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.