Friday, April 22, 2016

ECSE Personalized PD

This week I joined in with ITRTs Jamie Mullenaux (@JamieMullenaux) and Jen Hicks (@jenhicks) to provide personalized PD for Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teachers in our district.

Training was limited to an hour and fifteen minutes, so our challenge was to provide personalized PD in a limited amount of time. We knew there were varying numbers of available hardware in each class (iPads, SMART Boards, and SMART Tables), but we weren't sure who had what or which area they wanted more training. We decided to offer time for conversation, learning, and reflection as shown below:

We offered three stations focused on creative uses for iPads, SMART Boards, and SMART Tables, allowing teachers to choose the training they wanted to receive. We prepared digital guides for each session along with targeted questions to encourage active participation.

Our introductory conversations showed that many were comfortable using basic apps on the iPad, but were looking to learn how to use SMART Boards and SMART Tables. We still offered three stations, but found that providing flexibility for teachers to choose what interested them most made the greatest impact on learning.

As teachers interacted with the SMART Board and SMART Tables, they shared ideas for implementation, including which features they thought would be most appropriate for their PreK students. They also shared suggestions for troubleshooting common issues such as editing templates from the SMART Exchange and moving the SMART Table for naptime.

It was great to have all the ECSE teachers together to share in the learning experience! A special thanks to Solita Wilson for allowing us to use her classroom for training.  We learned quite a bit in such a short amount of time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First Writing EdCamp

Last week I was invited by a fellow ITRT to attend the first ever EdCamp hosted by our district. It was organized by ELA curriculum coordinator, Tami Slater (@tami_slater) in collaboration with ITRTs Casey Nugent (@edtechdonuts) and Heather Causey (@hcausey). Even though the event was geared specifically for high school English teachers, I joined in the fun because I am always looking for ways to improve my own writing as well as strategies to support my beginning writers at the elementary level.

The morning was spent grading essays with the afternoons set up for an open sharing time of various topics. Each "room" was labeled after a famous writer, set up as tables across the cafeteria to allow for convenient movement between sessions.

Each session included a hyperlinked Google Doc for convenient sharing and note-taking. Teachers chose which session they wanted to attend, carrying laptops with them for each rotation. I definitely was the "odd man out" being an elementary-focused educator, but I enjoyed listening to the teachers share their struggles and successes.

Some great sites that were shared included Moving Writers and Storybird for motivating struggling writers. Other sites such as Canva and Piktochart were discussed for students to use in creating infographics. Grammarly was another hot topic for editing and grammar reteaching. We loved how it not only told us what to correct and how, but it also described in detail why we needed to correct our errors. Talk about empowering! Our only wish is that is synced with Google Docs! (Yes, we know we can copy/paste into the Grammarly website, but an automatic analysis would be such a gift!)

I loved listening to the teachers share their ideas of how to run writing stations in their classrooms- so inspiring! From having students rotate from one station to the next crafting a single story or individual stations to reinforce vocabulary and digital writing, it was clear that our teachers are looking for creative ways to engage our students with writing.

I left this EdCamp excited to share this PD concept with teachers in my building as well as the resources described. My hope is that this EdCamp structure grows to the point where we can have multiple EdCamps across the district focused on meaningful conversations as teachers continue to learn and grow!