Hoonuit’s professional development solution has empowered Pennsylvania’s Parkland School District to implement a new technology initiative, Parkland Ready 21, that strives to give “voice and choice” to both students and teachers.
In Pennsylvania’s Parkland School District, a great teacher is also a great student. “The way that we provide professional development to our teachers is a great way for us to model how we hope that they guide learning for the students in the classroom,” says Parkland’s Coordinator of Educational Technology JR Renna.
Much of this professional development incorporates the philosophy of “voice and choice,” which Renna says is key to helping teachers tap into what’s not only relevant to their subject and grade level specialty but also to their general interests and professional goals. With the rollout of its new technology integration initiative, Parkland Ready 21, the hope is to extend this personalization into the classroom — a process in which Hoonuit’s professional development platform has played an integral role.
Voice and Choice in PD
Consistently named a top workplace in the Lehigh Valley, Parkland prides itself on equipping its teachers with the flexibility and resources they need to succeed. These opportunities range from optional face-to-face professional development events like Teacher TechCon — which Renna calls “a PD party” — to PLCs, peer collaboration and other forums. During the school day, the district often provides substitute teachers so that teachers can go on “learning walks” to observe another teacher. “It’s all about allowing the teacher to have a hands-on learning opportunity,” says Renna.
Teachers have access to Hoonuit’s robust library of PD content, from which they can select the modules that apply to their specific classroom and career goals. “Offering our teachers ‘voice and choice’ helps them tap into what they’re interested in,” says Renna. “It’s been interesting to see the different types of content our teachers and teacher aides are drawn to.” According to Renna, Hoonuit’s modules have already garnered over 5,000 views on roughly 200 topics in just one year within the district.
Providing Students With Relevant Skills
To keep up with changing technology and workplace demands, Parkland is looking to equip its students and educators with the skills that top companies value in their employees, including creativity, complex problem solving, and cognitive flexibility.
“We know that in order to develop skills like cognitive flexibility; we’re going to have to branch out from the traditional model — the one in which a teacher stands in front of kids all day taking,” says Renna. “We have to ask ourselves, what pedagogical approach will help us support the kind of independent thinker that we need to put into the workforce?”
Seeing the Change In the Classroom
The convenience, ease, and breadth of information that Hoonuit offers have been especially valuable to Parkland’s efforts “to turn engaged students into invested students,” says Renna. The district’s Trojan Tech Team — a group of students who are trained to help their peers and teachers with classroom technology — often turn to Hoonuit to help them explain different concepts and share their knowledge more effectively. Renna explains that searching the Internet for information or tutorials can often take up valuable time with no guarantee of finding quality content — a problem that Hoonuit’s focused library of vetted, professional content solves.
While the school district has already seen success using Hoonuit, Renna believes that the “biggest win is yet to come” as teachers become more familiar with the technology and its use becomes even more widespread. “I think that people will be coming up to speed quicker in the coming years because of Hoonuit, as they start to think of Hoonuit as a verb,” he predicts. “‘Did you Hoonuit?’”
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