Friday, April 24, 2015

Meanwhile in K-2...

Next week our state testing begins, which means our teachers from 3rd grade and up will be unavailable. The instructional technologists decided to use this opportunity to reach out to our kindergarten through second grade.
I made this Buncee card and sent out to all of my K-2 teachers.
I now have fourteen lessons lined up next week. I'm so excited. The lessons range from Shadow Puppet animal research projects, green screen in Keynote, Popplet character descriptions, Buncee books, Chatterpix opinion writing to Telestory weather reports. Next week will be tons of fun.

Honoring Choice in Professional Development

Giving our students choice is important for engagement in our classroom. It is equally important when planning and offering professional development sessions for teachers. The instructional technology team is currently planning the district end of the year conference and we wanted to ensure that our teachers had plenty of choices. In addition to offering several sessions for each time slot we also have some exciting non-traditional activities available.
1. App Gallery
2. Innovator's Lounge
3. Share Sessions
4. Appmazing Race

With the help of our iTeachers and iStudents, we put together an App Gallery. The app gallery is similar to a vendor hall at a conference, but instead of selling a service or product our teachers will be highlighting their favorites apps. iTeachers were asked to choose one app, then create a short presentation sharing what the app will do, resources, and ideas for the classroom. Our conference participants will pick up a card upon entering the gym. On the card there are ten stars. They will have the stars stamped as they visit at least ten different app booths. Teachers will earn a technology renewal credit for visiting the stations. We contacted the app developers and requested swag so that we could have freebies as each table. The apps that are included are: Showbie, Kahoot, Padlet, Tiny Tap, Thinglink, Stick Around, Venn, Timeline, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, Shadow Puppet, Smoop, Buncee, Canva, Doceri, Pic Collage, Word Study Apps, Pear Deck, Haiku Deck, Flowvella, SeeSaw, Digitwhiz, Socrative, Desmos, iTunes U, Charades,, Blendspace, Stop Motion, Remind, and 3D Gallery. I will share pictures and feedback after the event.
Too often we hear about lots of tech tools at a conference, but then never have time to meet and plan with our colleagues about how we can use them in the classroom. This year we wanted to offer our teachers a time to do this. The instructional technologists will be taking turns facilitating the Innovator's Lounge so that our teachers can meet with one another and put together ideas for next year.

Last year was the first year that we offered SHARE sessions for our teachers. Each grade level and subject area was scheduled a time and given a room so that they could get together with their peers from other schools and share favorite lessons, tips and tricks and plans for next year. They were a big hit last year so we are offering those sessions again this year. One change is that our administrators will be facilitating those sessions to help get the conversation started and keep it going.

We were inspired by this article in Edutopia to put together an Appmazing Race. The race consists of 10 different tasks that teams of two or three teachers complete to earn an extra technology renewal credit. We will also be recognizing the winning team with prizes at our awards ceremony on day two. You can see our task list here. One of our iTeachers will be monitoring Twitter that day for submissions and answering questions for teams that have any kind of problem. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the teachers put together. It should be a lot of fun.

How do you honor choice in your professional development offerings? I would love to hear about your ideas.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teacher iPad Walk and Twitter Blitz

In a previous post I shared our Admin iPad Walks. These have been extremely successful. The iPad Walks have allowed our administrators to see and share ideas with their teachers and also for each school we visited to be able to "show off" and brag about the amazing things going on in the class with technology. For some it has even been a motivator for encouraging teachers to use technology more.
The instructional technologists wanted to recreate the iPad walks for our teachers, but ran into challenges quickly. We can't possibly get enough substitute teachers to cover so that our teachers can visit another school and there isn't enough planning time to travel to another school. We finally decided to host a walk within their home school and have them visit classrooms just down the hall. We combined this day with our goal of promoting Twitter.
Teachers were surveyed so that we could make a schedule for each school showing which classrooms were open to visitors and what tools or apps they would be using. We distributed the schedule to the teachers and asked each of them to visit at least two classrooms. Teachers then had to share about the visits on Twitter using our district technology hashtag, #a1digitalinnovation.
These sessions were a big success. I have seen much more activity on our hashtag feed, one school created a school Twitter account and a hashtag, and many, many teachers told us that they loved getting to see the other classrooms and take those ideas back with them.
This PD session was completely free and very effective. I encourage you to give it a try and celebrate the innovation going on just down the hall.
Our Twitter efforts will continue. I sent a #ff email to each school sharing the handles of everyone in the building that tweeted so that they can follow each other. We also plan to have Twitter activities during our June conference and we've been regularly asking our teachers to tweet something they've learned at the end of a PD session as an exit ticket. There is an excellent article from Edutopia that lists other Twitter ideas.
Do you promote classroom visits or Twitter? I would love to hear about your ideas.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Teacher Technology Badges

As part of our Discovery PD series, we have been using a badge system with our teachers. You may have read about badges or gamification of professional development before or seen it used on sites such as Smore, Graphite or Foursquare. We wanted to use this as a motivational tool for our teachers. We discussed using virtual badges, but thought they no one would see them if we only shared on the teacher websites. Instead we decided to go old school and use paper. Each teacher received a tech badge sheet that looks like this:

We made these in Keynote, nothing complicated. Teachers display them on a bulletin board in the room or outside their doors.
Then for each session or activity we have given out badges. The response has been surprising. I worried that some teachers would think it was too corny, but most teachers have enjoyed it and some are VERY competitive. They want a badge for everything and have told us that if they knew certain activities earned them a badge then they would have been more likely to participate.

