Today I was fortunate to have my very first Google+ Hangout experience with brilliant, passionate and inspirational tech integrationalists from Stillwater and Edina Public Schools.
It was fun to “hang out” with Kristin Daniels (@kadaniels), Wayne Feller (@fellbop), Heather Wells (@technovinci), and Michael Walker (@micwalker) and discuss our districts implementation of flipped classrooms.
First impressions of G+ Hangout – is it is fun, easy to use. The quality was fairly good – even though there were a couple of hiccups where the video would freeze or we would temporarily lose audio. For the most part – there is a tremendous amount of potential with hangout and I honestly need to give this technology further consideration. I wonder where this leaves skype?
It was somewhat ironic our paths crossed. Just this week in the Pioneer Press – Stillwater and Byron were both mentioned as using the Flipped or Reverse classroom techniques in their classrooms. While there has been quite a bit of buzz about this approach and the benefits for student learning, it was a tweet by Kristin Daniels that really sparked my interest, “…we are starting “flipped pd” where we work closely with teachers on personalized projects..” Flipped PD – makes so much sense to me – why on earth did I not think of it?
If you think of a traditional f2f professional development – About a third of your participants are high flyers – they are either 3 steps ahead of you OR are bored to death, waiting for the other participants to catch up. You have the middle third, who are following along, engaged, and hopefully learning. Then you have the bottom third, that are lost or confused and taking more of your time as a facilitator to catch them up – then you have to work with the rest of the class. Sound familiar?
A couple of things that Stillwater is doing with Flipped PD really resonated with me! First of all, when teachers select their PD offerings, they are shown finished best practice samples of projects that have been developed by other teachers. Not only does this engage potential participants, but it also is a great way to share (reward?) the work of that others have accomplished for the district. Included in the offering is a type of recipe card, or plan of what educators need in order to accomplish the project.
The training videos and materials are hosted within Moodle, and are available to teachers when they are ready to learn. Face to face sessions are organized in small groups and teachers are able to ask further questions and get support. Staff also develop ILPs – individual learning plans (via Google Docs templates) that is a running reflective record of their learning. If you would like learn more about this ideas – the Stillwater staff are blogging every day about their journey! Definitely something I will be watching!