Make & Do

When I was a child I had one of those sets of children’s encyclopedias. My colorful set had 15 different books, from World & Space and Places to Know, to Stories & Poems and About Me–there was much to explore. However, the pages of one were significantly more worn and tattered than the rest. There was always one missing on the shelf, tucked away in my backpack, covered in paper-mache as I attempted to read the instructions on creating my own piñata or tossed in the grass, open to the page with design plans on constructing a backyard fortress.

Make and Do.

There was something motivating about this book. Simple ideas for a craft or project with pictures and step by step instructions. Then you just make and/or do it! It was broken down, manageable, inspiring. When you looked at the beautiful finished piñata, the colorful materials and seemingly easy steps you thought to yourself–I can do that! And then you did.

The cooking industry has adopted the same philosophy.  Ree Drumound aka the Pioneer Woman went from homeschooling mom to blog & now Food Network sensation by taking true step by step pictures of a recipe that were artistic, authentic & enticing. The pictures provide a helpful guide so I can see what blanching green beans actually looks like and I can know right at my point of failure if my Three Cheese Macaroni doesn’t emulate hers.

Now, of course you can learn to do just about anything online from how to get soft, wavy curls like Lauren Conrad to how to have creative ideas.

What does all this have to do with iPads, tablets and the edtech tools, apps and resources that can make them so potent? Well, when I visit schools and work with educators I constantly see, hear & feel the need for TIME to explore these edtech tools; time to make connections between the content/curriculum and the possibilities for implementation. Yet, in many PD sessions and even innovative conferences I see presenters and trainers trying to disseminate so much information, so many different apps to try, web 2.0 tools to share… that we miss the chance to Make & Do something with that time.

I know it’s hard and I am absolutely guilty of this myself as a deliverer of professional development. I know there are logistical challenges & what ifs that abound: what if the internet doesn’t work right, what if the tool doesn’t work right even though I tried it a thousand times, what if some people don’t get it and I spend so much time trying to help them I can’t get to all my cool tools, what if I don’t tell them enough???

I get it…I do… But I think we need to really consider the need for changing the PD model and providing meaningful time for participants to explore and actually create something with the edtech tools we espouse. We often discuss the need for the teacher to become more of a facilitator in the classroom: Let’s model it in our PD sessions and presentations.

So, here are some areas I am going to try and focus on as I create new PD opportunities for the districts I work with.

10 Strategies for EdTech Make & Do PD

1. Give Time

Give educators time (lots of it) to create meaningful products and/or fully test and explore edtech tools.

2. Full experience

Allow educators to fully experience the tool just as students would. Create a sample lesson, use the tool throughout session if applicable, have willing participants demonstrate and be their sample student. See a perfect example of the power of getting into character in this video of Tammy Worcester and Kevin Honeycutt imitating student and teacher at ISTE 2012– captured by the incredible app curator (and much more) Lisa Johnson of TechChef4u.

3. Provide Resources

Provide step by step instructions, with pictures and notes if possible. Create an iBook with resources and instructions  Well designed resources to refer back to will increase the ease of implementing in their own classrooms. (Snapguides, Symbaloo, EdCanvas, Listly, iBooks)

4. Integration Ideas

Make connections for possible integration ideas for these tools. A short list could be included in resources as a springboard for their own ideas. Add educator feedback and ideas from sessions to future sessions, citing teacher who provided the feedback.

5. Authentic Examples

When possible, find real examples of ways the edtech tool is being used in the classroom and share. (Twitter, blogs, your PLN)

6.  Make it their own

Provide opportunities and spaces for participants to make their own connections and customize the session for their own needs. Provide resources to take their own notes, make their own graphic organizer, construct a list of resources they want to try, create a list of goals to complete following session, etc. (Popplet, Wallwisher, EdCanvas, Listly)

7. Connect with Peers

Allow open communication and encourage participation not only between you and participants but between participants. I often learn just as much, if not more, from the fellow participants at Edtech conferences who are willing to connect with me. Use a backchannel like TodaysMeet to post twitter names or hashtags to follow or blog links to store for later and read each other’s work. Add to your PLN throughout the session. (Twitter, TodaysMeet, Collaborative tools)

8. Share & Publish

Share products created in sessions, even if they aren’t complete. Create opportunities to publish then or later amongst the group and highlight educators making it happen! (Blogs, Wikis, Pinterest, almost anywhere)

9. Model best practices

Training on the flipped classroom? Try it out. Training on Brain Research Based teaching or Effective Questioning Strategies….use appropriate wait time and other strategies you are teaching.

10. Play (A.K.A. Disguised Learning)

Teaching is hard. Let them play and enjoy the time. Explore edtech tools in low pressure, fun environments.  Play bingo or other games with relevant themes or integrated learning opportunities. Imagine if our teachers looked forward to our PD opportunities! (– random name picker for prizes, Bingo Baker for iPad/electronic bingo,  Blabberize, Sock Puppets, etc).

Hoping to provide helpful resources for educators as I grow and learn from those around me!


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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