Category Archives: profdev

Powerpoint and beyond

I enjoy reading and watching Dan Meyer’s blog.  He is a truly innovative teacher and I am constantly sending his material to our math department.  Yesterday, he posted a recent presentation to teachers about Powerpoint and how to use it successfully.  Throughout the presentation he also mentions a number of lessons from his class – a great demonstration on how visual cues can capture the attention of all.  Click here for the Quicktime version.

How to get the “Tipping Point”

Borrowing the phrase from Malcolm Gladwell, I am searching for ways to get to the tipping point with my teachers’ interest in technology.  Last school year, we, as faculty, agreed to work to get our students to take better care of their physical spaces at school.  We adopted the tipping point theory and worked with a group of kids (mavens) to spread this “green” fever throughout the school.  Overall, it was successful, though we have a ways to go, we did raise awareness that we can build on next school year.

Now I’m thinking how I can get to the tipping point with faculty and their use of read/write tools in their classes.  I’m mostly thinking about the faculty that has no interest in technology for whatever reason (no time, don’t see that it applies to the their class, see no need to change what they are doing after xx years).  I know there is no magic wand, no magic potions, or even magic professional development program.  I know that it ultimately has to come from the teacher – they have to want to learn it.  Even if they are exposed to the tools, they will have no interest in using them if they can’t see exactly how they would make them work.

Teachers that have some interest will attend optional workshops throughout the year and the summer.  I’ve offered those workshops and I get a core group of faculty who get really excited about the tools and can’t wait for September to use them (well, they can probably wait).  I have no problem reaching these teachers – we have great discussions, they can see real value in the tools, and they seem to just drink up whatever you give them.

It’s the other population that I have trouble reaching.  Every workshop they sit in, they pick apart the technology, focus on the negatives, claim they couldn’t possible use technology unless every student has a laptop (we are not 1-to-1), or they just can’t imagine why they would want to embrace these technologies when what they are doing is just fine.

So I need to work on reaching the tipping point.  A point at which these teachers will say, “Hmmm – maybe there is something to these technologies?”  I need to continue to work with the enthusiastic teachers (my “mavins”) in hopes that their energy will spillover to the other folks.  Of course I will still be there pushing from the other side, trying to show them the benefits of using these technologies – personally, professionally, and pedagogically.  And as Chris Lehman reminds me, I have to remain humble in my promotion of there tools.  I really like what Chris says in the last paragraph of his post:

I do think that the educators in my aggregator can change the world. But I think we all have to understand that a) change is slower than we’d want, and b) to change the world, we have to be as close to the ideal versions of ourselves as we can. We have to be passionate and dedicated and smart and inclusive and tireless and humble. We have to be better tomorrow at being who we are than we are today. Our ideas and work can change the world and make a difference, but only if we are willing to constantly change ourselves.

Yes, change is slow (some days it seems to go backwards), but we do have to remain passionate and energized through our conversations with one another.  I can’t imagine where our jobs would be without these tools.

Teachers 2.0

I just met with our Upper School Director regarding our in-service retreat in August. His focus is technology in support of good teaching (yeah!). He has come a long way in his use and thoughts about technology in the classroom. I worked with him on a wiki project this spring in his African Literature class. The shape of this retreat has evolved a lot since he first brought it up. We’ve gone from a skills-based approach to a near-web2.0 retreat. Here’s a peek at what we have so far:

Dialog I – What makes good teaching? (based around reading of Ken Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do)

Presentation I – A demo of a “lesson study” – in depth conversation, step-by-step following the elements of a particular lesson

Dialog II – Technology and Good Teaching

(During these first 3 elements, the faculty will be broken into 3 groups of 10. Then during each session, the group will either be in the fishbowl having the active conversation, or live blogging/chat on the side – they will rotate through the rolls.)


Dialog III – Reflections on the day – was this setup effective? can it be used in the classroom?

Presentation II – Next steps – snapshot of some technologies to get them started. preview to future workshops.

What do you think of this of this setup? How might you change things? I’m especially exciting for the live blog on the side after reading all the buzz at NECC. But I’m worried that there is not much info on technology in this. If the teachers don’t know what’s out there how can they come to the conclusion that good teaching should involve using it? After reading Ben Wilkoff’s post this morning, I’m wondering how set up “The Ripe Environment” for my teachers. I’m still digesting this and wondering what else I could inject – maybe to make “Presentation II” effective. I welcome your thoughts.

Still reading

Yes, I’m still trying to catch up with all the blog posts that the people at NECC have produced. I have especially enjoyed reading through the skype notes posted by Jeff Utecht from the skype chat they had during a few sessions. Though I didn’t experience it first hand, I can see that this practice is something that can be HUGE in the classroom and during professional development. It is something that we were considering for our opening meeting in August – now I’m convinced we should do it.

There is an enormous amount of energy coming out of Atlanta – so much I hardly know where to begin.  But I’d like to use that energy and the dozens and dozens of posts and notes that I have read over the past few days and combine that with the energy of the handful of faculty that attended my workshops at the end of the year and use it to get a real web 2.0 (school 2.0) fever started here.  I especially enjoyed Wes Fryer’s post this morning – broiling with energy.

Teachers here (and everywhere I imagine) are pretty comfortable with what they are doing in the classroom.  If however they are exposed to these tools and the power they can bring (to the classroom and students), they may see that they are falling behind in what is going on in education worldwide.  That’s the hard part – trying get teachers to take the time to see what others around them are doing.  Web 2.0 tools make this easier…

I’m glad I have a few weeks to prepare – I’m sure I’ll need more than that.  But I feel like I am better equipped having read post after post, twitter after twitter, chat after chat this week.  Thanks bloggers!


After reading my netvibes this morning, I find myself with a little NECC envy. I’ve never been but vow to go in the next year or two. I need it to be closer or a better vacation spot and time for my family. San Antonio? Maybe, but it might be too hot. Anyway, I’m trying to attend virtually through Warlick’s Hitchhikr page and all the RSS feeds I have pulled in to my netvibes. Thanks to all the live bloggers attending – keep posting, I enjoy reading.

I enjoyed Jeff Utecht’s post this morning – makes me want to get going on twitter (I guess I have to get some friends).

Most of all I’m just reading with professional development in mind. Between now and the end of August I’m hoping to gather useful information to bring to the Upper School faculty about using technology in their teaching practice – both professionally and with their students. More on this as I go…