Brandon Readtopia implementation
“I nearly Cried!” What remote PD success looks like
In 2019, supported by Bridges Professional Learning, 10 classes in Brandon Manitoba consisting of teams of 4 teachers each, implemented curricula for students with complex learning needs (i.e. AAC users, cognitive, sensory challenges, physical disabilities):
- Readtopia, the comprehensive experiential instructional reading program.
- Equals math curriculum that connects functional math to abstract ideas.
- First Author comprehensive writing curriculum that teaches how to write and measures writing progress (introduced this year)
So far, despite the pandemic, the Brandon curriculum project has been a wonderful experience and a great success.
A teacher involved in the 2019 Readtopia implementation and is continuing this year, took the time to share some of her experiences:
“I'm really seeing a lot more confidence in my Readtopia students this year. They are taking more risks by sharing their ideas and yesterday two different students asked "I wonder why..." questions. I nearly cried!
I can definitely see improvement in their reading strategies as well - more monitoring and self-correcting behaviors. Everyone is reading more fluently.”
Remote Teacher Training that Works
Through a combination of in person, web delivered and ongoing professional development the implementation has expanded: 5 more teams or 20 people have been added this year, plus some new teachers who joined last year’s teams.
The professional development for educators in Brandon has included:
- Full day face to face workshop
- Series of live, interactive online workshops on specific curricula which combined group tasks as well as presentations
Between webinars teachers applied what they learned and provided feedback: successes, challenges, and lots of questions etc. This feedback informed the development of the next webinar.
Jan Pilling (SLP) and Christy Macdonald (OCT) presentation about this implementation approach was accepted for the 2021 edition of the prestigious Closing the Gap international virtual assistive technology conference. You can register to view this and many more presentation from now until November 11th by registering here.
On going and Evolving support
The Bridges team has worked very closely with the education community to effectively respond to evolving needs. With the limitations imposed by the pandemic reality, this year’s face-to-face workshop has been divided into two virtual interactive half-day sessions.
But nonetheless this commitment to ongoing support and professional development is a key to success. Teachers need to share their experiences, build on past challenges and grow to get the most out of a curriculum initiative as ambitious and inspiring as Brandon’s.
This teacher goes on to say:
“I think I am likely doing a better job of teaching the unit, as well. I'm more familiar with the structure and the resources, so I feel that I am maximizing the resources that are provided, while also integrating materials to reinforce learning.
For example, we are doing the "Ancient Egypt/Roman Empire unit" and we read about pyramids. We also visited a few websites about different pyramids around the world. Then, students had to write facts they learned about pyramids, onto on a pyramid graphic organizer, cut it out, and glue the 3D pyramid together. Each student presented one "fantastic fact" they learned about pyramids.
I'm really excited to see the engagement and increased skill level of the students."
In this Brandon Manitoba classroom the phrase “increased skill level” can be applied not just to the students but to the teachers, too.
- Angela Mpala