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InspirED Innovation makes great first impression

CASTLE ROCK – This week a group of Douglas County teachers got a sneak peek of a new system that will help them build World-Class units.
The District is launching the InspirED Innovation system, which was nicknamed Big Data initially, to teachers next week. The first phase of this innovative web-based tool provides teachers with an interactive space to build backward-designed units. From a single tool they can define the outcomes they hope to achieve in class, design assessments to measure those outcomes, and coordinate the learning activities needed to reach their objectives.
Several teachers had an opportunity to try the system ahead of next week’s launch and were pleased by the sleek design and easy-to-learn interface.
“I give it an A+,” Mammoth Heights Elementary second grade teacher Mary Lisa Blevins told the Board of Education on Tuesday night. “It’s obviously written by people who understand backwards design.”
Keely Vaughn from Sage Canyon Elementary agreed. She says that InspirED Innovation will allow teachers to better manage their courses and the documentation that can highlight highly effective teaching methods during their evaluations. 
“I did not become a teacher to do paperwork or to sit at a desk and cipher through things. I want to be in the classroom with my kids,” Vaughn said. “Whether we knew we wanted it or not, this is the tool that teachers have been waiting for, because it compiles everything.”
In the first phase, the system steps teachers through the backward design process, encouraging them to choose or create enduring understandings—and then to select assessments and activities that will help them to achieve them. Along the way, they are able to integrate 21st Century Skills and World Class outcomes found in the new, teacher-developed Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum. This allows evaluators to see real-time how units support students in mastering World Class outcomes, populate our teacher evaluation tool, CITE, and provide teachers with timely feedback.
“This will eventually build a portfolio for you that really showcases your hard work and your innovation. This is really where you can put your best work and be proud of it,” Vaughn added.
“Our teachers have told us that they would love a tool that empowers and supports their work – a tool that would eliminate some of the paperwork required by SB 191.  We agree with them.  There is no reason why the teaching profession has not enjoyed the types of 21st century tools that other professions utilize,” Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen added.
In future, there will be an iPad app connected to the system that will allow leaders to add photos and notes during classroom visits – tagging those artifacts to provide teachers with real-time feedback, and eventually there will be ways for students and parents to interact with the system in future phases.
Dr. Fagen says this is a system unlike any others available in American education. She knows, because for two years her team has searched for programs that might help automate some of the work teachers do everyday.
“We tried very hard to procure this in a collaboration and a partnership and we just couldn’t get there,” Fagen said. 
Time-and-time-again vendors told her that DCSD is ahead of the rest of the nation. 
When we couldn’t find one that met our standards, we decided to build it ourselves. 
“We knew that our teachers and our leaders deserved something better,” Fagen explained. “So, we’ve gone down this pathway of actually creating this system that will support our teachers and our leaders, eventually to our parents and our students. I’m proud of the work our technology folks have done and am excited by the reactions from some of our best teachers,” she added. 
Those teachers say that they’re glad the District did not settle.
“We don’t do anything the old school way in Douglas County, do we? We try not to,” Vaughn said. 
“I think [teachers are] going to see it’s really sleek and they’re going to want to use it,” she added. “Through this we are able to develop more effective units, which I think will lead to more effective students.”
Following next week’s launch teachers are encouraged to provide not only their feedback on the system, but also what they hope it might do in the future.
We want teachers to, “help us to build the tool and make it their own,” Slaby said. 
Feedback regarding issues with the tool? Email i2-support[at]dcsdk12[dot]org
Suggestions or ideas? Email i2-features[at]dcsdk12[dot]org 
July 19, 2013 | By Anonymous | Category: Communications

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