A PUSH to Innovate - Introduction | Sherpa Learning

A PUSH to Innovate - Introduction

Teddy Roosevelt riding a moose = epitome of cool.

A PUSH to Innovate

A New Blog Series from Sherpa Learning

by Christine DeFranco, CCO

As American students struggle to compete globally,* status quo is just not enough—not even for AP students. As teachers are pressured to report higher test scores or face a variety of accountability consequences, status quo is just not enough. Pre-AP, AP, and Honors-level teachers need the best tools, and they know exactly what those tools should look like. Unfortunately, those tools—if and when they exist—are scattered across the web, or buried within large, costly programs, or in the minds of history teachers. The scale of the time and effort necessary to assemble these tools into a unified resource that fits the individual needs of each student truly falls into the "mission impossible" category. Yet many teachers seem to pull it off. How they do it, though, is a mystery.

Having worked closely with a great many AP U.S. History teachers while developing the Second Edition of Threads of History, we were consistently and thoroughly blown away by the wealth of home-grown resources that many teachers had been curating and creating in their “spare time.” A large percentage of APUSH teachers have their own blogs which they use to share knowledge and resources, as well as assignments and updates. We discovered Facebook community groups that facilitated student/teacher exchanges that seemed unlikely to occur inside the classroom. The truly ambitious produce videos and podcasts, expanding upon class lectures or providing customized reviews for their students.

Over the next few months, I will be reporting on this mystery by showcasing some of the leading educator-developed AP U.S. History resources in a blog series I call “A PUSH to Innovate” (see what I did there?). Each installment in the series will spotlight an educator who is blazing their own resource trail, and succeeding.

These educators are on the front lines, constantly trying new things and adapting their efforts to not only address the needs of one student, but fulfill the needs of each individual student in their class. These educators are thought leaders, not only to their students, but to their colleagues—opening channels of communication and collaboration through their exchange of new ideas. They are inspiring more than just discussion between teachers, who are an especially communicative bunch (no surprise there); they are inspiring a connection between students, parents, and teachers that is traditionally only seen in times of crisis.

These educators have been an inspiration to the Sherpa Learning team. They also inspired me to share their innovative creations, and facilitate additional connections and conversations across the country. Stay tuned for my first installment which will spotlight Kate Harris, an AP U.S. History Teacher from Jordan High School in Durham, NC who uses her well-organized and incredibly comprehensive blog to build knowledge, connect with students and parents, and encourage good study habits.

*The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.

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