Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Marco Casalaina – IT Leader & AI Innovator

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.

In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Marco Casalaina, the Senior Vice President – Product – Einstein at Marco is in charge of a global team working on Salesforce’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) efforts, and he talks about his work, the most important skills for himself and his team members, and provides advice to students about their own career pathways.

As a computer scientist and executive, Marco’s work would be classified as being in either the Information Technology and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Marco also discusses the importance of cross-cultural competence as he leads a global team with offices in the United Stands, France, Israel, and India, and he identifies two key skills for students to develop regardless of their particular career interests – communication and creativity.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

March 2020

Career Pathways – Virtual Trailheads – Exploring Careers Online

With the unprecedented move to remote learning necessary about the shelter-in-place orders tied to COVID-19, the P-20 Network had previously offered suggestions about how career exploration could continue while students are learning at home. From the dialogue that this post generated, we are excited to announce that we are launching a new series on YouTube – Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads.

Since students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re excited to bring people from a wide range of occupations across the Career Pathways to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work each day, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.

Teachers can benefit from the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos in two ways. First, these videos serve as a resource that can be used as we engage students in remote learning in the short-term as well as in online, blended, or traditional learning environments in the future. Second, these videos can provide brief virtual externship experiences for teachers to hear about careers and workplaces outside of education in order to ensure that our instruction is as relevant and engaging as possible for our students and their futures.

For each interview, we will post a corresponding blog post. Videos and blog posts will begin to be shared during the week of March 30, 2020. To keep up-to-date:

March 2020

Spring 2020 Meeting – Moving Online

Our Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting was originally scheduled for April 23rd at NIU Naperville. Due to the continued shelter-in-place order in Illinois, the Spring P-20 Network Meeting will not be held face-to-face on April 23rd.

We are excited to share that we will have many of our presentations available as videos online, and we plan to release these videos on April 23rd. The videos will be publicly available for your organizations to view. More details will be shared as we get closer to April 23rd.

March 2020

Dual Credit and Advanced Placement while Learning at Home

UPDATED – 27 March 2020 – Additional guidance about dual credit classes from ISBE, ICCB, and IBHE has been released and is available online here. Everything in this new guidance aligns with the “Dual Credit” section below, and it offers additional specific suggestions for ensuring students can access online coursework as well as for individual plans for students to complete the coursework and for late withdrawals if necessary.

With all Illinois schools being closed for on-site instruction due to Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders (Executive Order 2020-10), school districts and community colleges have made a tremendous shift to distance/remote learning on a never-seen-before scale in a a matter of days. While there is a great deal of flexibility that may be on offer in a variety of classes, Dual Credit and Advanced Placement courses present unique challenges–namely, that their successful completion will also designate to other (future) institutions that the student has mastered specific skills and concepts.

Advanced Placement Changes for Spring 2020
On Friday, March 20, 2020, The College Board, the not-for-profit organization that administers the Advanced Placement (AP) program and creates, implements, and scores the AP Tests, made announcements about its plans to modify AP Testing for Spring 2020. Key elements of this decision include:

  • 45-minute, one-question free response tests in place of multiple choice plus free response tests that take hours to complete
  • Limited curricular scope that should include only what was already covered
  • Opportunity to cancel participation free-of-charge if students wish
  • Online testing as well as the option of photographing and sending a handwritten response (with support from College Board to help ensure access to both devices and the Internet for students who do not currently have both at home)

Additionally, beginning on March 25th, online support led by teachers will be available for students from The College Board via the AP YouTube Channel. A full schedule and resources can be found here under the header Free AP Review Classes.

Dual Credit Classes
In keeping with the spirit of Illinois’ Dual Credit Quality Act and the Model Partnership Agreement, it is necessary for the community college or university offering the postsecondary credit and the school district that is offering and teaching the dual credit course to agree upon the standards and criteria necessary to continue with the awarding of postsecondary credit to students.

