Saturday, January 11, 2014

Passionate Practical Pedagogy- A3WP Super Saturday Reflection

I am a PD junkie. I’ll admit it. I love learning new things and connecting with others. In my 17 years as an educator, I’ve been on both sides of the table- participant and presenter. I love both. But whether I’m a participant in a session or the one leading the learning, I’m always looking for one thing…


This morning I led a session on blogging in the classroom at the Area 3 Writing Project’s Super Saturday in Sacramento. If you’re not familiar with A3WP, Super Saturdays are free-yes free! PD. There are five Saturdays each year, from September through March. Each Saturday features a variety of grade level specific sessions (K-2, 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12) focused on writing as well as one K-12 session with a tech focus. Today, the tech session was me, and I spent the morning learning with 30-ish passionate and dedicated teachers.

Getting started
Last night, I was reviewing my notes for today’s session and my husband asked how I could possibly talk about blogging for 2 ½ hours. I love when he asks me questions, and it did get me thinking about what I had planned. When planning presentations, I always struggle with what to include--there is never enough time for everything.

With any new learning, particularly tech, it’s not as simple as learning how to use the new tool. Sure, I could have had the teachers fire up Blogger right at the start of the session and showed them the nuts and bolts of creating a blog. Create a title- check. Insert an image-check. Add a YouTube video-check.

But that’s the easy part.

The pedagogy is the hard part-- the art and science of teaching and learning in the classroom, especially when you’re talking about technology. With any new learning, it’s important to begin with pedagogy. How will I use it? Why should I use it? How will it engage my students? How will it help my students remember this lesson, this experience, forever? With blogging, there are even more questions to consider. What do I write? Who is my audience? Who will be doing the writing? How do I get my posts out there so someone actually reads them?

I’ve learned so much from the experience of others who have blogged in the classroom with students of all ages. There are so many great strategies and ideas out there to use so we don’t have to start from scratch. I love Karen McMillan's post about blogging on paper or Pernille Ripp’s online safety post that utilizes the analogy of the internet being like the mall. And of course, so much inspiration from Linda Yollis! So much of what I know I learned from Linda and her students! As part of our session, teachers also explored a variety of blogs before starting to create.

A slide from my presentation- some of my favorite blogs!

I also try to share any content standards that are addressed in each session. If this CCSS  anchor standard doesn’t scream blogging, I don’t know what does!

I also love the A3WP Super Saturday format of a 2 ½ hour session, which allows plenty of time to share pedagogy and practical applications and includes hands-on time to apply the learning. CUE Rockstar also has extended sessions with hands-on time. My goal for today's session was for each participant to leave with a created blog. Maybe not the final finished product, but that they would leave my session with enough know-how to get started blogging.

Practical application. Pedagogy. Two things I expect from PD. But knowledge isn't my only goal. In every session I lead, I want my participants to be inspired.

That’s it.

And every time I’m sitting in a session, that’s all I’m looking for. I want to be inspired. I want to leave with questions that I can’t wait to find the answer to.

There’s one more thing I expect: passion. I want presenters to bring it every time. I try to bring it every time as a leader. Like Dave Burgess , who inspires us all to #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate) I want to #plap-- present like a pirate! I couldn’t wait for this morning and was up early in anticipation of a morning of learning with brilliant and dedicated teachers!

After the session ends, I always review the evaluations right away, and I try to learn from the feedback so that I can apply it to my next session. One participant shared today that she would have liked step-by-step tutorials for Blogger to have been included. I love what Eric Saibel has to say about learning by discovery:

I think it applies to adults learners, too. Having said that, next time, I’ll be sure to include a page with links to tutorials for teachers that need a little more explicit directions and support. I’ll also be sure to share that the answer to most questions is only a Google search away. There’s no such thing as bad feedback, and I appreciate people taking the time to share their thoughts. It helps me learn and improve.

At the end of the day, I’m always hoping that I delivered what people expect from professional development:
Passion, solid pedagogy, and practical ideas to use right away.

Thank you for inspiring me.

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