DISD Professional Development grows great teachers, students


After spending much of the summer in Professional Development workshops and seminars, Denison ISD teachers and curriculum specialists are hard at work implementing new, research-based methodology to help improve and enhance student learning and long-term success.

“It is imperative that we develop critical thinking skills and a lifelong love for learning if our students are to succeed in today’s ever-changing global workplace. To do that, we must find ways to reach and teach mainstream students as well as those who learn differently,” said Shonda Cannon, DISD Director of Curriculum. “The days of lengthy summer vacations for teachers disappeared years ago. What our teachers learn in summer staff development workshops transfers directly to our classrooms…to enrich, enhance and improve instruction for all Denison students.”

This summer alone, Denison ISD provided its teachers with more than 50 Professional Development workshops for all grade levels, ranging from foreign language training and curriculum planning in virtually every subject offered, to best practices and new methodology in Writing, Reading, Physical Education, Math, Science, Technology, History, Art, and numerous Special Needs areas.

According to Cannon, Denison ISD now had a full-time dyslexia specialist, Tiffany Gantt, who works district-wide with teachers to implement research-proven instruction to help dyslexic students excel and succeed. “Our Dyslexia workshop brought in specialists and reading interventionists who met with Tiffany to share knowledge and establish best practices for serving all DISD dyslexic students throughout the 2018-19 school year and in the years to come. It’s an area where we’ll be constantly learning and growing.”

Cannon said another very well-attended workshop focused on the Art of Writing, where teachers learned how to engage students with creative writing lessons utilizing eye-catching visuals, ephemera, art, and talking strategies. “Our goal was to revitalize and reinvigorate an art that is in danger of becoming extinct. We want to encourage our kids to use their imaginations and embrace writing. We also offered a similar workshop in Reading, in hopes of inspiring and motivating students to become lifelong readers. Our workshops in Science, Mathematics and Technology focused on new and exciting ways to attract students to STEM careers.”

In addition to the dozens of workshops, DISD Curriculum Coordinators also led 13 Book Clubs for teachers, all specifically designed to promote professional growth. “Our teachers spend so much of their summer in student-centered workshops and continuing education programs that directly benefit our students,” said Cannon. “We are so fortunate to have educators who are excited and inspired to teach, who view each day as a new opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of our students.”

Sarah Ewton, veteran Science teacher at B. McDaniel Intermediate School, recently guided her students through an interactive science experiment. “From hypothesis to conclusion, the students are curious, inquisitive, engaged and excited to be part of the process,” said Ewton. “They love to ask questions, discuss ideas and be involved…to experience what they’re learning.”

Houston teacher Lana Coffee helped one of her first graders sharpen computer skills during a recent technology session. “Last summer’s Curriculum Development workshops in Science, Mathematics and Technology focused on new and exciting ways to attract students to STEM careers,” said DISD Curriculum Director Shonda Cannon.

Mayes teacher Birttany Baker worked individually with one of her third graders on a classroom art/writing project. “We offered a very well-attended workshop this past summer entitled the Art of Writing,” said DISD Curriculum Director Shonda Cannon. “Our teachers learned how to engage students with creative writing lessons utilizing eye-catching visuals, ephemera, art and talking strategies.”

Lamar teacher Katy Price begins each school day with a song-and-dance learning session that energizes and motivates her second graders to work hard and stay focused. “Engagement is critical to long-term student learning and success,” said Price. “As educators, our goal is to continually find new ways to excite and engage our kids.”


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