With school districts, community colleges, and four-year universities all moving to online and remote learning environments, there is a common basis for these discussions and decisions. In gathering feedback from school districts and community colleges throughout the P-20 Network and who are serving as leaders on these issues through the P-20 Network’s Dual Credit Think Tank, the following steps are suggested between school districts and postsecondary institutions as best practices at this time:

  • Discuss – Be sure to open the lines of communications about what is expected with regards to curriculum, how it is delivered instructionally, and how the skills and concepts will be assessed.
  • Make similar adjustments – As universities and colleges make adjustments to curriculum with the move to learning at home, those changes should be communicated to school districts, and it is reasonable to expect the school districts to make the same adjustments rather than simply expecting them to continue on as originally planned. It is critical that the course objectives are clear and consistent across school districts and the higher education institution, and that all students are being supported with meeting those objectives.
  • Trust school districts – Just as face-to-face courses in higher education have moved online, school districts will need to do the same with their dual credit courses like all of their classes. Additionally, teachers in school district settings are certified by the state as a result of their strong background in pedagogical coursework and their student teaching experience, so they should be as well-prepared as faculty in postsecondary institutions to make these adjustments.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), like other state agencies in Illinois and around the United States, are working through these policy challenges and seeking to provide clear guidance as quickly as possible. If guidance specific to Dual Credit is issued by either or both of these agencies, that should be followed. (It will very likely be issued by both jointly.) At the moment, ISBE has told school districts in its most recent March 23rd Guidance Document:

Please work with your community college partners to ensure that students will not be penalized by these circumstances. ISBE and ICCB are working on additional coordinated guidance.

March 2020

Exploring Careers while Learning at Home

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.

Websites listed in this post are listed as examples because they are already in common use in Illinois. There is no endorsement of these companies or their services by the P-20 Network or Northern Illinois University.

Along with the physical closure of schools, work-based learning experiences have also been stopped for students. From its March 16, 2020, guidance document, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) clarified that students cannot participate in work-based learning experiences in the field with workplace partners.

ISBE - No Internships - 03162020

Does this mean that students cannot meaningfully engage in exploring careers while learning at home? Actually, E-Learning presents a wonderful opportunity to engage in further career exploration for students. Ideas for learning more about careers while learning at home include:

  • Using online tools to conduct their own research about careers about which they would like to learn more, including what type of postsecondary education to obtain a position in the career, what the workplace environment looks and feels like, how much money one is able to earn both when new in the career and later with more experience, and most importantly, how the career matches with the students’ personal and career interests as well as with regional occupational needs. If your school district uses a tool like Xello or YouScience, now is a great time to have students dive into their results and do some additional exploration.

Xello - Explore Careers

  • Students can also conduct interviews or do additional research into the more behind-the-scenes elements of different careers in which they might be interested to fully understand what those careers entail on a daily basis. In many cases, students have a deeper understanding of the careers of their parents or other adult family members as well as teachers. Beyond that, most students do not see the daily inner-workings of most careers. Movies and television not only leave out most careers and focus on specifically high-profile careers in very dramatic ways, such as law enforcement, paramedics, and frontline medical professions, such as doctors and nurses. Even with the large number of movies and television shows focused on these careers, large portions of the daily work routine in those fields are typically left out. Hours of documentation and paperwork each day is part of real life, but it does not make for dramatic viewing. Even when other careers are highlighted in movies and television, such as the scene below from Apollo 13 that shows engineers tackling a life-threatening problem, leave out the years of detailed, mundane creation and testing that these same engineers did prior to the launch of Apollo 13.
  • Use the curriculum of your course as a jump-off for career exploration – As we replace some of the face-to-face collaborative activities, labs, and other lessons that we would have been doing with in-person teaching that we have not yet figured out how to effectively move online or to students’ homes, take advantage of this opportunity to use your curriculum as a jumping off point for further exploration. Certainly, it is a great opportunity to explore the curriculum further and/or in unique personalized ways with independent research and creative, original products. It is also a great opportunity for students to explore careers related to this curriculum. While this may be a teacher-initiated career exploration, there is a great deal of room for individual student choice within this work as well as for students to create a wide range of products that can inform other students in other places and in the future about career options. This also a great opportunity for community partners of local school districts to provide information about their careers via video chats using tools like YouTube Live. (It takes 24 hours for YouTube to verify an account to allow it to broadcast live, so one does need to plan in advance).


  • Remote College & Career Counseling – Despite the fact that nearly all teachers and staff and counselors and advisors are working from home, in some ways, this is a better opportunity than a normal March or April to provide students with during-the-day college and career counseling. In many cases, engaging with students and parents together may be easier than it would normally be, as well. Remote college and career counseling can certainly take advantage of today’s technological tools, live video chat through Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, or some other tool, but it can also take place via a phone call, enabling nearly all students and families to take advantage of this opportunity. In the example below from Maine West High School, Maine Township High School District 207 staff members walk students and families through the steps that they have created, and which others can replicate, to provide remote college and career counseling. (It is important to note that, in addition to the video here, the slide deck is publicly available and has been widely shared on social media to engage students, such as this Instagram post from Maine East High School.)
March 2020

Learning at Home – The importance of student choice

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.

