Method Seminars and Design Laboratories

Method Seminars are 2-4 hour workshops which can be deepened into a Design Lab if time permits. All seminars are conducted using cooperative learning pedagogy to maximize teacher engagement and retention of the information, and to model instructional strategies. Delivery of the key content typically includes an interactive presentation by the facilitator, short readings or handouts, discussion topics among groups of teachers, and multiple-intelligence community-building exercises to foster collaborative teacher relationships and creative thinking.

Design Laboratories are 1-5 day project-based trainings that have a product outcome using a specific pedagogical approach - from a lesson to an entire curriculum design.   Design Labs are often built around Method Seminar  topics, but incorporate significant planning and collaborative time built into the day.  Teachers synthesize and apply new ideas, discuss them deeply, design curricula and/or lessons, share plans, and get feedback.  The facilitator offers individual planning coaching sessions during the work periods, to teachers can get more customized support. Design laboratorys also contain structures that help develop teacher leadership and a collaborative professional learning culture.

Sample Method Seminar and Design Laboratory Topics:

Lesson Design:

  • Cooperative learning and strategies to engage students in active thinking throughout a lesson
  • Developing discussion and debate in the classroom
  • Literacy and vocabulary-building strategies across disciplines
  • Lesson design and classroom management for diverse groups and multiple intelligences
  • Developing student citizenship and personal investment through classroom and curriculum structures

Curriculum Design:

  • Project-based thematic curriculum development for all subjects using the Buck Institute for Education’s Project Based Learning Toolkit, and the Understanding by Design framework
  • 21st Century teaching methods to develop critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity
  • Curriculum design for different level learners and multiple intelligences
  • Using learning outcomes and rubrics to engage students in monitoring their own learning process – creating rubrics, using them for instruction and assessment, and engaging students in metacognitive thinking
  • Reading and Writing Workshop structures – designing curricula for literacy, creativity, and intellectual development
  • Exploring Perspectives – teaching History for active citizenship
  • Teaching for sustainability –  using the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education framework to develop critical awareness and avenues for active engagement in environmental issues

School Structures:

  • Portfolio roundtables development and facilitation
  • Standards-based or service-based capstone projects for graduation or promotion
  • Advisory curriculum development for social-emotional learning, community service, and student leadership
  • Creating transformative experiences for students: Service learning, leadership projects, internships, expeditions