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Challenge Project: A Virtual Professional Development School. Elizabeth DiGello in collaboration with Harold Johnson. Background Information. Deafness is a low incidence disability

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challenge project a virtual professional development school

Challenge Project: A Virtual Professional Development School

Elizabeth DiGello

in collaboration with Harold Johnson

background information
Background Information
  • Deafness is a low incidence disability
  • 90-95% of deaf children are born to hearing parents and receive little accessible language input until they reach preschool.
  • Very few teachers of the deaf are deaf themselves; traditionally, deaf teachers have been encouraged to teach middle and high school grades.
background information3
Background Information
  • Challenge proposed by Harold Johnson, PhD - Director of Deaf Education at Kent State University, Kent, OH.
  • How can we find great teachers of the deaf and expose student teachers to these models?
a virtual professional development school
A Virtual Professional Development School
  • Dr. Johnson, along with Katherine Stephens Slemenda, Shelley Popson, and Susan Lenihan, is creating a virtual “place” where models of success teachers of the deaf can be seen.
  • What elements should be included in such a “virtual space” to promote learning in pre-service teachers and to increase reflection and revision of in-service teacher practices?
what should a professional know
What Should a Professional Know?
  • Content Knowledge
    • facts about science, social studies, math, etc.
  • Process Knowledge
    • How do children learn best?
  • Personal Knowledge
    • What assumptions am I making as the teacher?
    • How will the students interpret this experience?

(McLoughlin & Luca, 2002)

creating a community of professional learners
Creating a Community of Professional Learners
  • Researchers are now employing the idea of “communities of practice” in professional development programs (Knight, 2002; Moore & Barab, 2002).
  • Teaching practices that encourage social interaction, sharing of experiences, and development of a shared identity with group members should be used in professional development programs.

(Levin, Levin, & Chandler, 2001; Owen, Pollard, Kilpatrick, & Rumley, 1998; Waddoups, Levin, & Levin, 2000)

creating a community of professional learners7
Creating a Community of Professional Learners
  • Use bulletin board discussions to increase interaction and knowledge base.
  • This practice is supported by constructivist theories, where “learners create knowledge and understanding through interaction and conversation with others, enabling articulation, negotiation and reflection on ideas” (McLoughlin & Luca, 2002, p. 576).
creating a community of professional learners8
Creating a Community of Professional Learners
  • Promote activities that facilitate generation of personal ideas and knowledge
  • For example, the “virtual space” could contain an area for a personal journal where individuals could record their own thoughts and ideas as they work through, read, or watch a discussion.

(McLoughlin & Luca, 2002)

creating a community of professional learners9
Creating a Community of Professional Learners
  • Use H323 videoconferencing to have weekly/biweekly/monthly discussions.
  • Not only does the videoconferencing allow participants to feel more connected, but it allows this specific population to share their visual-spatial language (ASL).

(Johnson, Daugaard, & Baker, 2003)

creating a community of professional learners10
Creating a Community of Professional Learners
  • Include areas in the “virtual space” for deaf students and their parents.
  • Discussions that include multiple perspectives can add to the knowledge base for the teacher. Find a way to de-emphasize the typical roles of the people in the discussion - encourage all participants to be both learner and teacher.

(Burley, Yearwood, Elwood-Salinas, Martin, Allen, 2001; Henry, Scott, Wells, Skobel, Jones, Cross, Butler, & Blackstone, 1999)

creating a community of professional learners11
Creating a Community of Professional Learners
  • “In all of these pedagogic features, the technology acts as a cognitive tool, placing the learner in control, affording shared virtual spaces for dialogue and shared visual spaces for display of work in progress” (McLoughlin & Luca, 2002, p. 581).
disadvantages to vpds
Disadvantages to VPDS
  • It may be hard to arrange continuing education credits for teachers participating in the VPDS (because it will be a national program).
  • A high speed internet connection will be a necessity to view the sign language portions of the VPDS.
  • Technical support on-site might not be available to all teachers.
advantages to vpds
Advantages to VPDS
  • It is possible to record all discussion.
  • Multiple topics/issues can be discussed at the same time.
  • It may increase the participation of people who may not otherwise speak in front of a large group of people.
  • It may increase social and communication skills (both written and signed) of the participants.

(Owen, Pollard, Kilpatrick, & Rumley, 1998)

advantages to vpds cont
Advantages to VPDS (cont.)
  • Using H323 videoconferencing technology, teachers across the country can see each other, increasing the feeling of being part of a community of learners.
  • BIGGEST BENEFIT: Isolated deaf children can interact with other deaf children and deaf adults, and learn from one another what it means to be deaf. Teachers of the deaf can exchange ideas about classroom practices that facilitate learning in the deaf population.

(Johnson, Daugaard, & Baker, 2003)

for more information
For More Information
  • www.deafed.net
  • http://dept.kent.edu/sped/faculty/johnson.htm
  • http://ntidweb.rit.edu/