Sunday, November 14, 2010

Introducing the PLN to Senior Administrators-A sample lesson plan

A couple of weeks ago, I posted "A Great Staff Meeting" (see below for an excerpt), where I felt I had a triumphant introduction to the use of Twitter and Social Media with our staff (we had about 70 teachers at the staff meeting that night--the rest were coaching).  The presentation created a huge buzz on our staff, and as a result, we have had a number of staff members that have taken the "Twitter Plunge". 

However, I realized that as much as I needed to do this with my own staff, I really needed to bring a similar presentation to our District Administrator's Meeting to help spread the word to my fellow school based adminstrators and our senior administration.  I wanted to demonstrate that:

- I am not an expert with using Twitter, but I am learning quickly, and they could too

- Twitter is one of many social media tools that are available out there, and to encourage them to play around with some of these to see which one worked for them

- through Twitter and some contacts that I had met on Twitter, I created a screencast using a tool (Screenr) that I had never heard of (and would not have heard of) prior to developing a PLN.

-        I am busy, have two children under the age of three, and still can find the time to connect with my PLN, and it makes my job easier and can make their job easier too

-        If they want their teachers and staffs to be more connected to social media, they needed to model it themselves, and here was their chance!

One of the things I had to be very careful of was not to be “TOO TECHIE”.  My audience would have an extreme variation in technological skills and interests, so I felt I had to keep it high interest and relatively low tech. So…..

Here is the “lesson plan” that I used for our administrator’s meeting.  While not the best I am sure, it is a template that people could use with their staff and senior administration.


1.     Personal story of what I thought Twitter was / story of Will Richardson polling the large audience at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Chicago, and my shock at how many people indicated (through their raised hands) that Twitter was “the best educational professional development they had ever gotten”.
2.     Demonstration of the power of developing a Personal Learning Network (using @gcouros screencast using Screenr (@gcouros: The Process of Online Collaboration (Video) ) 
3.     Demonstration of how I used Screenr to develop something for the British Columbia Principals and Vice Principals Association (I AM NOT AN EXPERT, so don’t laugh-- ) to show that I went from never using any sort of technology like this to using it to teach others.
4.     A video to show that there is a change in education coming, and we need to be aware and a part of it (Sir Ken Robinson’s Educational Reform on YouTube )
5.     An invitation to join Twitter!

This whole presentation took just over 20 minutes, and accomplished the intention of wowing people on what was available through social media and whetting their appetites on how they can be involved (judging by the very positive response and the number of people that joined Twitter)!

I hope that this format might give you ideas on how you can introduce social media and the importance of developing a PLN to your colleagues!

A Great Staff Meeting

Tonight, I just had a terrific staff meeting.  We have a relatively large staff, and with some of our coaches absent, we had about 65 people in attendance along with our administrative team.  At our staff meetings, we have done our best to eliminate "administrivia", and tonight, I even asked our staff to indulge me by eliminating any announcements from the meeting that can be done through email. The staff wholeheartedly agreed.  As a result, our staff meetings have become focussed on the right thing--student learning.

We began our staff meeting with "Good News" as we always do--one of our staff members, an outstanding teacher with an infectious and effervescent personality solicits staff members for good news from around our school and presents this at the start of faculty meetings.  Today, one of the main points was all of the food that our students brought in through donations as part of the "Halloween for Hunger" campaign--truly amazing and inspirational.

I then took them through my own personal journey in expanding my personal learning network.  Recently, I took three people from our school to the 21st Century Learning Conference in Chicago.  I had the other members of the team talk about what they felt were the most important things to them from the conference--this was powerful coming from teachers to teachers.  I then talked about how at the conference, Will Richardson asked the group of 600 or so teachers and administrators who was on Twitter.  I was shocked when about 400 people had their hands up.  He then asked "How many of you think Twitter is the best source of Professional Development that you have?".  When every person kept their hands up, I told our staff that I had to try this technology.

I then showed them briefly (and I do mean in 30 seconds or so) how I got on to Twitter and how I use Tweetdeck (thanks to Chris Kennedy in West Van!).  However, I wanted the staff to see something that was truly revolutionary for me:  how tools such as Twitter and Google Docs illustrated the peripheral and collaborative learning that can and does take place all around us.  I showed the tweet that George Courous put out on Hallowe'en Night (@gcouros: The Process of Online Collaboration (Video) #cpchat #erlcsm), and I think you could have heard a pin drop in our meeting.  It is truly amazing when you see people have an "a ha" moment about technology.  I told them that I have never been more energized about learning, and suggested to them that regardless of the means that you do it, it is vital to create a widespread PLN.  There were some staff members that rightfully said that they were concerned about students "losing the ability to talk".  This may be a concern, but I truly believe that we are communicating in different ways--I spoke to someone in Sweden this week that I never would have if I hadn't tried Twitter.  It was an incredibly lively discussion with facets from authenticity of websites to teachers having their students use Blackberries in class to access information.  We had a suggestion about having some inservicing about social media tools, which we will investigate for the next professional day.

We then used Google Docs to do a staff survey on the effectiveness of our Study Block for kids.  Login, do the survey, and presto, we have instant data that we can now use in conjunction with student data to make a good decision about what Study Block will look like in the future.

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