Websites listed in this post are listed as examples because they are already in common use in Illinois. There is no endorsement of these companies or their services by the P-20 Network or Northern Illinois University.

While covering the curriculum and standards is an essential part of developing instructional units and lessons for students, all students do not need to experience the curriculum and the standards in the exact same way. Student choice in any learning environment can be a key to increased student motivation, increased creation/production, and deeper, longer lasting learning.

If there is only one thing that each teacher who is creating E-Learning units and lessons should do, it is create opportunities for students to choose key elements of their learning. Choice may revolve around the products students create and/or the resources and processes that they use to learn the concepts, content, and skills.

Student choice can be as simple as allowing students to choose their own reading material – broadly or on a specific topic. Access to the Internet along with a device does significantly increase the amount of choice that students might have, but even without the Internet, it’s possible to provide students with options in their work. For example, schools that are still in session prior to the required closure beginning on Tuesday, March 17th and that have library books available for check-out can allow students to check out books based on whatever topics they would like, including fiction or non-fiction books.


Creating open-ended projects that allow students to be assessed similarly but on a variety of different products. Products might range from a video or podcast that students create to a more traditional academic paper to a presentation (to their classmates or a more authentic audience, such as a school board or municipal board) to a persuasive policy letter sent to a legislator or bureaucrat. By moving away from a traditional test as an end-of-unit summative assessment, students who will have more opportunities to be creative and engage with their learning in a manner of their own choosing. Such projects also provide outstanding opportunities through academic coursework and even via E-Learning for students to learn and practice the Cross-Sector Essential Employability Competencies. (See page 6 of this document on the Illinois College and Career Pathway Endorsements.)

Even a series of smaller tasks can still provide students with choice as evidenced by this example of a Choice Board pictured below. This choice board had a total of 9 activities, and students are required to do 4 of them – 1 per day over 4 days. This provides students with a significant level of choice as they will do less than half of the activities offered to them. In this particular board, there is a significant emphasis on traditional E-Learning activities that require a device and a robust Internet and wireless network connection. In many cases, these prerequisites may be a barrier to completing the activities. As always, it is critical that educators know their students and design accordingly.

Choice Board

Assessment on this wide range of products will typically be based on a rubric or checklist that articulates the appropriate performance levels of content knowledge and skill attainment on a specific project. It is important to bear in mind that E-Learning activities should be activities that students can complete independently or with remote teacher support–rather than parent support. Likewise, assessment should consider what level of performance students can be expected to achieve independently via E-Learning. Obviously, at the high school and postsecondary levels, there are entire courses that have moved to E-Learning, and like with any class, in some cases, students learn a significant amount and are very engaged, and in other cases, that is not so. As teachers embark on E-Learning and are new to leading students through E-Learning and have not necessarily considered teaching through E-Learning until days before needing to implement, there will be significant learning for everyone. The best advice in this case is to be flexible and realistic with the expectations that are built into assessments as one develops experience with the structure and process and as one collaborates with colleagues on seeing the results of these efforts.

Resources and processes for learning

When connecting to curriculum and standards to current events, a wide range of resources are available to students to support their learning. By connecting curriculum to current events, news sites, while in some cases limited by paywall access, provide a wealth of options for students to read, watch, listen to, write about, and integrate into their own thoughts. Traditional news sites from major media companies are accessible to students as our platforms designed specifically for schools and for students, such as newsela, which is pictured below. Inherent in everything from traditional newspapers to modern media websites is that there are a wide range of articles from which students can choose to engage.


Similarly, if your students have access to electronic books through your school library and through a service like myON or Overdrive. Likewise, if students have public library cards, there are also electronic books available from many public libraries. For accessing both fiction and non-fiction books, having access to electronic books provides tremendous choice to students regarding what they read and learn. For example, the image below represents just a small slice of books available from one library by one author.


Similar to the range of options available for choice with electronic books, libraries that are able to subscribe to online databases offer students a wide range of articles from which they can learn. In many schools, it is common to see students using such databases as early as the intermediate grade levels. As the teacher of an E-Learning class, it may be necessary to provide instruction to students on how best to use a particular database and/or which databases will be most useful for which purposes. This is also a great opportunity to utilize instructional resources that can be developed by school librarians in one’s own school or that have been published across the Internet.

