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Yesterday’s #edchat focused on creative strategies to make faculty meetings more engaging and valuable to teachers. It occurred to me that one of the activities I designed for our DODEA grant
participants to initiate sign-ups for peer observations would work great in a faculty meeting. I called it “speed dating” because they really were setting a date –to do a peer observation!
Teachers in our DODEA grant project (K-12) have worked all year to design four in-depth units using the Understanding by Design process. Most of these units will be implemented sometime this semester. I had set up a Google Doc for teachers to post when they would be teaching a unit and would welcome peer observers so that other teachers could sign up to visit. This idea looked good on paper, but it was just too messy, I think, and so no one was signing up either way. That is when I thought of the speed dating idea. Here is how it worked:
Teachers were instructed to prepare to share one of their units. They had 5 minutes to share during each rotation. Here are the directions they were given.
During each rotation, meet with a different teacher to exchange brief information about at least one UbD:
-21st century skill being modeled/taught/assessed
- “Sign up” with each teacher you are interested in observing
- You will have 5 minutes for each rotation – be prepared with what you will share since time will be short! A music jingle will be played to signal time to move to the next teacher. (“The Dating Game” theme)
- Online teachers will provide information about how their online classes can be “observed” asynchronously
- All observation information will be transferred to our online Google Doc for peer observations
Room Set up:
The expectation was that by the end of the meeting, everyone would have signed up to observe at least one other teacher, and have at least one person coming to observe them. In reality, most teachers came away with 3-4 peer observations to participate in. (We are fortunate that our grant is paying for sub time for these peer observations to happen.)
Below are the documents I created for the activity. Feel free to share/use/adapt!
As we prepare to implement a pilot 1:1 program with iPads in my district, I keep thinking about this model which hangs prominently in my office. Certainly the lessons learned from other districts who have gone before us indicate that this is a pretty good guide to use to steer us towards a successful 1:1 launch. For instance, in the report, Examining Issues Critical to a 1:1 Learning Environment: Principal Leadership, it states “…schools must have the capabilities and strategies for the laptop use to be effective (Warschauer, 2006). This includes technology support, resources, and strong leadership guiding the programs.”
I decided to take a closer look at each of the elements in this chart and translate to the situation at hand.
Without vision, confusion is the result.
In our IT-Education Services department, we continuously share our vision that technology is not the “end” – but rather the tool that will allow teachers to transform learning for students. We are working on a plan to use the Technology Integration Matrix developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology to help them understand the vision of what transformation looks like. The matrix contains links to excellent short videos that show various levels of technology use and depth of learning across all subject areas and grade levels.
Without skills, anxiety is the result.
We are beginning to outline a plan for professional development for teachers who will be in the 1:1 pilot using the Understanding by Design model. Thus, we are starting with the end in mind –our overall transfer goal of students using the technology at the point of need to connect with the “real world” and to allow choice in how they learn as well as in time, place, path, and/or pace in learning. (Innovative Innosight’s Blended Learning Model). In following the UbD 2.0 Template, we are also identifying understandings, knowledge and skills that teachers will need to be successful with achieving the long-term transfer goal and vision. We recognize that skills with using the technology are just as important to address as the vision and goals, and that we will most likely be working with teachers who are at many different levels in terms of their current skill and comfort level of using technology. That is where the Technology Integration Matrix will come in handy – so that we can let teachers self-evaluate where they are currently in their practice, and then we can plan a tiered approach to the professional development to meet them where they are and help move them to the next level.
Without incentives, change is more gradual.
In our situation, offering any kind of monetary incentives to teachers in the 1:1 pilot to learn new skills and pedagogy is probably not going to be possible. We will do the best we can here, getting an iPad in their hands well in advance of deployment with students so they can begin to get comfortable with the technology. Additionally, we always make it possible for teachers to earn professional development credit towards recertification and incremental salary increases. The thing is, we usually find that access to the technology itself for the teacher and their students is a HUGE incentive – for perhaps all except for the laggards (on the Diffusion of Innovation scale).
Without resources, frustration ensues.
We realize that resources can be everything from people (tech support) to tools, accessories, apps, best practice information, and robust networks. Our 1:1 plan does call for beefing up the network in the pilot schools, and we will be sharing app information via our district’s iPad User Group wiki. One of our biggest areas of concern, however, is tech support. The district has invested in 2 additional positions at the district level, but it will be up to the individual schools to decide whether or not to add additional tech support at the building level.
Without an action plan, you will be subject to a series of false starts – “the treadmill effect.”
The action plan is currently being written. We are linking this closely with the vision, objectives, tactics and action plan developed by the schools for learning and student achievement in general.
I’d really like to hear from anyone who has already implemented a 1:1 with iPads about what worked and what didn’t.