In our previous Professional Development session, we discussed why we needed to change what we do in the classroom. The focus of this change is to enhance our lessons with technology, and create a more engaging lesson for our students. Our faculty is familiar with both the SAMR and TPACK models, so we asked them to self-evaluate where they are on the SAMR model, and choose one lesson where they could go ‘1 Step Higher’.
I understand we shouldn’t look at SAMR as a ladder, but it does help our teachers understand if the lesson is simply substitution, or if they are truly reaching another level of technology integration. A few teachers are still at the substitution level, a good number of them are reaching modification & redefinition, but the majority are at the augmentation level. With teachers in so many places, it would help only a few if we asked them all to reach for redefinition in their ‘1 Step Higher’ lesson. It would also hold back the teachers who are ready for redefinition.
I challenged our teachers to find a lesson they honestly don’t like to teach, or a lesson they feel is stale. If we don’t have a passion for what we are teaching, how can we expect our students to get excited about that lesson? On the flip side, if you are teaching a lesson that has great results and you love teaching it; please don’t change that lesson. Even if it has NO technology. Find a different lesson and make it better for not only you, but more importantly, for your students. I shared an “Instead of That, Try This” table which contained much of the pedagogy our teachers already use in their classrooms.
By focusing on one lesson, teachers only needed to make a small change. They needed to change by 30º, and not turn a complete 180º. I felt if we focused on a small change, it would be easier to accept and took a lot of pressure off our teachers to make sweeping changes. Below are some examples of what our teachers created in their ‘1 Step Higher’ lessons.
Kahoot – This was not only used for test review, it was used as a pre-test and an exit ticket. It was used on a SMART board so our Geometry teacher could click on the image of a triangle after students answered and break down the problem. I had asked teachers NOT to use review games for this ‘assignment’ because I felt we were already using Socrative & Kahoot. However, the PD session was about 5 weeks prior to final exams, and a few teachers who were at the Substitution level used Kahoot successfully and therefore moved ‘1 Step Higher’.
Schoology Discussion Boards – We started with Schoology as our LMS this school year. All of our teachers are using it to post assignments, and many are collecting assignments digitally. Only a few of our teachers had ventured any further in the LMS. I encouraged them to try explore the discussion boards, and we heard many great stories about how students; gave more insightful answers, responded to each other, kept the discussion going after the due date, etc…
Screencasting – A group of math teachers required students to record their problem solving process through Doceri, and submit a 2 minute video that demonstrated their problem solving process. Many of our teachers have been using Screenasting apps themselves, but they witnessed a huge benefit in listening to student’s problem solving process. My personal favorite & most flexible one is ExplainEverything.
Desmos – Another group of math teachers used Desmos so students could manipulate numbers within a formula and see the direct effect on their graphs. This also works directly in Schoology, so teachers created a page of math problems in Schoology with links directly to Desmos problems.
Simulations – At the PD session in November, we saw a great example of simulations with iCivics. Check out Win the White House – it’s amazing! Our Biology and Chemistry teachers have used some simulations in the past, but they tried new ones on the PHET site for this lesson and had great reviews. We even saw these used in Theology with PlaySpent and Econ with a game on cooperative behavior.
Open Source Classes – Math, History, and Theology teachers used Crash Course videos as a resource for students. These helped introduce, present, and review content in their classes. These Crash Course videos are also available through Khan Academy.
Teach Like a Pirate – I shared some ideas from Dave Burgess‘ book, and a Theology teacher took his class to a cold and dark part of our building where they read Luke 2 – the Christmas story. Students then responded as a person from the period to a variety of prompts. This may have been low-tech, but the engagement was phenomenal.