by Jill Castek
The Friday Institute at North Carolina State University was the site of the fifth New Literacies Teacher Leader Institute from July 25 to 29, 2011. The event was organized around the theme “Inquire, Collaborate, Create: New Literacies for Teacher Leaders.” NC State professors Hiller Spires, Carl Young, and John Lee, along with other presenters, used innovative instructional techniques to showcase ways that digital tools can create challenging and motivating learning opportunities for teachers and students.
Across the week, participants engaged in hands-on, minds-on, project-based inquiries. In the process, they made plans for distributing new knowledge to their extended learning communities in their respective schools and districts.
Keynote addresses sparked new ideas for implementation. Professor Don Leu’s talk invited a closer look at New Literacies, Inquiry, and Equity: Teacher Leaders for a New Educational Era. Steven W. Anderson’s address promoted Education, Enduring and Everlasting. Meredith Stewart’s keynote explored Digital Cross Training: Teachers as Students and Students as Teachers.
Digging Deeper sessions encouraged participants to explore how social networking environments can enrich the classroom and how video can be used as a creation tool to amplify student engagement, creativity, and complex thinking.
Cool Tools sessions featured Voicethread, Prezi, Xtranormal, Google's Collaborative Literacy Tools and much more. Across the institute, Twitter, and Ning were used as dynamic communication and reflection tools.
Each day included time for teachers to create innovative inquiry lessons based on curriculum standards. To celebrate and showcase their learning, teachers shared their innovative inquiry projects during a Participant Showcase.
The New Literacies Teacher Leader Institute at NC State was an innovative learning experience that inspired participating teachers to tap students’ curiosity and unleash their creativity while at the same time become agents for change in a new educational era. Creators Hiller Spires, John Lee, Carl Young, Don Leu, Julie Coiro, and Jill Castek have seen momentum for the institute grow as new generations of teacher leaders share their knowledge with colleagues and put into practice what they’ve learned. Organizers are planning for the next institute in 2012. To get involved contact Hiller Spires at email@example.com.
Photo Captions: Emily Blair, a New Literacies Teacher Leader and Spanish teacher from Jeffries Grove Elementary School in Raleigh, NC, chooses an image that represents her leadership style. During Design Studio, Emily worked with Jennifer Smith-Wyatt and Mary Gail Walker to create an instructional unit focused on cultural connections. One of the Institute creators, Professor Hiller Spires, offers support as educators Ke Wang and Bing Tan from Beijing Royal School in China collaborate with teachers from North Carolina to explore Cool Tools for teaching new literacies. In Design Studio, Ke along with fellow math teacher Zhong designed a unit exploring linear correlations with bivariate data.
Jill Castek is from the University of California, Berkeley.