All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind. ~Martin H. Fischer
It is that time of year again when the end of the school year is in site and teachers are starting to sign up for Summer Professional Developments (PD). Often I hear teacher excuses about why they can’t attend Summer Professional Developments such as I don’t have time, day care or they are traveling for summer. After hearing these excuses it made me ponder ways that I could help teachers obtain PD. The best way, I could think of, was to offer the teachers at my school a virtual PD. This way teachers could ‘attend’ on their own time and it didn’t matter where in the world they were traveling too.
I decided the easiest way to create my first virtual PD was to do a book study. I choose to use the book, ‘Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to help Students Learn’ as I had completed this book study recently. I also felt it would be the most beneficial to the teachers because it capitalizes on the Common Core’s 8 Mathematical Standards as well as best practices.
I wanted teachers to also start feeling more comfortable with technology that they could possible start using in their own classrooms, so I decided to use the platform Edmodo. Edmodo is also simple and user friendly because it is a similar set-up to Facebook which people are familiar with. I like that you can post videos, links, files etc easily. All I had to do in Edmodo was create a group and post the assignments for the book study.
To make it even easier for the teachers I did a few things. One, I offered ‘trainings’ on how to use Edmodo and if they needed more help I also offered one-on-one ‘training’ to each teacher that registered. Two, I created 3 timeline ‘schedules’ they could chose from to help keep them stay on track such as ‘Steady all Summer’, ‘Two at a Time’ or “Get ‘er Done’. Three, the assignments I created for the book study were things they can use in the classroom starting in the beginning of the year. (For example, one assignment is to create an edu.glogster, Prezi, Kerpoof, PowerPoint etc on the 5 Classroom Talks from the book. This way they can use what they have created in their classroom when they are introducing the 5 talks to their students.)
If you decide to do Virtual PD this summer for your staff I recommend 3 things….
1. Choose a book or topic that is relevant
2. Make the assignments so the teachers can use them in their classroom
3. Use a platform that is easy to use (such as Edmodo or Moodle)
If you have created Virtual Professional Developments for Elementary Teachers, I would love to hear any tips, tricks and/or what you did that made it successful. Please share in the comments section.