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This school year, I have a new role at school, I am the Blended Learning Specialist (tech coach) for 1 period. While this been the busiest school year for me, it has also been the most fulfilling. I know that the work I do with technology is impacting every student and teacher in the entire school. Some of the things I’ve done include creating a website, running a Twitter account, attending trainings, holding monthly parent technology trainings, and hosting weekly Tech Tuesdays at lunch.
|Tech Tuesdays image – created by Justin Birckbichler|
I’m thankful to work with some amazing teachers who are willing to share their knowledge and lesson ideas.
I structure Tech Tuesdays to be participant-driven, and flexible based on what teachers want to learn. I have an idea of what we can talk about just in case there are no specific requests. We always start Tech Tuesday by asking if anyone has a tech tool or lesson they want to know more about or would like to share.
Each Tuesday, we meet in my room at lunch. Out of a teaching staff of about 40, we have had 3 to 12 teachers each week, which is an amazing turnout. There is no requirement for teachers to attend, no compensation, and no expectations for what to bring or implement. Teachers bring their lunch and we eat and talk for the 30 minute lunch period. This school year, we have also been joined by our IT professional, a student teacher, and a substitute who is finishing his credential. Our administrators have popped in as well, but they are quite busy at lunch with supervision.
As the Blended Learning Specialist at my school, this is by far my favorite part of my job. I love facilitating learning for my colleagues, but also not feeling the pressure to always be the expert.
If you start Tech Tuesday at your school, I’d love to hear about it!
This school year, I embarked on a new part of my career: I am the Blended Learning Specialist at my school. This is just a fancy way of saying I am a tech coach. Part of my responsibility is to provide enriching and targeted professional development to my school’s staff.
I needed to find a way to engage my teachers without being too much of a burden on their time and energy, and also to make sure I am providing professional development that fits the needs of my staff. Last spring, I started researching digital badges and the ideas of gamification, but couldn’t figure out how to implement this into my classroom. I tried out multiple platforms and styles of gamification and digital badges before landing on BadgeList. I first tried out BadgeList at annual CUE conference, and started by earning a few of the conference participation badges. BadgeList is by far the most simple and straightforward platform I found, and they are constantly making improvements.
The premise is simple: design badges with specific criteria (evidence) for earning, invite learners, then encourage users to earn badges. Your learners can submit a variety of types of evidence, including text, image, link, tweet, and code. This allows for flexibility in the methods of submitting evidence, but limits to keep it relatively simple.
|Screenshot of the Getting Techy BadgeList learning group|
When I am starting a learning group, I always go through the following planning steps.
1. I decide on my purpose and audience. What do I want my learners to learn, and who will join my group?
2. I create a document to keep track of my badges and learning criteria. I include a badge number, the name, the finished image, and the badge description. Here is the template you can use to plan out your learning group.
3. Finally, I design my badges using Google Draw. Here is a template you can start with! BadgeList also gives you the option to customized badges from templates too.
Many of the teachers at my school have hopped on board with BadgeList, and are excited to try new badges. This motivates our learners to try out new tech tools in bite-sized chunks, one tool at a time. What is great about BadgeList is that we can see who is an expert in a certain tool, and then go to that person for questions or extra help, rather than waiting on an organized training.
I created a BadgeList group for teachers at my school, and due to popular demand on Twitter, I created a duplicate group called Getting Techy that anyone is welcome to join. Feel free to join this, use my ideas, and give BadgeList a try!