Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Best Kind of Professional Development

We had the best professional development yesterday. A group of us who teach in the same district, got together informally to share our thinking and to learn from each other about some of the new tech tools. It is a huge learning curve for all of us but it is such fun to think together about what technology means for our elementary literacy classrooms.

During the school year it is hard to find the time to sit around and learn from each other. So, we decided that we'd just spend a few days this summer hanging out at someone's house, sharing things we were learning, teaching each other new skills and processing about the things this means for the classroom. (This was our first meeting--thanks to Shelly for organizing and hosting!) We started talking and thinking about the Flip Video. Shelley shared a piece that they took on their vacation and then we looked at 39 Interesting Ways to Use Your Pocket Video Camera. A great reminder and a great conversation starter. We played a bit with video editing on iMovie. Some teachers shared their Wikis from the school year. Some shared projects that their students had done. There was not a tight agenda --but just an informal sharing. We chatted as a whole group and in small little clusters. We all left with lots to think about and new tools to try. I think all of us have spent today trying out some of the new things that we learned about last night.

This morning when I read Will Richardson's must-read article WHY SCHOOLS SHOULD BREAK THE WEB 2.0 BARRIER, I was reminded of the importance of what we are doing. He says:

"It's becoming more and more obvious that the longer we wait to embrace these shifts, the less prepared our children will be." He goes on to say, "As professionals, these shifts require us to be learners first and teachers second. If we are to fully appreciate the transformative connections that these technologies afford for our students, we must understand them for ourselves."

Will Richardson is someone who understands technology, someone who understands literacy, someone who understands learning and someone who understands authenticity. I think as literacy educators, we are looking for ways to make these new tools authentic in school settings. But we can't do that unless we are using them in authentic ways ourselves. And the learning is pretty fun! We are having a great time and our heads are often about to explode with all that we are finding is possible. We'll meet again in a few weeks-who knows what we will have each learned between now and then. But we are open to all that each of us learns and we are excited about learning from each other. Summer is a great time to dig in without the stress of time.


  1. All I can say is, "Yes, yes, yes!"

  2. I'm sad I missed this one, but I've got some fun stuff to share at the next one! Anyone want to Skype with me?!?!?

  3. WOW! I am inspired! I would love to hear about all that you learned today. I am pining away for a flip video. I was so inspired by the videos that Ann Marie created with her class. I am also thinking I need to get a pocket size camera like Mary Lee to carry with me everyday to snap, snap, snap all those monumental moments! Now that I have played around with Garage Band, I am ready to tackle Imovie!!!!

    Keep sharing, you are inspiring a nation of teachers!!!

  4. It was an amazing night -- I learned terms I hadn't ever heard of. My next steps are to slow down, pick a few pieces of technology, and learn to use them.

    I love all the smart thinkers I have the privilege of spending time with!!

  5. It sounds like such a great opportunity to learn from each other.
    Can't wait to learn from all of you.

  6. Thanks for hosting the great evening of conversation, Shelly! As Franki reported, I left with my head ready to explode from thinking about the many uses of technology and yet my heart was filled with gratitude because we have such thoughtful, caring educators who want to use technology in ways that are best for kids!

  7. Hello fellow teachers,
    I am currently a first grade teacher in Maryland. I am working on my Masters; Integrating Technology in the Classroom. I found your blog and loved hearing about your informal gathering for the summer. In my class we are reading a book by Will Richardson; Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. This is a good read. He makes the statement "that we need to make connections in our own practice first so we can thoroughly understand the pedagogical implications for the classroom"(Richardson,2006). There are many useful suggestions for class blogs and how to get started. Did you find it difficult to get teachers to give up some of their summer time for the exchange of technology knowledge?

  8. Wow! I just wish I could gather some of the people I teach with like this.


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