The Pioneers…

PictureFor me there is nothing better than introducing the eMINTS program to people for the first time!  Last week I had the privilege of doing just that.  Our national PD4ETS (or train-the-trainer program) held its kickoff!

The PD4ETS participants will bring the eMINTS program to districts in Alabama and Arkansas.  The comprehensive eMINTS program is two years long, during which teachers learn strategies for embedding research-based, best practices into the classroom.  The results of the eMINTS program go beyond test scores and meeting the Common Core, student engagement in eMINTS classrooms goes up as students learn to think critically, build community, question, and problem solve.

A key element of the eMINTS program is job-embedded coaching and mentoring.  Teachers attend eMINTS professional learning throughout the year, but they also received visits from their instructional specialist.  This personalized time to coach, collaborate, consult, and mentor is what sets the eMINTS professional learning program apart from other professional development.
During eMINTS training,  pedagogy is modeled and teachers spend time reflecting on practice and thinking about how strategies will transfer back to the classroom.   During a recent training, Dr. Kim Hendon, PD4ETS from Roanoke City Schools, made the statement, “No teacher wakes up and says today I want to be mediocre.”  eMINTS strategies help educator do their best everyday!

One of the primary goals of the PD4ETS kickoff is to give participants a strong foundation for what eMINTS is all about and what it can do for their students and teachers. We wantto develop a deep understanding of our instructional model; high-quality lesson design, inquiry-based learning, community of learners, all powered by technology.  After the three days of face-to-face time, the trainers then return to their districts and are supported virtually throughout the year.

eMINTS Instructional Model
The eMINTS Instructional Model

To begin developing relationships with the PD4ETS participants,  I sent out a survey prior to their training. Their responses helped me customize the training experience.   When looking at survey responses, I discovered that the participants really wanted to experience the Gateway Arch.   With the help of some colleagues, we designed an inquiry experience and task using the Arch as our subject.

The Inquiry Experience…

The heart of inquiry learning is questioning.  One strategy eMINTS shares with our teachers is the Question Focus Strategy or QFT.  Using this quote about pioneers, “It’s not easy being a pioneer, but oh is it fascinating.”  the PD4ETS participants participated in the entire QFT process. Ranking and selecting their top questions, they began to guess what the task would be.

“We are going to do a presentation about pioneers.”

“We are going to have a wax museum.”

Higher-level thinking is what eMINTS is all about!  I revealed the task-“Create a symbol, motto, quote/tagline to motivate and celebrate your eMINTS implementation. What is your “Why?” for implementing eMINTS?” Silence, excitement, and the comments “That’s hard”, “How much time do we have?”, and “Let’s get going!”

Off to the Arch we went.  The process was to use the questions created during the QFT to explore the pioneers. The parallel, they are the pioneers for their districts.  We arrived at the Gateway Arch Museum and set to work~reading displays, taking photos, asking more questions… There were no specific directions on how they needed to convey their message.  This added to the creativity, differentiation, and thinking involved in completing the task. (This is sometimes frustrating for both student and adult learners.)  These school leaders awed me with their final products and explanations:

Quote on a plaque: We have an unknown distance yet to run; an unknown river yet to explore. -J.W.Powell
“We have an unknown distance yet to run; an unknown river yet to explore.” -J.W.Powell
A tool used by pioneers
A tool used by pioneers. It had multiple functions. There were many connections to the image.

 

On this spot monumental dreams come to life!

Participant Video: My eMINTS Project

To truly understand the power of eMINTS, you have to experience it!  Once you experience eMINTS it is hard to imagine teaching any other way!  The excitement and innovation that comes with constructing your own knowledge is empowering and life changing!  eMINTS is about empowering and changing the lives of teachers, who then change the lives of students!

The eMINTS National Center offers many professional learning opportunities.  Visit the eMINTS National Center website for more information!

Carmen Marty is an eMINTS instructional specialist and Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer for the eMINTS National Center. This post was originally posted at Carmen’s blog, At Least One Thing.