Tech Tuesdays – A New Adventure

One of my goals for this school year is to provide differentiated, meaningful professional development to teachers in our building. For those of you who have been charged with PD implementation in your respective buildings or districts know that this is no easy task. However, I’m passionate that professional learning should have relevance to teachers, so I aim to provide them with relevant topics and ideas for professional development. You may have read my post on how we are allowing teachers to participate in Twitter chats for PD points. That is just one path on my adventure to personalize PD this year.

Last year, I would give monthly, hour(ish)-long presentations to staff about a technology tool or an idea of how to better incorporate technology into lesson plans. It was a decent start, but I knew I was somehow still missing the mark. I tried to reach as many content areas as I could within a single presentation, but as you may well know, it’s hard to have a one-size PD session where everyone leaves thinking, “Now THAT is something I will start using immediately.”

This year, we decided to restructure that PD time. Those days once a month are going to be used for teacher collaboration, and we will not interfere with that time. However, technology is an initiative we feel is important for our school to continue to progress and stay relevant to students and stakeholders. So where does that put us for technology professional development?  Enter Tech Tuesdays. Twice a month, I will put together a PD “menu” so to speak, for teachers to come pick and choose what tech tools they want to learn about.  I set up shop before school, stay in the library all day, and stay after school to try to meet the convenience needs of as many teachers as possible. Oh – and did I mention this is optional?  We want to support and encourage teachers who want to take risks and try new things by providing them with ideas and resources. But if you don’t want to come play, I’m not going to make you.

So today was our first Tech Tuesday of the year. I set up in the library conference room, a little nervous, a lot excited. After all, I had spent probably close to 15 hours researching, making decisions and choices, creating video, curating content, and putting it all into a neat little package. This was a “Labor of Love” that I was really excited to share with staff.

I decided to make today’s Tech Tuesday all about Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Our district is a GAFE district, so why not spend time investigating ideas of how to better incorporate this FREE resource that is available to us? So, I put together the first in a series of GAFE Tech Tuesdays.

When teachers came to see me, I first shared with them this Google Doc. This Google Doc was a “table of contents” more or less that contained links to the three different lessons I had created for the day. Teachers could do all three lessons if they wanted to, or they could pick and choose the one(s) they felt were most relevant to them.

The first lesson option (click to see the lesson) that they had was an update to Google Classroom. I studied up on some of the updates, had a teacher show them to me, and put together a little screencast featuring the updates. I paired this with an article and video that I found on the “Ditch That Textbook” website that described 12 creative ways to use the new features in Classroom. There was another link that helped navigate Google Classroom in general. At the end there was a discussion question in my Tech Tuesday Google Classroom for teachers to discuss how they have used Classroom in the past, and how they can see themselves using it in the future. (The discussion question aspect was present in each lesson option today, with the hopes of sparking some online collaboration and sharing of ideas.)

The second lesson option demonstrates how to use the “Go To Page Based On Answer” feature in Google Forms to differentiate instruction for students. Using this feature, teachers can create a Form that is responsive to the answers that students submit, and take them to various pages within the Form based on their answers. For example, if a teacher has a multiple choice question on a formative assessment, and the student answered it wrong, based on that wrong answer, the Form would direct them to a review page rather than the next question. When they finish the review page, they can try to answer the missed question again, and when they do answer it correctly, they can then move on to the next question. Pretty neat stuff.

The final option for today’s Tech Tuesday was another lesson that featured the “Go To Page Based On Answer” option in Google Forms, but this time it centered around the idea of “Choose Your Own Adventure” (you remember those books form the 80s and 90s?). Check out the lesson linked above for details. (Thank you to #sstlap for getting me engaged with this idea!)

I’d like to give a quick shoutout to my PLN on Twitter for providing me with a vast majority of the resources found in those Google Docs. I tried as hard as I could to give credit where it was due throughout the lessons – please do not think by any means that I created all of the resources within these lessons. Curated – yes. Created – no. A BIG shout out to the makers of HyperDocs who helped me with the organization of my lessons for Tech Tuesdays. It will be a really seamless way for teachers to access the lessons, especially when I put them in my Tech Tuesday Google Classroom.

I want to sincerely thank the teachers who came to Tech Tuesday today. I so appreciate you dedicating your time today to some professional learning. My attendance rate today was not through the roof – but it was a good starting point. I received some good feedback from the teachers who attended, so I will continue to try to build and improve upon what I have started for future sessions.

If you have any suggestions, feedback, comments, etc., please comment below, or contact me via Twitter, @MeganBlackEHS. If you are a school leader, I hope you can find something useful to share with staff. If you are a teacher, I hope you can find something that speaks to you to use in your classroom. Thank you for taking the time to read through my post! Stay tuned for the next Tech Tuesday in a couple of weeks! Have a fantastic day.

Megan

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