Athens, Ga. – A team of University of Georgia education experts has unveiled a redesign of a Web site that provides resources for information and a system of discussion communities which allow Georgia teachers to share tips on how to face challenging situations in the classroom.
The site, known as The BRIDGE (Building Resources: Induction and Development for Georgia Educators), was originally launched in 2004 as an initiative of the five-year, $6.2 million federally funded Georgia Systemic Teacher Education Program, whose partners sought to re-invent teacher education in Georgia into a seamless, six-year process from college through the second year of teaching.
Although funding expired last year for the program, GSTEP’s impact is still being felt. Its Framework for Accomplished Teaching not only led to curriculum changes in Georgia teacher education programs, but in 2006, it was adopted as the definition of accomplished teaching in Georgia by the Georgia Department of Education, Professional Standards Commission and University System of Georgia Board of Regents.
The Framework, based on current research and refined through extensive input from Georgia educators, describes the knowledge, skills, dispositions and understandings that teachers need to successfully educate students. It is organized around six elements of teaching: content and curriculum, knowledge of students and their learning, learning environments, planning and instruction, assessment and professionalism. Each element describes characteristics of accomplished teachers.
The BRIDGE builds on the Framework to provide Georgia’s teachers resources for each characteristic, to help them understand and implement the Framework’s principles in their classrooms.
“We like to think we’re ahead of the curve,” said co-director Julie Moore, an assistant professor in the College of Education’s department of educational psychology and instructional technology.
Moore and co-director Linda Gilbert, a public service associate for College of Education partnerships, have led the redesign and expansion of the site to make it more comprehensive and user-friendly. The redesign was made possible by funding from the College of Education. A $90,000 grant from the PSC, the state agency responsible for overseeing teacher certification, is providing additional development to support alternatively-prepared teacher candidates
The BRIDGE offers a searchable database of resources and a system of moderated discussion communities that allow teachers to share information and tips for facing challenging situations in the classroom.
All of the resources on the BRIDGE are either developed or suggested by classroom teachers, Gilbert said. All potential information is put through a rigorous assessment process led by more than a dozen teachers and university professors from across the state. Volunteer editors assign potential materials to reviewers, who then examine each resource for its credibility, accessibility, validity and relevance before making it available through the BRIDGE’s search engine.
The tough standards ensure that the BRIDGE’s database provides more focused information of a higher quality than commercial search engines. The BRIDGE also includes an online review system that allows logged-in members a chance to rate and comment on each online article or source, providing feedback other teachers can use as a guideline when searching the database.
Teachers don’t have to sign up for an account to access the BRIDGE’s database of resources; however registered users can access features that are only available to members.
After completing the quick and free registration process, teachers can bookmark materials to create their own collection of resources, send messages to one another through the BRIDGE, submit resources or volunteer to review and join and participate in moderator-led discussion communities dedicated to specific topics. The BRIDGE’s community section gives veteran educators the chance to connect with the next generation of teachers, lending their support and guidance to help ease the transition into the classroom. More than 2,600 members have signed up with the BRIDGE since the site was launched.
The BRIDGE can be found at www.teachersbridge.org.