Our district, El Centro Elementary School District, has 9 elementary schools. We have three schools with GATE cluster classrooms, in grades 3 to 6, where students from other schools feed into. At our PD, we had 3 principals, 3 coaches, 12 teachers, and 2 district office administrators in attendance.
As a GATE team, we have a program called “Passionate Kids Project”, known as PKP. The purpose of PKP is for students to delve into topics of interest. In the past, we’ve done Passion Projects, Social Awareness Projects, and are now delving into the Global Goals. For our year long inquiry projects, students tap into their interests, research, create, and celebrate.
I structured the day by balancing hands-on activities with collaborative work time. I packaged the PD in a hyperdoc for easy access to materials along with my own year long inquiry. Last year, our PD focused on the inquiry process inspired by Trevor MacKenzie and Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt using their book “Inquiry Mindset”.
PD link here
Marilyn’s inquiry here
Global Goals Experiences
We had four main Global Goals experiences during the day.
- Introduction Videos
- Question Formulation Technique
- Design Challenge
As a GATE teacher myself, I pulled out my favorite learning experiences for the PD. Here’s a quick recap of each activity.
We watched three videos to familiarize educators with the Global Goals. Each video built upon the next to provide an overview of the 17 goals.
- World’s Largest Lesson - Just a Kid video here
- “We the People” for the Global Goals video here
- World’s Largest Lesson - Emma Watson video here
Question Formulation Technique
Because questioning is a major component of inquiry, educators experienced a QFT session using the Global Goals as their Q-Focus. This is a technique that many participants knew about but had not implemented. They were completely engaged during the entire process. Needless to say, I was extremely proud of their engagement and questions. (Slide deck here)
One of my favorite, and easy to implement, problem based learning strategies is SolveInTime, formerly known as SmashboardEdu, created by Google Innovator Dee Lanier. SolveInTime is a “problem-based learning & the design-thinking process smashed into a gamified experience!”
We used this slide deck to guide our session as well as playing cards for each group. Each group self-selected a goal of their choice. Again, participants were completely engaged in the process. By the end, when teams generated solutions, several teachers were ready to implement community campaigns. I was so proud of them!!! Their favorite new creation tool was Canva.
Our final learning experience of the day was a design challenge. In groups of two or three, participants were provided a pizza box with resources, a close read, sketchnote, and comic found here, relating to one of the Global Goals. The challenge was to design a flying disk that taught others about their goal. Teams had 15 minutes to synthesize the readings and design their disk. It was so fun watching the educators . . . have fun!!! As I facilitated, one participant and I had a conversation about George Couros’ book “Innovate Inside the Box”. That is literally what we did. We definitely have prescribed standards to teach, but as educators, we have a liberty to make learning relevant and even enjoyable for our students.
During the course of the day, four specific times for collaboration were built in. Because I wanted the conversations to be focused, I provided possible discussion topics. Each of the three school sites sat together as a team. At the beginning of the day, there were many unknowns. By the end of the day, teachers and sites left with a rough timeline and ideas to implement their year long inquiries. I asked teachers to specifically consider a unit launch, writing, authentic pieces, and a celebration of learning.
At the end of the day, I provided a reflection form for the participants. Here are a few of their comments:
- "I really appreciate the day given to plan and collaborate with other sites along with my school site. Thank you for the opportunity to expose our students to relevant issues outside the valley."
- "I am really thankful to have you as our presenter. You are easy to understand, easy to approach with any questions, and give great examples from your classroom, because you have actually implemented the goals. Thank you."
- "I love this training! I feel the templates and hyper links provide a clear guide to take us through the process. You are my inspiration!"
- "I attended an awesome PD session with my dearest friend Marilyn McAlister about Sustainable Development Goals. You have showed me a totally different way of teaching which I am planning to start asap. Thank you so much for all your ideas and support."
Two participants wrote more thorough reflections.
- "I had the pleasure of attending a Global Goals professional development organized by none other than our very own ECESD 6th grade GATE teacher, Marilyn McAlsiter. More often than not, I’ve attended professional development that felt like too much fluff and not enough tangible ideas. This was not the case on Monday. It was evident that Marilyn put in a lot of effort to organize and curate materials that I could use in my classroom immediately and throughout the year. Marilyn’s passion and enthusiasm really fired up the teachers at my school. Not only did Marilyn light a fire under us with her presentation style and materials, she provided examples of how she used the materials in her class. Because of Marilyn’s work, I will be able to allow plenty of student voice and choice. My students are sure to be excited and inspired while exploring problems facing today’s world. I can’t wait to see my students grow as global citizens!"
- "Global goals are bigger than any one of us. When I was approached by Mrs. McAlister to consider the topic, well that was easy. The topic is all encompassing and it is worthy of attention. But as she explained the scope and sequence of the project, I was just overwhelmed by the absolute size and scope of it. There are so many people, so many schools, teachers, students and to be frank…the immediacy and importance of the topic was thrust into my face so I could not ignore it. I deeply believe in the purpose and need of each of these goals. It is the next human evolutionary step. We need to evolve or perish. But to see it implemented with fervor, intensity and love is a blessing for me. I have had the opportunity to glimpse our future in the hands of our children, and it made me sigh in relief and hope. People are better than we thought. We will become a better version of ourselves because of educators like Mrs. McAlister. Marilyn, does not shrink from the bigger picture, but quietly and enthusiastically leads us forward."
After the PD, it was such a joy to chat with teachers about their next steps. One teacher is interested in Station Rotation and several teachers would like support implementing technology in their classrooms. One principal would like me to visit and provide feedback and offer coaching experiences. Best of all, was the opportunity to guide two teaches in creating a Global Goals launch with their classes. By the end of the collaboration time, they were beaming with enthusiasm and confidence. Another teacher had me come in and facilitate a SmashboardEdu session. The students were phenomenal!
I’m excited to see where our GATE teachers and schools take their students on their journey through the Global Goals. It was an honor to empower educators where in turn, they’ll be about support, guide, and nurture powerful and relevant learning experiences to their students. To be honest, as a GATE teacher, I don’t want anyone to walk in my classroom and be able to single out the GATE students. Effective and meaningful teaching strategies are good for all learners.
Dear readers, enjoy the journey you’re on.
#JustBeYou . . . Marilyn