As I prepare to venture off to Cornwall for an eLO meeting on technology-enabled teaching and learning, some recent emails have really got me thinking.
A lot of what we have looked at so far has to do with the visible markers of TELT in a classroom. We have traveled to other schools and seen some pretty amazing teaching and learning, and the templates provided by eLO are extensive and thought-provoking.
But back home, my colleagues and I have been talking about delivery of professional learning opportunities. We have done or are planning a wide range of workshops for: teachers getting new devices, EAs, special education teachers, NTIP teachers, eTech coaches, and many other ad hoc groups. Our conclusion has been that small groups in local settings are hugely effective.
Recently, a group of teachers contacted me to see about the possibility of holding a follow-up iMovie event, building on what we had just learned about their new iPads, and the workshop leader would be an exemplary teacher in their own school. Fortunately this was able to take place. Their comments after the fact are very revealing about what makes effective PD.
From a participant:
“I wanted to thank you for the awesome opportunity for the extra PD. … was an amazing leader (as always) and the small group was excellent. I feel confident that my students will love the program and will be just as successful in using it as we were this morning. Huge thanks again to you as well …, your patience and expertise is always greatly appreciated."
From the workshop leader:
"Once again thank you for the opportunity to have half of a day to go over the various tools and functions of the iMovie program. I think that it was a very productive day for everyone involved.
I really enjoyed working with … and …. They both quickly picked up the various tools and capabilities of iMovie. Because of their ability to learn these functions quickly, we were able to cover many topics in iMovie. I am glad we keep the number of participants low, as it was nice to be able to work with them, to let them explore iMovie and have a hands on experience, but at the same time, be able to troubleshoot with them right away if they experienced difficulties and/or had questions. I am confident that they are much more confident now using iMovie.
This morning some of the many things we were able to cover included:
How iMovie could be used in the classroom. We discussed possibilities as well as some challenges that may arise.
We also looked at how to use the program itself. We covered:
a) Opening iMovie
b) Importing pictures, video, sound effects, and music.
c) Splitting photo and video clips. Clipping video and photos.
d) Editing photo and video clips using the crop, crop to fit, and Ken Burns functions in iMovie
e) Adding titles to a movie
f) Using the provided templates
g) Using slow motion and 2x, and 4x motion in videos.
h) Using the storyline at the bottom and extending, and decreasing the storyline for editing
i) using the full screen menu
j) using the space bar to pause and start the video being worked on.
k) Using transitions between video and photos.
and many other functions.
We were able to practice many of these skills and functions using video and photos they brought into the workshop, which I think, helped keep the opportunity much more engaging."
To me, what this correspondence really shows is how vitally important the preceding step is - the step before we look at TELT indicators - providing educators with PD that directly meets their needs, is designed by them, is offered in small group settings, and provides the chance for both pedagogical discussions and hands-on practice.
It shows that our educators have the vision to integrate technology effectively, to seek out the help they need, to learn things themselves and to be excited about sharing that back in their classrooms.
It shows that in our schools, we have the leaders who can facilitate the acquisition of these skills, and moderate discussions about pedagogy.
It shows that the leader's qualities of expertise and patience are better experienced in a small group, where there can be personal support.
Here is a comment from a teacher who attended an earlier small-group session:
"Tried out my first LMS lesson yesterday! (The piece we started during PD time)
Yay ! It worked! We did it! Thanks for the PD support. You make things feel very do-able. I do not know anyone who explains things as well as you: clear, concise and easy to follow!"
Conditions for success
I do not believe that I myself am the key to this success, although it is always wonderful to get that kind of personal feedback:)
The key is the factors that that the teachers have identified:
- · Personal support
- · Small group
- · Hands-on practice
- · Practical application
- · Targeted instruction to meet needs
- Trust, so that deeper discussions about practice will take place