NJEA Summer Professional Learning InstituteFor educators, summer is a time to relax, reflect, and develop new ideas before the next school year begins. This year, educators will have the opportunity to do all three at the NJEA Summer Professional Learning Institute.

The institute comprises four full days, each focusing on a single topic. This year’s theme will have an emphasis on best practices to close student achievement gaps within a collaborative environment, with an emphasis on the disaggregated groups as defined by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB).  Participants can pick and choose from the a la carte menu, determining their participation based on their own individual needs.

The goal of the institute is to allow teachers to experience how collaborative communities of educators can transform teaching and learning. Each program is designed by educators who have pooled their talents to bring you innovative instructional strategies. And you have the opportunity to weigh in with your own ideas. Collaboration will be embedded through the day to allow participants to share their own thoughts and experiences, as well as to reflect on how the knowledge and skills of other educators can inform their own practice.

The summer institute will take place in the NJEA headquarters building in Trenton. Come and collaborate with other members focusing on student achievement in the intimate setting of NJEA’s state of the art meeting rooms. Each day of the institute will start with registration and continental breakfast from 9-10 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m.

The cost is $25 per participant per day or $100 for a team of five from the same district who register for the same topic.

The registration deadline is June 15. 

Tuesday, July 10--C.A.R.E: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gaps

Target audience: all grade levels

Students from diverse backgrounds bring their varied cultural, racial, and socio-economic characteristics with them to school. Culturally competent teaching is increasingly necessary if educators are to connect with their students. And to connect, educators need to acquire new teaching strategies that match students’ ways of understanding and interacting with the world.

These approaches will help increase student performance as measured by grades and tests, enhance student access to more rigorous curriculum, and advance student achievement in high school and beyond.

Culturally competent teaching, in other words, will play a major role in closing the achievement gaps that exist among race, gender, language, and social class groups. This workshop—C.A.R.E.: Strategies for Closing the Achievement Gaps—can help us make this happen.

Presenters: Amanda Adams has been teaching elementary school in East Orange for 11 years. She is currently an NJEA Professional Development and Instructional Issues consultant who has shared the C.A.R.E. principles with other teachers seeking to learn culturally competent teaching strategies.

Millie Perrine is a Collaborative Consultation Teacher in Jersey City. She has worked in a multitude of areas during her 25-year teaching career, including serving as a member of the Professional Development Team where her duties included training all new instructional staff in the district.

Thursday, July 12--Using Storytelling, Folk Literature and Drama to Enhance Literacy

Target audience: grades K-5

Infuse language arts instruction with new energy by incorporating storytelling and drama with traditional folk literature from the homelands of your students.

English language learners often come from cultures rich in folklore, so folktales are a great resource for reading and writing instruction. A sequence of steps leading from storytelling to dramatization and then writing provide opportunities for students to participate at their own levels, interact with others, play with language, learn plot structures and themes, as well as develop vocabulary. This approach works well with students who have strong literacy roots as well as with those with gaps in their literacy acquisition.

Participants will collaborate with each other to experience storytelling and drama firsthand. They will explore the possibilities that exist when using folktales to develop lessons that align with the Common Core Standards and enliven language arts instruction for all students.

Presenters: Julia A. Mahoney and Ellen V. Simpson have more than 60 years of classroom experience between them. They have taught multiple grade levels and collaborated with ESL teachers to accommodate the needs of English language learners in the regular classroom setting. They are recipients of the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Recognition Award in the River Edge School District.

Tuesday, July 17--Providing Optimum Learning Experiences for English Language Learners

Target audience: grades 3-12

Is your school district in a quandary over how to provide optimum learning experiences for English language learners? This day of learning will focus on helping classroom and subject area teachers provide an effective learning environment and adapt materials and teaching strategies for English language learners.

 Throughout the day, participants will learn basic elements of second language acquisition and consider the academic challenges faced by ELLs. Seven essential strategies for working with English learners in the content areas will be explored using hands-on materials. Participants will have the opportunity to develop a content unit to use in their classroom.

Presenter: Judie Haynes was a teacher of English language learners for 28 years and has written six books on the topic, the most recent being Teaching English Learners Across the Content Areas. She currently serves as president of N.J. Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages/ New Jersey Bilingual Educators.

Thursday, July 19--When the Going Gets Rough, the Tough Get Going

Target audience: general and special education teachers, K-12

Today’s inclusive classrooms are filled with students who exhibit a wide variety of abilities and needs. As educators, we are expected to provide an enriched learning environment where all students can learn.

The primary purpose for this day of collaboration is for educators to expand their skills in working with students with special needs. Educators will have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and skills with special needs students regardless of the disability.

Because understanding and observing a child’s behavior is often an imperative step before implementing instruction, the day will focus on using a positive approach to managing and nurturing challenging students. Included will be a variety of activities focusing on techniques and strategies to deal with both behavioral and academic needs.

Presenter: Claudette Peterkin has been working with students with disabilities for the last 12 years in the Englewood School District. Currently working with students on the Autistic Spectrum, she is also pursuing her doctoral degree at Walden University.