The Luckiest Teacher in Texas

I feel like one of the most fortunate people alive. Every summer brings professional development opportunities, but usually I’m teaching summer school and can’t avail myself of them, or I’m actually the one presenting. That’s all well and good – one of the best ways to learn is to teach – but I’ve been hankering lately to be the student.  This July, that wish will come true.

Thanks to Georgia-Pacific, my ridiculously generous sponsor, I’ll be flying out to Ke, Colorado to attend the Key Issues Institute at the Keystone Science School. A little about the Institute from KSS’s website:

Key Issues Institute provides middle-level educators with the process, skills, and confidence to investigate current environmental issues with their students using innovative and engaging ideas, activities, and methods. Our non-biased framework promotes inquiry, providing educators with step-by-step instructions to guide students through an investigation of all sides of an issue.

As a reading teacher, I’ve always been keen to use what my students are studying in other classes as a springboard for the units I create for our reading class. Reading practice ALWAYS takes students further when it is done in context. To this end, whenever I can access a context that my students are already getting from their math or social studies or science teacher, we can create a circumstance in which each class continuously feeds the content of the other, and the students’ learning increases exponentially.

This is the biggest reason that I’m excited at the prospect of attending the Key Issues Institute.  In addition to the training in geography, environment, research, scientific processes, and pedagogy, I will be sharing a lesson of my choice with the other educators attending the Institute.  We will all share a lesson in full with one another so that we return to our classrooms armed to the teeth with new knowledge and lessons that are ready to be implemented.

In short, this is professional development at its finest.

Photo courtesy of

So, as June creeps forward and inches toward July, I’m making my final arrangements and preparations to fly off to the mountains for what I am certain will be one of the greatest educational experiences of my life.  Thanks to my sponsor, Georgia-Pacific, and the staff at Keystone, I can finally look forward to being the student again and enriching my own students’ education, in turn.

Since my go-to social media platform is Twitter, I invite you all to follow me there (@FarleyJeffrey) as I document the experience for all of the educators in my PLN. You can also get the latest about the Keystone Science School (@KScienceSchool) and their many initiatives by following them. I’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #KI2014 during the coming weeks, during the Key Issues Institute itself, and in subsequent weeks as I put what I learn into action in the classroom. And, of course, you can follow the blog here as I update with a narrative of the experience throughout.

GP_Twitter_Icon_400x400This opportunity was made possible through a sponsorship from Georgia-Pacific. However, all opinions reflected in this post are my own, and I did not receive additional compensation from the sponsor for this post.



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