Mar 11, 2009

Where Have we been...Where are we going?

I wanted to do a quick rundown of the topics we have covered and give you an idea of the focus for our final meeting. First, I think it is important to explain my goal for conducting this PIR offering. I am a strong supporter of effective staff development. I HATE sit -n- get options. All the research points to the effectiveness of creating professional learning communities, allowing a focus for a sustained amount of time, and giving teachers the power to direct their learning. So, although you may have thought this was about teaching me it was about so much more. My hope was you would collaborate with each other, learn from each other, take time to explore, and create relationships that allow you to explore new ways of teaching and learning.

The Emerging Technology Exploration PIR was set up to give you an overview of what is emerging...not only in technology, but also in staff development.

Technology Focus:
HomePages: Using a tool to collect gadgets to help you manage your content. We explored iGoogle.

RSS: Real Simple Syndication. Subscribing to content that you find valuable. Making that content come to you in the form of an aggregator. We explored Google Reader.

Blogs: A tool used to publish information - but more importantly...a tool that allows readers to participate in the discussion through commenting. We explored Blogger.

Web 2.0:
Web-based tools that focus on creating, publishing, sharing & collaborating. We explored a variety of Web 2.o tools.

Podcasts (April): Episodes of audio and/or video format you subscribe to for educational or entertainment. We will be exploring iTunes.

Professional Social Networks (April): Websites dedicated to collaboration amongst professionals. We will be exploring Ning (Classroom 2.0)

Social Bookmarking (April): A tool to help you collect, organize, and share your bookmarks; to be accessed from any Internet-ready computer. We will be exploring Delicious.

Embedding (April): Some of you have ventured out and started your own blog. Well, you can embed a lot of tools into a blog post, including surveys and quizzes! I will be showing you how to embed a Google Form into a blog post so that you can survey or quiz your audience.

Staff Development Focus:
Small Groups: Working in smaller groups eases tensions about unknown topics and lack of skills. It also allows for coverage of more material.

Hands-on: Having time to explore a new concept or tool helps you understand it better. There is more retention than if you were watching a presentation on these tools.

Learning Teams: Creating a professional learning community removes the isolation barrier. Teachers can learn from each other and share classroom ideas.

Sustained Events: An opportunity to put into practice what you have learned, then come back together and reflect on it effectiveness.

Final Thoughts:
There are so many digital tools available, but it takes time to learn how to use them, and more importantly...why to use them. We have covered a small percentage of emerging technology in our PIR sessions. The opportunity to explore and share has been given to us - in the form of multiple related staff development days. This is wonderful...but its effectiveness is based on more than what we do on each of these days. It requires that we commit to working and learning between meeting requires that we engage in collaboration, practice and sharing.

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