Pay it Forward: This Year’s Tech PD Theme

Welcome back! We already had our first iPad PD session yesterday morning. Last year our theme was “The Building Blocks of Learning“. This year, we are going to take what we learned individually and pay it forward.

Here are the slides, for your perusal, though the session was very interactive so they are pretty minimal.

I divided the session into three parts.

Part I: What do you want to learn? How can you be a resource?

The first thing we did was get a visual of our skills and goals, in keeping with our theme, “Pay it Forward.”

The green post-its are what the teachers would like to learn using the iPad this year. The pink ones are skills they have which they could be a resource for:


I divided the tasks loosely into the following categories: Content Creation, Accessibility, Assessment, Collaboration and Other.

I was gratified to see that the green and pink post-its were pretty balanced!

Now my job will be to match a pink post-it with a green one – stay tuned as I have some ideas of how I can do that while also developing my own skill set…(I know so deliciously vague, aren’t I?)

Part II: Model Teacher-led session using Adobe Voice

In this part, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and lead the first “teacher-led” workshops.The feedback from last year’s presentations was pretty consistent: teachers wanted more time to play with the app/skill/feature being demonstrated. Keeping that in mind, I developed some parameters for our regular iPad PD sessions:

  • Presentation must be very brief (under 15 minutes), which would allow at least 40 minutes for play.
  • Stick to one concept and only concept.
  • The day before the presentation email the staff with:
    • the equipment/apps they will need.
    • if possible, a quick introductory/explainer video of what they will be talking about.

As I would really like to incorporate aspects of the Flipped Classroom in my PD, I decided to make the first explainer video on Adobe Voice. The day before, as per my own instructions, I sent the staff the following email:

Hi Everyone,

I am excited to announce a busy PD session tomorrow! I know, I know. I can hear your groans from here. But no! It will be fun! I promise!
2. PAY IT FORWARD: First lesson given by me! (because one should always put their money where their mouth is, my mother told me)
  • Your iPad
  • To download Adobe Voice on your iPad (it is free!)
  • You will need to create an Adobe ID if you don’t already have one. This is the ID you use to sign in to any of Adobe’s products. Give yourself a minute to figure this out.
  • Please make sure you have the Socrative student app as well. This is different from the Teacher version. Once again it is free!
BEFORE OUR SESSION YOU WILL NEED TO: (this will take you about five minutes. I swear).
  • Watch this brief tutorial on Adobe Voice(about 3.30 minutes)
  • Log in to my classroom on Socrative Student to answer two brief questions. Room #55667 (less than a minute unless you have a lot to say) – I am trying something new here, so it may or may not work – let me know if it doesn’t)
  • Watch my finished product(57 seconds)
Here is the video:

About 3/4 of the staff actually watched the video beforehand and filled in the Socrative quiz, which was a great way to see who watched the video.I also included my finished version of my Adobe Voice movie on Email Etiquette.

The feedback was interesting. I was not expecting the teachers to try the app as they went  through my video- it was meant only as a quick introduction to the app so that we could try it together in the iPad session. Also, one teacher told me that she had to pause and rewind several times as my screens did not match what she was seeing. As well, I didn’t use a script so it is a little choppy and, admittedly, it was kind of weird to use a whiteboard app (Explain Everything) to demonstrate a storytelling app. But I thought using Adobe voice to demonstrate Adobe Voice was just way too meta for me.

However, none of that really mattered. Those who felt like they had enough information to go try it on their own found a quiet place to work on their story. Those who felt like they needed a little more support stayed in class and we went through it step by step with me.

I had scheduled about 40 minutes for this activity – we went a little over, but not much. We even had time to share some of the teachers’ stories!

Part III: What Makes a Good Flipped Video

As Flipping the classroom is increasingly becoming a strategy many teachers are using, a critique of random flipped classroom videos by subject seemed in order. I found one flipped high school video per subject (6 in total) and loaded them on 6 of the iPads from our iPad lab to avoid wasting time finding and clicking on links…

This was the criteria with which the teachers were supposed to rate their videos:

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.37.44 PM

Although we had a little less time for this (I wanted a half hour, but we had twenty minutes left), the feedback from the teachers was very intriguing. They commented on how distracting it was to see the teacher in the videos, or weird verbal/physical tics, and recognized that they themselves have those kind of tics and how important it is to be aware of when you are recording yourself. In some videos the sound quality was not up to par. In others, they really liked how the teacher zoomed in to emphasize certain areas of their subject.

All in all, it was a full but productive morning and I can’t wait to see what the teachers teach us this year!