January Professional Development

Teachers in Westwind have been hard at work on professional development for the past two days. Monday was a school-based professional development directed by each school principal. Their focuses were diverse but centred on the needs of the students in their classrooms. You can look for details on what they learned together on each school website.

Tuesday was a divisional professional development day for teachers. They focused on learning a new piece of software called PowerTeacher Pro, and on curriculum redesign and a new digital curriculum platform under development by Alberta Education.

PowerTeacher Pro is a robust classroom management tool that includes advanced features for both standards-based and traditional grading. Teachers use the Gradebook app on their phones to get their work done and to analyze student performance. This new Gradebook application will be rolled out gradually throughout the Westwind School Division with full use in all classrooms beginning in September 2017. Parents can expect to see more and more information being available to them about their student's assignments, study material, and progress through the Powerschool app as we approach the end of this school year. Talk to your teacher to find out when they will be adopting this system for their class!

In the afternoon, teachers went through a presentation about the Alberta Curriculum Redesign Project. The curriculums for different subjects currently in use in Alberta classrooms were created at different times between 1987 and 2009. These curriculums have enabled Alberta students to achieve at world-class levels, but they need to be updated to ensure student success into the future. Previously, curriculums were developed one at a time over different periods so there is no common design to the curriculums. Teachers learned that the new curriculum outcomes will place a greater emphasis on 21st Century Competencies and Literacy and Numeracy across all subjects and grades.

In addition to updating the K-12 curriculum, Alberta Education is developing a powerful digital tool called the Curriculum Development and Management Application (CDMA) that will provide teachers with the opportunity to interact with curriculum in ways that they have never been able to before. This means that curriculum can be updated as needed, within shorter time frames, and teachers have a much easier way to develop unit and lesson plans that align closely with the curriculum’s outcomes for all students. This will help ensure that curriculum remains current and relevant, and is better executed in classrooms.

Westwind is a provincial leader in the use of technology in the classroom and in providing teachers in every school access to appropriate technological tools. We are very excited to be rolling out the PowerTeacher Pro app to teachers throughout this year, and to work with Alberta Education to help in the development of their CDMA, however, we can because we know that both these tools can transform the student experience in all our classrooms.

This professional development should impact students in all classrooms throughout the Division and we would encourage parents to talk with teachers to discover how they will be changing their practice to incorporate what they learned!