Friday, February 21, 2014

Build It and They Will Come....

Forgive my semi-pathetic Field of Dreams reference, but this has been a great week toward the advancement of our school in the technology arena.  First, we received word that our school's building project for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) wing and other much needed additions and renovations was approved.  Rocket Manufacturing will soon be born as a student-run manufacturing plant that will give kids the skills needed to see products from vision through completion. We have terrific teachers with so much know-how who will really get to let their expertise shine as they share their incredible depth of knowledge with our students in new ways.  As a school who uses the Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) model for ensuring that our lessons have real-world application, I can't think of any better way than this to get our kids thinking about life beyond the classroom. Win #1.

The next highlight of my week was the start of the new graduate class I'm leading in our building for our teachers.  I have to admit, as I watched the number of participants grow, I was more than a little nervous about making sure I was going to be able to meet the needs of every learner.  But-then I did a V-8 smack to the forehead and gave myself the proverbial kick in the pants and thought...how is this any different than any teacher in any classroom, ya dummy?? Suck it up and differentiate!

Providing usable, classroom-based PD is incredibly important in any school.  Teachers can go off to any summer course and collect credits like Mario coins.  Big whoop.  Professional development and "credit" really only matter when they can be utilized within the classroom immediately and effectively.  Too many times teachers (myself included) have been the victim of the "Oh great, what was that strategy/idea/web tool we learned again?" fiasco as we try to recollect something 2 months after we learned it.  While it can work (especially if you're a bookmarking god or goddess), it just isn't ideal.

SAMR meets BLOOM'S. Credit to Kathy Schrock.
So, the focus of my class is seamless technology integration.  Anyone can throw a device in a room and call it integration.  But, it doesn't make it good, and it sure isn't seamless.  Understanding the varying levels of technology integration is critical for teachers.  In this way, we decided to follow the SAMR model by Dr. Ruben Puentedura for its beautiful simplicity, common sense approach, and ties to our already-implemented Bloom's Taxonomy use within the district.  With a firm grasp on the levels of technology integration, more purposeful use of tools and apps can be achieved.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the class.  I had over 20 participants, but I was ready!  Within this class I have the very tech-shy all the way to very tech-savvy and every level in between.  It was terrific covered in awesome sauce! (Yep-I'm 40 and just used awesome sauce....Deal with it.) We were Tweeting, website-making, Google Doc'ing machines!  And this was day 1.  Those who were more experienced popped up to help those who needed a little guidance.  I saw smiles.  I heard positive comments and excitement.  I had thank you texts and emails when I got home.  These are things professional development dreams are made of.... (Is there a professional development dream category??? If not, there is now!)  Teachers left ready to dig into their PLN Twitter accounts, work on their Weebly homework, and begin thinking of ways in which they are already implementing technology in each of the SAMR levels. And because I'm right there, every day, there doesn't have to be any fear of not knowing.  I'm a booking away.

With teaching people I know, and who know me, a certain level of understanding is already in place. I know their equipment, their level of expertise, their classroom, their students.  It's PD perfection!  No where can you get more applicable PD than from within your own district.  I really challenge you to seek out ways to offer PD from those teachers who have something to share. Everyone's an expert at SOMETHING.  Find a way through your local Area Education Agency or college to offer some credit to your teachers in-house.  It's time to tap into that wealth of knowledge and start presenting PD that matters.  Build that PD....and they will come.


Win #2.

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