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Q: What is the general goal of Powerful Learning Practice?

PLP is a professional development model that immerses educators into environments and practices that allow them to learn and own the literacies of 21st Century learning and teaching. It is unique in that it is carried out over the course of the school year through a carefully planned curriculum designed to initiate and support a real shift in the personal and professional practice of the participants. The end result is that PLP educators understand deeply the literacies and pedagogies necessary to leverage the powerful emerging technologies for personal and classroom learning.

Q: How are the cohorts created?

Ideally, the 100 educator groups come from a relatively close geographic area as there are two face to face meetings that take place. The 20 schools that participate are put together based on their interest or by regional organizations, independent associations, etc. PLP has logistical assistants on staff to help facilitate the process of putting a cohort in place. We also have a staff of community leaders who organize, oversee, and lead our communities.

Q: What is the time commitment for participants?

Two full day face to face sessions, one at the beginning and another at the end of the program, and five two-hour online sessions comprise the meetings when all participants will be learning together. But in addition, to fully participate and get the most out of the social learning tools offered, participants should expect to read and interact in the virtual environments on a regular basis. Most report spending an average of 1 hour a week working online.

Additionally, there are optional activities for cross-cohort collaboration:

* Various PLP Live Events throughout the year such as interviews, focus group sessions, and virtual Fellow lunches
* Opportunities for cohort specific small team meetings in Elluminate
* International team collaboration
* PLP Fellows’ collective project: development of a 21st Century Literacies Toolkit

Q: What will participants learn?

A lot, from using specific tools like blogs and wikis and RSS feeds, to understanding the dynamics of social networking and situated community building and their potential for learning. But most importantly, participants will learn how to leverage participatory media for their own personal learning practice. While classroom implementation will be a consideration, first and foremost this program helps educators understand how to build personal learning networks and communities for themselves.

Working in professional learning teams, schools will collaborate to develop co-created projects with the intention of scaling what they learn throughout the program to the rest of the faculty. In some cases school teams will choose to create inquiry-driven curriculum projects based on project or problem-based learning strategies.

Q: What are the characteristics of a good 21st century team member?

Characteristics of a good team member include: basic technical aptitude, a willingness to learn new things, adaptability, interest in using new technologies in instruction, a student-centered philosophy of education, teacher leadership, enthusiasm for teacher collaboration, knowledge of subject matter and teaching methodologies in their discipline, and an interest in project- and problem-based learning.

Q: What is the role of the team leader?

Participating schools are required to designate one member of their 21st Century School team as the team leader. In addition to regular participation as a team member, the team leader will serve as a facilitator and “encourager” during the professional development experience. The team leader will be the day-to-day liaison between your school and the PLP staff, assuring good communication between the community leader, the school, and other team members.

Q: How important are district Internet policies and operations to this work?

Very important. Effective participation in our curriculum depends upon a school team’s ability to access the Elluminate and VLC web platforms and to visit and experiment with a variety of websites that offer tools that can be adapted for classroom use. We work to support an ongoing conversation among educators and school technology leaders across the state about the important need to balance Internet safety and Internet access for legitimate educational purposes.

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