This was a very easy component to add to our scheduled PD sessions and has proven to be a worthwhile and cost effective way to recognize those teachers that go above and beyond.

This is one of our iTeacher's almost full page now. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Teacher Technology Leaders: iTeacher Program

Last week the instructional technologists had the pleasure of working with some of our technology leaders in the classroom. We have a group of iTeachers that serve as our model classrooms, professional development presenters, and first line of defense for technology assistance in our schools. This year we received approval to increase the number of iTeachers from 1 to 2 or 3 per school. We were very excited to increase our numbers.
For our first official session together we wanted to explain the program, discuss presentation skills, and begin planning for our summer conference.

We utilized Google Classroom to deliver presentation slides and materials so as our iTeachers entered the room, there were instructions on how to join the group. We also asked those without Twitter accounts to create one. Kristen created these awesome place cards with all of their information, including name, agenda for the day, Google Classroom code, spot for Twitter handle, our district hashtag, and an icon of the presentation tool they would be using that day.

After a round of icebreaker questions we shared the pencil metaphor and talked about how excited we were to have such amazing teacher leaders with us. We shared some of our plans for the June conference and explained their role in the conference. We shared the different types of presentations we need their help in presenting. We had already created intentionally diverse groups based on presentation tool so we asked them to get together with the others with that same tool on their place card. We gave them the option of using Flowvella, Haiku Deck, Prezi, Nearpod/Classflow or Keynote/Google Slides. We thought that we could avoid a PowerPoint flooded conference if we shared alternatives with them.

After breaking into their group we shared their assignment: Create a presentation using your assigned tool. Include your goals for being an iTeacher, strengths, presentation ideas for professional development and fun ideas for the conference. We gave them plenty of time to create their presentation. I loved hearing them share their technology experiences throughout that creation process.

Each group shared their presentation and then we asked them to read this article from Lisa Nielsen:
We looked at the plans we had made for that day and talked about how we intentionally used her advice in creating our session and we asked that they consider this advice when creating their presentations for June. Before breaking for lunch we asked each teacher to summarize the morning in a tweet using the district hashtag.

Our iTeachers from last year joined our new group after lunch. We played "Switch Sides if..." as an icebreaker. This is where I found that idea. Then we shared a Padlet we had created with our session ideas and some from the morning's presentations. We decided to choose topics using the White Elephant/Dirty Santa game. If you've never played here are the official rules. We had several steals and lots of laughs, but I think everyone ended up with a topic they liked. Click It to Win It was the most stolen topic!

Then we explained our idea for an App Gallery at the conference. Instead of a traditional vendor hall our iTeachers will create a booth advertising an app that they recommend. Teachers have a stamp card and they have to visit a certain number of booths, listen to the explanation and maybe even create something using the app to earn a stamp. After some time in the App Gallery to explore teachers will choose one of the apps and go to a breakout room with the iTeacher where they will go into more depth about using the tool. We created a shared spreadsheet in Google Drive so that our iTeachers could select the app they want to share.

Finally we gave them some time to begin working on their presentations and asked them all to share another tweet about the day. I left full of excitement for the conference. We are lucky to have so many amazing teachers in our district.

If you have a similar program for your tech leaders I would love to hear about it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Techie Holidays

I was inspired after seeing the adorable creations from this teacher on Flickr:

We used parts of our district's motto to create a personalized image. Then we used that Keynote image in Thinglink, added a few fun holiday themed links and sent this out as our holiday card from the instructional technologists. 

We became the prize patrol to deliver the prizes for Tech the Halls. 
I was so impressed with the boards our students and teachers made. The district winner had Aurasma ornaments for every child that shared their favorite parts of the holidays, stocking for every teacher that linked to Chatterpix or Jibjab dance videos, music notes that played carols, and snowflakes with AR codes to content questions. Wow!
Here is a video that shows all of the boards.
Enjoy and happy holidays!

Discover PD Series

We chose three words to be in our logo for our ipad initiative: discover, transform and excel. We took these three words and used them as inspiration for our PD plans. 
In the Spring we will be offering monthly professional development to our schools so that they can "discover" new tools for their classroom. 
Our district just purchased Notability for all of our students so we will begin with learning this app. After the holiday break we will be sharing tips for managing a 1:1 classroom, using Twitter, digital assessment tools, Google Apps for Education and a session designed specifically for the needs of our individual schools. I will be sure to share materials for our sessions here.
I am looking forward to getting in to see each of my five schools and continuing to build relationships with the teachers. I have found that time like this with the teachers has really increased their trust in me and their willingness to invite me into the classroom. 

Our annual June district PD days will be a conference style event. We are calling the event Transform 2015. There will be traditional sessions, but also an unconference style portion, App Gallery, Creation Stations and many more fun, interactive learning opportunities. We are very excited about the event and created this Save the Date card.

The Excel portion of our plan is still in the works, but we hope to celebrate the achievement of our students when we return next Fall. 

Does your district organize PD based on themes or annual goals? I would love to hear about it.