I hosted visitors from another high school, recently. Since our adoption of 1:1 iPads, this has become a frequent experience. I was explaining how much emphasis we had placed on professional development with Mercy 2.0. This caused me to consider how our P.D. process had evolved over the past one year. Fortunately, we did not try to predetermine every step. Some of the best features of our training have been based on the feedback we received along the way:
Workflow Analysis – Our consultant, Lucy Gray, urged us to begin the staff development process by focusing on “workflow”. Lucy and administrators held conversations with members of every academic department, discussing how the new tools could accomplish and improve the way they conducted their classes on a daily basis– assigning, collecting, and evaluating student work for instance.
Unboxing– We had a special “unboxing” basic training event for the staff when they received their iPads.
Super Tuesdays– Our own advanced teachers conducted voluntary after school workshops on key apps like Dropbox, Evernote, and iAnnotate PDF. These were extremely well attended.
“Ten Things” – We wrote learning modules for ten activities that would serve as milestones for staff technical competency. The activities were required and included using Google Cals, Evernote, iMovie, Moodle, iPhoto, Dropbox and Explain Everything.
In order to support the quest for the “Ten things”, we hosted several drop-in “labs” during the summer. These were staffed by volunteers, whose only reward was a free lunch. The turn-out was terrific. and by summer’s end some of the learners had become trainers.
Our ten new staff members attended three summer mornings of “boot camp”, specifically designed to raise the technology bar high for our newbies and to give them a head start on the iPad.
For a full day of August in-service we flew in Cheryl Davis from California to give us a keynote address on “retrofitting the Classroom for the iPad.” She, Lucy Gray and some of our in-house technology exemplars conducted workshops through the day.
All ninth graders were required this year to take a course called Design Foundations. Much of their time is spent in our new Mac Lab learning how to use photoshop, design web pages and edit using FinalCut Pro X. Next year we will be offering a Set Design course and a video editing course which have been made possible by this introductory curriculum. We will also have a second Mac lab next year. The entire staff was given a presentation on Design Foundations. The Curriculum Council is exploring ways for courses of all disciplines to reinforce the skills learned in our new course.
Our focus on training has shifted to utilizing student expertise. We have identified, trained and branded a group of iPad users named iWizards. They will assist in tutoring all members of our community in iPad skills.
Ninth Grade Tech Orientation
The iWizards will soom be spending a full day together with Lucy Gray at their elbows, creating the Curriculum for this year’s Ninth Grade Tech Orientation. They will create multimedia tutorials to support their presentations on topics like Dropbox, iPhoto, Pages, and iAnnotate PDF. You will be reading more about this activity on these pages after March 4.
Surveying the Staff
The staff have not even had their iPads for a year, but it is not too early to plan more professional development with them. Before long we will return to where we started, surveying them to discover what they need to rock their classes with the iPad and Google Apps for Education. After all, for all the great technology, the teachers remain the key to great instruction.