Dr. Kim Mintz, Melissa Shields, and Dr. Jon Paul Campbell collaborated to create a local initiative entitled "ENGAGE" (Empowering Next Generation with Authentic Global Experiences). ENGAGE is an ongoing, transforming process to better prepare Etowah County students for the 21st Century workplace. Through this process, administrators and interested teachers with administrative certificates will earn ONE Professional Learning Unit (PLU). Other components of this initiative include ongoing, sustained professional development in project-based learning, integrating 21st Century skills into the core curriculum, increasing rigor and relevance of assignments, and ensuring readiness for students to move to the next stage of their lives.
To successfully integrate technology into the instructional process, technology must be understood and valued as a powerful tool to enhance teaching and learning. The Etowah County School District recognizes the power and potential of technology in student growth and achievement and will move to integrate it into the daily operations of students, teachers, and administrators. The first phase of the ENGAGE initiative strongly emphasizes the importance of administrators meeting NETS-A (National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators). Close attention has and will be paid to Alabama's IMPACT (Indicators for Measuring Progress in Advancing Classroom Technology) Literacy Content Standards found in Alabama's Technology Course of Study.
The following activities are requirements for ECBOE administrators to earn the PLU through the ENGAGE initiative:
Ongoing 21st Century Professional Development
Etowah County Schools will continue to have ongoing professional development for administrators and teachers to further demonstrate project-based lessons and 21st Century technologies that should be integrated into the curriculum. Some of the ongoing professional development will be "in-person," while other trainings will be video podcasted to all administrators from the Central Office. These meetings will provide training, resources, and exposure to 21st Century tools and teaching strategies. Student assessment data and NETS-A (National Education Technology Standards for Administrators) will also be addressed.
Conduct ENGAGE Training
Principals must conduct THREE ENGAGE trainings at their respective schools and/or the Etowah County Summer Technology Fair. They may demonstrate or share best 21st Century practices, Web 2.0 tools, or other 21st Century technologies. A description of these trainings must be posted on a pre-selected online social network (to stimulate discussion).
Improve Web Presence
It is required that all administrators will continue to improve their professional web presence for themselves and their respective schools. They will attend trainings and/or conduct trainings to help them accomplish this goal. They will update their pages regularly and send e-alerts when they do so.
Criteria such as school subscriber lists, up-to-date content, and variety of online tools, will be utilized to determine the effectiveness of their websites.
Join Ning and Wiki
On the administrative end, Web 2.0 tools will facilitate ongoing and sustained collaboration among teachers and principals, which is so vital to student success. Web 2.0 tools provide a user-friendly venue to communicate on their own time. Administrators will utilize Nings, wikis, and/or blogs for teachers to post best practices and student projects, thus creating a 21st Century culture of collaboration and professional growth. Participants must also upload a "best-practice" podcast to the Ning for others to view and comment. This podcast, which must feature the participant, may demonstrate project-based learning, 21st Century technologies being utilized, or general commentary about the use of these tools. An ECBOE Administrator Wiki has been created to provide necessary resources to support the ENGAGE initiative. Administrators will join this wiki and visit it often for updated information and assignments. They will be encouraged to add supporting ENGAGE content (widgets, pictures, links, etc).
Social Media Exposure
Social networking tools have become an integral part of students' lives. It is paramount that educators are exposed to these tools, as well as experience them, to fully understand their potential impact on students, both negative and positive. In our online discussions, we will investigate how these tools could be used in the classroom for instructional purposes, as well as how to teach students appropriate online behavior while using them (for either instructional or personal use). Administrators will "follow" ECBOE on Twitter and/or join the ECBOE Group on Facebook. If they choose to become "Twitterers," they must tweet at least once a week. If they join the Facebook group, they must post a discussion question or respond to a currently posted question (at least four times). These tweets and discussions will be in direct response to the ENGAGE initiative.
The ENGAGE initiative requires very little, if any, funding. It was created to make the best use of existing technologies and FREE Web 2.0 tools. Most professional development was (and will be) conducted by in-house experts, thanks to the “train the trainer” model.