By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Teachers, principals, administrative staff and community leaders from schools across the state came together to learn and share ideas to “Be The Difference.”
The University of Oklahoma’s K20 Center for Educational & Community Renewal hosted more than 700 Oklahoma educators Tuesday at its 17th annual Innovative Learning Institute.
Leslie Williams, K20 Center director, said the K20 Center and Innovative Learning Institute participants want every student to thrive in a knowledge-based society and that the conference’s theme, “Be The Difference,” aligned with the K20 Center’s goal of cultivating a collaborative network engaged in research and innovation.
“Today we come together to share best practices, learn about research and to challenge each other,” Williams said.
The keynote address was given by Wes Moore, a youth advocate and author. Moore’s book “The Other Wes Moore” landed on both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
Moore is committed to helping parents, teachers, mentors and advocates better serve our youth. Teachers and principals had only praise for Moore and said his talk was engaging and that he inspired them.
After the keynote, Innovative Learning Institute attendees had the opportunity to attend more than 60 breakout sessions throughout the afternoon. Sessions covered a variety of topics, including boosting science scores, integrating media products like iPads into classroom assignments, differentiation and embedding math literacy into elementary classrooms.
Honesti Williams, Salina High School principal, said the most influential session she attended was “Hubbard TV: A New Spin on Announcements,” which demonstrated how one school created a studio for daily announcements from a web-browser.
“We just started a broadcast class. We’re fired up now,” she said.
Teresa Askin and Deborah Templeman, who teach at Pleasant Grove Elementary in Shawnee, said they learned the most from social studies and differentiation sessions.
“They taught us how to incorporate social studies into an elementary classroom. They used literature like Dr. Seuss to teach various themes, such as environmental conservation,” Askin said.
“My biggest takeaway was from the differentiation session. They explained how to rearrange lessons to hit all kids, not just the middle group,” Templeman said. “That’s always a challenge for teachers.”
One highlight of the Innovative Learning Institute was the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Supporting K20 Innovative Educators (SKIE) award winner presentation.
Six regional winners from across the state each received a $500 award. Each winner was selected for displaying a record of outstanding application and integration of the K20 Center IDEALS (inquiry, discourse, equity, authenticity, leadership and service). The winners also demonstrated excellence in teaching and the use of technology and modeled instruction that is both engaging and effective.
The regional winners include: Central Region — Vickie Kastl from Santa Fe South High School, Oklahoma City; Northeast Region — Mary Hardesty from Turkey Ford Elementary, Ottawa; Northwest Region — Lori Mayden from Newkirk High School; Southeast Region — Tammy Parks from Howe High School and Howe Middle School; Southwest Region — Kent Hathaway, Mustang Elementary School; and Tulsa Region — Greg James, Oneta Ridge Middle School, Broken Arrow.
Kastl was named the 2013 statewide SKIE award winner and received an additionally $1,500 award and a $2,500 technology grant for Santa Fe South High School.
Kastl has spent 39 years in education as a teacher and the last three as an English 3 teacher. She blends technology and authenticity in her classroom by using everything from Nooks to read on and the Internet to research The American Dream and “Great Gatsby.”