Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Charlotte, North Carolina
District State: North Carolina
District Website: cms.k12.nc.us
In a 1-to-1 device district with nearly 20,000 English language learners, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools educators were eager to design lessons that would foster academic conversations and build language skills for those students. District leaders also saw technology as a solution that could provide students with opportunities beyond class time to practice language skills and to participate in collaborative projects.
In the 2016-17 school year, the district held its first Digital Integration Conference for English Learners, a one-day professional development event for ESL teachers. The conference, where teachers learn about software, programs and other digital tools that could improve instruction, is now an annual event.
Attended by 180 teachers each year, the conference offers 24 breakout sessions that include basic instructional presentations led primarily by the district’s instructional technology team or teacher leaders. Sessions range from exploring coding resources to using virtual reality teaching tools to implementing game-based software.
“Since sessions are based around student work products, it allows us to see what can work and what might not,” says Bill King, director of English learner services.
ESL students also lead sessions and help train teachers. By doing so, they get to demonstrate their expertise of the technology and further develop leadership and English skills.
The district has created a number of professional learning networks to support PD throughout the year. The instructional technology team also visits schools to provide extra assistance.
“We have some inspiring educators who we get to work with all the time,” says King. “This event is a way for them to have a chance to collaborate and serve as another avenue of support for their peers across our district.”