Sunday, June 10, 2007

Learning While Playing.

Just as in most professions, teachers must garner continuing education credits. However, unlike Doctors who get to go to Hawaii and sip all expense paid by the pharmaceutical companies mojitas by the pool, we gather in a converted high school and drink coffee out of paper cups.

We used to have no choice as to what we were going to be educated in. That made for some worthless experiences. In my 16 years, I've had to suffer through everything from "how to make a bulb work using a battery and wires' to watching a talking head with a bad toupee give a canned motivation speech. A couple of years ago someone in administration finally figured out that if we were allowed to select what we wanted to learn we might not only actually learn something but also be a better audience. Teachers are notorious for inattentive and rude behavior when they are the student rather than the teacher.

This past week groups of librarians and teachers gathered together with the folks from library media services at the annual Summer Integration Academy. The goal is to create "technology rich lessons" and foster teacher / librarian collaboration . We started with a crash course in various programs and web tools - blogs, Inspiration, Kidspiration, databases on the Library Research page, streaming video, film editing and more – the brain is on overload.

It's been great fun. The levels of knowledge range from “ how do I turn it on” to semi expert, however everyone learns something new. It's also joyfully informal yet most professional, no assigned seats no "turn to your neighbor" and no cutesy, wootsey, bonding activities. We even get to go out to lunch like worker bees in the real world. It doesn't take much to make a teacher happy.
The created lessons; actually they are full blown units range from Nutrition to Greek Mythology to American Historical Figures to classroom rules to job interviews to the water cycle for bi-lingual second graders. All the lessons are posted on a website so that everyone in the district has access.

The class has many objectives - increasing librarian & teacher cooperation, replacing pencil and paper activities with computer related activities and replacing the traditional paper or report with a PowerPoint, a pod cast - anything other than a paper purchased from an online term paper company. After 3 days of intense work we all present our lessons. It's amazing to watch the transformation- what was a nebulous idea on Monday crystallizes are a full blown unit, complete with lesson plans, film clips, PowerPoints, rubrics for grading, blogs, student activities and follow up activities. TEKS and TAKS objectives are integrated and we even have differentiated activities for the students at the Special Ed and the Gifted/Talented end of the spectrum.

The teachers range from second grade to high school so we have a wide range of abilities. Technology a great leveler - it's amazing how I can adapt a high school lesson on nutrition and share it with our school nurse for her Housman Health Club or a 10th grade speech lesson for our own annual career day.

After each presentation, there are informal comments and suggestions. We all learn from each other and make mental notes of how we're going to adapt each lesson to our own schools and situations.

This is what teacher ed should be, unfortunately, it rarely is.


VWB said...

It was a GOOD that I have rested up!!

Anonymous said...

I'm very jealous I couldn't participate this time. Can't wait to see what you've all cooked up!

LKP said...

Maybe we ---- as in the librarians --- should be doing more "teaching" to teachers!?! Or is it just our groups that's so good??? :):):)

alice, uptown said...

For once, you didn't have your time wasted by the powers-that-be, which is a bonus. But I'm curious: why lose pen and paper to the computer? There's some strong sense of Luddite in me, and some envy, too, since I can no longer hold a pen and write and am resigned to the computer for written expression.

ms. whatsit said...

Lucky you. I'm scheduled for Pre-AP Vertical Team training in July. And no, I didn't have a choice. I'll try to make the most of it while sipping my coffee from a styrofoam cup.

ivy826ivy said...

Way to go! This sounds like a great use of time and at the same time a way to boost morale. It is all about choice, and when we are happy and content there is no end to our success.