In the month of June, I led 10 days of professional development workshops with EdTechTeacher. That equates to 60 hours of hands-on learning that occurred in three geographic states (Georgia, Massachusetts, and Maine). During those workshop days, I collaborated with 87 different educators for a combined total of 5,220 hours of professional learning. Within that total population, 60% worked with elementary grade students, 22% taught middle school, 7% served at the high school level, and 11% held administrative positions such as Principal, Director of Technology, or Assistant Superintendent for Learning.
Over the course of those 10 days, we used iPads for 5 days (30 hours), Chromebooks for 3 days (18 hours), and Macbooks for 2 days (12 hours). Across all workshops, we spent twice as much time creating new learning artifacts with technology as we did consuming content such as PDFs, eBooks, web pages, and video.
Participants also spent a significant amount of time actively engaged in reflection. I regularly gave educators Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero to structure their ideas and then provided time for them to record their thoughts in text, handwriting, pictures, audio, and video using tools such as SeeSaw, Recap, Book Creator, and Google Docs.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Understanding by Design (UbD) served as overarching frameworks for all of these disparate tasks, activities, workshops, and groups. Ultimately, regardless of the device, I wanted teachers to gain a deeper understanding of how to create more student-centered classrooms that inspired creativity, inquiry, and reflection. Sometimes, with all of the new apps, tools, strategies, and ideas, educators can feel as though they are pulled in a myriad of directions with competing priorities. Looking back on last month, I can certainly understand the sentiment. However, every single workshop, activity, project, and task centered around one central idea: empowering students as active learners.
As summer kicks into full swing and we all start looking towards the next school year, despite whatever initiative may be thrown at us, imagine the power if we all asked the same essential question: how can we improve student learning?
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