Educators from across the US spent three days collaborating (and learning) at the 2018 SNE Summer Workshop in Chicago
Veni, vidi, vici! As Julius Caesar once said, so too can the 120 dedicated educators (from as far as Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands) proclaim, “I came, I saw, I conquered!” These passionate educators joined the Smarter Balanced team for the annual summer workshop from July 16-18. The task at hand was to create instructional resources housed in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library. Each of these resources provide clear learning goals and success criteria for students, and they are connected to specific instructional next steps for educators to use with the student performance reports from the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs). Enveloping this work was professional development focused on the formative assessment process. Presentations and support by member state educators illustrated the value of embedding task-based, descriptive feedback regularly in learning activities throughout the school year in order to provide students with actionable next steps to advance their knowledge and skills.
For educators new to the process, collaboration was a highlight to this new experience. With strong mentoring and supportive teams, new SNEs quickly had the confidence to use their deep instructional expertise to design and create high-quality classroom tasks. When asked what was most valuable part of the workshop, one SNE responded:
“The collaboration with other educators from around the U.S. and the Virgin Islands. I appreciated that I could learn from them and enhance my expertise. I also felt very valued as an educator, which is very validating.”
Work over the three days included updating current Connections Playlists by identifying resource needs. Connections Playlists are proving to be an extremely valuable resource for teachers—they take much of the guesswork out of finding appropriate next instructional steps once an educator elicited evidence of a student’s current level of learning. Connections Playlists save teachers time by directly linking IAB results to resources for students who fall below, at, or above achievement levels.
Collaboration was highlighted throughout the workshop and took on a celebratory tone–the process included the ringing of a bell and rounds of applause every time a new resource was posted to the Digital Library. A few enthusiastic teams even recorded video “commercials” for their lesson plans. Through this close collaboration and creative work, teachers built their personal networks and many friendships blossomed. Returning SNEs who have participated in previous workshops value the connections they have made and now have teachers in many states that they can call upon for advice, feedback, and ongoing support. Being an SNE provides educators with opportunities to meet and collaborate with wonderful, energetic educators from all over the country.
Amy Thierry, Assistant Director of Instruction Supports for Smarter Balanced, organized and lead the workshop. She feels this is not only a critical component of providing support for educators with resources in the Digital Library, but also that it is an opportunity to celebrate the love of teaching.
“It’s really an honor to be able to facilitate a workshop that provides so much value to the participants. The love of and passion for learning and teaching fills the room. An educator with over 30 years of experience thanked me for such an engaging training.” – Amy Thierry
Over the coming months, resources conceived during the workshop will be completed and posted, bringing the total number of high-quality, teacher created and vetted instructional resources in the Digital Library to well over 3,000. The energy of the work groups will extend beyond the conference and even though SNEs are spread out across the US and territories, they will continue to collaborate as they put the finishing touches on new resources in the pipeline.
To learn more about educator involvement in developing Smarter Balanced tools and resources, visit the ‘Educator Created‘ page on our site.
Check out the state team portraits from the #SNESW18 photo booth!