Friday, April 24, 2015

Honoring Choice in Professional Development

Giving our students choice is important for engagement in our classroom. It is equally important when planning and offering professional development sessions for teachers. The instructional technology team is currently planning the district end of the year conference and we wanted to ensure that our teachers had plenty of choices. In addition to offering several sessions for each time slot we also have some exciting non-traditional activities available.
1. App Gallery
2. Innovator's Lounge
3. Share Sessions
4. Appmazing Race

With the help of our iTeachers and iStudents, we put together an App Gallery. The app gallery is similar to a vendor hall at a conference, but instead of selling a service or product our teachers will be highlighting their favorites apps. iTeachers were asked to choose one app, then create a short presentation sharing what the app will do, resources, and ideas for the classroom. Our conference participants will pick up a card upon entering the gym. On the card there are ten stars. They will have the stars stamped as they visit at least ten different app booths. Teachers will earn a technology renewal credit for visiting the stations. We contacted the app developers and requested swag so that we could have freebies as each table. The apps that are included are: Showbie, Kahoot, Padlet, Tiny Tap, Thinglink, Stick Around, Venn, Timeline, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, Shadow Puppet, Smoop, Buncee, Canva, Doceri, Pic Collage, Word Study Apps, Pear Deck, Haiku Deck, Flowvella, SeeSaw, Digitwhiz, Socrative, Desmos, iTunes U, Charades,, Blendspace, Stop Motion, Remind, and 3D Gallery. I will share pictures and feedback after the event.
Too often we hear about lots of tech tools at a conference, but then never have time to meet and plan with our colleagues about how we can use them in the classroom. This year we wanted to offer our teachers a time to do this. The instructional technologists will be taking turns facilitating the Innovator's Lounge so that our teachers can meet with one another and put together ideas for next year.

Last year was the first year that we offered SHARE sessions for our teachers. Each grade level and subject area was scheduled a time and given a room so that they could get together with their peers from other schools and share favorite lessons, tips and tricks and plans for next year. They were a big hit last year so we are offering those sessions again this year. One change is that our administrators will be facilitating those sessions to help get the conversation started and keep it going.

We were inspired by this article in Edutopia to put together an Appmazing Race. The race consists of 10 different tasks that teams of two or three teachers complete to earn an extra technology renewal credit. We will also be recognizing the winning team with prizes at our awards ceremony on day two. You can see our task list here. One of our iTeachers will be monitoring Twitter that day for submissions and answering questions for teams that have any kind of problem. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the teachers put together. It should be a lot of fun.

How do you honor choice in your professional development offerings? I would love to hear about your ideas.

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