After today, Minds on Media, the brainchild of Peter Skillen (@peterskillen www.peterskillen.org ) and Brenda Sherry (@brendasherry http://www.brendasherry.com) is officially my favorite way of starting with teachers to integrate technology. Brenda and Peter created it for ECOO and it is always a big hit. Minds on Media involves having centres around in one room with facilitators covering a wide variety of topics. Participants bring their own laptop and visit the stations they wish and move around as they wish.
A principal asked me to come in and support their school on a PD Day to work on integrating technology. My mind started reeling - how could we run something that would allow each teacher, all starting in very different places to access and learn while moving the school along with their school improvement plan? The only thing they all had in common was that they had all just received the same HP Mini Teacher Notebook computer.
I started to think about having separate break out groups in different rooms and then I remembered the Minds On Media session Peter and Brenda ran for iEARN Canada's conference this summer in Barrie, ON. A quick tweet to Peter and Brenda asking if I could copy their idea resulted in permission to use their logo and ideas and most importantly, overwhelming support. The only debate was with Peter as he went back and forth trying to decide which of his websites I should use when giving credit. :) Oh, and trying to figure out Peter and Brenda speak as they started referencing the Roger Waters phenomenom as in a post by Peter a few years ago. I thought they might have actually created their own language...
To start our versions of Minds On Media, we created a wiki to post links for teachers as they floated around from station to station. We found a handful of EXCELLENT leaders from within the school to run the stations.
Today was the day for Minds on Media in Penetanguishene and it went GREAT! Below are some of the reasons why.
Reasons Minds on Media is good for teachers:
- accessible by all. Each teacher was met where they were. For beginners, there was a station about "personalizing your notebook" where we spent time showing teachers how to connect their notebook to a projector and how to make a video play full screen. We didn't call this the "for dummies" station and respected EVERY question. Everyone felt comfortable. We threw in some tricks of the trade to make the tiny netbook easier to work with (getting rid of tool bars on Internet Explorer, changing how the mouse track pad works, moving the windows start menu to the side instead of the bottom). These tricks of the trade intrigued seasoned computer users who came over and ended up coaching others as well.
- work at own pace
- choice, choice, choice - valuing their professional judgement
- choice of going into depth at a station or skimming through them all
- watching others to see the possibilities that technology can bring (especially for those who are not "techies" as they say)
- great discussion about best practices
- learn from the station leaders AND other teachers at the same table
- personalized learning
- every teacher eventually engaged. Some started by hovering around stations afraid to jump in because they were intimidated, but they eventually found a station they were comfortable getting started at
- some teachers who wanted support while creating lessons or activities, sat down and created right then and there with facilitators to help
- some teachers who are comfortable integrating lots of different technology floated around and gathered ideas then took those ideas and adapted them to work for their own classes
- developed leadership in the station leaders in a non-threatening way. It took those teachers who were using the technology and put them in a low-risk situation where they could lead others without running the whole show
- built capacity among schools own staff. In the future when teachers want support with a technology, chances are they will go to one of the teachers who led the stations instead of automatically calling the board support staff
- teachers were asking for MORE! Some staff connected with others and made plans to work on projects together. Some planned action research projects
- developed a culture of collaboration. Teachers asked other teachers how to do things, teachers shared stories, teachers shared links and resources, everyone worked together to make sure everyone at the table could keep up
- lots of chairs and tables including a few in the centre at a "non-station" to allow those who get into a project a space to work quietly if they need for a few minutes
- we had 8 stations for 35-40 people and that worked out well
- lots of extension cords for projectors, SMART boards and for teachers to plug in and power up
- screens or walls to project onto - remember lights will be on so test projectors
- send out info about stations ahead of time so teachers can mentally prepare themselves
- it is important to have someone helping organize who knows the staff of the school so leaders can be drawn out and encouraged
- choose station topics of varying degrees of complexity - some very basic stations as entry points and some more complicated ones to engage your "techie" teachers :)
- all stations must be in the same room so teachers can see what is going on across the room and get up and move whenever they wish. This ability to float and move is important
- Open the invitation to lead a station to all teacher so you get topics they are interested in
- lead and follow-up with discussions about how different technology uses are supporting the school improvement plan. What is the ultimate goal (what are the learning goals)? Technology is just the tool...
Peter Skillen - @peterskillen www.peterskillen.org
Brenda Sherry - @brendasherry http://www.brendasherry.com