Imagining a Training Academy

This writing is the collaborative imagining of a three-day tech training that five of us are involved in. This is a collaborative work

Day One Loosely Envisioned

It is Tuesday morning, June 6, 2011.  It is the beginning of the tech academy.  We have coffee and donuts from GADS and small talk and preparatory paper work. Perhaps we have a Ustream going on a camera that is showing what they are doing or set up to allow them to check in with some initial thoughts about tech today or perhaps a Skype chat that is open all day that they can contribute to as a backchannel. Other nuts and bolts items might be video to show them where bathrooms are, a diigo list of Bowling Green eateries close by (or ...any ideas here.)  The idea is that we show them at every opportunity that there are alternatives to every conceivable routine that you expect in a PD/classroom and you just have to be open to it. Maybe I can show them how I get to the academy from a YouTube vid or an xtranormal vid or a ....

(Notsure about what might this be, Audrey, might be a good question to ask of other academy leaders. )

First, we want to hear some stories about technology. To do so we open with a writing invitation.  Perhaps we do so in an electronic way and not just on paper.  Perhaps we use a google form with the following question:  what encourages and discourages you about using technology in the classroom.

I am hearing both positive and negative, both how tech has enabled and discouraged learning.  I tell stories of my own of Blackboard horrors and time with students as tech support and of flying under the radar doing things I had to ask forgiveness for and not permission.  I am hearing stories about how teachers can't use the tools of digital natives--cellphones, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook.  I am hearing anecdotes about singular students and of powerful projects and of early adopters overcoming the resistance of parents and administrators and colleagues.  
Perhaps this can lead to a discussion of both personal and group purposes and perhaps a group as well as a personal project.  I want to tell them how PD follows very predictable paths in the mode of veni-vidi-vice. I came to the PD, I saw the PD, I conquered the PD (got my PD credit).  I tell them that in a collaborative world, the world we are sending our students toward, we must begin the task of helping learners to move beyond the lone ranger learning into the world of collaboration.

Audrey and I share some examples of the kinds of goals we are looking for, how all of the projects they will see today started with last summer's tech academy and that they will hear the stories of how teachers made their own tech dreams into reality. Perhaps we brainstorm a bit here about group purposes before we launch into individual purposes.Perhaps there is something we can come up with as a group that would benefit other teachers in their own schools, a way to build both technical and leadership capacity.  

Give examples:

An Anthologize Book that is the result of technology reflections made throughout the academy.  
A coop blog like CoopCatalyst.
A continuing discussion using tech.
A google form that is updated and used as an action agenda for teachers using tech.

Get to the money after that.  We talk about the rationales for using tech in the classroom--research especially. We talk about how we are being pushed to adopt Core Content and how tech is a core to the Core.  We talk about the future of the classroom and the school and of learning and of the role of technology and how it affords new and profound and necessary ways to help our learners live in that future.

Need lots of examples here one after the other.  We are trying to inspire, to widen horizons, to demonstrate how and why tech is important even for folks who have already drunk that KoolAid. At this point we need to show them the Gallery Walks and what they represent. We show them how all of the walks are on the Diigo list so that they can look at them some more later.  We ask them to do something with the Gallery Walks.  Perhaps we want them to think of two ways they can use something they have seen in a Gallery Walk in a classroom project.  In other words go into the Gallery Walk with a project they already do in the classroom and find something that might help them do it.  And a project that we could do as a group that would benefit others.  We would walk the walk here.  Come up with our own projects from the Gallery Walk both personal and group.

Break at 9:45

Even breaks can be used for something technological?  [Perhaps we should just get to know folks during this time.  Find out what their hopes are after these few minutes we have been together.  Report back or just record as an iPadio podcast or a YouTube video to broadcast after break to demonstrate how we can record our progress during the day and afterwards.  Perhaps we can even get some of the more proficient members to do it.  

After break at 10:00

We show a few 'interviews': Maybe one from ipod and one from flip and one from a webcam using Skype. We break into small groups using some sort of online tool or ipod app.  Today I lead one on  ________,  Audrey leads one on ________, and Sara leads one on ___________.  Perhaps one person in the group can video the small group discussion and upload or one person can sum up what happens at the end in a podcast or vodcast.  Using the Writing Project model each small group leader will

1.  Create a rational for using the hardware.  Some will be research-based, some will be core content based (in fact we should emphasize core content somehow at all points in the academy as a reminder for teachers to do the same), and some will be case study/anecdotal.  In other words we need to tell the story behind the usefulness of the tools and software.

[The more I think about it, the group project should be one we talk about at the end after we have all had a chance to work together and see what intrigues us.  Perhaps we would have two or three group projects.]

2.  Next, we show the tool, demonstrate it very simply, and then get the learners to demonstrate it.  For a flip camera this might mean playing around with turning it on and off, finding out what all the buttons do, opening up the case.  This might not even involve any teacher use at all, but instead follows the "Angry Bird" model of gaming. In the ipod game "Angry Birds' there are no overt instruction.  You learn to use it by using it. A flip camera is perfect for this, but maybe not an ipod touch.  Or I can see it working like this:  show a discrete skill with the tool and then they practice it. Show another skill then practice.  The whole point is to get them to a routine level with the tool.  

[Audrey,  One way to avoid the problem of boring the proficient users is to divide the small groups up based upon their self-professed category.  In our academy we have three novice, ten apprentice, and eleven proficient.  Eleven might be a little large for a small group and three might be a little small for one.  What do you think?  Might work to have a small group for the apprentices.  They will get extra help.  Perhaps we can practice a little jigsaw with this by having a little time for each group to send a representative to share with the others what their groups have come up with.  Ghetto-izing into groups might send a bad signal pedagogically.  Opinions?)

3. This would be a good opportunity to get others to share what they know about each tool in general and what it might be useful for getting done in the classroom.  

4. Each tool has different things it affords.  Webcams might focus on a particular tool like Skype in the mix.  ipods might be concerned with how to find, add, and use apps.  Flip cams might involve showing various projects that other have used since the tool is so easy to use.  

[Big problem here.  When does Sara demonstrate her project? Could we take a few minutes before we break into groups to get her to do the personal tech story/backstory for her project/what she did/reflections (hails and fails)?  Doesn't seem fair to have to edit their presentations down.  Let me know what you think.]

5. Provide other resources via diigo list?  Cheat sheet?  

Lunch 11:30-12:45

12:45-1:45 Small Groups

Repeat 1-5 above.


"The Fast Prototype" and Share

Get everyone to create something quickly.  Some have characterized these as "landing strips for the future" and as applying the principle of 'failing early to learn quickly'.  Key idea here is not to create a pilot project but to clarify in your own mind a skill that might be useful to you in a future landing strip, some place you might want to be with your students.  For example, if you want to be able to create family podcasts then perhaps you might want to learn how to use ipadio or the recording functions in ipods or how to effectively design short interviews and shoot them with a flipcam.  If you want to create a library of author interviews then maybe you want to learn how to use Skype to record interviews.  Or if you want students to be able to use particular apps for a project then you need to become proficient with them.  That is the fast prototyping I am talking about.  

You might also think of this as developing a repertoire much like a musician does.  In this case it is a repertoire of skills that one can use in designing an instructional object or lesson or unit.  Like a jazz musician, the teacher then draws upon these skills in helping students to learn whatever core content is being addressed.

A quick whip around at the end and also the next morning as well for those who do not get a chance to do it that afternoon.


The End

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