Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Professional Development To Go - A Summer Time Treat

Summertime, and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high ...Gershwin

For many teachers, summer time is also a time to renew, rejuvenate, and revitalize
But just because technology is on your list of areas where you want to refresh your skills does not mean you have to spend all your time inside on a computer. If you're the type of educator who feels torn between the need to upgrade your technology skills and the need to be enjoy the sunshine, paint the garage, or play in the dirt, then why not take your Professional Development to Go! Grab your IPod or other mp3 player, fill it with podcast that instruct, inform, or inspire you to become a 21st century teacher. (Photo credit)

Here's my recipe for filling your mp3 player with professional development that will have you returning to school invigorated with ideas for using technology to create a true 21st century learning environment in your classroom.

  • Create PLAYLISTS
    Download many different type of podcast and organize them into playlists that will provide variety in your listening experience. I recommend starting with a playlist of 21st century thinkers which include Tom Friedman and Dan Pink, then transitioning over to Wes Fryer's Podcast featuring Kevin Honeycutt, whose humorous style puts Friedman and Pink's big ideas into perspective for a classroom teacher, or Steve Hargadon's interview with Tim O'Reilly on Web 2.0 in Education. Make sure to include a Playlist that features practical, concrete lesson ideas, such as those offered in the SmartBoard Lessons Podcast or the Infinite Thinking Video Podcast. How about a playlist that helps educators (and students) get up-to-speed on the latest content in their field such as Science Friday or National Geographic. Perhaps a playlist of podcasts that feature “tech tools” or pedagogical concepts. Summertime is also a good time to locate good audio materials to use as content with your students such as StoryNory or some good models of student produced content such as the video podcast from students at Mabry Middle School or the Room 208 student produced audio podcast.

  • Add a SMALL notebook to your toolkit
    Tote along a small notebook to jot down a few reminders about which podcast might be worth another listen to. Or perhaps create a 'rating' system for each podcast you listen to based on criteria that are important to you. (i.e. humorous, inspiring, practical classroom ideas, big ideas) Use these ratings to create new playlist. (such as 'Top Ten” podcast for 'literacy strategies”). But DON'T get caught up writing notes. Most podcast have shownotes online which often contain key links, key ideas, and sometimes whole transcripts. Make listening fun. Listen for big ideas and inspiration. Use your notebook sparingly. Enjoy!

  • SHARE your Playlist with colleagues
    If lending out your mp3 player is outside your comfort zone, perhaps your school librarian would consider adding an mp3 player filled playlist created by teachers to their collection of resources. If not, why not burn your playlist on CD to share with a friend. Or better yet, why not contribute your recommendations to a playlist wiki.

  • TALK about it
    How about setting up a face to face dialogue night or an online space for you and your colleagues to discuss the inspiring ideas that came to you during your listening experience. Or perhaps you can recommend future listening. Add to the discussion tab of this playlist wiki or create your own. A more feature-ladened space such as Ning can help you connect with other colleagues using common language created during your individual listening experiences (all while doing what you enjoy the most from your 'summertime' to do list). One teacher shared with me that this made the “refinishing her wood floors” project, so much more enjoyable this summer.

  • Expand your Listening Experience
    Don't limit your listening experience to educational podcasting. There's probably a podcast on every topic imaginable. Whether you're into Comedy Central or National Public Radio, try searching the web directly or the thousands of podcasts available through podcast services such as Itunes for a topic that interest you. A quick survey of the ITM bloggers revealed that TED TALKS was amongst our top pick for favorite podcast series.