A new approach to the “PD Day”

If I die - Staff Meeting

I will be honest,  I have led some bad PD in my day. I have read powerpoint slides, provided “click here, click there” how to sessions, all of which have been a one-time, one-size fits all approach.  Did my participants learn? How do I know they learned?  (both questions, I failed to ask – or maybe was afraid to ask?)

On the other side of the gamut (things I am more proud of) I have co-facilitated district edcamps, provided short Just In Time Training (JITT) sessions (small group),  coached educators 1:1, and am currently facilitating a cohort model  through the Innovative Instructional Leadership Program.

This year our district goal is:

100% of all teachers will CREATE or REDESIGN and IMPLEMENT at least 3 lesson plans per year that inspire learners to achieve at high levels as measured by student ePortfolio artifacts.

October 19, 2016, was day 2 (of 4) to help support educators in this process.  As we (instructional coaches/curriculum director/myself) were designing the activities we wanted to model good instructional practices.  We know a day of sit and get does not work in our classrooms, why would we incorporate this on our PD day?

In our PD sessions, have been focusing on personalized and deeper learning that engage/empower kids.  We are using a Deeper Learning Protocol (DLP) based on the works of Scott McLeod (McLeod) and Julie Graber (@jgraber). (Called Trudacot)

Our October 19 agenda with results/evidence:

TableTop Group

Our Workgroup Table Toppers!

1 – Create District Teams Our first decision was to create district teams with representation of 2 educators from each level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) We also wanted to mix disciplines.   Our teachers are with PLCs on a weekly basis. We wanted the opportunity for them to connect with other educators and learn about their implementation and results.    We felt this would be a great opportunity to build cross district relationships and could potentially lead to new sparks!

2 – High energy starter – We started the day with an epic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors – tied to Growth Mindset  (Thank you George Couros for the idea!)

And the winner is…

3. Lesson Speed Dating –  Educators shared examples/artifacts of student work from created/redesigned  lesson plans.  We kicked it off this activity with 1 teacher from each building sharing what they implemented in their classroom to the entire staff. Then, within our groups, we did 3 rounds of sharing (each 8 minutes a piece)

Script to help guide the discussion
My lesson was…
My area of focus from the DLP was…
What I observed/assessed in student learning (ELO) success was…
What I observed in regards to student engagement was…
If I focus on this DLP area again, I would…
Questions or Comments?

Short Video in Speed Date in Action

While this focused heavily on the innovative things our educators did to deepen learning and engage/empower kids it was important to also highlight the learning.   After the speed date was done, we  had all staff analyze the following artifact with these questions:

  • What facets of the DLP does this artifact integrate?
  • Does this artifact show evidence that the student has met the essential learning outcome? (I Can Statement)
Artifact snapshot

This is an example of an 8th-grade artifact (In ELA) who emailed me earlier that week for some support on a digital citizenship project they were working on.


4. Going Deeper into the DLP ( In this activity, we wanted to give educators a blended learning experience with plenty of voice/choice, to study and create a learning artifact regarding a single DLP Facet.  We had 15 groups and assigned 3 groups to each facet. (Facets we focused on: Authenticity/Relevancy, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Deeper Thinking).  Below are the instructions we used for this activity.  This will allow you to see the activity looked like (Built on Google Sites)

We allowed educators to choose their learning space.  I observed during the reading portion and video watching portion – some educators chose to sit independently (away from group) while others decided to do everything together. (Both AOK!) Only 1 group chose to sit in rows!screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-6-44-30-pm

Educators were to make a digital learning artifact that represented what they understood about their assigned facet. (We provide NO How to’s here)  We also recognized opportunities to build artifacts (not digital) to represent their knowledge.  Included was a small maker table if they chose that path!

Our little maker table!

Our little maker table!


The last portion of this activity was to do a Gallery walk and reflect on the learning experience.  Since everyone had access to the padlet, the workgroups began looking at what everyone else had created.  (which is a great formative assessment for us)  It was fun to see the creative ideas come through!  Some created mindmaps, slideshows, videos, screencasts, drew posters and took pics), ect.  It would have been fun to do another short speed date – first with each Facet teams to share their creation and then the teams select 1 project to go to be presented to the district group. However, we simply ran out of time.  (We may revive this idea, the next time we meet)

We also circled back to the growth mindset conversation we started with, and asked educators to take a silent moment to reflect… did they ever have a fixed mindset moment during this experience? Did they ever observe a team member in a fixed mindset?  Growth Mindset

5. Work time to recreate/design lesson to be implemented and student artifacts to be collected by the next PD day in January.   We gave educators approximately 2 hours to do their own creative lesson planning.  Educators then, submit a broad scope of their lesson re-design and include ELOs and DLP Facets they will be using.  Coaches will follow up with staff throughout the next several months.

6. Evaluate our Lesson – We wanted teachers to evaluate our lesson.  (Google Form)  Right now a little over 40% of  educators provided feedback.  Many reported they liked the groupings and enjoyed the sharing of lessons and ideas. By far the great improvement we need is to give more time to share and create!

We also are sitting at a little over  70% engagement rate. I WISH we had comparison data to sit and get PD!  But unfortunately, we don’t.  However, we do plan on taking feedback from our educators and improving the professional development day in January!


Final Reflection

I am very happy with the result of our efforts and felt we met our goals.

Did we give our educators a different  district-wide PD experience? YES!   One that has multiple activities that activated multiple senses?  YES!

Did we go beyond reading powerpoint slides and give educators an applied experience that made learning visible? Assessable? With their peers?  YES. YES. YES.

Did our lesson include opportunities for learner voice/choice? Collaboration? Communication? Deeper Thinking? Creativity? Integrate meaningful technology?  Again All YES!  However, some were to a greater degree than others.

Do we need to improve for the next time? YES!  We are far from done and are already brainstorming for PD # 3 in January!

What are some awesome things you have done on PD days in your district? Share your ideas or provide feedback to this post!

Note: This blog post is in direct correlation and will serve as evidence of my 2016-17 professional goals:

One Comment
  1. Nice work Jen! Your examples of relevant learning are spot on and demonstrate the deeper learning that our educators are involved in.

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