I was originally inspired by a balanced literacy PD session I attended over the summer where we participated in 'Speed Book-ing'. Speed Book-ing consisted of us sharing information about a book we were currently reading with a partner, then switching partners after a minute or two. I thought it was a great way to generate a "buzz" about reading in your classroom and help build community in the beginning of the year. It was also fun to participate in as an adult. The wheels started turning. How could I use this idea for PD with our teachers!?
Our school's Magnet Coordinator, Emily Foley, and I joined forces to put a techy twist on the concept of Speed Dating and a PD twist on the concept of 'Speed Book-ing' at our school!
Our teachers came prepared to share a favorite app or web tool, then rapidly shifted pairs to connect with different teachers on our staff. It was fun to share our techy tools and learn with each other!
So, how exactly did this whole Speed "Tech"-ing thing work? Believe it or not, it actually required very little prep work. Professional development doesn't have to be time consuming to plan, nor does it have to be a boring "sit and get" session where one person does all the talking and participants are wishing they were anywhere else.
Here is the approach we took to organizing and facilitating Speed "Tech"-ing for our teachers:
--Create a SignUpGenius for people to sign up to share a favorite app, website or tech tool. SignUpGenius is a great organizational tool and we wanted to be sure that teachers could see what others were signing up to share.
--Conduct some research about speed dating. Neither of us had ever participated in a real speed dating event so our knowledge was limited to what we had seen on TV. We understood the concept, but weren't quite sure how the logistics would work. Would we need nametags? How would we determine who moved, etc..? A few quick Google searches gave us some ideas for organizing the event.
- a sheet of labels used as nametags
- index cards with numbers for tables
- reminders for Speed Teching projected on SMART board
--We numbered each round table in our Media Center. Each table could fit four teachers. Then, we created label nametags that corresponded with each number. For example, 1A, 1A, 1B,1B; 2A, 2A, 2B, 2B, etc...
When teachers arrived in the morning of Speed "Tech"-ing, we gave each of them a label to wear and directed them where to sit. They came prepared with their own technology (tablet, laptop, eReader, etc..).
We provided them with a brief introduction of the event and shared directions for how Speed "Tech"-ing would work.
To start, an A would pair up with a B at their table. A timer was set for 4 minutes and pairs would share their tools with one another. Once the timer went off, A's would remain seated, while B's moved to the next table. The process repeated until our time was up.
After the event, a Google Doc was created where each teacher could record the techy tool they shared and write a brief description of it. This would allow teachers to follow up with one another if they had specific questions or needed support when implementing this new tool with their students. It also provided them with a list of resources they could explore on their own since it wasn't possible for them to physically interact with every teacher in the room during the time allotted.
This was a great experience for our staff! You could feel the energy in the room as teachers mixed, mingled, shared, and connected with one another. Several teachers wrote emails thanking us for organizing the session and expressing how much they enjoyed it! I loved participating, but also took a few seconds to observe others interacting with one another. I loved seeing teachers who typically didn't connect with one another do just that. After all, those 4Cs (critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication) we always talk about aren't just for kids. They're for adults, too. These are necessary life skills and it was inspiring to see our teachers truly embody them. I wish we would have recorded the session, so our students could see this in action!
This approach to PD can be used with almost any topic. For example, teachers can share an article they recently read, their writing conference logs, or a successful lesson plan. The possibilities are endless! Next time we do this, we will definitely provide more time for each pair to talk with each other. Four minutes literally flew by!
How could you use this concept at your school? Would you try something like this with your students?