Yesterday: In 2010 I was put in charge of Teacher Professional Learning and as part of that responsibility I ran a regional project dealing with the use of technology in the classroom. Specifically, the project aimed to make more efficient and effective use of IWBs and OneNote.
Step one was to have participating schools nominate at least one teacher who was keen to learn how to use the IWB for more than a video projector and glorified whiteboard. The next step was to bring them all together for a day to show them what was possible and get them started on creating a resource for a unit they were going to do in Term 4.
By the end of that first day, all participants had the start of a resource that they could use with an IWB and/or laptop. Many were beginners in terms of the technology and all wanted to focus on a different function, tool and purpose. The individualised nature of the second half of the workshop was what made the whole project a success. It meant that everyone left with the start of a resource THEY wanted and since they wanted it, they kept going and finished it.
There was support along the way – edmodo, email, after school support groups and video conferences – but the key factor through it all was that because it was directly relevant to THEIR immediate needs it was a success.
Today: All of the participants completed their projects AND used them at least once with a class or classes. We had OneNote units on Romeo and Juliet with embedded Smart Notebook activities, IWB units on Shakespeare, World War One, Poetry and Aboriginal Language. We also had OneNotes on HSC PDHPE and Marine Knots!! The enthusiasm and pride in what they had created was wonderful to see. One participant even said that as a result of that workshop his whole method of teaching had changed!
All of these units were shared with their faculty and others started using them. Then they started asking HOW they did it and that started the next stage of the project – Paying it Forward. Every teacher has started to mentor at least one other teacher on the tools and software they used in the creation of their resource/s. Their enthusiasm and excitement about their new found skills has been infectious and today we have had other units and lessons being created as a result of that one teacher eager to try something new.
As well, the units were shared between schools and this has also introduced the software, tools and concepts to new faculties who are following their example and creating their own resources.
Surveys have shown that the use of IWBs has increased, the use of technology has grown and that both staff and students are more engaged as a result of the new lessons and units.
Tomorrow: I wonder how many of those teachers have continued to play and create over the holidays? I know of at least two who have since they keep emailing me and asking how do I ….? This is great and it shows that now they have mastered that tool they are thinking about what else they would like to be able to do with technology.
With the 2011 school year about to start it is time to think about where to go next. What other tools can we teach to staff to engage our students? How can we keep the momentum going? Whatever we decide to tackle next, one thing is sure. Make it relevant, make it individualised and we certainly have a greater chance that what they learn will become part of their teaching repertoire rather than just being notes that gather dust on the shelf.
All in all, I am looking forward to tomorrow.