Today was the first day of our Summer teacher technology class. Cathy Wolinsky, Mike Arsenault, and I teach this class every June as soon as the year ends (the course runs for 3 days and then we finish up in the fall). Our syllabus includes ideas about teaching practice using technology, some tools, and then the teachers have time to work on projects, lessons, or units for the fall. We build in lots of time with support. Often we have 25 - 30 teachers, and the three of us can't get to everybody. That's where our students come in. We have 8 students that range from 7th - 11th grade come in and help. They have great ideas and are willing to be sounding boards as well as give feedback about the various projects. The last day of the course is always a share out of each person's project. Everyone walks out of that last day with tons more ideas they can use in their classroom.
This year modeled a couple of things, which you can see in the description of day 1. We practiced doing a pre-assignment in Google Drive, introduced SAMR, and demoed an EdCafe based on the reading and writing each participant did to prepare for class. New this year, we added Tadpole Tank. This activity is modeled on the TV show Shark Tank (however Sharks are a bit intimidating, hence the name Tadpole Tank). After the EdCafe, we gave teachers an hour to put together a Pitch for what their final project will be. They created their own Google doc from this template. Because we had so many participants, we broke into two groups. Each group had a panel made up of 2 teachers and 2 students. Jim Moulton from Apple Maine joined us as a panelist, as well as some of our Lead Learners. Students took turns being on the panel. Everyone else was the audience. All audience members had access to the presenter's Google Doc. Each teacher made their project pitch to the panel. Audience members could type their feedback into the doc. After the pitch, the panel of 4 gave specific feedback and ideas. Audience members could also speak after the panel if they wanted. I might change this in the future.
I have to say, this was one of the best activities we have done with teachers in awhile. The student feedback was particularly helpful and appropriate. It was fast paced and fun. I definitely changed the focus of the final project in a really positive way, and it helped set the work up for tomorrow. Students are in high demand because they gave specific feedback on a topic. Many teachers commented that their project has changed and that they are excited about the suggestions they got. Part of their assignment tonight is to rewrite their project proposal.
I am excited about tomorrow... It's Edcamp (with student and teacher presenters) and then work time!