We had all learned a lot from the previous meeting, and the room was set out in groups of tables (rather than a large horseshoe) for maximum discussion and sharing. Surprising what a difference it makes. All participants had been asked to bring their own laptop, and only one person, Ken, had problems getting on to the wireless network...which worked! (Huge sigh of relief from everyone - except Ken).
The first day started with a welcome and introduction to the two days, and a 'hello' to Chitose Izuno and Clarence Yates who had not attended the first face-to-face meeting in December 2009. I then handed over to the teachers while they each gave a brief overview of what they had been doing with students and the results they were getting. This seemed to work well, with a lot of discussion happening throughout each overview, as well as questions and suggestions. One teacher commented that he thought the "the informal discussions with a 'light touch' direction was beneficial as it allowed people to talk and discuss which is where we all have something to say".
The next part of the day was the hands-on active sessions.Everyone had been briefed prior to the meeting as follows:
The idea was to encourage the sharing of effective practice by doing rather than telling or showing. It was hoped it would also motivate people to reflect on their projects, and to evaluate what they are doing with students with more depth, as well as good opportunities for feedback and suggestions from the group.
After Joel, Jarad, and Sonia's very different, engaging sessions, the last task of the day was for the participants to work in groups of three or four. I'd already selected a convenor for each group, and created wiki spaces in the VPD Moodle where there was a scenario based task for each group to complete around the evaluation of the ICTELT VPD initiative to date and ideas for a national roll out. The scenario was:
- How will you complete the roll out?
- What would you need to put in place first?
- Who would be involved?
- What would the national model 'look' like?
- What practical guidelines would you provide to 1) teachers who want to participate in VPD; 2) schools who would like their teachers to
participate in VPD; 3) the national PD coordinator; 4) PD facilitators; 5) anyone else you think needs to be guided.
Given that it was the end of the day it was great to see everyone working so well together, and the depth of discussion and the ideas that came out of the exercise were really valuable. One teacher commented that in his group when they realised it was 5pm there were amazed. They had been so absorbed in the task that the time had flown by, and they reckoned that the sign of a good activity is one where you have to prise the participants from their chairs to get them to stop! He also felt it was positive to be asked for input into shaping the bigger picture ' stuff'. I was really pleased as I was not sure how well the activity would work, especially iin the 'graveyard' spot.
One of the awesome things was that the conversations continued in the bar and over dinner in the evening. Several teachers mentioned verbally that they had explored many different approaches, swapped experiences, and developed ideas and strategies throughout the two days, but in particular over coffee and mealtimes, and someone commented about "the inspiration and experiences shared by all".
Day two began with everyone completing a reflective blog post in the Ning about their experiences during Day one. The rich quality of most of the blog posts was indicative of the level of enjoyment and satisfaction with the first day, which I found particularly reassuring.
The hands on sessions for the day went well, with a lot more questions and discussions around student learning, the purpose and form(s) of assessment, classroom practice, literacies, engagement and a plethora of other education-related subjects. The sessions, I believe empowered the teachers and encouraged everyone to have a voice, even the most shy - I just facilitated and kept time. It was also a reaffirmation that modelling the type of role that teachers might take, and they as learners themselves enjoyed, might inform their own practice.
The final two activities for the two-day meeting were a discussion around the question of the future of the VPD initiative and what it might look like, facilitated by Eddie. A discussion forum was set up to answer the questions, which included:
- Will the VPD initiative be continued?
- If it is going to be continued, what will it 'look' like?
- Would you be willing to be a mentor for a new cohort of VPD teachers?
- Will you create communities beyond this?
- Will it 'die' if there is no funding?
- What would a model of VPD that coordinated all teachers who are doing similar innovative things look like?
- How will the focus on the students and the pedagogy be maintained? (rather than focus on tools, for example?)
After the final wrap up, and the presentation of the chocolate fish to Nigel Bailey who was voted as having the most engaging hands on session for the two days, we said our thank yous and fare thee wells. One teacher commented that:
- Make 3 groups of 3 people, and get 1 group to look at primary, 1 group to look at secondary and the final group to look at tertiary.
- Collect material and put it in your wiki. (15 minutes) See the reference in the below.
- Look at the other groups' wikis. (5 minutes)
- Discussion of the Japanese and New Zealand education systems each sector in Forum in the Moodle. (10 minutes)
- Evaluation of the session in Forum in the Moodle. (10 minutes)
ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching Virtual Professional Development Community
Thursday 10th and Friday 11th June 2010
Location: Brentwood Hotel (www.brentwoodhotel.co.nz), 16 Kemp St, Kilbirnie 6022, New Zealand - (04) 920 0400
Wireless Internet access from 9am to 5pm
08:00 – 09:00 Coffee and chat - Brentwood Hotel, Wellington
09:00 – 10:30 Welcome and quick overview of the 2 days. Participant snapshots - everyone makes a micro-presentation of no more than seven minutes each on what they have been working on and their learners' reactions (timing strict!! :-) The following order please: Joel, Merryn, Jarad, Robin, Sonia, Chitose, Nigel, Kenneth, Amaia, Clarence, Hazel.
10:30 – 11:15 Joel's 45 min session: What are our students using?
11:15 – 12:00 Merryn's 45 min session: Copyright and performance arts works
12:00 – 13:00 LUNCH
13:00 – 13:45 Jarad's 45 min session: Engaging comprehension
13:45 – 14:30 Sonia's 45 min session: Exploring the building blocks of life
14:30 – 15:30 Evaluation of the ICTELT VPD initiative to date - focus group
15:30 – 16:00 AFTERNOON TEA
16:00 – 17:00 Evaluation of the ICTELT VPD initiative to date (cont.): Ideas for a national roll out - Wiki in Moodle
17:00 – 17:15 Close of the day
19:00 – 21:30 DINNER for the group (Brentwood Hotel restaurant)
Friday 11th June
09:00 – 09:45 Start of day two - welcome/evaluation of previous day - Ning Discussion Forum
09:45 – 10:30 Clarrie's 45 min session: Active promotion
10:30 – 11:15 Amaia's 45 min session: Scintillating Spanish
11:15 – 12:00 Ken Jones's 45 min session: The New Zealand National Anthem
12:00 – 13:00 LUNCH
13:00 – 13:45 Chitose's 45 min session: The Japanese School System
13:45 – 14:30 Nigel's 45 min session: Prezi in action
14:30 – 15:00 Where to next with the ICTELT VPD: What do you want out of the next 6 months?
15:00 – 15:30 AFTERNOON TEA & vote on most engaging 45 min session - Brentwood Hotel
15:30 – 16:00 Wrap up and close of the day
Merryn Dunmill (unable to attend due to ill health)