The Education That Works initiative gained traction this summer, through a multi-tiered approach to change the face of local education.
Through the Education That Works initiative, the Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead public school districts, the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC), and the United Way of Cass-Clay are collaborating to better prepare today’s students for post-secondary education and ultimately tomorrow’s workforce. View the Education that Works video and visit the website for a complete overview of the initiative.
“The landscape is changing for education. Supporting economic growth and stability includes producing a workforce that is highly skilled,” explained Jim Gartin, president of GFMEDC. The needed changes provided the impetus for forming this initiative. “It’s paramount we prepare today’s educators to provide curriculum and learning that produces strategically strong individuals to fill those needs.”
Investing in Educators and Students
The goals of the collaborative Education That Works partnership include providing enhanced professional development for current educators, preparing tomorrow’s educators differently, and communicating 21st Century Skills.
With support from sponsors like Xcel Energy, the Education that Works collaborating partners are able to provide enhanced educational experiences for local students and educators as well as the resources needed to communicate with stakeholders and the greater community. “The power of this collaboration has allowed us to reach more teachers and students and improve the work we do,” explains Missy Eidsness, Moorhead Area Public Schools director of school improvement and accountability.
For 2014, the Education That Works partners accomplished much to launch the initiative across the metro area, including major forward progress for each of the initiative’s main goals:
1) Accelerated Professional Development for Teachers
The Education That Works partners have identified professional development of the region’s teachers to have the greatest impact on best preparing our students to be the innovators and leaders of the future.
Summer Tech Camp is a three-day technology immersion experience. Teachers attended a series of sessions facilitated by their peers to share ideas for bringing 21st Century Skills into the classroom. More than 300 professional development sessions were offered during the 2014 “camp.”
EdVentures was a special component of the camp that paired 12 regional businesses with educators, and provided observation tours to manufacturing facilities and technology-based businesses to view 21st Century Skills in practical application. “Educators rarely have an opportunity to experience the application of their efforts beyond the classroom. The EdVenture sessions are a way for teachers to learn about the businesses in our community and to see how our work with 21st Century Skills in the classroom directly impacts our region’s workforce,” said Jodell Teiken, director of Standards Based Education for Fargo Public Schools. ByteSpeed Computers, Daktech, Essentia Health Systems, Fargo Jet Center, Inspire Innovation Labs, and Microsoft were a few of the participating businesses.
2) Better Equip Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Workforce
Creating Opportunities for Digital Experiences (CODE) Tech Camp immersed middle school students in five emerging technology fields: Website Design, Coding for Living, Digital Photography, Digital Movie Making, and Geographical Information Systems. During the two sessions offered over the summer months, a total of 90 students from Fargo (58), West Fargo (12), Moorhead (14), and Dilworth (6) school systems participated in sessions taught by teachers, university professors, and business professionals in their areas of expertise. “I thought that CODE Camp was very fun. I liked making games and learning new things. It taught me a lot and makes me want to work more with computers,” said Ian Manock, a CODE Camp participant from West Fargo.
3) Preparing Tomorrow’s Educators
Project-based learning is a proven method for achieving content standards and 21st Century Skills integration that utilizes inquiry, reflection, making cross-curriculum connections, and collaborative problem solving rather than more traditional learning methods such as reading textbooks and fact memorization. Shifting current classroom practice to more closely resemble how the world operates outside of school requires time for new learning, collaboration, and ongoing support for teachers.
Two three-day workshops offered in July focused on training teachers to engage students using real-world issues and challenges. In total, 113 teachers (38 from West Fargo, 64 from Fargo, and 11 from Moorhead) attended the training sessions. “The big idea that really struck me and will help me take my [classroom] projects to the next level was the focus on helping students make a community connection with a project. By centering the project in a community need, students will get to build a stronger relationship with our community and, hopefully, feel the project has real value,” shared Matt Beiswanger, STEM teacher at Horizon Middle School (Moorhead).
4) Building Capacity for 21st Century Learning
The final 2014 component to the Education That Works initiative encompassed a professional development session for the principals and district level administrators from the Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead Area Public Schools. The training focused on ways to enhance k-12 curriculum to meet the changing educational landscape. The primary outcome was the final articulation and adoption of the Metro 4C Rubrics, developed by staff from all three districts during the 2013-14 school year.
Whether you are a parent, teacher, business leader, or a community member, we all care about the future of our local economy and the leading role our students can play in that success. The Education That Works initiative helps ensure that our students are well-prepared to meet the demands of their future.