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Pittsburgh-area education network releases 'playbook' of innovative teaching practices

| Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, 11:00 p.m.

A Pittsburgh-area network of educators and entrepreneurs has literally written the playbook on how to make teaching practices more innovative through community collaboration, and more than 50 district leaders from across the country will be taking it home this week.

The Remake Learning Network, in partnership with the local nonprofit Sprout Fund, is presenting its expanded “playbook” at the National League of Innovative Schools meeting in Pittsburgh, which kicked off Sunday and will conclude on Tuesday.

The network is a collaboration of Pittsburgh-area schools, museums, businesses, foundations and philanthropic organizations that have been working together over the past decade to develop innovative methods for teaching in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The network has produced something “really special” in the Pittsburgh region, said Ryan Coon, program manager with Sprout Fund, and educators from across the country have solicited advice on how to establish something similar.

The playbook, which is accompanied by a new Web app, includes more than 30 “plays” and local case studies that the league members can take back to their districts and use as a guide to develop similar collaborations within their own communities. It was expanded with input from educational experts from all across the country and covers topics like how to engage young people, how to connect educators with researchers and how to market the results of the new partnerships, Coon said.

Members of the local network don't pretend their playbook has all the answers, but Coon said they feel comfortable in offering tips to leverage community resources and partnerships in establishing new teaching strategies.

“One of the things we've pretty confidently figured out here in Pittsburgh is really how to establish partnerships,” he said.

Carnegie Mellon University is an example of a valuable community resource, Coon said. The university has helped to generate learning spaces and curricula locally.

Forming alliances with non-school partners is the theme of this year's meeting of the National League of Innovative Schools, which operates under the umbrella of Digital Promise, a nonprofit formed by Congress in 2008.

During the three-day meeting, the Elizabeth Forward, Avonworth and South Fayette districts, which are members of the league, will host site visits at some of their schools to show how the network and community partnerships have benefitted students.

A reception celebrating the playbook will be held Monday evening in the Heinz History Center. It can be found online at playbook.remakelearning.org.

Elizabeth Behrman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at lbehrman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7886.

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