Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tablet PC's and a Fenway-style venue

This past Monday we had a district-wide professional development day which, for a majority of our staff was the standard type professional development day: two sessions, or one long session and go home. For a group of 70+ high school teachers, it was four hours of introduction to a new challenge.

Last summer, we began to field interest from our high school staff regarding whether or not they would be interested in obtaining a tablet pc for this coming school year. The focus was originally on the teachers who would be teaching in the portable classrooms during the reconstruction, but also on teachers who showed interest. We found more money than we thought we would, so we ordered many more than showed interest initially. Monday, was the first day where we had all of the teachers together to begin 10 weeks of focused professional development around a specific skill or application. Here are the "strands" as we are calling them:

  • Podcasting
  • Journal or OneNote
  • Screencasting
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • Connectivity
  • UnitedStreaming and Assessment
  • Teacher or Student-created applications.
When we put together this program, we really looked at the ability of the tablet to transform their teaching. We did not want our teachers to get a laptop, a tablet at that, and continue to teach as they were before the tablet. We want transformation and content creation. Our staff, like many in the nation and world, consists of some extremely bright, creative people who are producing magnificent content on a daily basis. Our idea is that if the content is being produced, why not push it out to a larger audience, or push it out to our students in a manner that will allow them ubiquitous access to the content.

Four hours in a cafeteria with me had to be broken up somehow, and last week I asked for help with my presentation via a Voicethread. While I still don't have any of my teachers adding to the Voicethread, I did have some all-star participation from my network: Chris, Clay, Sue, Barbara, Anthony, Melanie, Kevin (sorry, no link), and Robin. All were fantastic, and my staff were rapt with their comments and the fact that they took the time to speak to us. Sue actually hijacked my presentation for a while with her comments and asked a series of questions regarding connectivity and the terms we use with Web 2.0. If they knew the answer or had heard of the term, they were to put their hands on their heads, if not, they were to put their hands on their backside. Here is the proof:

The majority did not know the terms Sue was asking them, but by the end of the session, they were on their way to understanding how to connect to the right sources to find out. Note to self: leave Skype until the last thing you show them. Once they found out they could call each other or message each other it was effectively the end of my presentation. However, introducing them to the power that it brings (Thanks, Cathy for the impromptu call from South Carolina!) to the classroom and your own development was worth losing them to playtime a little early.

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PskiingC said...

Pat this is incredible!

Patrick Higgins said...

thanks, Pat. You also might be interested in the district blog at

Sue Waters said...

I suppose the warning should be now sent out to all presenters that if you do not want your presentation hijacked by Sue Waters do not leave an open invitation to her on your website. Lets hope your teachers enjoyed being bossed around by an Aussie (did they need a translator?).

Absolutely love the photos. I had to do an online presentation for Alex Hayes in NSW and he wanted it interactive so I did similar in it. They got chocolate frogs for reward if they behaved-- Alex said he has never seen anything like it in easier a f2f or online session. As you like Alex's blog I strongly recommend you subscribe to his work blog -- NSW learnscope.

Interesting about the Tablets. My work bought all lecturers in my section them several years ago -- wouldn't it have been good if they spent time doing PD like you are doing. One can just dream on!

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