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Arts Educator 2.0

   Arts Educator 2.0 is a project that is funded through a federal Professional Development for Arts Educators grant.  AE 2.0 is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Intermediate Unit One, which is located in Coal Center, Pennsylvania.  AE 2.0 is a three-year professional development project for dance, music, theatre and visual arts educators in Fayette, Greene and Washington counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

In the first year of AE 2.0, 24 arts educators from high-poverty schools completed a unit of study and implemented a personalized professional development plan with the help of a mentor.  These educators received a digital video camera, an iPod, a webcam, and a headset to help them document classroom practice and communicate with their mentors.  The results of the year one evaluation indicated that the participants felt the personalized professional development plan was most beneficial to them and to their students.

 

After examining the feedback and evaluation information from year one, the AE 2.0 project staff decided to change the focus of the program, while still keeping true to the goals set forth in the original grant proposal.  With a generous grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the project expanded from 24 educators in high-poverty schools to 40 educators in both high-poverty and low-poverty schools.  Year two of AE 2.0 is focusing on collaborative inquiry; participants are working with facilitators in small groups to direct and evaluate their own learning.  The theme of year two is improving student achievement through collaboration and documentation.  With the expansion from two mentors to six facilitators, participants are able to set goals and document and examine their classroom practice in a supportive and collegial environment.

 

 

Participants in the AE 2.0 project come together at the Intermediate Unit six times during the year.  They start each day by examining a work of art that demonstrates collaboration and/or documentation, then work in their collaborative inquiry groups to explore technology tools that might support one or both of these ideas.  Participants in year two have received netbooks as tools for collaboration and documentation.  The collaborative inquiry groups also spend time at these face-to-face days examining questions and issues directly related to their classroom practice. 

Year three of the project will occur in 2010-2011.  While federal funding will expire after this third year, there has been much interest statewide in the collaborative inquiry model and the potential it has to change teacher practice in the arts, which are often isolated in the schools.  More information about the project can be found at http://artseducator20.wikispaces.com.