Why the Professional Development Playground Blog?

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ImageWelcome to the first post of the professional development (PD) playground blog The PD Playground!  I know this may sound really far out, but stick with me.  Since this is the first post, I want to start with why I am blogging about PD.  First of all, professional development needs a facelift!  Let me introduce myself- my name is Rachelle Wooten (@rwootenits) and I am a facilitator of educational technology professional development.  In my experience, I have seen many teachers who are overwhelmed with technology training and seldom apply what they learn in their classrooms and return to what is familiar and comfortable for them.  The failure to integrate these technology tools falls into a variety of categories: time, talent (ability), tools, and training.  How many times have you been excited about what you have learned and the technology seemed like a great way to engage students or impact your learning environment, but the day-to-day cares of students, grades and deadlines crowd out those exciting things you’d like to try?    Finally, you may have heard the phrase, “Tell me and I forget, Show me and I understand, Involve me and I’ll remember.” Effective professional development must involve learners- even adult learners!  It is no wonder that when we receive training one time with no time to explore and play with support or guidance it makes no impact on our teaching and seldom makes a dent in student learning.

So how can we make the learning stick?  How can we go deeper in some of our technology training and have time to play without pressure but with professional feedback from our peers? That is why I am creating this blog The PD Playground! I’m a digital learning specialist at a school district in the Houston area and my mission is to help teachers reach and teach each of their students.  I am a fan of any educational technology tool, gadget, application that will accomplish this.

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The PD Playground will be formatted as such:

1)      The blog will focus on one technology tool a month.  This is so you are able to go in-depth and learn the features of the tools and how they will help you in your classroom.  In other words, how can this tool help you reach and teach each of your students?  This will also help develop your pedagogical knowledge as well as your technological knowledge.  (Learn more about TPACK here) We will also have tasks or projects to complete to show off and share in our community!

2)      That’s right! The blog will also include a professional learning community in Edmodo where you can upload your “playground” creations or projects for peer review and input.  Don’t worry, there will be a rubric for you and there will be no grades given! Yahoo!!!  Plus, you will get to choose how you “show what you know” about the featured tool of the month.

3)      The blog is here for you to learn and explore purposefully but playfully!  You are free to explore, free to create and free to fail!  Just keep on learning!  That is why our blog community and Edmodo group are here.  We are here to share best practices, successes, and challenges.  If you join us for the month great, if you are unable to that’s okay I’d love to have you when you are available.  No pressure here, this is “say and play’ PD! It’s like a twitter chat with time to actually play, create, and explore!  I get excited just thinking about it!

I hope that you will make 2014 the year you transform your learning environment into one that truly represents a student-centered 21st century classroom!  I look forward to learning with you all and hope that you will embark on this journey with me!

Action Steps:

  1.  Join the Edmodo group here: https://edmo.do/j/7cxhvn I will approve your request as soon as I can!
  2. Respond to the poll question: Which technology tool would you like to learn more about? (Assessment tools, Creative tools,  Instructional tools, Collaborative tools, Presentation tools)
  3. Reply in the blog to the following prompt: The best PD I’ve ever experienced was… why?
  4. Subscribe to the blog so you can receive notice of the first “playdate” January 15!