Whitney Hansen - @whitn3yhans3n
Hoon Hay School
Term 4 of 2014 our school decided 5 of our senior classrooms would go 1:1 device this year. Previous to this we were not even using GAFE, and the idea of sharing documents and cloud based storage for some of our staff was quite abstract.
This exciting leap into learning with digital technologies and the opportunity to start working via the Google Platform meant that our staff needed upskilling and fast. We were and are really lucky to be apart of the GCSN (Greater Christchurch Schools Network) and the TToM (Ko te Tihi o Matauranga Cluster), which is a Christchurch wide project made up of five communities of schools aimed at ensuring all students have access to suitable digital technologies and equipping our students with 21st Century Skills and digital competencies. Being a part of the GCSN and the TToM Cluster has meant that we have had some funding for professional development and leadership support in these areas from CORE, which has been amazing.
As with most new learning the more we learnt the more we realised we needed to learn and that then got me thinking how could we offer more regular opportunities for professional learning for our staff. I had heard about the idea of Technology Breakfasts from other schools and thought this would be a great way to provide these opportunities.
So we started meeting on Thursday mornings at 7.30am and spent an hour learning about digital technologies. At first it was our syndicate team of five teachers and we spent Term 1 looking at things like Hapara Teacher Dashboard, Paperless Planning and GAFE (specifically the Google Docs Suite and Blogger). The sessions were twofold, teachers learnt about a concept or developed literacy in this area and then they had to take that learning back into their classrooms. By the end of that term we started to run schoolwide Techie Brekkies, which all staff were invited to and our principal even agreed to providing the breakfast.
Term 2 we alternated between schoolwide and team brekkies and we looked at Google Apps, Extensions and Add Ons, the SAMR Model and we were really lucky to have some guest speakers including Allanah King from CORE Education and Barrie Matthews from LEARNZ.
Last term saw us looking at the concepts of Genius Hour, Passion Projects and Maker Space. We spent a couple of brekkies discussing how we could allow more opportunities for students to collaborate, innovate and create, and how we could be using digital technologies to support this. The digital literacy that we covered in these sessions involved Scratch, Makey Makey and Build with Chrome.
It was really amazing after one of these sessions to see one teacher in our team go from not know what coding was at 7.30am to having students creating things on scratch by 9.30am; the Techie Brekkie that day not only challenging and changing thinking, but changing practice. In another Techie Brekkie it was great to have our team leader decide that a Makey Makey wasn’t a novelty item we might purchase for our classrooms, but a must have.
So what did the staff think?
- Many things we have learned in techie brekkie time are now 'just what we do'.
- This has been extremely beneficial as I am part of a power of two team. Now all our planning is being done on one shared plan and we are using a collaborative calendar, which is working extremely well.
- Early morning meetings have freed us up to fit in everything else and still attend P.D.
- Having this extra weekly opportunity has certainly made this learning journey more manageable and most of all... fun.
- The topics covered have been at a pace for all to take advantage of and most appropriate for where we are and what we are trying to achieve.
- As a novice in the technology world, these sessions have been extremely valuable. Not only to practice new skills, but also to share thoughts and ideas with colleagues.
- Gaining a deeper appreciation for the different apps and websites available to support our classroom programme has also been invaluable.
This week we created class You Tube Accounts and looked at Flubaroo and Show Me and next week we are having Twitter enthusiast Jo Earl come and talk to us about being a connected educator.
Our sessions have really evolved in 12 Months, from basic sessions on how to use Google Drive to robust discussions around coding in the classroom. The real learning I have taken from these Thursdays is that the more teachers are exposed to, and can collaborate around the ‘why’, the more likely it is that this new learning will make its way into classrooms and that’s what makes Techie Brekkies powerful.
What’s happening in your school?