Professional development opportunities for teachers can usually go one of two ways. Teachers find value and are excited about the learning during the PD, or teachers are bored as they sit through a PD that they either do not need or have heard before. part of my role this school year is to plan PD that is meaningful for teachers at the three school that I support. Much of the PD will revolve around Project Lead the Way (our new science curriculum) and the transition to Google Apps.
This month I organized an EdTech Professional Development for teachers at my three sites. The PD took place in the afternoon of a minimum day, and provided three sessions with lots of variety for teachers to choose. My goal was to give teachers choice in their learning so that they can take what they need and apply it in the classroom immediately. Organizing an event like this can be overwhelming, especially if you are doing it alone. Below I will outline the steps that I took to plan my EdTech PD event.
I began by surveying the teachers about what they needed/wanted in a PD. I created a simple Google Form for teachers to fill out that would show me what sessions I needed to include. I asked the principals at all three sites to send out the Form for me, so that (hopefully) more teachers would fill it out. I gave teachers about 1.5 weeks to complete the form, sending out a reminder email (or two).
Part of the Form included a questions about presenting a session. This was my call for volunteers, or at least my way of seeing if anyone was interested in presenting/leading a session. There were about 8 teachers that volunteered to present a session or two. That was great! I contacted those teachers to confirm the sessions that they would be comfortable leading. I even reached out to a few district level coordinators to ask them to present too!
Once I had my results from the Form and had confirmed with my presenters, I began planning the session schedule. This part was a little tricky, since I wanted to keep presenters doing multiple sessions in the same classroom. I moved the sessions and presenters around like a puzzle until the pieces fit. I also created descriptions of the sessions, so that the attendees could choose the session that was right for them.
I shared (emailed) the Schedule and Description with the teachers who would be attending about 5 days before the event. I wanted them to start planning out their afternoon, so that they could make the most of their time.
A few days before the event, I confirmed the room numbers and double-checked the technology available in those rooms (projector, connections, desktop, etc.). I also worked with the administrator at the hosting site to purchase snacks (water bottles, trail mix, granola bars) and chocolate for the day of the PD. Once everything was planned and set up, I sent a final email out to teachers (the morning of the PD) with all of the attachments they would need - schedule, descriptions, kick off slides, self-paced learning slides. I spent the morning of the PD organizing the snacks, printing out signs and maps, getting Chromebooks ready for teacher checkout, and organizing last minute details. Then, all that was left was to wait for the teachers and the PD to begin!
Placing devices in the hands of students is a wonderful thing! Setting up clear expectations and providing digital citizenship lessons go hand in hand with those devices. Common Sense Education provides free resources for teachers to support Digital Citizenship in the classroom. The lessons are engaging and help students discuss important topics that will keep them safe in the digital world. Common Sense also provides resources for families, who are often asking questions about technology in the home.
In Oceanside, we are working towards the Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certification, in both our individual school sites and the entire district. I am supporting the teachers at my site with teaching the lessons and documenting their work. I even created a list of the suggested lessons for each grade level, including a link to the PDF of the lesson and a Slide Deck that teachers can use in their lesson planning.
Digital citizenship is important to address as we supply students with iPads and Chromebooks. The lessons from common sense teach students how to be responsible, respectful, and safe online. I highly recommend using the resources from Common Sense in your classroom this school year!
As summer break comes to a close, many teachers have already begun to think about the upcoming school year. Decorating classrooms, planning lessons, and searching for “first week of school” activities on Pinterest are a few things that teachers begin working on during the final weeks of vacation. If you will have technology (iPads, Chromebooks, etc.) in your classroom, you should also be thinking about how you will introduce those devices to your students. As a classroom teacher, I always liked to plan a “Boot Camp” during the first week of school to introduce my new students to the device that they would be using for the school year. The following post will include a few things to consider when introducing devices to your new class, as well as what I, personally, like to include in a device boot camp.
A Few Things to Consider
Before school begins, and you are planning your first week activities, consider the following questions regarding the devices that your students will be using. Even better, discuss these questions in your grade level planning time so that you and your teammates are on the same pages as far as expectations for devices.
What to Include in Your Device Boot Camp
During the first 1-2 weeks of the school year, I take my new students through a very detailed device boot camp. Here are some areas that I address during my device boot camp.
Include some fun “get to know you” type activities in the device boot camp. Let students practice using the device for fun, so that they become familiar with the apps that you will be using throughout the year. For example, take selfie and and type a few sentences about themselves, respond to a flipgrid prompt, post something in seesaw, create a Google slide deck as a class, etc. Start with one or two apps, then build from there. You could even do an “App of the Day” for the first couple weeks, to familiarize your students with the tools they will be using throughout the year.
