“Professional learning does not advance… through the inexorable confirmation of previous certainties, but through a systematic challenge to our present conceptions” By Douglass B. Reeves
Two of my favorite educators in the world are Jen Sieracki and Ray Giovanelli and I have had the pleasure to work with both of them. I was ecstatic that their article, 10 ways to revolutionize PD for the digital age, was published in eSchool News this week! eSchool news is a great resource you should not only check out but also subscribe too. Below I adapted the 10 ways they shared about revolutionizing PD and added how you can use these same ideas to revolutionize your classroom!
1. Technology Tuesdays. These are volunteer sessions for additional technology tool support. This is an opportunity for teachers to get additional tech support on new tools that can be integrated in to the classroom. This is done each month by school or district experts. —Classroom Take-Away: Introduce a new digital tool to your class on Tuesdays so they have a toolkit of different apps/sites they can use when creating. Take it a step further and let the students present to each other the educational ones they like.
2. Flipped PD. Rethink professional development and begin to differentiate by allowing teachers to pick areas they want to learn about, create collaborative action plans, and then learn about their focus area. Simulate an EdCamp model, focus on more engaging and longer term PD that is more in-depth rather than isolated shorter sessions. —Classroom Take-Away: Allow the students to pick what they want to learn and how through choice menus.
3. Model and Celebrate. Model technology use with staff any chance you can (in professional development, staff meetings, student groups, model lessons, etc.). Make sure that facilitators and administrators are using different tools as they present to show teachers how they work “in action”. Celebrate the risk-takers on your staff! –Classroom Take-Away: Model technology with your students. Don’t say this is how you use this (fill in app) but use it fluently so they can see how one uses it seamlessly.
4. Be Flexible. Allow flexibility with what is used by both teachers and students. Don’t focus on one platform or one app. Teachers should be able to use what they are comfortable with and what works for their kids. —Classroom Take-Away: Don’t tell the students what app/site to use for a project but allow students to have choice in apps/sites they want to us.
5. Tap into Student Resources. Use students to be a catalyst for what they want in their learning (Genius Hour, Genius Bar). Make sure to get student feedback, allow for them to work on passion projects, and work on characteristics of collaboration, communication, and life-long learning. Have students share their learning with teachers and a global audience! —Classroom Take-Away: Have experts in your class that are technology helpers.
6. Innovate. Create time during the day to try new things! Have administration cover teacher classes so they can focus on planning and preparation for new strategies and ideas. Empower teachers with the gift of “time.” –Classroom Take-Away: Let your students participate in genius hour so they can choose what they want to learn more about and be given the time.
7. Build Professional Learning Networks. Encourage teachers to broaden their knowledge base and connections with others inside and outside of your building and establish collaborative teams (utilizing Twitter, PLCs, Google+, etc.). Use opportunities to teach staff how to best use Twitter and other tools to learn about areas of interest, and building their learning network beyond the schoolhouse. —Classroom Take-Away: Let the students network and collaborate with each other when they need an idea or help. You can use tools such as TodaysMeet, Padlet or Chatzy.
8. Ask the Tough Questions. Compare/Contrast an iPad, Laptop, or Chromebook to a pencil. Is this used because students are engaged or is it truly being used as a tool for learning? Is the technology an add-on or a non-negotiable for this task? Which tool works best? As with anything, children must use the right tool for the right situation. —Classroom Take-Away: When the students are creating for project/activity, have them ask themselves these questions.
9. Categorize. Just like using a media center, children need to be taught and begin to learn when to use the appropriate application to meet the expectations of the activity they are working on. For example, creation tools: iMovie, Google Docs, PicCollage; or organizational tools: Google Drive, Evernote, Padlet. Every tool is not appropriate for every task. —Classroom Take-Away: Have students create lists in their notebook or as a class for how they use the app. Ex. presentation (Haiku Deck) verse brainstorming (Popplet).
10. Let Teachers Visit Teachers. Allow time for teachers to watch model tech use in action. This not only strengthens the learning culture of a school, but it also allows teachers to see how their colleagues may be using a technology tool or management of technology in a creative way. —Classroom Take-Away: Let students visit other classes to work with other teachers and students that are masters at certain apps as we all can know it all.