It has been a month since the end of my most recent class at MSU. While I have not been working on coursework for the MAET program, I have had a few opportunities to apply the lessons I have learned so far.
First, I had the opportunity to prepare and present three sessions of professional development for 37 of my colleagues. The theme for our session was technology, but I was able to decide the topics. One of the very first things I learned at MSU was the power of a personal learning network (PLN). In our first class we created a Twitter account and started to connect with other educators who were also using technology in their classrooms. I found this to be extremely valuable and I wanted to share this resource with my colleagues. I created a Google Presentation (click here to check it out) on the ins and outs of Twitter. In the 45 minute training I explained how Twitter could be utilized to grow a PLN, guided teachers through the process of creating an account and finding some relevant people to follow, and explained some of the intricacies of Twitter. (What is a hashtag anyway?)
It was the last part that got a little tricky. I had surveyed the participants prior to the training, so I knew that out of 37 people only 5 were currently using Twitter. The problem was I knew for a fact that the ASB advisor was well versed in things like hashtags, mentions and follows. I knew she would be bored by the basics. In order to differentiate the lesson (see that, even teachers need differentiation), I added an “Advanced Users” slide at the end of the presentation. I had shared the presentation with the participants, so she was able to click to the end to see my slide about TweetDeck and follow the links to learn more about it. In this way I was able to meet the needs of a diverse group.
Also, in an effort to grow my own PLN on a local level, I created a weekly informal gathering I have named “Tech Tuesday”. Each week I invite members of the faculty and staff to my room at lunch to have a technology discussion. Some weeks we focus on a particular topic, others we discuss whatever is relevant for those who attend the meeting. I have found these meetings to be a great way to connect with educators on a local level. I have learned a lot from the other teachers at my site. My favorite is when a teacher walks away with a solution to a problem that had been plaguing them and is able to come back the following week and share with their colleagues.
The other really exciting thing I have been able to take from MSU and apply to my school site is the maker kit I studied. I worked with the MakeyMakey kit for CEP 811. On October 8, my school held an “Arts for All” Day. This was an assembly that brought out the Visual and Performing arts classes, the Vocational Ed classes and local artists. In the past the day has been a chance for students to showcase the work they have done in their elective classes. This year the administrator in charge decided to make it a more hands on experience. This fit right into the Maker Movement that we were learning about in class. I volunteered to run a booth and let the students experience the fun of the MakeyMakey kits. They were amazed that they could use everyday objects to create a controller for the computers. There was a very nice write-up in the local paper that details the experience the students had during this great experience.
Overall, I am very excited at the things I have been able to take from the MSU program and share with my students and my school. It is very rewarding to see the real world application of the things we are learning in class. That is something we need to remember as we plan curriculum for students in this digital age.