Incorporating a device boot camp in your “first week of school” plans might seem overwhelming. However, in my experience, setting clear expectations with technology at the beginning of the year saves time later, and also sets students up for success. So, as you plan those team building activities, laminate homework folders, and create colorful name tags, I hope you will also plan for a device boot camp for the upcoming school year.
Today was an incredible day of learning and collaborating with teachers and classified staff from OUSD. About 150 Oceanside staff members attended our "Going Google" Boot Camp, volunteering their own time (during summer break) to practice using the the tools in the G-Suite. I had such a great time teaching four sessions and helping those who are just starting out with the Google Apps. Presenting on the G-Suite is my favorite! I love when teachers start to realize ways that the Google Apps can simplify their work flow and increase productivity. I also like hearing about the various classroom applications that teachers think of. So much creativity! Check out #GOside on Twitter to see the excitement and learning that happened at our Boot Camp today!
Here are the presentations that I gave today. Feel free to use them as a resource and share them with colleagues.
I recently volunteered to write a BLOG post for the San Diego CUE organization. I focused on some easy ways to create virtual reality content in the classroom. Check out my BLOG post HERE.
On May 24th, the Classroom of the Future Foundation held their annual Innovation in Education event, where teachers, schools, and districts from around San Diego were honored. The event was hosted at Sea World, with incredible food and drinks, raffle prizes, student displays, and a fabulous award ceremony. It was really exciting to hear about all of the innovative programs happening in and around San Diego county and to network with other like-minded educators.
I was extremely honored to be chosen by SDCUE as the (1st ever) Innovative TOSA, and received my award at this event.
May 19th was the 2nd Annual STEMfest at Stuart Mesa elementary. This event provided an opportunity for 6th - 8th grade students to share and present their learning with family and community members. The STEM-focused projects ranged from Virtual Reality to Scratch coding to Aeronautics. Students displayed their STEM notebooks, model or prototype, and a tri-fold board with information about their project and their process. As visitors approached the tri-fold board, students were expected to share their work for approximately 2-3 minutes, answering questions and demonstrating their prototype. The event was overall a celebration of the students' hard work and learning this school year.
Special thanks to community members at the event, including representatives from Oceanside Unified School District, the Marine Corps General of the Camp Pendleton base, and Assembly member Rocky Chavez. You helped to provide an authentic audience for our students to present their learning, and we are grateful for your attendance.
Today was Science Discovery Day at our school, which is an annual event, organized by an amazing third grade teacher at our site. Students in grades 1-5 get to attend 3 hands-on science sessions and are in small mixed grade level groups. In the STEM Lab I had the 3-5th grade students create squishy circuits, for their Science rotation with me. If you have never heard of Squishy Circuits, you are missing out!!
Students used conductive dough, battery packs, and LEDs to create series and parallel circuits in the STEM Lab. I did a mini lesson (10-15 minutes) describing a circuit and the flow of electricity. I modeled how to create basic circuit, discussed safety procedures, then let them loose!
If you would like to hear more about how I use Squishy Circuits in the STEM Lab, leave me a comment below. You can also check out the Squishy Circuit website.
This week I was informed that I had been selected as the 2017 SDCUE Innovative TOSA of the year! CUE stands for Computer Using Educator, and the SDCUE is the San Diego affiliate of the national CUE. I was encouraged to apply for this honor by the OUSD director of technology. I thought that it was probably a long shot, with all of the amazing educators in San Diego, but I applied anyways. I was extremely surprised and honored to be chosen for this award.
You can view my application video below!
Are you wanting to try Design Thinking with your students? Would you like some guidance with creating and implementing a Design Thinking unit? The James Dyson Foundation provides a kit called the "Ideas Box" that can help you implement a Design Thinking style unit with your students in grades 4-6.
The "Ideas Box" contains a Teacher Manual, 6 brightly-colored, engaging posters, a DVD with informative videos, and a Dyson Air Multiplier fan. The box is on loan to the teacher for 4 weeks, then must be returned with the included mailing label. The Teacher Manual walks you and your students through the steps of the design process, providing real world examples and ideas along the way. The lessons can be taught as is, or easily modified to meet the needs of your students.
I just finished using the "Ideas Box" with two 5th grade classes. Some modifications that I made include choosing items from the STEM Lab that needed to improved. I also wrote a letter to the students about each item, explaining the issues that the items have, and what I would like to be improved. This helps to bring in the EMPATHY piece, so students understand that design engineers must consider the needs of others when designing. I also allowed students to use Tinkercad to design in 3D, and then 3D print their prototypes. Some students also created cardboard prototypes to communicate their ideas.
The students were engaged and empowered to make a better product that others could use in the STEM Lab. They were so creative and loved designing their ideas in 3D. I would HIGHLY recommend reserving an "Ideas Box" for your students!
Here is the link to the Jame Dyson Foundation for more information.
All thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas are that of Heather Love-Fleck, and not the school district that employs her. She reserves the right to change her thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas at any time.