Today at Abbot, we had the opportunity to address specific student learning objectives in three 90 minute sessions. And it wasn’t even a District PD Day!
Instead substitute teachers were hired to come in and cover each grade level’s classrooms on a schedule, allowing teams of teachers to attend digital learning workshops with me throughout the day. With so many initiatives and demands on everyone’s time, I have found it very challenging to meet with entire teams at Abbot this school year. While meeting with individuals is an important part of coaching, I think meeting with teams also is equally important. These team meetings give me a sense of curriculum priorities across a grade level as well as letting team members brainstorm, share and support each other with their growth in digital learning.
In the past, technology PD was approached by participants attending a session and being presented with a tool or service. For our Digital Learning PD sessions, each grade level was asked to submit a student learning objective that they would be addressing this spring that may need a fresh approach. This shift in designing the workshop around that specific student learning objective personalizes the PD for teachers. How many times have you gone to a workshop and found that the material presented didn’t really work with your curriculum or age level? Nothing is 100% guaranteed, but I’m pretty sure that teachers today walked away with at least one concrete idea of how technology could enhance, perhaps even transform their students’ learning in the very near future because the workshop was created with that student objective at the forefront.
Moreover, another break from tradition tech PD: these sessions today were not a showcasing of every possible example of how the technology could be used. I designed one specific example, took teachers through the process of how to recreate that example with step-by-step directions and then encouraged brainstorming and exploration. Often the brainstorming went beyond that student learning objective. And that’s the key. As a digital learning specialist, I can suggest tools and services, but without knowing what a teacher is trying to achieve with his/her students, it’s a shot in the dark. We then are beginning to border on technology just for technology’s sake.
A digital learning specialist can not do his/her job well without conversations and collaborations. I think today’s PD allowed for both, and I look forward to coaching teachers in their efforts of meeting students’ needs.
In the spirit of sharing, here are the samples that I created for today’s sessions.
Grade 3 – Student Learning Objective: To study an author – Cynthia Rylant
This example is a BrainPOP Style Video using Explain Everything and iMovie Apps
Grade 4 – Student Learning Objectives: to look at physical features in conjunction with geology (Science), to look at places and to look at climate i.e. weather (Social Studies), and to travel between places discussed in literature (ELA)
This group challenged me with a set of objectives, so we spent time looking at the various layers in Google Earth to start. All of those objectives could be addressed with making a tour; however, I focused on the Tour Builder online service as a user-friendly alternative to making tours as Google Earth tour creation in the software itself is very time consuming. For our 90 minute session, this tool would be a good fit, especially with “looking at places” covered in the social studies curriculum as the example shows.
Grade 5 – Student Learning Objective: To give supportive details from text
This is an example based on a Hypothermia article. The Explain Everything app was used.