Where Learning Matters

Like last summer, I was brought in as part of the technology team to plan, present, and facilitate professional development for teachers in my district.  Because of the size of our team, we were able to host a variety of technology PD for all teachers in our district K12.  However, we were not able to host as many repeat sessions this year because we simply did not have the man-power or space to do so.  In fact, I was told that the sessions quickly filled to capacity when Super Week sign-ups opened at the beginning of June.  This was a good sign.

Last week was the start of Super Week (#superweek2015) for our district.  I’m not sure how other districts run their PD, but in my 20 years we’ve always had PD before school starts.  Some years it’s a full week, last year it was a week and a half (dubbed Super-Duper Week, no hashtag).  But what I really enjoyed about this year’s Super Week was the addition of K6 teachers to the mix.  Prior, we only concentrated on secondary teachers (7-12 Instruction) which made sense since we were all from the secondary level.  But this year we added a few elementary teacher presenters and facilitators which brought new insight into how technology could effectively be integrated into the curriculum.

This year, I presented on a variety of topics:

  • Presentations that Inspire – Slides, Prezi, PowToon, HaikuDeck
  • Advanced Flipped Learning – EdPuzzle, Movenote, Educreations, Camtasia, Screencastomatic
  • SAMRai – UpLeveling the Learning
  • Let’s Get Appy – Web Apps for Everyone
But what I love most about presenting is the learning that occurs on my own end.  I enjoy lively dialogue with teachers about how best to use technology with their students.  It is exciting to see the passion reignited in teachers when they see the power that technology can bring in order to transform the learning process.  But it’s not just on their end.  I always pick up several cool ideas that I could bring back to my own classroom which will not only benefit my students but my department as well.  Learning is a two-way street and delivering PD is one avenue to the process.  

Online PD. Heck Yeah!

This post is a bit late, but that’s what happens when the end of the year is fast approaching and there’s still so much still to cover from the pacing chart.  So I apologize for the delayed post.

I totally concur with the tweet from @mrhousepian.  We were taking one giant leap for #GGUSD…both feet in…wheels up…whatever you want to call it.  And I loved every minute of it.

Here’s the backstory…

One of the TOSAs in our district (@teacherlucero) and I have talked quite frequently about online PD and what that might look like.  He was able to convince our director to give it a shot.  So instead of our Blended Learning group meeting F2F for our last session in June, he scheduled two GHOs and had us sign up via a GoogleForm.

I chose to attend the first online PD.  I was joined by five other colleagues, in addition to @teacherlucero.  As soon as we logged in, we “signed in” using our GAFE accounts via a Google Form as proof that we were in attendance (our district is big on accountability).  The GHO started at 4PM with the intent that we might end up spending the first 20 or so minutes getting everyone online, setting up their lower thirds, playing around with the various Google effects, etc.  We took the entire 30 minutes to play around.  =D

We were patching in from all over…some of us were at home in our office, at the kitchen table, or even outside.  Several teachers joined us from their classroom/office.  I will start off by saying that it was nice to be at home, sitting in my comfy chair…talking tech and reflecting on our year.

At 4:30 @teacherlucero started recording our session.  He had prearranged questions for us to discuss.  The most engaging one being the technology tool that made the biggest impact on our teaching this year.  Everyone shared a different tool…and we started keeping a list of tech tools and websites in the chat window for future reference.  The intent was that this session would be recorded, edited, and posted for other teachers to view if they liked.  Where the view is currently being hosted, I don’t know…probably on @teacherlucero’s YouTube channel.

Will other teachers view our GHO?  Not sure.  But if they do, I’m sure that they’ll find it beneficial.  We all shared our favorite technology tool and how we used it with our students.  We talked about troubleshooting, lessons learned, best practices.  Everyone chimed in on the discussion.  We left links to websites and apps for future reference.  This type of curating of information is not something that happens in a F2F PD.  I mean, I know that people take notes during workshops, but it’s not collaborative and people who are not in attendance do not know what actually happened.

But with our GHO, it was recorded and there’s notes included.  So the impact of this PD has the potential to go beyond just the seven of us.  It’s basically saved for posterity.  😉

I was excited to participate in our first online PD for our district.  What makes this GHO different than others is that because it was recorded and because we signed in, we’ll receive the stipend that is normally only reserved for teachers who physically attend a PD.

Is this the new way to conduct PD?  I think so.  I can totally see this type of PD working in a similar way to EdCamps or an unconference.  We’re all so busy right after school…and most of the time I find myself rushing to the PD.  But when it’s scheduled at 4PM (or even later)…I have time to breathe.  I can relax a bit, eat a snack…and then engage in what I find most exciting…talking tech with like-minded educators.

I hope that our Director likes what she sees and hears about our sessions.  If we can move forward with this type of PD, I think it has the potential to have a larger impact beyond just the teachers in attendance.  Huge leap.  I’m ready for more.

#goodstuff #futureready

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Fun with GHO

So today I met up with my co-presenters for the Think.Create.Share conference.  We were talking about the student work that we planned to include and how best to share that work with attendees considering the fact that we cannot share outside of our GAFE domain.

But as usual, when getting together with passionate teachers…the topic evolved into a share-faire of new technology tools and how we could use those with colleagues and our students.

First up, GHO.

A couple of us have tried using GHO on a school device using the district wifi.  It seemed to work, but the video lagged here and there.

Today?  It worked beautifully.

The three of us (@PrimoHistory @WHistTeacher) joined a GHO using our GAFE accounts.  Now anyone who knows me knows how much I HATE being on video.  I love that I can turn my camera off during a GHO and just have my profile pic on the screen.  But today amongst my friends I learned how to let go of my fear of being on camera.  In fact, there were even some points in the conversation when I even forgot that I was on video.

When we all first joined in…I shared what I learned about GHOs from last summer’s #edcamphome.  I showed my friends how customize their lower third and explained a bit about Google Effects.  I chose to wear the princess crown which went well with the devil horns from @WHistTeacher.

And then we discovered the Draw tool.

I’m not sure how long we played around with that tool on each other’s pictures, but it offered us a much needed respite from testing and end-of-the-year burnout.  In fact, I don’t think that I’ve laughed that hard at work in awhile.  In hindsight, I should have taken a couple of screenshots of our handy work.

Oh well.  Next time.

While we were laughing and playing around with adding features and text to each other’s faces in GHO, we were also brainstorming about how this tool could be used to foster collaboration with peers.

After all, it’s not just fun and games with us.  We actually do look at the practicality of things.

In fact, earlier this week I was talking with another colleague about the possibility of using GHO to replace a face-to-face PD session.  The conservative nature of my district doesn’t allow for teachers to work “at home”…it’s like we have to be physically present in order to earn a stipend or get credit.  But it’s that kind of mind-set that is preventing us from being #FutureReady.  If we’re on video…and “they” can see us…then why do we have to be physically present in a meeting?  Any seasoned teacher knows that students can be physically present in the classroom and not hear one thing that the teacher is saying.  Being physically present does not equate to active participation.  But in a GHO…if a participant is on camera then there’s not much difference where the participant is in a physical sense.

I can see the power and usefulness behind using GHO for PDs and collaboration.  First, it would allow teachers to meet with content area peers who teach at a different school.  No longer should a singleton art teacher have to sit through a collaboration with other singleton subject-area colleagues who each have a different content specialization.  Second, it would allow more opportunities for vertical collaboration.  How easy would it be to set up a 30 minute GHO to share best practices?  Think about the value of the whole process.  We’d be using a new technology tool and unleveling the PD at the same time.

Sounds good, right?