Influential Educator Keynotes Southeast Powerful Practices Event

Classroom, curriculum, and central office leaders from across the Southeast and beyond met in Atlanta, Ga., for a jam-packed day of workshops with nationally renowned educators.

More than 100 education leaders met on Oct. 14 for Discovery Education’s fourth Powerful Practices event, an instructional leadership experience for educators. The session kicked off Friday morning with a keynote address from Erin Gruwell, the influential educator behind the book and film, Freedom Writers.

Gruwell shared the emotional story of how, as a high school English teacher in Long Beach, Ca., she changed the lives of students — teenagers whose communities were still reeling from the Los Angeles race riots of 1992. She brought together these students from impoverished homes by helping them discover the commonalities of their lives. Every student has a story, but often they aren’t equipped to tell it, said Gruwell.

Her message to educators in Atlanta: Make education true to life and relevant for students, or risk losing them.

“I want to remind you of the moment that you decided to be an educator,” said Gruwell. “It was big, bold — and don’t forget that. Because we have to make education come to life for students.”

Educators didn’t have long to wipe their eyes from Gruwell’s moving session, because then they were off to the first set of breakout sessions, each hosted by tag-team duos of Discovery Education curriculum specialists and educators from around the region. In these workshops, educators, and administrators worked together in focused discussions on topics such as formative assessment, student engagement, personalized learning, and disciplinary literacy. They also shared digital instructional practices in social studies, math, science, and STEM.

“The breakout sessions were well planned and well received,” said John Waller, Ed.D., director of secondary curriculum and instruction, Marietta City Schools, Ga. “It is always helpful to collaborate with colleagues from other districts to hear about their successes and their similar struggles.”

Between sessions, educators took a break to experience a virtual reality environment using the Discovery VR app. Virtual reality has made its way into many classrooms across the country, in large part due to the proliferation of apps like Discovery VR and the ability to create a headset with a bit of cardboard and a smartphone.

Look for images, videos, and more coverage from our fourth Powerful Practices event throughout the coming weeks!

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