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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The evolution of PD

Kellie has a great post on her blog as she contemplates the evolution of PD.

She says:

"A recent a post from coolcatteacher (“Get Past Teaching Apps”) got me thinking about how to approach technology “instruction,” but it’s honestly been something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Her post is about what she does with kids in the classroom, but with our upcoming summer technology workshops, I am wondering if we should shift our focus for teachers....

With all the talk of transforming education rather than reforming education, maybe we should use technology workshops as a way to look at “new” methods of instruction based on brain & learning research."

Please read her whole post - -it is right at the heart of what many of us involved in PD at our schools are thinking. (Me too!)

What started as a mini comment evolved into a full blown blog post, so I'm cross posting my comment to her blog here.

My response to Kellie's questions:

"This is a tough one -- I love teaching teachers and covering things that are useful to them like SmartArt in the new Office -- they love that. But in addition to smart art -- classtools.net would be a great addition with its graphic organizers.

Also, having them "find" things to do the job after they've gotten a start. I believe in teaching my students how to learn new software and have a book in the final stages on this topic and how I do it in my classroom.

But, it is a struggle with teachers. It needs to be appropriate to the learning style of the teachers there. Here are some things I think teachers should be creating:

1) Use netvibes or igoogle to create a personal learning network on their subject of interest.

2) Have teachers look through their PLN and blog their thoughts on what they've learned in a private Ning set up for the PD needs of your school. This is where they are to share what they've learned.

3) Teach teachers the basics of blogging including the all important embed code and teach them to embed videos into their blog post and share based upon that using teachertube and other tools such as that.

4) Have teachers take photographs and upload them to the Ning. If they have a cell phone, teach them how to do that.

5) Finally, have an assortment of samples and let them pick one for their "project" - it could be voicethread, classtools.net, etc. but they are to create a lesson plan using the tool and create their sample of how this would look (a demo) -- blog it and embed it in their blog and have others evaluate it. (Or, have them share it in another space that they are already familiar with if Ning doesn't work, like the areas built into united streaming or your internal Moodle.)

Once they are connected and sharing -- have them listen to a podcast on edtechtalk or k12online and report back to the group.

I think PD should be less about 10 consecutive hours in class wearing out oneself and retaining nothing than about connecting teachers to one another and to the experts in their discipline and getting them comfortable with sharing in online spaces.

I'd rather have a 10 hour commitment with perhaps a 3 hour orientation to the spaces - one hour a week for 4 weeks and then a 3 hour conclusion, sharing, presentation get excited time to discuss how it would work in class.

We need to move PD to become part of our daily and weekly practice -- reading our RSS reader, listening to podcasts as we wash dishes -- learning from others and sharing what we're doing -- PD is evolving and it looks as if you are on the cusp of that sharing -- great job!"
I'd like to finish with this, if you want to build Habits of ongoing learning then you need to make PD a habit for everyone from the administrators, teachers, and curriculum directors. Cramming everything into a 10 hour session is the easy answer and the modus operandi but not the way to sustainable transformation.

If we need to change our practice as teachers we also need to change the way that PD is delivered.

How many times can we sit here and listen to the sage on our stage talk about how we aren't to be the sage on the stage any more.

There is a huge double standard in professional development that needs to stop. Conferences, professional development classes and ways we teach teachers need to evolve to match best practices too... is it any wonder why teachers aren't learning?

This is something we struggle with too and I'd love to see more like the work done by Disruptive Innovators (and ongoing pd for librarians), and Open Professional Development by Darren Draper and Robin Ellis and the incredible work done by my friend Dr. Cheri Toledo -- she's just plain good to name only a few.

What are the transformational PD courses that you've seen? What are the best practices that truly improve the classroom? Please share.
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