Just completed my second round of face-to-face workshops with my two cohorts I am doing my blended learning professional development with on Sketchpad and technology integration in mathematics. In my previous postings (Planning for Hybrid PD, Follow Up Day 1, follow Up Day 2, Online Community Part 1, Planning for Hybrid PD Part 2), I have been documenting this professional development experience, sharing my planning process as well as what has been happening in the face-to-face and online components as these groups move forward. The ultimate goal by the end of this process is that these teachers have not only learned the software, but more importantly, have learned to integrate Sketchpad into classroom instruction to help their students learn mathematics in an engaging way that improves student understanding and achievement in mathematics.
This week we met face-to-face after teachers had a month+ online to try some activities on their own to help learn the software skills while also doing mathematics. They are also focusing on Common Core standards and making the connection of those concepts and how Sketchpad can integrate both content and Standards of Mathematical Practice. There is also an emphasis on pedagogical aspects of integrating the technology with students. This face-to-face meeting was to debrief the online experience and their first integration experience with their students, learn some more software skills and pedagogical strategies, and then prepare for the next online component.
The face-to-face meetings left me feeling very excited about this upcoming month online. I think mostly because the debrief portion, where participants shared the experiences they had with students as they tried a Sketchpad activity, was powerful. Some great ideas were shared about using the activities, students reactions, what students learned and said...I think everyone was surprised at their students' ability to engage in the mathematics and interact with the technology so easily,which was refreshing.
We also debriefed on the online experience itself (responding to discussion forums, downloading activities, navigating the site, etc.), and which I found incredibly helpful because questions came up and were addressed right there and there were suggestions for doing things more efficiently. It was so nice to see and hear everyone offering each other help and thoughts or commiserating with others. I think the debrief alone let everyone know they were not alone and allowed me to reinforce the importance of the online discussion forum when we are not face-to-face. There were still many who were uncomfortable in the online environment who I think now feel more confident in it's purpose.
The rest of our time together (which is only a total of 3 hours) we spent learning some skills of the software, but always in the context of learning math. My goal is to model a lesson that is teaching content as well as skills (which is so great with Sketchpad lessons), while modeling pedagogical strategies as well. I am very deliberate and transparent in what I do as a means of giving them ideas and helping them consider options that will work well when they work on integrating the technology in their own classrooms.
By the end of our short time together, I felt that there was a lot more camaraderie than previously and most importantly, more confidence and excitement. They are feeling more comfortable, have some new ideas, and also know that we have the next several weeks to practice and learn and continue to try things out. Personally, I am absolutely loving the blended learning professional development because it is keeping me on my toes but allowing me to really understand my participants, be flexible and change both the online and face-to-face components to address issues as they arise. I think leads to the participants feeling excited because there is so much less pressure on them to take what they are learning and be a pro at it right away - the blended learning is giving them bits at a time that they can then practice, try, get feedback on, and gain confidence. And be ready to learn a bit more online and next face-to-face.
All in all - a very positive couple of days and I am hopeful that our next few weeks online are going to show a growth in the community support and learning from each other. And that my more reluctant and fearful participants will now have more confidence to try things out.