As a technology coach, I’m always looking for a way to share the latest tech tools and fun integration ideas with my staff while at the same time, providing the required “how to” sessions on taking attendance, printing bubble sheets, entering electronic referrals…the tasks that are a necessary part of our day to day life. Time was (and is) never on my side when it comes to offering fun, engaging ways to get our students excited about learning. After lots of research on blogs, Twitter, and other online resources, I stumbled upon The APPmazing Race and had a quintessential Aha! moment. The collection of activities provided teachers and other participants to discover a wide range of technology tools that appeal to all sorts of learning styles in a very short amount of time. I immediately reached out via Twitter to Mr. Carl Hooker (@mrhooker), founder of iPadpalooza and the brains behind The Amazing App Race to ask if it would be ok to attempt such a task with my teachers. He granted me his blessings and off I went.
With the week of preplanning quickly approaching, I decided to stretch the virtual race out over the school year and came up with a monthly Tech Challenge. Each month, I select either a district software program, a fun new tech tool, or online resource and issue a challenge to our teachers to complete it. At the end of the month, the names of those completing the challenge are displayed on our Faculty Site and those teachers become eligible to be nominated as our school’s Outstanding Technology Teacher of the Year. These teachers are honored with a banquet and showered with prizes by our school district and corporate sponsors. Examples of challenges include:
- Adding a profile picture to their Office 365 account
- Completing the orientation for our district’s online PD platform
- Earning badges through pariticipation in online webinars sponsored by programs like SimpleK12
- Creating a Twitter account and collaborating with other educators worldwide.
Each challenge has a verification process attached to it so that I can tell who has completed them. These are totally voluntary, but the teachers have really begun to buy into the idea. I’m really excited about the excitement that this will generate, and hope it helps teachers see tech integration as a way to engage students instead of “one more thing” they have to do. Below is an example of a recent challenge.
Have you found ways to spice up your PD sessions? I’d love to hear about them.