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Creston School District implements new initiative

Published: Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 11:30 a.m. CDT

What makes kids smarter? Arguably it’s better teaching methods.

Creston School District is implementing an initiative called Authentic Intellectual Work. The program allows teachers to improve their lessons and make them more current and “thought-provoking.”

“We want to get the word out and let people know exactly what we’re doing,” said Bill Messerole, principal of Creston High School.

Lesa Downing, sixth-12 grade instructional coach, explained the program to the Creston School Board at the monthly meeting Nov. 19.

“It ties into the disciplinary processes, the Iowa Core concepts, and everything’s right here,” said Downing.

The AIW program consists of a teacher giving a lesson and a group of other teachers scoring the lesson. The scores are from a booklet of corresponding definitions. Then as a team the group will discuss the lesson by giving both compliments and constructive criticism. The teacher takes notes and comes back with the revised lesson.

“The reason I like the scoring is that it’s a safe conversation,” explained Downing. “Instead of saying to (the teacher), ‘Oh, your lesson’s awesome, it’s great,’ which is giving her a lot of praise and compliments ... that’s not what we really do ... We talk about it, we talk about why we gave it that score, and I’ve noticed since I’ve been scoring with middle school and high school our scores are getting closer together. We’re learning how to score. That means we’re getting a little bit better at it.”

The AIW program looks at different ways for teachers to get students to think more for themselves, whether that be more in-depth questions in class or using an iPad.

“The good thing about it is it’s just not everybody in the social studies department...So I think it’s good that we are diversified in our groups, meaning there’s English, there’s science, there’s math, there’s social studies, all in the same group,” said Downing.

“Our mission is to fundamentally transform the quality of student learning through teacher professional development by using the AIW framework to foster deep reflective practice—with profound respect for the work and for the people doing it,” stated the Center for Authentic Intellectual Work website. “By offering resources and professional development for teachers and school administrators, the Center’s focus is to help students from elementary through high school produce authentic intellectual work.”

For more information please visit the website at www.centerforaiw.com.

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