Library Research Databases

Finally, when students are conducting their own research, they will not only be able to utilize electronic books and library databases, but they will also be able to take advantage of an Internet full of websites. As students come across different websites, there are inherent challenges for students and teachers ranging from the text complexity of the website to the validity of the information on the website. Due to these factors as well as the need to help students stay on-track with their progress within an independent or collaborative research project, ongoing coaching from the teacher is necessary. Fortunately, online text and video chat tools help make this somewhat manageable and more like these same instructional strategies would be in a face-to-face classroom.

March 2020

Learning at Home – Tips for Video Meetings

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.

Collaboration in education, whether between or among students or educators, remains primarily face-to-face. While other professions and companies use video meetings as a frequent, and often daily, part of their work lives, most meetings in schools, school districts, community colleges, and universities have remained face-to-face. COVID-19 is now requiring a high degree of use of video meetings among educators and between educators and students.

Today’s video meeting tools tend to use less bandwidth, produce higher quality video and audio, include screensharing options, and work across devices and platforms. Nevertheless, the following tips will help educators get started.

Picking a solution

  • When doing #elearning or #distancelearning with students, use video chat cautiously. Ensuring that students’ wireless networks and Internet connections can handle the bandwidth of video chat is not to be underestimated. This is particularly true for students in an elementary or secondary setting, or in a situation like COVID-19 when everyone will more-or-less be working from home rather than being able to take advantage of a robust network at school or the public library.
  • Use your institution’s supported video chat solution – If your organization uses Google’s G Suite, it may be Hangouts Meet, and if your organization uses Microsoft’s Office 365, it may be Teams. Alternatively, it could be a video meeting solution, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting or Adobe Connect. For educational institutions, it may be the video component of a Learning Management System, such as Blackboard or Canvas.
  • Be sure to test if this preferred solution allows you to collaborate with others with email addresses from other organizations. Some solutions may be set-up to only allow users from your own institution connect with the video chat solution due to security settings. This may or may not be an issue depending on your use-case. For example, if a superintendent or assistant superintendent who wants to meet across school districts, it is necessary that all of those different individuals can access the video meeting despite having user accounts/email addresses from different organizations. Questions about this should be addressed as soon as possible with the organization’s Information Technology staff to allow them the time to offer a workable solution that still meets the organization’s online security requirements.
  • If your institution has more than one supported solution, just pick one and use it consistently (or, at least, use the same one consistently with the same audience). For example, you might always use one solution for meetings with colleagues, and there may be a different solution that you always use with students. That’s okay, but try to keep those consistent within each group.

Dress rehearsal & orientation

Video Chat TestingWith any of the online meeting options, making sure that one’s microphone and webcam are working are usually the biggest trick. Unfortunately, everyone participating will need to go through and make sure that their own microphones and webcams are working. As the host, prepare ahead of time. Do a test meeting (or two or three) to ensure that the camera and mic are working and that you know how to create the event. You can do this with a friend or colleague or even by yourself with another email address.

Assume that your first meeting with each group will be spent troubleshooting these kind of issues with participants.

Your “studio”

Google Hangout StudioAt tech companies, there are often special rooms set aside for conducting video meetings. Most educational institutions are not so lucky, and even fewer educators have a location at home that is already prepared for video meetings and classes. Do a pick location that is quiet from which you can consistently lead and participate in video chat meetings and classes. Make sure that there is more light shining on your face than there is behind you–For example, avoid sitting in front of a window as the backlighting will make you simply appear as a shadowy figure, and those in the video chat session with you will not be able to see your facial expressions (which is part of the point of a video meeting).

Use wired headphones with a built-in microphone for the best audio quality. A pair of headphones from an older smartphone works great. This simple, inexpensive step makes a huge difference! 

Features to use and practice with the group

Once you have do have everyone in a meeting together with functioning microphones and webcams, take some time to walk people through the features you will be using. These might include:

  • Using a chat box or virtually raising a hand to talk or ask a question
  • Muting and un-muting one’s microphone
  • Sharing one’s screen and handing off control of the presentation to different people in the group

Of course, if you are recording the meeting, please be clear with all participants that you are doing so!

March 2020

Learning at Home – Using Twitter to learn more

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.

On Friday afternoon, March 13, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that all Illinois schools would be closing for a week and a half at a minimum. In advance of that, over 100 of Illinois’ approximately 850 school districts had already announced closures. (See this website from the Illinois State Board of Education for more information – Scroll down to view their dashboard.) Some of these closures have been announced into mid-April. This same pattern is taking place throughout the United States and across the globe.

