Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tech Thursdays Continue...but how to improve them?

Tech Thursdays are in full swing and I now have two under my belt! Tech Thursdays are a way for teachers in my district to get the training and application they need to integrate technology into their classrooms. I love having the opportunity and support of the California Teacher's Association and the Oakdale Teacher's Association to bring teachers in my community the professional development (PD) they need. 


How do I improve?

I am always looking to better myself and improve my craft. But how do I better the PD I am offering teachers?

Last week was my second Tech Thursday. I had about fifteen teachers take time out of their day for professional development. Professional development that they are seeking on their own (without pay) and have ownership over. In fact, each month the participants are the ones to decide what Tech Thursday's topic will be. I even give the top two or three a final vote on Tech Thursday using Poll Anywhere. The attendees are in complete control!

The responses from those who have joined us for Tech Thursdays has been great! I get oooohs and ahhhhs and generate lots of excitement in the room.

But how do I improve?

I promote, create SMORES, send reminders, give surveys, ask for feedback, and give ownership of each event. 

I know that I need more hands-on PD, and that is coming. Yet, I still feel that I need more ideas. 

I am thinking of trying an unconference type of PD...but the teachers in my district think they don't have much to offer, when in reality they have so many ideas, thoughts, questions, and discussion that always leads to greatness. 
During the first session, teachers shared their favorite apps and the conversation was amazing! What if I put all of us in that situation and see what happens? It could lead to some true greatness!

I just want to offer what teachers need to feel and be successful with the integration of technology in their classrooms. Tech Thursdays is even opening up to other districts in the area and eventually going to culminate in an unconference with my co-creator, Karen Taylor of Tracy Unified. So many educators want to improve their technology skills, I just need to get them through that door!

This is a lot of questions, a lot to ponder, but I'll get there...One step at a time.

Any feedback is kindly appreciated!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Terrific Tech Thursdays

Tech Learning Community

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the California Teacher's Association (CTA) Teacher's Leadership Cohort. It was an intense two days at CTA headquarters to create new or expand "roles as advocates in improving teaching and learning" (CTA, 2013). 

It was great to be surrounded by like-minded educators and to take on some of the issues that plague our state, region, and/or district. The issue in my district is the lack of professional development (PD) for our teachers in technology. Don't get me wrong, our district is incredibly fortunate in the area of technology in our classrooms. We have SMART Boards and numerous other SMART products, Mimio Bords, iPads, Apple TVs, document cameras, video cameras, wifi access, etc. However, many (if not most) teachers do not know how to effectively implement the technology they have in their curriculum and classrooms. In fact, I have blogged about it before. 

That is about to change!

Through the CTA Teacher Leadership Cohort, I am working with Karen Taylor to create the professional develop our districts need to effectively implement technology seamlessly into their classrooms. So, we have created the Tech Learning Community. Our goal is to foster technology use in and out of the classroom in support of Common Core State Standards. Our goal is to provide professional development, resources, and a network of teachers to connect and discuss technology and Common Core. Our long term goal is on-going PD with a culminating edcamp event at the end of the year between Tracy Unified and Oakdale Joint Unified.

With lots of hours, stress, and planning, Tech Thursdays came into fruition. Tech Thursdays can be summarized through the following video I made as a commercial for Tech Thursdays. 

The point of Tech Thursdays is to get our teachers together to talk, share, and learn technology. It is casual and full of educators that all hold the same passion for teaching and bettering themselves for their students. 

Our first Tech Thursday was September 26th. We had food, conversation, and I introduced the how and why Tech Thursdays began. Then the real work began. Participants voted on a poll everywhere poll their "Tech Take-a-way" to learn more about what everyone else in the room was using in their classrooms for engagement. It was amazing! Teacher stood up and shared tech! Tech that others never heard about, tech that they could implement the next day! What was really exciting was that teachers were not ready for the event to end. We started on time, ran over, and teachers stayed around to talk even more technology!

Talk about inspiring!

The next S'more flier is up and running where participants choose our next topic(s). 

Exciting times in Oakdale Joint Unified!