Like many private schools, our school has one teacher for each grade level. Collaboration between teachers of the same grades is difficult, if not impossible for most of us; thus, professional development becomes an important part of our collaboration, learning, and growth. When you mention professional development to people, most people’s eyes will glaze over, they’ll yawn, and then they’ll gripe about how boring it can be. My advice: Choose better professional development!
Today, I had the great pleasure of attending Cool Tools VIII by EBCUE (East Bay Computer Using Educators). My first session was about Thinkfinity, moderated by two fabulous tech superstars, Dr. Sara Armstrong and Shauna Hawes. They shared amazing lesson plans, games, and websites all through Thinkfinity’s site. It was a treasure-trove of great, easy lessons that incorporate 21st century skills, critical thinking, and standards across all areas of curriculum.
My second session was by Nicole Dalesio, an amazing and talented 5th grade teacher who shared almost 100 free creativity-invoking websites to use in the classroom. Her presentation alone was worth the $75 fee for the EBCUE Cool Tools mini-conference. In fact, I would have easily paid that much just for the amazing list of links she shared with us! If anyone is lucky enough to be able to attend a session that she is hosting at future conferences, don’t miss it!
After lunch, I attended a session hosted by the co-founders of LiveBinders. LiveBinders are an amazing way to put all of your information in one spot, whether it is for an assignment, a project, a lesson plan, future reference, the list goes on and on… I quickly and easily created LiveBinders and shelves for my students (thank you, Google Apps for Education – all my students have their own school-issued email addresses). I embedded my Poverty Project legislation-writing rubric and template into a binder, and I can’t wait for 8th grade to add their work to their binders to build a nice e-portfolio to show-off to their parents, friends, and future high school teachers.
At the end of the mini-conference, we all gathered into the auditorium, and the EBCUE board members handed out prizes, from t-shirts to gadgets, including an i-Pad. (I won a $15 iTunes gift card – woot!) It was truly an incredible day of learning, growing, and sharing. I am looking forward to attending EdCampCV in a couple weeks – my first EdCamp experience. Professional development doesn’t ever have to be boring. Join your local CUE affiliate or find a nearby EdCamp to attend. You might just find yourself having fun and learning something worthwhile!