold Communications, email@example.com, 877.718.4604 x2.