Thursday, April 07, 2011

A PD Model That Works

Early last fall, one of our technology integration specialists sent out an email inviting teachers to collaborate on a grant for interactive white boards.  All fourth and fifth grade teachers and one third grade teacher at my school joined the effort.  Together the technology integration specialist and teachers wrote the grant.  The integration specialist did a lot of leg work when it came to the numbers as she had to determine the best equipment and prices.  We also decided to combine the grant with a system-wide course offering thus providing interested teachers the chance to learn about the boards while earning salary credits.  We were awarded the grant in mid-fall.

At first we all thought we'd share in the course instruction, but it turned out that the technology integration specialist stepped into that role -- teachers didn't have the time and/or expertise to run the course.  For weeks now, teachers have been meeting regularly to learn about the boards, share their work, and trouble shoot during the course meetings.  In the classroom, the boards are becoming a regular part of our instruction with students.  Integrating the interactive white boards with collaborative professional development and meaningful projects has made this a professional development model that works.

Sadly interactive white boards are not the tool that makes a significant difference in schools. After the grant was written and fulfilled, I read research that pointed out the fact that these boards for the most part promote old fashion factor model schools. What would be better would be giant iPad-like white boards that are interactive and use sites/software that students can easily access in school and at home on their own devices. Better than an interactive white board, is to get a big white board, document camera, overhead projector and lots and lots of individual tech devices that can be hooked up to the camera and shared throughout the classroom for as much active engagement as possible.