Two teachers sit at a table

Kentucky educators listen and learn from shared deeper learning experiences during the Momentum 2024 conference. Photo by Crystal Sicard, Kentucky Department of Education, July 9, 2024

(LEXINGTON, KY) – At the Momentum 2024 conference on July 9, educators from all around the state convened at the STEAM Academy in Lexington to share deeper learning techniques with their colleagues.

Sarah Snipes, director of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Division of Innovation, said it was an event that prioritizes the creation of more vibrant learning experiences, innovative assessments and collaboration, which are the big ideas in the United We Learn vision.

“Educators all across Kentucky have invested in creating deeper, more vibrant learning experiences for every student,” she said. “Momentum 2024 is a celebration of their dedication to transforming education.”

Momentum is an event developed by KDE, the regional educational cooperatives and the University of Kentucky (UK) Center for Next Generation Leadership to encourage educators to share their knowledge and insights with one another about creating more vibrant and meaningful learning for students.

The collaboration was made possible by money provided to KDE from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program. The federal ESSER funding supports the safe and sustained return to in-person learning. It expands equity by supporting students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In prioritizing deeper learning, the eight regional cooperatives received a total grant of $24.5 million. ESSER funding was given to each educational cooperative, which then created Deeper Learning Teams. A total of 157 districts opted to take part in the deeper learning initiative

Karen Perry, the executive director for the UK Center for Next Generation Leadership, said this conference is a result of a months-long collaboration.

“What an inspiration to watch the unstoppable power of teachers when they connect with one another, authentically building momentum toward the statewide deeper learning movement,” said Perry.

The educational co-ops and participating districts focused their deeper learning efforts on supporting students to master academic content, think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, learn how to learn, and develop academic mindsets.

“The Momentum 2024 collaborative is the culmination of two years of work, providing deeper learning experiences for all students. I couldn’t be prouder of our public schools and our public educators,” said Robb Smith, director of the deeper learning grant.

Speakers during the event addressed topics including student voice, creating thinking maps, using artificial intelligence inside their classrooms and high-quality instructional learning strategies. These districts can access 63 evidence-based vendor partnerships to support their unique district plans. According to the cooperatives’ deeper learning website and impact data, the first year of services reached 7,903 public school educators through professional learning.

“There has truly been a paradigm shift around deeper learning. This event is indisputable proof that the student experience has changed and will continue to change for the better,” said Smith.

Perry said they are excited to carry on in the future as they continue to collaborate and build relationships with teachers to assist their students’ deeper learning opportunities.

“Next Gen is thrilled to be part of this shift toward vibrant, student-centered learning that is taking root across Kentucky,” said Perry.

Momentum created a platform they hope to continue for years to come as these educators support their colleagues and share the practices they have learned through these professional learning experiences.

“This day of sharing and learning together shows how the United We Learn vision is becoming a reality in Kentucky classrooms from east to west, north to south,” said Snipes. “We’ve called this event ‘Momentum’ because this important work is far from over and stronger than ever.”