Category Archives: training

Launching TLC

There have been some exciting developments in my world lately. The entire K-12 faculty has started a collective professional development focus on learning and the brain; our summer program, SOS, will be piloting the ipad 2; and we have officially launched our TLC program.

After several years of chasing my tail, I have successfully pitched and developed a new course of professional development at my school. This spring we will launch TLC, Technology & Learning Cohort, a group made up of six teachers (two from each division of the school). Here’s part of the description from the invitation sent to faculty:

The Technology & Learning Cohort (TLC) will be a group of teachers who will read about the research, play with new tools, and experiment with curriculum in order to better understand pedagogical implications for classrooms. TLC team members will be charged with exploring and experimenting with ways to apply information technology tools in their teaching, with particular focus on the implications of neuro-developmental research and understanding for effective classroom practice.

We will determine the group from interested faculty later this spring.  We will meet once before the end of school to talk about the expectations and to give out some summer homework (reading, writing).  I am working on a summer reading/watching list for them and, right now, I am thinking about these books: Mindset (Dweck), Brain-Based Teaching in the Digital Age (Sprenger), and Five Minds of the Future (Gardner). There are a lot out there and I need to brainstorm some more.

We will have our first official meetings in August before our week of faculty meetings.  We will have three days set aside for some intensive experimenting with various tools and software, each member will set up a PLN; and we will begin our conversations about the school year. During the year, we will be meeting once a month as a group and probably some one-on-one sessions.  I will be encouraging each member to visit a few schools during the year and making some contacts beyond our school walls.

As you can see, I’m still sketching out this group, its scope and schedule; but I am excited to have some energy and support behind a professional development initiative like this. I hope each member will emerge with some confidence about the tools and the choices they have made; gain some knowledge and first-hand understanding about the transformative power of technology; and I hope each member will serve as a mentor for their department, grade level, and division in the coming years.

If you had a captive audience of teachers for a year, what would you do?

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“Speedy” Professional Development

I’ve been thinking about summer lately.  Mostly because we still have some snowbanks that haven’t melted and I am longing for the warm sun these days, but also because I’m starting to summer wasting...plan for technology workshops for teachers at the end of the year.  I came across this post from Kim Cofino, from the ISB (Bangkok), about “SpeedGeeking”.  What a great idea.  She, and her technology team, ran a professional development workshop like a speed dating set up.  They had 12 tables, each teacher rotated around each table and heard about a technology project for four minutes, and then moved on.  It gave teachers a brief introduction to new things going on in their own school.

The buzz in the room was amazing! Teachers were visibly excited and energized by the discussion and it was obvious that everyone found at least one thing that sparked their interest in the 30-minute session.

What a great idea – I hope I get a chance to run something like that here.  Thanks to Kim for thoroughly capturing the day in her post (as usual).

Photo credit – “summer wasting…

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.

Art on the brain

A few weeks ago we devoted a professional development day to the performing arts. It was a great day with a mix of a keynote (Ellen Winner, professor at Boston College), mini workshops, and a panel of alumni and professionals. The day was designed to raise awareness about making more room for art in the academic day. I came into the day with thoughts that we should be integrating more art into the traditional curriculum but I left with thoughts on how the traditional curriculum (english, math, science, history, language) should take some lessons from the way we teach art. In general, art classes focus more or depth rather than breadth; reflection and collaboration are routine; and effort and risk-taking are central to assessment. I would like to see more of these attributes in other classes.

Speaking of art, there is a great conference in April put on by the Maine Dept of Ed. It’s called “Arts, Innovation, and Creativity.” There are loads of workshop offerings; here’s a quote from the conference write-up:

Workshop sessions will include:

  • over 30 hands-on creative and imaginative professional develop opportunities;
  • interdisciplinary connections between the arts and creative thinking in other Maine Learning Results content areas utilizing technology;
  • innovative instruction, curriculum and assessment;
  • a link between at least one arts discipline (music, dance, theater or visual art) and at least one other content area from the MLR’s (Career and Education Development, English Language Arts, Health Education and Physical Education, Mathematics, Science and Technology, Social Studies, World Languages);
  • unique learning opportunities for educators utilizing technology to impact teaching and learning for all students.

Check the website for details on the workshops. And best of all, you get to spend 2 days in beautiful Rockport, Maine and the cost of the conference is only $45!

