In June we visited Loyola Academy in Wilmette IL, to learn more about how they trained their teachers in the first year of their 1:1 iPad initiative. What they developed were PLC’s – Professional Learning Communities. The teachers were required to attend these sessions once a week for the entire school year. Along with the technology department and administrators, the leaders of the PLC’s were a small group of teachers who had been a part of the pilot program the year prior. We went to hear more about this program at Loyola Academy because the teachers spoke so highly about how they had been trained.
Our PLC’s were designed in a very similar manner to Loyola’s. We use a 4 week cycle to ensure teachers are not only introduced to the App or Technology, but more importantly, they can integrate the use of this App or Technology into their classroom and curriculum. Not only do give them time to work with new technologies, we also have teachers in groups ranging in size from 8-12 and they are cross-curricular. We feel this gives the teachers a chance to see what is happening throughout the building and they can share ideas in order to better utilize the tools.
Teachers meet once a week during the same class period to learn these new apps or new technologies in a collaborative environment. Below is a description of the 4 week process.
Week 1 – Teachers attend a 45 minute session where they are introduced to an App or new technology. This presentation is done by a member of the technology department. Although this is a presentation, we make sure there is plenty of hands on experience for the teachers.
Week 2 & 3 – Teachers are given a 5 min recap or review, and the remaining 40 minutes they collaborate to create material for their classes, or develop creative ways of integrating this new technology into their classrooms.
Week 4 – Show and Tell. Teachers share what they have created or developed with each other.
After they have completed the cycle, they are required to use this new App or Technology in their class at least once during the school year. We started with an abbreviated session on Socrative and Keynote during our first faculty inservice, and the number of teachers using these Apps was staggering. The feedback was overwhelming positive, and when there were issues or problems the teachers were helping each other and sharing the positives and negatives.
This week we started our first 4 week cycle with Notability and by the time we started our 4th session of the day, teachers were walking in and saying things like: “I heard this is really cool”, “I heard great things about this”, “I’m so glad we get time to do this”. I felt extremely prepared for the session, but even I learned 6 new things about Notability by the time I was done presenting 7 sessions. By the end of the day Wednesday, 4 teachers told me about how they used it in class today.
I felt almost like a proud dad listening to the excitement in the teachers voices as they discussed how they are using Notability, Socrative, and Keynote in the classroom. I can’t wait for the next two weeks when they get to collaborate and develop new ways to use Notability in their classrooms.