Candace Robertson

One educator, determined to create an engaging and dynamic experience for learners of all ages.


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Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire PosterIf you’ve never been to a Maker Faire or Mini Maker Faire,  I recommend jumping in and finding one near you to attend.  I’ve had the opportunity to attend 2 Maker Faires in Detroit and just attended my second Mini Maker Faire- the Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire.  While attending a Maker or Mini Maker Faire, you will be exposed to creativity, genius, and connected learning galore!  As educators, there is also a lot to learn from the Maker mindset.  Check out this post from Makezine.com on how they believe it can transform education.  Hand in hand, the Maker culture also serves as a great connection to STEM and STEAM…and there are a plethora of resources you can scoop up for your classroom by attending one!  Click the Maker Faire poster on your left to see my favorite highlights from the Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire.


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How did we get our Teachers to Start Talking Nerdy?

Collage from our speedgeeking event

All geared up with our new League of EdTechies badges, combining our creative super powers, we were able to develop a dynamic and fun professional development that engaged our peers and allowed for teacher leadership.  A colleague of mine mentioned the idea of “Speed Geeking” last year and we finally had a chance to employ it when February came upon us and love was in the air!  Let’s first share the results of how this opportunity lead to igniting some sparks…

The best thing happened directly after this PD.  I was in a breakout session room cleaning up and a teacher who is more cautious with exploring new technologies came up to me and said, “I’m going to go home and play now!”  Best. Thing. Ever.  Continuing that, I received about ten emails from non 1:1 staff that evening sharing ideas and excitement.  When I walked into school the next morning, there was a huddle of five teachers discussing the PD and their ideas from it near the office.  Exploration and collaboration were occurring!  There was energy!  I then collaborated with a teacher on how she could do this with her students and we brought Speed Geeking into the classroom to explore note taking strategies when researching.

Below is the main presentation we utilized for our professional development and an overview of how it all came to be.  We had some goals which of course drove the decisions we made:

1.  Continue our discussion of TPACK and apply it to a lesson design that was coming up in the next trimester

2.  Model meaningful technology integration

3.  Allow for play and creation

4.  Make it applicable!

We are fortunate enough to have support from our awesome administration, so we were able to use 1.5 hours of our 2 hour monthly staff meeting.  Here’s the breakdown of how The League of EdTechies provided this professional development for our 75+ member staff:

Preparation:

The League of EdTechies voted on some of the core apps that they felt would be important to all staff moving forward with our 1:1.  We selected apps that had a range of complexity so that everyone would have an option to learn something at their level.  We selected 6 apps and paired 2 League members per app.  They created samples of how each app could be used in the classroom.  Naturally, they created artifacts geared towards instruction and assessment- they did a phenomenal job!  We emailed all staff members about a week before the staff meeting and reminded them to download Notability if they had not done so previously.  This was a HUGE key to the flow of our PD because we could jump right into application and did not have to go through the hoops of downloading during the PD.  We also had them bring a learning target that they would be focusing on next semester so that we could keep a strong focus on context and application during our PD.

Delivery:

  1. We started by getting everyone into our Schoology staff course where we house all of our staff meeting notes and taught them how to download a PDF and import it into Notability.  This ties in with our idea of embedded PD- we didn’t give them much direction on how to use it other than about a 2 minute tutorial of the basics they needed to know to work with the document for this experience.
  2. We then went right into Speed Geeking by giving a short, one minute intro into what they needed to do as participants.
  3. The League Members were split up in somewhat of buffet style tables, we had 2 tables per app and split The League presenters up so that we could keep our groups small.  We gave them 2 minutes to present their app to each small group.
  4. To keep the energy high, we played music when the two minutes were up.  Of course we had to include classic mood-setters in our playlist like some of Marvin Gaye’s greatest hits!
  5. We had the presenters rotate and kept the rest of the teachers seated for ease of transition.
  6. When the rotations were complete, we regrouped and began our discussion of TPACK and repurposing technologies for educational purposes.
  7. Teachers had to then apply their knowledge to the learning target that they brought with them.
  8. After applying their knowledge of TPACK, we had them select a breakout session to further explore the technology that peaked their curiosity during Speed Geeking.  (We used Socrative to embed formative assessment technologies into the PD also)
  9. The goal of the breakout session was to create an artifact that the teachers could use in the next semester (keep in mind, the majority of teachers only had 1 iPad in their classroom this year). We limited the amount of tutorial we gave teachers in the breakout sessions, pointed them to resources to help support their technical understanding, and encouraged them to explore and play with the technology. Very similar to the feel of a PLAYDATE.
  10. At the end of the PD, teachers completed an exit slip in Schoology and were awarded a digital badge signifying their reflection and participation in exploration of one of the certain apps.

 

Presentation:

 

Participant Notes:


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SAMR Brainstorming Guide

Here’s a “SAMR Brainstorming Guide” that I created for the teachers in our district to provide more guidance on how to swim in the different levels of The SAMR Model.  This guide was provided in conjunction with professional development.  For more information on The SAMR Model, visit http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/.

Click here to make an editable copy of the Google Doc for your planning purposes. 

Creative Commons License SAMR Brainstorming Guide by Candace Marcotte is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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TPACK Planning Guide

Here’s a “TPACK Planning Guide” that I created for the teachers in our district to provide more guidance in planning effective technology integration utilizing the TPACK framework.  For more information on TPACK, visit tpack.org.

