Yesterday's "21st Century Skills" PD session marked milestone of sorts. While there has been much talk about using computers and technology in our classrooms, the conversations among colleagues yesterday had a different tone than anything I had previously been privy to.
About 15 people came to the session I helped facilitate. I was glad the participants came ready to think about new ways of engaging students and discuss the challenges and obstacles that stand in the way.
Among the positives:
Discussion on how our school's filtration policies are preventing us from moving forward
Discussion on the futility of trying to ban cell phones
Teachers sharing anecdotes about students planning and organizing school events using facebook
Brainstorming ways that technology can benefit our students and the challenges that come with them
I know there's still a long way to go with lots of obstacles to overcome, but I feel like we've finally started to have these important conversations. Let's hope we continue to move forward as a school and staff from here.
Special thanks to Dean Shareski (visit his blog) and Jamie Raeburn Weir (visit her blog) for providing the 60 second shout-outs. I believe the participants were quite impressed.
I might not be quite the Google-ite others are, but I do use a good number of their tools, and I think their corporate structure and culture might have some lessons for the education world. As a result, I decided I'd like to see the Google in action at the Google Teacher Academy in NYC this November. I'm not counting on being selected, but I figured I couldn't pass up the chance.
I've put in my application, which included producing my own 1 minute long video- something I've never done before. I'm pretty happy with the results¹, although it's certainly a long way from being professional. I'd call it a good first attempt at film making.
Here it is, my acting, screenwriting, producing, and editorial debut:
Let me know what you think.
¹ Upon searching for other applicants videos (which I did only after finishing my video), I saw lots of pandering to Google by focusing on how cool Google tools are. I hope that's not a major requirement, since the only Google-y things in my video are the brief screenshots of Reader and YouTube. Oh well. If they're looking for panderers, then I'm not going to be their guy anyway.
Format: professional development lecture supported by PowerPoint
PPT format: 87 slides. White background. Black text. Bullets. Bullets. Bullets. Text. Text. Text.
Maslow's (modified) Hierarchy of Needs
If I don't have access to my room, colleagues who I'm supposed to be teaching, or any knowledge about what material to start with when I'll have real students sitting in my class on Thursday (it's Monday today), it doesn't matter how well-planned or effective the professional development, it's not going to be my focus.
I did get keys to my room today, managed to talk to one colleague who is teaching the same class for 5 to 10 minutes, and have a rough idea of where they start. I'm pretty sure I have enough information to make it through the first couple of days. By then I should be okay. But seriously...are they thinking when they plan professional development all. dern. day. for new hires?