More than 1,000 teachers from across the Cherry Creek School District are using the summer months to hone their craft and deepen their knowledge, all for the sake of their students.
This year, the district's Office of Professional Learning launched the Summer EdVentures program, a series of classes and workshops designed for teachers looking to sharpen their skills before the beginning of the 2018-19 school year. While the district has long offered professional development opportunities to its teachers during the summer, the Summer EdVentures classes represent several new steps in the district's constant effort to provide the best kind of enrichment opportunities for its educators.
In past years, for example, classes took place during one week at the outset of the summer, and they were largely confined to CCSD buildings. According to Mary Shay, director of the CCSD Office of Professional Learning, the Summer EdVentures series stands out partly because they span the entire summer break and take place at locales across the metro area for a hands-on, tactile form of instruction.
"Teachers are having learning opportunities throughout the course of the summer, and it's not only that single week, as had been traditionally done in the past," Shay said. "Secondly, teachers aren't going to be pulled as much from classrooms with substitutes to access learning opportunities, because we've done that through the summer."
So far, CCSD teachers have set up shop in the Microsoft Store in the Park Meadows mall to learn about mixed and augmented reality software and they've met at the Denver Botanic Gardens to study Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) curriculum. The EdVentures lineup also includes a feature film series at the local Landmark cinema and spotlights movies about innovation in classrooms.
What's more, the EdVentures classes are a collaborative effort between departments, and have incorporated input and insights from educators and professionals from far beyond the district.
"We've had people outside of our district who've been interested in our work as well. We've had opportunities for cognitive coaching this year, which drew educators from India, from Mexico and from a sundry of other states," Shay said. "That was exciting, to have people come in and see what Cherry Creek is all about."
The EdVentures series kicked off with a keynote presentation by Dr. Anthony Muhammed, an award-winning teacher, principal and scholar whose work in the field of Professional Learning Communities has garnered international praise. Muhammed will return to CCSD four times over the course of the coming year to work with middle school leadership teams.
"That was a good kickoff to the work that he'll be doing in the next school year," Shay said. "We've also collaborated with STEM and Innovation, so the Buck Institute for Education and Project-Based Learning was under the umbrella of Summer EdVentures."
The courses run until Thursday, Aug. 2, and are set to offer CCSD instructors a new set of tools heading into the school year. CCSD teachers interested in signing up for classes through the rest of the summer can log on to www.ccsdsummeredventures.com.