Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs

The Chappaqua Central School District seeks to ensure that all students go beyond standardized tests and rote learning by empowering students to think deeply, apply problem-solving skills, and actively drive their own learning. The same goals and expectations are maintained for our professional staff, which is comprised of educators who model being life-long learners and critical thinkers!

One way to continuously keep learning at the center of our work is by creating opportunities for our educators to direct their own learning, which was the goal of this year's Learning Symposium/Superintendent's Conference Day. This day provided our faculty with various self-selected pathways to push their own thinking while also working collaboratively to explore, consider and reflect on best practices.

The day began with a keynote address by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs, co-author of the book, "Bold Moves for Schools: How We Create Remarkable Learning Environments." Dr. Jacobs is known for her work in curriculum mapping and integration, and developing 21st-century approaches to teaching and learning. Her remarks focused on powerful curriculum, project-based learning, authentic assessment, modern and flexible learning spaces, and progressive teaching and learning approaches.

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The remainder of the day afforded staff the opportunity to "choose their own adventure" by selecting to participate in any combination of the following professional learning experiences facilitated by their colleagues:

Bold Moves Collegial Circle
A round-table discussion with Dr. Jacobs that took a deep dive into the themes discussed during her keynote address.

"Appy Hour"
Colleagues facilitated this exploration of various web tools and apps they are currently using that support individualized instruction, personalized learning, formative assessment, and creativity.

Learning Symposiums
Over 35 sessions were scheduled where staff shared aspects of best practice, innovative curriculum, and inquiry-based learning. These sessions were structured in different ways and allowed for everything from a text-based discussion to a hands-on practicum.

Pot Luck PD
A fast-moving and high-energy opportunity, teacher-facilitators were stationed at tables and provided a 10-minute showcase that featured a lesson or unit using various resources, student work samples, and excerpts from the actual learning experiences.

Curriculum Projects
This was a special opportunity for staff to propose a curriculum project of their own design, or to redesign/enhance an existing learning experience for students. This allowed our faculty to partner with someone outside of their subject area, or collaborate with a teacher of another grade, to innovate and create as part of their planning. One of the highlights was the groups of teachers who were designing PBL activities to be actualized in the new learning spaces.

The diverse list of offerings highlighted the breadth and depth of topics that Chappaqua educators have been engaged in studying. The end result was a day of powerful and inspiring learning and collaboration.