Have you had a great PD experience teaching teachers how to use technology? Share it here.

Tags: pd, professional-development, training

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What an amazing privilege to have so many coaches available for hands on help. How many students were there?
I'm intrigued, now. Is the technology coach "status" a formal program within the district, or are these just people who are generally recognized as knowing what they are doing? I would love to start something like that in my building (at first, then perhaps district). I sort of got tagged as the blog/wiki/Web 2.0 guy in my building. We also have the SmartBoard guy, etc. I would be great to spread the wealth a little more formally.

I am a full-time classroom English teacher. I don't teach technology (as a class) and I don't have any release time, etc., to do this kind of stuff. It's all just my own geeky curiosity and willingness to fall flat on my face in front of a classroom. I've been asked to teach a Web 2.0 strand at a teacher tech academy this summer (thanks again, Elizabeth, for the stuff!) and I'm being "talked into" teaching some of our prof dev stuff for next school year. As ego-stroking as it is to be perceived as the so-called "expert", sharing the wealth with other coaches is sounding better and better!
I am teaching an intro to Web 2.0 class right now. So far this is what is working for me -
  • I set up a private ning network so we can have discussions and teachers can use it to blog. It also sets everyone up to join this network when they are ready - I will introduce it to them in 2 weeks.
  • The other thing that has worked is using the network to post my agenda and get feedback prior to the next class (it is a 6 week course).
  • Finally, I am learning that less is more. There is so much to share, but it seems like it is better to show fewer things and provide more time to work with it, then to show lots, with not enough time. Beware of having "too much what for the when."
My experiences with teaching teachers how to use technology have all been through graduate classes that I teach. My most successful class is actually a block of 4 courses that I teach with one of my colleagues who is an amazing teacher. The 4 courses we block together are 2 instruction courses and 2 technology courses. Our philosophy is that instruction comes first and technology should support the teaching strategies.
We begin the sequence with 2 courses which meet in the summer where we work more on the theory and model the instructional strategies then follow that by 2 courses in the fall when teachers are in their classrooms. The second block focuses on implementation of the technology and instructional strategies in the classroom where we can collect data on effectiveness.

We have taught separate courses in the past and found that it was too easy to focus on the buttons and menus in the technology class and not tie the technology strongly enough with instructional strategies.

We use Marzano's book titled What works in Schools for the instruction part of the class and use all online resources including AtomicLearning.com for the technology part.

This sequence is a part of a Masters program. We start 25 new students each summer as a cohort and the students take all of their classes together. Most of the instruction is online but we do meet together for one week each of the first two summers to focus on community building and to do some of the things that are more difficult to do online.
I agree that less is more, I am just finishing up my 2nd round of an Enhancing Education Through Technology grant at a local elementary school and have done over 250 hours of staff development with this latest group of teachers. The first round of grants I had, we did all day staff development once a month. Brain overload for sure. So in this second round I did two hours after school on Mondays with the teachers. And we did one thing at a time. It was so much better. The first year was pretty much something new each week, then this second year, a few new things, but mostly we revisited the previous topics and figured out how to really integrate the skills they had learned into their curriculum. The first year was about getting comfortable with the technology and second actually using it in the classroom with their students. Seemed slow at first, but in the long run I think it was better than the way I did the staff development with my first grant.
Good to see you here J. I am starting a pro-dev platform for DuBois for 07-08. I am absolutely stealing the idea of the quick hitter. (15 mins, here's something interesting, if you like it attend a workshop) It gives teachers the chance to decide on their own, but it gives the presenter a chance to have more people interested in what they are saying. :)

Take Care,
To All: I received excellent feedback from 180techtips. From new to experienced you will learn something.

Ken P.
In terms of staff development I have found that teaching Low Threshold Activites to be the most important first step. Teachers can't effectively integrate computer technology into the classroom unless they can effectively integrate computer technology into their own lives. Teachers naturally teach what they know and are most comfortable with.
As a computer teacher at a middle school I collected the computer questions I was getting from my peers and decided to start emailing out the answers as daily technology tips. By the end of that school year I had created a total of 180 technology tips which I refined into the 180techtips.com website which emails out links to a technology tip for free, every day, to anyone who signs up. Over 1000 people have signed up so far. On average 200-400 people click on the emailed link every day for a 5 minute technology tip.

Please check it out and let me know what you think? Do you think there is a need for this kind of Low Threshold training in your staff environment?
I love the term Low Threshold. I think I've been doing this. It is nice to see it actually has a name. Thanks so much for sharing this article and your Website.
I am very interested in your PD using Low Threshold Activities. We had full day trainings every other Wednesday this last year for teachers on a variety of topics. My experience teaching these trainings is that a full day was too much. Teachers became saturated with new information by lunch and were often ineffective technology integraters after lunch. They were committed to learning, just overwhelmed with the quantity of information we had pushed at them.

This year I would like to rethink our technology out reach. Half day trainings are problematic because of the substitute teacher issues in my area, so I am looking for other alternatives.
Hi All,

I look forward to sharing some thoughts on PD through this forum. I do have a simple request, as I was asked to create a PD needs assessment for up to 9 districts the other day. Instead of reinventing the wheel I was wonderign if anyone has a similar instrument they would be willing to share.
I am currently a technology specialist/coach and a full time PhD graduate student with Capella University. My focus is in the area of technology literacy. I have been working at the high school mentoring teachers and doing PD and this next year I will be the technology specialist and coach at an elementary school.

When I do PD with educators, I first look at teacher practices in the classroom and have a discussion around this with the teachers that I am working with. The first thing they usually tell me is that they can’t afford to buy a lot of software and equipment and they feel bogged down with all the state requirements around literacy. So when I look at teacher practices, I toss in some of the best practices being used in the area of literacy and then try and support it with technology that is free or low coast to the teacher. We have state standards and district standards that have been set by Grade Level Expectations in the basic core areas.

Convincing them how to integrate technology, well that’s a whole entirely different issue. I meet with resistant through lack of money to not enough time to learn programs and do lesson plans as well. So I tried to find user-friendly programs and one of them is Microsoft Photo Story. It is a free program from Microsoft and you need XP operating system in order to operate it.


The thing I like about this program is that it is real user friendly, can be easily learned in ½ hour and teachers can produce a project within a 2 hour span of time. Since many of the schools that I work with have a high population of bilingual students, I usually try to model lessons around building vocabulary and speaking skills. I often will type text onto the screen for them to read and then record the pronunciation of many of the words that they might have difficulty with. This is very effective with Kindergarten students who are building their vocabulary and gives them practice with their own voice.

I then have them create a simple introduction of themselves using family photos, or photos they take with a digital camera and model how to present this to the students in their classroom. I then show them how to make a montage of all of the introductions and have them use it for open house when the parents come. It is always a crowd pleaser.

If anyone has ideas to share around technology literacy or the concept of multi-literacy, I would love to hear from you.

When I was in grad school, I took a class on teaching math with technology. This was a bit odd because I'm a social studies teacher, but I loved that the class was explicitly about using technology (and I also like math). It was one of the best PD experiences I ever had because it was hands on. The professor showed us the tools we could use in class with our students, then we played around with them as if we were the students, then we discussed how to use them with our students.

And I think that's the fundamental principle - you need to model tech resources and encourage people to play with them. There's no substitute for experience when you're talking about tech.



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