A Whole Lot of Learning Going On

Today was the first day of our campus staff development, and I think it went quite well.

Last week I ranted a bit (and a little bit more) about some of the recent staff development sessions I participated in (and by participate I mean sat through), so when planning our campus days I wanted to do just the opposite.

When planning staff development I think it is important to collaborate with others, get various perspectives, give participants choices and allow participants time to work hands-on, discuss and reflect — so, this is what we had in mind when laying out our staff development framework.   We decided to use a wiki again because we got such positive feedback from our new teacher training.

One of the components of our staff development wiki  is a page for each participant to post reflections, products, questions, etc.  Hopefully at the end of the week we will have a helpful archive of thoughts and materials.

I reflected briefly on my wiki page, but thought I would expand on my reflection here.  I taught three sessions today – one on using wikis as electronic portfolios and two on geocaching and using GPS in the classroom.

The session on electronic portfolios and wikis was much more popular than I had anticipated.  The classroom was full and we had a range of teachers from various subject areas (English, foreign language, science, art, media tech, law, history).   We began by reading a few quotes, discussing types of portfolios and then talking about ideas/reasons for using portfolios in the various disciplines.  After our discussion we talked about how one might best structure a wiki for the purpose of electronic portfolios and then we gave the participants time to “play” by continuing to discuss, looking at some of the links to e-portfolios or by starting their own wiki.  John and I walked around and offered assistance as needed.  I enjoyed the session.  The teachers had some great ideas and most were very eager to get started (although a few felt pretty overwhelmed I am sure).  After the course I had several teachers approach me to get additional help… which makes me happy. 🙂

The second and third session I co-taught was over using  geocaching and GPS units in the classroom.  This was a hands-on session. Yesterday before we left, Darren and I hid six caches around the perimeter of the building, and created some handouts with different coordinates for groups to find.  So, when the participants arrived we split into groups, briefly explained the concept of geocaching, gave them each a GPS unit to use (donated by Garmin), and we headed outside.  We demonstrated how to enter the first coordinates (special thanks to our lovely assistant), and then sent the groups on there way and asked them to return indoors when they finished (and to bring with them some ideas about classroom applications for the GPS units).  I think most of them enjoyed the geocaching experience (although it was super HOT and humid), and we came up with some fun ways to use the GPS in our classrooms… not too shabby.

I have heard some good things about the other sessions teachers attended, and have even noticed that a few teachers opted out of the sessions to learn on their own via the on-line options we posted.  This makes me happy because on-line learning is not “comfortable” for a lot of teachers.

All in all, I had a good day, and I hope our teachers learned some useful information as well.  Hopefully tomorrow will be even better!

Explore posts in the same categories: Academy, EdTech, Education, Staff Development, Wiki

8 Comments on “A Whole Lot of Learning Going On”

  1. stringersrandomscience Says:

    The wiki class was awesome.

  2. FYI – There was high praise for the geocaching sessions in the senior team meeting this afternoon. One individual said, “If you didn’t do the GPS thing, you really missed out.” And then a bunch of people asked, “Are they doing it again tomorrow?” So I responded that if there were a number of people interested, an extra session could probably be arranged. 🙂 It was pretty exciting!

  3. brandon holland Says:

    Just trying this out. Testing…..testing.
    The staff development has been really good, but a LOT of info. Seems like just several different ways to do the same things….trying to sort out which is going to be the best for what I want to do.

    Right now, I basically just want a place for the students to house digital images of their artwork (completed or in progress), and have all students view the work, and participate in an online critique of the work.

    The discussion board in wiki seems the easiest for them to use, but not enough room for images. Google seems like more work to get everyone on the same page, and uploading and sharing the documents. I have to say I’m still a little unsure of how to make this work with blogs.

    Any ideas on which format would be easiest and most beneficial for the students; according to what I want them to accomplish?

  4. […] Stevens, ITS at the Academy writes: Last week I ranted a bit (and a little bit more) about some of the recent staff development […]

  5. Brandon,

    I think you could go with either a blog or a wiki… I would probably choose a blog. There is going to be a size limit on both, but I think it is something we can work around. I would be more than happy to help you get started.

  6. B Holland Says:

    Thanks. I have created my own blog, and will probably create another one just for school use. I am thinking I will have the kids created their own right away, and get started on some simple conversation with them at first. (it will be awhile before they have artwork to post anyway). I’m hoping I can get some good feedback from them even the first week of school. Check out my page, I need some visitors.

    Thanks again

  7. todiehl Says:

    This is exciting! I am an English Teacher at Irving HS, and most of our Technology Staff Development was along the lines of “Here’s how to submit lesson plans on Blackboard” or “Here’s how to set up your gradebook.” The Tech people at my school are great, but it seems like you guys are light years ahead in terms of integrating and demonstrating new technology. Kudos to you and your staff development team!

    My first goal is to set up blogs for my students and some of the other teachers at Irving HS. It be great if a lot of us at all the schools could Blog together. Do you know of any Bloggers at Irving HS?

    I hope you don’t mind if I ask you for help on some technology stuff later in the year.


  8. Todiehl –

    Thanks for the compliments. I am lucky to have some innovative teachers on my campus. They may not know all the “technical” stuff, but they are willing to learn and let the students give it a shot.

    You are more than welcome to e-mail me with questions. I would be happy to help!

    In fact, perhaps we could do some sort of cross-district English assignment… something to keep in mind.

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