Greetings, dear reader! I have a question for you. How many professional development (PD) workshops, seminars, classes, trips, etc. have you attended this summer? Zero? One? Two? Or are you crazy like me and working on your fifth? Here’s another question for you: how many times have you attended a hyped-up workshop only to not change your own practice? It’s okay. We’ve all done it.
I attended a Promethean training earlier this week, and half way through I had an AHA moment (pun intended – go Jags!):
Project-based professional development workshops are much more effective than traditional, lecture-based professional development seminars.
How do I know? Because I was halfway through a traditional, lecture-based Promethean workshop, and I was bored to tears. Instead of learning strategy, I was stuck listening to a long, drawn out explanation of what a paint bucket does in ActivInspire. All I really wanted were ideas on how my Promethean Board could improve my teaching and deepen student understanding, but my idea factory was experiencing a forced furlough due to paint buckets and shape tools.
Two weeks ago I started the SAMR EdTech Series as a way to cope with the overwhelming amount of ideas threatening to consume my soul. Where did these ideas come from? My district’s Teacher Summer Tech Camp, of course! It was the best PD I’d ever attended. Instead of learning about tools, we learned about strategies, and in learning the strategy we learned the tool.
AppSmash! Teaching Perspective with ChatterPix, Tellagami, and iMovie
One such breakout session required us to create a perspective video using ChatterPix, Tellagami, and iMovie on iPads. Initially, I wasn’t sold. When I was asked to download ChatterPix and Tellagami, I knew this lesson would be geared toward elementary audiences. Nevertheless, I decided to stick around and give it a shot.
First, we watched a sample video in which an elementary student used ChatterPix and Tellagami to create an informative newscast on zoos. The news anchor was an avatar created through Tellagami. She interviewed different zoo animals – created through Google images and ChatterPix – about their experiences living in a zoo. The animals explained why zoos were bad from a first person perspective. They each responded in different voices (with lots of sass), and their mouths actually moved as they spoke! It was very cute.
After watching the sample video, we were asked to create our own. The instructors quickly walked us through the basic process of creating an avatar on Tellagami before giving us time to record footage for our own perspective videos. Then, we repeated the process with ChatterPix. Finally, we squished the videos from the two apps together using iMovie.
Why did it work? Because the focus was on what we could do with the tool, not on the tool itself. Since we spent most of the session time creating our own videos, the instructors were free to help individuals struggling with the programming while the rest of us were absorbed in our own projects. They understood that many of us would be able to figure out how to use the tool on our own, so they didn’t force us to listen to a remedial lesson on shape tools and paint buckets unless we needed it.
My AppSmash video is below. It’s a little creepy and a lot cheesy, but you get the idea.
While the I initially thought this would only work for elementary students, creating my video made it clear that secondary students can learn a lot from this activity as well. By having different characters from different books interact with each other, the students can explore how different texts explore similar themes, compare and contrast characterization techniques, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Using Keynote and iMovie to Reflect on Learning
I also attended a couple of breakout sessions on Keynote and iMovie. Initially, I didn’t have high expectations for these sessions. What can I say, I’m a tech snob. Keynote? Psh. I know how to use Keynote in the classroom: to make slide shows! Duh! And iMovie? Easy. There were limited breakout options though so I attend the sessions anyway. I figured I might learn something.
Learn something I did.
Like the AppSmash lesson, these sessions didn’t focus on iMovie or Keynote. They focused on strategies, specifically science labs.
Documenting Water Tension with Keynote
For the Keynote lesson, we were each given a cup of water, a water dropper, a paper towel, and four coins. We were told that we were going to experiment with water tension and document our findings using Keynote.
Apparently, Keynote can be used for more than slideshows. Who knew?
Curious? Check out my partially completed presentation lab notes in the video below.
Parachute Building: A Documentary
For the iMove lesson, we were given a coffee filter, four pieces of twine, a paper clip, and a binder clip. We were then told that we had five minutes to build a parachute. We were to use our iPads to take pictures and videos of our progress. We had another five minutes to test our parachute outside. When we finished experimenting, we used iMovie to create a documentary of our parachute experience.
My parachute video is below.
EdTech Speed Dating
Finally, after two days of breakout sessions we were given four or five hours to create something to use with our students. The instructors stayed on site to assist us if necessary. Camp ended with “speed dating,” which is exactly what it sounds like but from an EdTech perspective. We rotated from person to person and showed off our lovely techy creations. It was fun to see other teachers talk about flipping their lessons and putting more technology into kids’ hands. That’s where I learned about Aurasma (it is SO FREAKING COOL!), which I will write about next.
Why did speed dating work? Because we were able to collect more ideas, network with other tech savvy teachers in our district, and most importantly own the tool. Even though we weren’t given explicit instruction on how to use every feature every tool had to offer, we figured it out our own because we were motivated to do so. The tools were necessary to bring our great ideas to fruition and show them off to other teachers.
I keep reading posts about how difficult it is to actually get teachers to use available technology or to be innovative, and change is difficult and it takes time. A possible solution? Design PD that utilizes best practices. Ideas come from experiences, not lectures, so don’t give a lecture on how to teach without lecturing. Instead, provide teacher-centered PD that models new learning opportunities from a student perspective.
I created a handy-dandy chart highlighting the differences between traditional EdTech PD (Professional Development 1.0) and modern EdTech PD (Professional Development 2.0). Check it out below.
That’s all I’ve got for you today! If you want to read more about strategies using technology and the SAMR Model, check out my post on using Animoto in the classroom or my post on EDpuzzle. You can also read the first post in this series here.
Check out my next post on practical tips for flipping your classroom!