Click here to make an editable copy of the Google Doc for your planning purposes. 

Creative Commons License TPACK Planning Guide by Candace Marcotte is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Embedded Professional Development

We started the year with a clear goal in mind: our professional development (PD) revolving around technology would not be in isolation, it would be embedded and would serve as a modeling opportunity for teachers to see what meaningful technology integration looks like. We shifted away from standard technology training by carefully placing these pieces within applicable PDs that teachers already had to focus on as a part of our district’s strategic plan (curriculum, instruction, and assessment).  While we did have district professional development days where we were able to embed technology integration practices into topics like formative assessment, our easiest and most-frequent vehicle for embedded PD came from taking advantage of opportunities like our staff meetings.

Example Schoology Staff Meeting FoldersBefore our pilot year started, we were able to easily identify that Schoology and Notability would be two huge pieces of our year. We knew that we needed to increase the competency and understanding teachers had with these two programs before full 1:1implementation the following year.  So, how did we do this without having to hold half-day PDs on how to use the technology?  A few months into the school year, we had our entire building join a Schoology course that held all of the items from our staff meetings (files, links, etc.).  We had the teachers take pre assessments and post assessments in Schoology if there was professional development delivered in our staff meeting that day (ex., creating valid assessments).  The files, which were posted in Schoology, we then had teachers import into Notability and use their iPads for note taking just as the students would.  Here’s the cool thing about that:

  • We were modeling the workflow process without ever having to explain it.
  • Authentic learning was taking place because the focus was not on the technology, but was instead on the purpose and experience

I remember that when we had our first really paperless meeting(which I brought some paper copies to, in order to model printing out a few for students who like to have paper copies), we had no teachers ask for it.  Keep in mind that we have about 75 certified teachers and additional support staff (social workers,admin, etc.), which brings our staff meetings to about 85-90 people, all at varying levels of tech skills. Not. ONE. Asked. For. Paper.  They were willing to take a risk after being given only a 2 minute overview on how to take notes inNotability.  Why were they willing to take this risk?

  • They immediately applied everything we showed them in that quick 2 minute intro. (We didn’t front-end-load them with all of the “Wows” of the application or give them 20 steps to remember at a later time, plus examples, etc.)
  • We only told them what they needed for that moment (writing tools, zoom in to draw, create a text box, add a page, scroll, and erase).  They weren’t given a laundry list of things that they didn’t have a chance to apply, so they didn’t immediately feel like they would never be able to understand the tool.
  • We did turn up their anxiety a bit by having them use it right in that moment without any preparation.  We made some of them uncomfortable, but did not push them too far.  They did not have the time to choose to shut down because they had to authentically apply it right in that moment.
  • We planted 1 teacher at each table that had experience with the applications.
  • We encouraged play, exploration, and sharing at the tables.  If you learn a cool trick, share it!  We wanted collaborative learning.
  • Collaboration made it fun!

Staff PD Example Schoology Exit SlipWe continued to use Schoology to house staff meeting materials and encouraged Notability for recording information on those electronic documents throughout the year. Casually, we would insert new features of the programs (a discussion in Schoology one month, adding sticky notes into Notability for a jigsaw activity the next, etc.).  Now that we had established this culture of play, exploration, and sharing, we were able to run these integration opportunities without any tutorial whatsoever.

As the year went on, we began to integrate other applications.  Need to take a vote on the dress code at the staff meeting?  Use Socrative.  Having teachers read an article on the web about CCSS? Use Subtext and let them share their takeaways and questions as they read.  Want to get staff to a web resource?  Create a QR code and have them scan it. Slowly, our teachers were being exposed to the power of the tools that all of their students would have the following year.

Continuing the momentum, we introduced “App Attacks” at one of our last staff meetings. Because we were modeling so much, we wanted to make sure the connection to classroom application was concrete and was also inspiring idea generation.  The term “App Attack” came from a teacher who was involved in the brainstorming of this idea.  We had explained what “App Slams” and “Demo Slams” were, but were looking for a more expansive view so that we could include websites, apps, etc. and we wanted it to not be about the tool, but to be a mass brainstorming activity where the teachers shouted out what they could do with the tool.  We wanted to use our collective powers to attack the tool and determine how many classroom applications we could generate…in 1 minute!  So was born, the “App Attack”.  After all of the staff members completed a Google Form with an image inserted in it about hallway expectations, we had a 30 second explanation of what this new “App Attack” was.  Then, the timer was set, and the staff members began to shout ideas out.  In one minute, we collected 16 classroom applications for using a Google Form with an image and we had more people who wanted to share, but the timer went off.  Why was this strategy successful?

  • The focus was on what they are already experts in:  their content and their classrooms.
  • It was unexpected.  (Who gets to randomly yell out at staff meetings…or in life?)
  • It created energy.
  • It created a bit of good anxiety because staff wanted to get their ideas in before the time was up.
  • It was an activity that focused on the collective knowledge of everyone in the room.  One idea would spark another, and so on.
  • It was fun!

Using the above-mentioned strategies for embedding PD into pre-existing meetings and professional development allowed us to create teacher buy in.  We didn’t have to sell the value of what we were talking about because we created the value from the experience.  We were showing, not telling and it had an impact.