Follow #KeepLearning #LearningAtHome #elearning & #ILEdChat on Twitter

With the unprecedented move to Learning at Home in the face of COVID-19, resources and ideas are being widely shared, most notably on Twitter. As was shared in our previous post, encouraging teachers to actively engage with a PLN through Twitter can generally result in positive innovation and sharing, but such engagement is incredibly critical at this time–and will continue to be beneficial after we have completed the quarantine period. Even if you are an educator who is not on Twitter, clicking on the links for each of the following Twitter hashtags (a way of labeling and organizing content on Twitter) will allow you to scroll directly through the questions, answers, and resources being shared.






Twitter hashtag header

Once you are in the hashtag search (which you can also access on your own by using Twitter’s search bar and simply typing in the hashtag), you will see a number of tabs near the top of the page:

  • Top
  • Latest
  • People
  • Photos
  • Videos

Of these, the two most useful are, as you would expect, Top and Latest. Top tab will show you the posts garnering the highest level of engagement on Twitter, which is defined as a mix of replies, retweets, and likes. The Latest tab will show you the most recent posts in chronological order. In either case, start reading at the top of the tab and scroll down as you read. Clicking on links as you read will allow you to access that information, and the links will conveniently open in new tabs in your web browser, so you don’t lose your place.

By the time you have scrolled through a portion of the list, there will likely be new tweets to view at the top.

Follow the Illinois Digital Educators Alliance Twitter account – @ideaillinois

IDEA Illinois is one of the leading chapters of ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) in the world, and as expected, they are taking a leadership role in providing resources regarding E-Learning to educators at all levels. If you have a Twitter account, you can follow @ideaillinois, by typing @ideaillinois in the search bar, and then clicking the “Follow” button. Even if you do not have a Twitter account, you can click here to follow @ideaillinois.

IDEA E-Learning Resources

IDEA Illinois is tweeting thoughtful questions and resources throughout the day each day and using the hashtags #elearning and #ILEdChat. Additionally, they are providing advice and gathering curated resources on this page on the IDEA Illinois website. (This page is being updated regularly, so keep checking it.)

Ask questions and share

Even if you are new on Twitter and even if you have very few followers, don’t be afraid to ask questions and share resources that you and your team have found or created. If you use the hashtags listed here (by simply typing them in with the # at the start and all one word–exactly as they are written in this post), you’ll likely get responses even with very followers.

Additionally, as you find others who are tweeting helpful information, click on their Twitter handle to go to their account click the “Follow” button to start to build up individuals and organizations that you are following directly.

March 2020

E-Learning Tips for Learning at Home

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.

As school districts and postsecondary institutions across the P-20 Network, throughout Illinois, and around the United States and the world have had to rush to implement e-learning days in an effort to promote public health and slow the spread of COVID-19, teachers and faculty members are having to quickly grapple with days, weeks, or months of teaching online when they were previously planning to be working face-to-face with students in a more traditional learning setting. With the main goal of improving learning for all learners and supporting educators in that work, the P-20 Network will continue to seek to collect and share resources to make online learning as productive and efficient as possible for both students and their teachers. Initially, we’ve collected some tips and resources that may be helpful.


Engage students in impacting what & how they are learning online

As Thornton Fractional School District 215 Superintendent Teresa Lance demonstrates in the above tweet, it is critical that, from the start, teachers are transparent with students about this being a learning process for everyone. Doing so can serve to build community despite not being physically in the same location, an important social and emotional prerequisite for learning, and it can allow students to brainstorm and develop ideas that will actually improve instruction. Teachers can and should ask about:

  • Which online learning tools are most and least effective and why
  • Which activities are most engaging and why
  • How students have successfully created an environment at home in which they can learn (and where they are struggling with this)

Whether in-person or online, teachers should also create as much opportunity as possible for students to explore what deeply interests them about their curriculum, to read both fiction and non-fiction that is most relevant to their lives and appropriately challenging for them, and to create products that have real audiences and purposes. Education Pathway students at Buffalo Grove High School created this e-learning guide for teachers as part of their classwork, and it was widely shared via Twitter to help educators worldwide.


Connect with teachers worldwide

From early childhood educators through university professors, when teachers collaborate with other educators, they experience higher levels of self-efficacy, have greater job satisfaction, and most importantly, they are most likely to have a long-term and significant positive impact on student learning. For teachers who have not previously been on Twitter or for those who engaged in a professional development workshop regarding Twitter eight or nine years ago and who have not been back, now is the time to jump in.

