Thursday, October 18, 2007

Favorite PD ideas? What works for you?

by Sarah Sutter

I'm wondering about the favorite professional development ideas for getting teachers more connected to 2.0 tools. With the roll out of the hs MLTI laptops the staff in my building is ready and excited about new tools and techniques and strategies. I want to help them maintain the enthusiasm -- and some PD in the past has shut down more than it has opened up.

What are your favorite PD formats?
What do you think are good places to start? (Noteshare? Wikis? Blogs? there is so much to choose from!)

I'm thinking I'll try the "join the fun" approach to start with - maybe some will get hooked and the whole thing will snowball. Will Richardson's statement about modeling the practice / modeling your own learning is the angle I think I want to go with, rather than immediately attacking classroom uses. I'd love to have your thoughts on where to start.


Ed Latham said...

Sarah, it is so great for you to pick up that energetic torch and spread good will and training!
I think you will find many different opinions on what to do first or last and all that sequence stuff. I would like to offer advice of a slightly different nature.

I acknowledge that the basic "how to" skills are necessary especially for beginning users. We have heard from many presenters the "why" issues. What typically is lacking is the "how do I adapt" phase of learning that all of us try to do. Once you have bought into the hype, you believe in the concept, and maybe you even see some goals on the horizon you still have to go back into your room on Monday and deal with your environment, administration, parents, policies and other factors that may help or hinder your efforts.

Teachers need to know how their teaching practice might be altered to make the best use of the new technology. I am sure Jim can whip up some links for us really quick on vital topics like: Grapplings, Bloom, Constructivism, Inquiry-based learning, cooperative learning and so many other pedagogy issues. My experience with the eMINTS model of teaching has opened my eyes to the importance of sustained training that hits equal parts of technology and teaching pedagogy. After experiencing this model for over two years, my whole philosophy of training teachers has changed. I am sure every trainer out there want teachers to be successful with the content they present. Likewise, many teachers would love to implement some changes. Often there are missing steps that can greatly influence the success the teacher has in the classroom. We have eight, officially trained, eMINTS regional trainer mentors around the state. Some of you involved in professional development may find a sit down with one of these mentors entertaining and enlightening.

In the meantime, Sarah, keep in mind that people like action with a purpose in their training experience. Just doing up an awesome blog does not equate to educational success with my students. Pick a techie topic you think will get all the teacher's excited, look at the teaching necessary behind the technology, and hit them with a training agenda that gets their hands dirty working with the technology for their classrom.

Ron Smith said...


I think that the most important thing to do when approaching this topic or any PD subject is to try to connect with the audience and build upon their needs. I have found that if folks come away being able to immediately apply what they have learned, they are far more likely to use it regularly.

That said, I have found that RSS and Aggregators are an ideal place to start the Web 2.0 conversation.

Sarah Sutter said...

Thanks for your bigger picture insight. I look forward to taking advantage of whatever support the state is providing - we don't have much of a buget for anthing that isn't free at this point - or what I can find online.

I'll be sure to tie each new tool/application to a possible classroom application to keep the purpose clear.

Sarah Sutter said...

Great specifics - thanks! I hope others will let me know the top things they use, or what they learned early on that got them exploring and using web 2.0