We are back in Lancaster County to continue our partnership for deeper learning. We learned a few things and decided to start from the ground up this time by writing a curriculum with teacher leaders in March. Selected teacher leaders from grades K-8 worked with CILD co-directors Dr. Lindy Johnson and Dr. Meredith Kier as well as Dr. Gladys Krause (Assistant Professor in Mathematics Education) and Danielle Barger (Elementary Literacy Specialist) to create a cohesive district scope and sequence guide and unit resources in English Language Arts and Math, with opportunities for deeper learning and project-based instruction.

The three-day workshop focused on conducting a needs assessment, mapping the curriculum to align with Virginia Standards of Learning, and collaborating to design unit plans using the Understanding by Design framework (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). This was just the first step in creating a stronger foundation for training more teachers to implement equitable deeper learning strategies. This approach encourages students to collaborate with their peers, develop effective communication skills, master academic content, and apply their learning to real-world contexts, including their local community (Hewlett Foundation, 2013).

To ensure that all students are afforded opportunities to engage in deeper learning, teachers must develop adaptive expertise to bring these practices to their classrooms (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2007). This is a significant challenge, however, and requires sustained and authentic professional development opportunities. Teachers in rural schools, and Lancaster County Public Schools, in particular, have few opportunities and resources for sustained and meaningful professional development.  

Through this partnership, teachers will build their knowledge and skills on different aspects of project-based deeper learning through a blended approach to professional development. Working independently and within grade level or departmental teams online and through a series of face-to-face, on-site coaching sessions with William & Mary professors and staff, teachers will design and implement authentic, real-world learning experiences for their students that align with the new Profile of a Virginia Graduate. As a culminating celebration of their learning, participants will showcase their students’ work in a division-wide public exhibition for the local community. 

We are excited to continue this journey with Lancaster teachers through online learning modules this summer, as we continue to align curriculum with deeper learning for all students!

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