PSEA Learning Lessons

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PSEA Learning Lessons

"Learning Lessons: Great ideas, Great schools," features stories and videos of educators doing great things in Pennsylvania's public schools. 

Share your ideas: Does your school have an innovative program? Do you use a unique approach to teaching that works for your students? A creative initiative you think other educators could try?

Recent feature in Voice Magazine

March 2020: Wee Deliver student postal service

In a world increasingly reliant on technology for basic communication, it’s nice to know there’s still a place that appreciates the value of a simple handwritten letter. That place is Garrettford Elementary School in the Upper Darby School District.

November 2019: Schoolwide Mobile Makerspace

Finding creative new ways to engage kids in learning is one of teaching’s toughest challenges. Making it work for multiple classrooms across an entire school is tougher still. But that’s just what Katie Waddell, a second-grade teacher in the General McLane School District, Erie County, has accomplished with her Schoolwide Mobile Makerspace program.

September 2019: Diversity Club

As anyone who has taught it, gone through it, or is currently in it knows, middle school can be a rough time for those perceived as “different.” That’s what makes reinforcing concepts like acceptance, empathy, and kindness during these challenging, formative years so crucial.

That idea is what drove Annie Granger and Annette Ehly, middle-school educators in the rural Upper Adams School District, to create the Upper Adams Diversity Club five years ago.

July 2019: Student Garden

When Lata Anantheswaran, a second-grade teacher in the Bellefonte Area School District, set out to create a garden for the students at Benner Elementary School in March 2017, she had no idea it would blossom into the powerful, community-wide program it’s become. 

May 2019: Cyber Seniors

Most days, the residents of the Conestoga View Nursing & Rehabilitation facility in Lancaster don’t spend much time on the computer, or hanging out with young people. But, now, they’re getting plenty of time to do both, courtesy of the J.P. McCaskey High School Computer Club.

March 2019: Virtual reality in the classroom

Picture this. You're standing on the surface of a rocky, alien landscape on the edge of an enormous crater. Deposits of what look like snow and ice dot the landscape. You turn to the left to see Jupiter looming massively over distant mountains, dominating an alien sky packed with brilliant stars. 

November 2018: Students mine history though song

The Welsh immigrants who toiled in the mines of the famous Peach Bottom Slate Ridge would be proud of a group of middle school students and two science teachers.

The heritage and history of mining the ridge – running from southcentral Pennsylvania to northern Maryland – from the mid-18th to early 20th  centuries have been captured in music and videos through a remarkable project involving teachers and students in different school districts.

September 2018: Teachers in the Parks Comes to Reading

On a warm, June day, groups of students are huddled around enthusiastic teachers. Children are laughing, smiling, and enjoying their lessons. And as the breeze blows and birds sing a summer song, this doesn’t feel like a community that is struggling. It feels like a community with hope.

July 2018: Adaptive Music Class

When Andrew Vensel sings to greet the students in his adaptive music class, it lights up their faces. His voice carries easily across the large music room in Middletown Area High School as he provides positive reinforcement to each individual student with acknowledgement, eye contact, and a bright smile.

May 2018: Discovery Room

When you walk into the Discovery Room at Conewago Township Elementary, you’re transported into a bustling town. A doctor checks out a patient. The mayor sits at her desk taking an important phone call. Theater participants prepare for a show. Students learn and discover through imaginative play.

March 2018: Prosthetic Hands Program

Eighth-graders in Gavin Sikorski’s STEM class in Southmoreland Middle School are using what they learn there to change lives. The Westmoreland County teacher connects with families online whose children are born without fingers or a hand, and his class builds the child a custom prosthetic.

November 2017: Robotics in the Classroom

When educators think of creating robots, the subjects of art, literature, and history don’t often come to mind. But at Case Avenue Elementary in western Pennsylvania, students are learning in these areas while designing and building robots.

September 2017: Teachers in the Parks

On a summer day in Exeter Township, a group of students is happy and carefree at the community pool. But upon closer inspection, these children are learning. And they are loving it. This is Teachers in the Parks.

July 2017: Business Incubator Project (part 2)

PSEA Learning Lessons returned to the district this spring to report on another successful year for Cherie Powell's innovative Business Incubator Project - a “Shark Tank”-style class for aspiring entrepreneurs.

May 2017: Comics in the Classroom

In most high school classrooms, if a student was reading a comic book, it would be taken away. But in Tim Smyth’s social studies class at Wissahickon High School, the walls are covered with comics, bookshelves are filled with comics, graphic novels, and figurines and toys, and even Smyth’s tie features Spider-Man.

March 2017: Helping Hands Club

At Bethel Springs Elementary School in the Garnet Valley School District, students are learning how to make a difference at a young age. Elementary kids in grades 2-5 take part in service learning projects through the Helping Hands Club.

November 2016: Spanish Immersion Program

Students in the Spanish Immersion Program at Liberty Bell Elementary in Southern Lehigh School District learn the same curriculum as their peers – the content is simply taught in Spanish. In its 26th year, the competitive program is thriving.

September 2016: Unified physical education class

In physical education class at Biglerville High School, students are learning lessons that go far beyond the rules of baseball or the intricacies of basketball skills. They are learning how to adapt, empathize, and interact with each other, no matter their differences.