Friday, September 18, 2015

Multiplying Learning

Yesterday we had a very special opportunity to do some cool things at Elk Grove High School. Normally on Thursday mornings, educators have time between 7:40-9:00am to meet with PLTs. Yesterday, as Linda described in her previous blog post, we had a "Late, Late Start" which allowed us to have an extra hour of time to learn together!

With this extra time, we decided to get everyone together from some staff-led professional development. The morning started off with a wide variety of Spark Sessions - from mastery learning and peer tutoring, to modeling and scaffolding for learners of all types in a variety of settings. We learned about how these ideas impacted learning and, in some cases, the technology used to make the impact even greater. Each Spark Session was 3-5 minutes - and one session was even live on Periscope!

From there, staff members had the opportunity to learn more about the different Spark Sessions by meeting the presenter and colleagues in different rooms for an informal Learning Lab. It was great to see all the ideas being passed around. The presenters did a great job sparking interest (which then inspired everyone to join a room of their choosing) and then the entire staff was able to talk about different ways to implement the ideas and further ways to improve them.

Colleagues gathering to talk about Visible Learning.
One session I went to was with Adam Clayton, who talked about how important it is to increase language skills in math classes. He wanted to make learning visible by having students talk about their reasoning while solving math problems. To do this, he used Schoology to push out example problems that students opened in Notability. Once in Notability, students then recorded themselves talking about the problems while they solved them (see image below). These recording and notes can then be turned back into Schoology by sharing it as a note (a strategy I thought of last year - to find out more click here).

The most amazing thing about the session was that one teacher posed a question:
If I wanted to respond and write back to the student, could I then send the note to them with my voice and notes added?
Nobody really knew.. I suggested possibly sending it back in an email, but a second later Kim told us that you can drop back assignments to students in Schoology, so why not a note? Next thing you know everyone is playing around in Notability and sure enough - it worked! We practiced adding on additional audio recordings in Notability while drawing - that worked as well! It was amazing to see everyone working together to come up with a great new idea and multiplying learning. I learned something great that I would never have known if we hadn't had all those resources in one room together. So thank you to all my amazing colleagues for the great learning opportunity!

We would love to hear about your experiences with Spark Sessions, the Learning Labs, or any cool professional development opportunities you have been a part of and why they were so enjoyable =)

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