It’s an exciting time in our district. We have 8 elementary campuses that are going 1:1 with Chromebooks this spring. A couple of schools already have their Chromebooks, and the other 6 will have them by the end of April. After about two decades of having 5-7 computers per class, this is an enormous paradigm shift, and one that most teachers are eagerly embracing!
My team and I (the biggest nerds you’ve probably ever met) have been hard at work getting some Professional Learning opportunities together for our teachers. It’s AMAZING to suddenly have all those devices, but classroom management issues, developing new class norms, and learning to use the Chromebooks for creation purposes rather than just consumption require some real reflection and guidance. That’s where my team and I hope we can really make an impact.
What we know about professional learning tells us that it needs to involve five things:
- The duration of professional development must be significant and ongoing to allow time for teachers to learn a new strategy and grapple with the implementation problem. It is our hope to work with the staff at each campus over the course of several months, layering and adding concepts and ideas at each successive meeting.
- There must be ongoing support for a teacher during the implementation stage that addresses the specific challenges of changing classroom practice. We have provided multiple ways for teachers to connect to us and to each other: a website, a Google+ Community, Twitter, and copious encouragement to call or email us whenever they have questions. We, of course, will be proactive in our efforts to reach out to the teachers, too.
- Teachers’ initial exposure to a concept should not be passive, but rather should engage teachers through varied approaches so they can participate actively in making sense of a new practice. Our professional learning delivery always involves a hands-on approach, with lots of opportunities for teachers to reflect and talk through what they have just learned and what it would look like in their situation.
- Modelling has been found to be highly effective in helping teachers understand a new practice. We strive to deliver the professional learning in the same way that we hope teachers deliver instruction to their students. So, for example, we don’t just TALK about Nearpod; we USE Nearpod. We don’t teach how to use a website like Quizizz; we just use Quizizz, getting teachers familiar with the tool by actually experiencing it the same way their students would.
- The content presented to teachers shouldn’t be generic, but instead specific to the discipline (for middle school and high school teachers) or grade-level (for elementary school teachers). Although sometimes we start out working with the whole staff, we try as often as possible to work with teachers during their planning periods so that we can address the unique needs of a grade level or subject area. I have my first gig to do just that this coming Thursday!
I created a commercial of sorts to advertise to various staff members how we can help them as they go through their technology transition:
We have designed seven different classes. While ideally these would be done in order, we know that that might not happen in all cases. The classes can stand alone, so principals or teachers could choose to schedule all seven classes or could select the ones that they would find most beneficial. We are also always open to customizing a professional learning experience to meet needs of each group of learners, and we will involve teacher leaders at each campus in the design of those customizations whenever possible.
It’s my hope that, through our professional learning series, learners will be equipped with tools to appropriately, authentically, and successfully integrate 1:1 Chromebooks into their classrooms to enhance instruction and improve student learning. <-That right there is the “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG) for this series of classes. I’ve created a table of learning goals, learning activities, and assessment activities that illustrates all that we hope to accomplish through our professional learning modules.
This lesson plan outlines the concepts that we would like to cover at our initial training. However, we know that time constraints and other factors play a large role in what we can actually realistically accomplish at each campus, so this plan is a guide that is modified for each individual campus. Another example of a session we might do is this one, which would be delivered via Nearpod.
Our hope is to promote self-directed learning through the resources on our Chromebook Academy website. The site is under development, but we have some resources differentiated by grade level as well as several short videos that teachers can refer to again and again (or share with their students). You can find those videos via the Professional Learning page.
We’ve also created a Google+ Community… although nobody knows about it quite yet so it’s pretty quiet at this point! Several departments in our district have begun to use Google+ Communities to connect teachers from different schools, so this should already feel familiar to many of our teachers. I love the idea of facilitating a growing community of support for our wonderful educators.
Whew! We are busy in our world – I know you all are too. Take care of yourselves in these last couple of months of school!