Online Culture

I watched the PBS Frontline “Growing Up Online” last night (as I’m sure many of you did). I was glad to see that it was less of a “doom and gloom” look at social networks than some other shows have been. I do, however, think it could have done a better job of relaying the positives of these networks for kids. In reading the discussion posts, you can see how parents quickly grab on to the negative stories and apply them across the board. There must be a way to show the positives – the friends, the networks – that students cannot find in their everyday f2f life. As well as show the positives in education and professional lives.

What is clear to me is that we need to keep educating parents about the Internet. I only do one or two parent nights around Internet safety but think I need to do several more.  Ahhhh – just add that to my list 🙂

Retreat Reveiw

It’s been a whirlwind few days with not much time to sit but I just wanted to write a few notes about our faculty retreat on Monday. Overall, a success. First off, the “technology” part of things went without a hitch – the network, the laptops, the email server. I had to do little or no tweaking along the way – major relief. Secondly, the day was received very well and most comments from the day were extremely positive.

It started with “Dialog A” – a conversation about Ken Bain’s book, What the Best College Teachers Do – we had that conversation in three different modes: a live, f2f conversation; an online chat, fishbowl style; and a group of “bloggers” responding to prompts on a blog.

In the second part, “Dialog B”, we had a live, f2f conversation with five people involved in the chat and five bloggers and they were talking about their experience in Dialog A. The rest of the group was split into 2 online chat groups, fishbowling that conversation.

Finally, in the last session, we had a live group talking about good teaching and how technology supports it while the rest of the group was blogging response to a summarizing post from our Head of School who had observed all facets of our first 2 dialogs. whew.

You can imagine the chats were a little chaotic – faculty members who had never been in a chat, trying to type and process all at the same time. They did well, some were frustrated and just sat back to observe; some tested the waters a bit and admittedly got better at it by the end. Those that happened to be in a chat group back-to-back said it got a lot easier by the second chat. I have to admit that we made the chat groups too big – there were about 9 or 10 in a group – there probably should have been 4 or 5.  Those that blogged really liked it and immediately could see it’s benefit in the classroom.

Of the comments we received at the end of the day, one really struck me. Part of their comment read:

I somewhat resent the fact that I read and underlined the d–n book and never got an opportunity to discuss it!

I guess for this person the day went right over their head – their idea seemed to be that if they weren’t involved in a live dialog, then no dialog occurred.  Oh well, I guess we can’t hit everyone the first time.

We had a wiki to record the day and serve as a resource for the school year.  Our hope is that the “good teaching” blog we set up for the day will serve us all year as a place to continue the conversation we started.  Take look.  We welcome and encourage outside voices to join us in this conversation.

College prep, required skills, and other results

“We have to prepare our students for college work.”, “These students are not learning how to take notes.” “These tools undermine our study skills.”, “Are students achieving more as a result of learning with these tools?”

These are just some of the comments and questions I have run into again and again as I promote more use of technology in the curriculum. That’s why I was intrigued by Will’s post last week on web 2.0 making it’s way into colleges. I often wonder how much current high school students will use these new technologies in their classrooms at college. My impression is that certain college professors are embracing these technologies but, like the k-12 arena, it’s hit or miss.

For now, we still have to prepare our students for exams and term papers but I think we can mix that in with new pedagogies which embrace the use of a technology integrated curriculum. Over time I hope to see this divide narrow and there be a more consistent set of skills between high school and college and life, for that matter.

I really like the new NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) for Students developed by ISTE (in collaboration with many, many people). I hope these 21st Century skills can be embraced by educators of all grade levels as a good road map for looking forward in education. David Warlick framed it nicely when talking about a recent presentation he made:

In it, I suggested three converging elements of what we do, and how, through the shared electrons of those elements (if I might carry the metaphor a little further), we might generate the energy that we need to drive learning in flat classrooms, turning them into learning engines.

Those elements are:

  • We are preparing children for a future we can not describe
  • We are preparing children, who as a generation, are enjoying a rich information experience outside-the-classroom.
  • We are preparing children within a new and dynamic information environment with new qualities that seem ready made for teaching and learning.

Well put, David. As educators, we need to understand and experience these tools that our students are growing up with. We have to be willing to learn about them and to use them. After that, we can choose not to use them but that choice has to be made after learning/using them.