In-House Professional Development Movement Encourages Tech in the Classroom

To mold future leaders, critical thinkers and doers, we must first propel our teachers and encourage an innovative learning environment. So when Technology Integration Specialist Ashley King and Director of Instructional Technology and Communication Arts Charlene Loope launched an in-house, professional development program last fall, we knew it was worth getting excited about.

Their goal is to aid teachers in their quest to learn about new classroom tools and eLearning opportunities in an easy-going environment conducive to their busy schedules. The program supports Collegiate’s strategic plan by giving teachers a deep dive into new, academic instruction. Last semester, teachers learned about new tech tools, some of which helped students become better note takers and collaborators while others help teachers become even more engaging instructors by introducing podcasts and virtual reality to the classroom.

At the lower school, teachers have the chance to explore new tools and apps designed with elementary students in mind. They’ve explored virtual reality viewers, apps for creating presentations and new iPad programs like Osmo, Tiggly and Square Panda.

Some of the opportunities offered this year include working with research and creation tools and the many uses of e-portfolios featuring Google Sites.

King and Loope recently focused on teaching:

  • Flipgrid - A website that allows teachers to create a “grid” of short, discussion-style questions students respond to through recorded videos.

  • Kahoot - A game-based platform where teachers are able to create interactive games using an app or web-based tool to create quizzes, jumbles, surveys and more.

  • Factile - A free learning platform that lets teachers create engaging, jeopardy-style quiz games for the classroom.

  • Socrative - A learning tool that lets teachers and students interact while letting teachers prepare activities or on-the-fly questions to get immediate insight into student understanding.

  • Padlet - A digital canvas to create beautiful projects easily shared to encourage collaboration.

“We’re really hoping these in-house [professional development] sessions encourage instructional tech adoption,” King said. “We’ve already worked with several faculty members who have, in turn, been able to bring these skills back to their classrooms.”

Social Studies Department Chair Paige Solomon explored Flipgrid to spur discussion about congressional reform in her classroom.

“The sessions are wonderfully curated,” said Upper School English teacher Amy Robb. “I'm very interested in the NewseumED session, NoodleTools session and Google Sites session (which I've started using to create digital portfolios with my seniors thanks to [Mrs. King’s] dedication to helping me through the process.) The fact that [Mrs. Loope and Mrs. King] always have sweet treats and are respectful of the fact that we are there during planning bells makes the incentive even greater. I love what they are doing this year!”