Resources regarding how to provide instruction online have been shared widely as schools in other countries closed their classrooms weeks and months prior to schools in the United States. Additionally, there are already countless experienced teachers of online and blended learning courses who are active on Twitter and can help support teachers. In the example below, Adrienne Michetti, a Canadian who teaches in Singapore, and who has been an active educator on Twitter for over a decade demonstrates the profound power of being willing to ask for help from others in her professional, personal learning network.

Responses included the following resources:

Finally, even if you are new to Twitter and to teaching students online, don’t be afraid to share and ask questions!


Be realistic about students’ learning environments

Empty Primary ClassroomWhile Comcast has announced free Internet for low income families through their Internet Essentials program for 60 days, this service is not available in all areas–particularly rural areas. Even in areas where it is available, in many apartments, cables need to be run and modems deployed and set-up. In other words, many students will not even have Internet access. Even if 90% of your students have Internet access at home – 2-3 students per class on-average will not have Internet access.

For families and students using mobile devices to do their work, they face the additional change of costly data caps, and many do not have or cannot afford to use that device as a hotspot. (They are very limited in how many YouTube videos they will be able to watch to complete assignments over the weeks that schools and colleges/universities are closed. And, could you imagine typing a long-form writing piece on the small, glass keyboard on your phone.)

To help with this, survey your students using a private Google Form or Microsoft Form to learn about where in their home they will be working, what kind of Internet access they have, what distractions they will face trying to learn at home, and what other responsibilities they will have in their families at home during the “school” day. In addition to giving you actionable information, this will also allow students to reflect on these points and start to develop plans and solutions where possible.

Nevertheless, it is critical that teachers adjust expectations in accordance with these realities. To think that students will be able to do their normal 8.30 AM to 3.30 PM school day at home in the same way that they do it school creates an unrealistic foundation for trying to successfully “do” learning online.


Expect yourself to learn – and give yourself permission to do so

The greatest teachers are always learning, and everyone one of us will definitely learn when moving to online teaching. Even experienced online educators speak openly about how challenging it can be do effectively, and teachers who are new to it with little time for preparation need to be gentle with themselves regarding this reality. Understanding your students’ needs and current situations, taking instructional risks, and being transparent and open with students (and consistently gathering feedback from them!) throughout the online learning experience will go far in creating the best possible learning experience for students and upon which further improvements to future online learning can be made by teachers.

March 2020

Lake County Tech Campus – Creating a Team-Based Challenge

The Lake County Tech Campus provides a wide range of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to high school students from throughout Lake and McHenry Counties in Northeastern Illinois. Education is one of the many high quality career areas in which programming is offered at Tech Campus, with a team of three teachers who provide instruction for juniors and seniors in high school. These students, in turn and alongside their professional teachers, provide instruction and learning opportunities three days per week for early childhood students in the specifically designed early childhood classrooms at Tech Campus.

Team-Based Challenge-Career Pathway Endorsement SlideAs part of this work, the Education teacher team decided to incorporate Team-Based Challenges from the Illinois Career Pathway Endorsement model, and the P-20 Network team both facilitated the instructional planning and participated in this effort alongside the Education teachers. The Education teachers identified two potential real-life, complex problems of practice that they believed an in-depth Team-Based Challenge would help their high school students learn and solve and through which they could develop a deeper understanding as potential pre-service teachers. Together, we spent one entire “professional development day” building out the Team-Based Challenge.

First, we explored the key College & Career Pathway Competencies that would be taught and on which students would be assessed. Specifically, both the Essential Cross-Sector Employability Competencies as well as the Human and Public Services Career Pathway Competencies (which are currently defined through EDU-specific competencies) were studied and discussed. After examining all of these competencies, the teachers specifically identified the ones that would be best taught and assessed through the Team-Based Challenge.


Then, the teachers determined how they would assess each of these competencies as well as, through that discussion, beginning to plan instructional lessons and activities that would be embedded in the Team-Based Challenge.

Tech Campus Ed Teachers

Finally, using the Backwards Design Model of instructional planning, multiple assessments were fully built-out prior to the end of the professional development workday.

Ultimately, in one day, the teachers learned more about the Career Pathway Endorsements, identified the competencies that would be taught and assessed, created those specific assessments, and outlined a two-week instructional unit that would serve as a Team-Based Challenge.

For more information about Career Pathway Endorsements or to reach about arranging for professional development and planning support around the Career Pathway Endorsements and Team-Based Challenges, please contact either Brooke ( or Jason ( at the P-20 Network.

Early Childhood Classroom 1

March 2020