Over the weekend we had the opportunity to present at the Podstock conference in Wichita, KS. We chose to discuss why and how we have our students blog in our classrooms. Blogging has been around for a while now so this was nothing revolutionary. But, it is a simple starting point for teachers who want their students to be more engaged in their writing and it is great practice for interacting appropriately online.
This was just our second time to lead a presentation at a conference so we have a lot to learn about the art of effectively communicating to a group of adults.
What we know so far ...
- Discussion rules. Questions are difficult to frame well, but very important.
- Blended discussion (verbal and using a Google Doc) appears to be a great method to involve all participants.
- Allow the group to learn from each other. Provide a backchannel opportunity to foster interaction among participants. Don’t pretend that we have all the knowledge.
- Keep it simple. Avoid the theoretical and the education jargon and just talk about what works in the classroom.
- Be a learner before being a teacher.
What we need to learn more about ...
- How this format will work with other topics. We have the student blogging presentation down at this point. But, will this format work well for other tools?
- Working with larger groups of adults. Both of our presentations have been between 20-40 adults.
- Differentiating technology.
Reflecting on this experience I (Jon) am struck by what I have learned can be applied to the classroom. Far too often I will get in a rut of gushing out information at my students. This year I will strive to involve my students more the learning process. I would like to have a Google Doc serve as a discussion platform and backchannel throughout the day in my classroom.
Reflecting on this experience I (Britt) find myself mulling over all of the professional development I have been a part of at the building and district level. I wonder if this more interactive approach would enhance those times. There is a significant difference between the voluntary mid-summer conference and the mandatory, district inservice in February - but I am not sure the mid-summer conference holds the advantage. I believe teachers would thrive in the interactive learning environment, and make strong connections to their own rooms (as Jon did). I mostly wonder if the average professional development session involves enough learning to inspire the kind of discussion we got to be a part of?