Summer PD 2014 just ended. A couple dozen of us–teachers, library media specialists, tech integrationists, lab teachers–gathered virtually for three weeks to experiment with some of the hottest tech tools available for the classroom–Google Apps, differentiation tools, digital storytelling, visual learning, Twitter, blogs, backchannels, student as digital citizen, and more (30 topics in all). PD was run like a flipped classroom where attendees picked one of two daily topics, then they read. Tested. Experimented. Failed and tried again. Asked questions. They shared with colleagues on discussion boards, blogs, Tweets. Once a week we got together on a Google Hangout (well, two because GHO only allows 10 participants) to share ideas, answer questions, discuss nuances.
The class awarded a Certificate based on effort. Not end product. Here are my takeaways as moderator of this amazing group:
- They are risk takers. Kept trying long beyond the recommended hour a day in some cases.
- They were curious. They wanted to get it right, see how it worked.
- They are life long learners. Some had been teaching for thirty years and still enthusiastically embraced everything from twitter to genius hour.
- They were problem solvers. I often heard, ‘This will work with my students ‘if I tweak it here, I can solve this problem’.
- They are inquirers. Lots of questions, often directed to each other–for clarification, personal experience, or simple collegiality.
- Everyone’s tech ed experience is different. I was thrilled to hear so many different takes on infusing tech into their classes.
- Participants–like students–learned in different ways. When the standard reading materials or watching a video didn’t work, we came up with other options for explaining a prickly topic (like Twitter–that was an experience!)
- Participants were hard workers (really hard workers). Even when the class requirements allowed them to choose one or another tech topic, many wanted to do it all–and did (I know because I filled out the Certificates).
- Participants weren’t afraid to go back after an answer over and over with clarifying questions. That meant they felt safe to find the way they learned, rather than the middle of the Bell curve.
- Time after time, participants took responsibility for their own learning. Each had specific goals for the class and never lost sight of them.
- Participants worked together to understand. Sure, I was there to answer questions, but often, another classmate jumped in with solutions and how they made things work. Connected educators.
Some of the problems students faced down:
- How to use twitter
- How to use GHO
- How to make tagxedo interactive–that was exciting
- How to use a backchannel
- How to work tech tools into their unique student groups
A common complaint: Too much material. We worked out a good solution for this as a group, which included leaving the classroom open through August for any students who wanted continued access to the videos.
Then again, as I went through everyone’s digital portfolio to prepare Certificates, so many finished everything! I love these teachers!
Want a student’s perspective? Check out Jennifer’s Kidblog.
What next? there will be a Holiday PD and of course, next summer. Sign up for my publisher’s newsletter and you’ll be the first to hear.
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of dozens of technology training books that integrate technology into education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out next summer.