Tech Integration Workshop - Step 10: Continual Professional Development

Note: Do not do this lesson until you have watched the Watch First video.

Lesson + Action Guide Video:

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Lesson & Action Guide

Hello everyone.  Welcome back to the Tech Integration Workshop here at SchoolTechnology.Org.  My name is Brad Flickinger - and welcome to Step 10 which is “Continual Professional Development.”

This one is going to be another one of the combo videos where we are going to have the lesson as well as the action guide kind of put together all in one.  And you will especially see that near the end of the Steps here, just because so much at the beginning was based on action; there is so much work to do; where now it is more just inspirational-type stuff.  I am going to show you what I am doing and then you can just replicate that in your own school.  So this is what we are going to get here.  There is only one vide on this one here.

Alright, so what I want to start off with is just giving you a taste of the professional development that I offer in my school.  And I offer about anywhere from twenty-five to thirty just topics that go on all the time.  And these kind of change from year to year, but most of them stay the same.  And you will get an idea what they are, and if you have worked with teachers you will agree with what you see here.

And they are in no particular order - but these are what I offer my Building.  And again, they can come Tuesdays before school, Wednesdays after school; I can meet with them one-on-one during planning times - all those things, so that they have these ready to go.

So the first of course being district email.  Because new teachers that move into our district, they need to know how to use the district email because we do so much of our correspondence through that.  So we have a quick little course on how to use our web-based district email and that goes pretty quick.

Now the other thing I really go for right at the beginning is how to use our Atomic Learning subscription, because SO much of the professional development they might want is on Atomic Learning.

So if they want to learn how to do a podcast they can go to the Workshop there.  If they want to learn how to do a Wiki; Workshop.  If they wan to do… you know, all those types of things.  Blogging; go see the blogging workshop.

So it just saves up so much of my time that I don’t have to sit there and meet one-on-one with all these teachers to cover the same subject.  Now there are some things that obviously are not covered by the Atomic Learning subscription, like my district email.  So I have to do that one-on-one.  And other things, though, I send them right into here.  Especially the “How to find an answer to a Tech question” - so that they can solve their own problems very quickly and easily.  So that works out great that way.

We spend a lot of time to make sure that our teachers understand, know and embed 21st Century Skills.  And we do that with a lot of mixture of different things.  We want to make sure that there are 21st Century Skills being taught all the time in their classes.

We spend time on making sure that they have a nice classroom website that is informative and fresh and current and not getting stale.  We want it always to be updated all the time.  So we work on how a classroom website should be, as well as being able to use Google Docs.

For most of this I send them right back into Atomic Learning but there are a few things that are particular to our Building and how we share things within our Google Docs.  And they need to know how to get in, use it, share it, print it - all those types of things.  And that is what we cover in a couple of quick lessons.

We have SMART boards in our classrooms; they are a type of interactive whiteboard.  So of course they need to know how to use the technology that comes in their classroom.  So we have some SMART board basics as well as advanced things - so how to REALLY use their interactive whiteboard effectively in their classroom.

We REALLY like using Google Earth at our schools.  So anyone new coming into our Building who doesn’t understand how to use Google Earth, we give them a nice little refresher course on this, and again then send them back into Atomic Learning for some more particular “How to use it in the classroom;” how to use Google Earth that way.

Ah, using ePals:  Now we love it when our classrooms connect with other classrooms all across the country and all across the world; and they can Skype to each other, and just exchange emails, comment on each other’s blogs.  And so teachers need to know how to get into ePals, how to search for another classroom and how to communicate using the ePals platform.

Now, again, every one of our classrooms comes with a document camera so teachers have got to know how to use their document camera in their classroom.  And it’s funny because when people first come in and they maybe have not used a document camera before - a new teacher - they are like, “Oh, do I really want to have this?”  And then you check back in two months later, after they have been trained, and they are like, “Oh no, this is the BEST thing I have ever had in my classroom!”  They just LOVE document cameras!

And also our classrooms come with a sound system that have both a wireless mic and then a landured mic that goes on them; and they need to know how to use that system effectively so that when they play a video off their computer, that it plays through the whole sound system; or put a DVD in and it plays through it, as well as the microphones in the room.  So they need to have an understanding of that.

And then also we share what we think are the best websites for - depending on what Grade you are talking about or what subject - but, you know, Math websites, Social Studies.  You know, if you are studying all about Columbus; “Well here is a great website…” - and so we keep track of that on a bookmark, social bookmarking-type website so that we all know and share what the best websites are.  So we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we start taking out a subject every year.

And now let’s kind of finish off with this one here.  And many of you are sitting back going, “Okay, those are some really great things - but how do you get teachers to do it?  How do you get teachers to show up and to take these things?

Well, I am really fortunate in being in a fantastic school where the teachers just WANT to do it.  But I have been in other schools where it has been like pulling teeth sometimes, to get teachers to come and take professional development when it comes to technology.

And so I have a little one-word answer for you here - and that is “Bribe!”  And when I work with administrators, we all agree that money is going to be spent on technology in a Building. All the time.  Even if you are broke right now, I mean, money does come.  Technology money comes the way of buildings and schools all the time.  And it might take a couple of years - but essentially you get it.

And then what we tell administrators is, “Since you are going to have it, you spend it where it is going to be used.”  And you know it is going go be used if someone is taking professional development.  So it is kind of a bribe.  But let’s see you take all these classes.  Well of course, when it comes time to buy a classroom set of flip video cameras, well they are going to go to YOU because you have proven that you use 21st Century Skills and you have done all the other things, and you have a classroom website.  And you need this kind of stuff.  And that goes for all the kinds of things like document cameras and SMART boards and all those kinds of things - put the resources where they will be used.

This isn’t about spreading it out evenly among all the people.  If you have got people that are refusing to learn technology, then you just can’t be dumping technology in their classroom.  And I would rather use a carrot than a stick; so it is just great that when administrators come in and they already planned for the future, and they know that they want to get let’s say a digital camera for every classroom, so they can do that.  And then they might say, “Okay, once you have built your classroom website, and that’s up and running and you have had it going for three months, and I can see that your blog is always up-to-date, then you will get a digital camera.  Because then you can use it to add more photos to your classroom website.”

So make sure the bribes tie in with what you want to do there.  I wish there was an easier way that I could do it for you - but that is how I have done it in the past.

So that is kind of a review of the continual professional development that goes on in my building week after week, month after month during the school year, so that they are always staying on top of this.  And they might take a course like on Google Docs with me in the beginning of the year, and then they might again take a couple of refresher classes on Atomic Learning just before they need to teach a lesson - those kinds of things.  So it really is interesting to see how it all comes together.