How often have you caught sight of a new tool on Twitter or heard a friend gushing about their favorite application for increasing engagement in the classroom? We are often inundated with video, articles and conversations expounding on the latest and greatest tools to use with our students, but we are often drowning in information as we try to guzzle from the waterfall.
I was once advised to “sip” from the fountain of ideas that are presented, and therein lies the challenge. It is hard to sort through the number of ideas out there to distinguish which of those is most worth your time and energy. One thing I find helpful is to look for those ideas that IGNITE my curiosity and spend time PLAYING to learn.
When it comes to professional development, using IGNITE, PLAY, SHARE as a model for PD is a great way to lead a session for a new tool or strategy. Igniting learner interest with a video or a quick demo is an excellent way to engage and inspire the audience to try something new.
Providing people with time to PLAY with a new skill, strategy, or technology tool or application is a form of active learning, which is emerging as a best practice for professional development. In the Teach Thought article “5 Strategies for Better Teacher Professional Development“, the article advocates strategies that provide teachers with opportunities for active learning. By giving teachers active time in a session to play with a new tool, we increase the likelihood that they will understand how to use the tool and eventually use it in practice. Likewise in Blended Learning in Action: A Practical Guide Toward Sustainable Change by Caitlin R, Tucker, Tiffany Wycoff and Jason T. Green, they point to research conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Education which advocates for “simulation of practice” where teachers have a chance to practice application of learning. Tucker, Wycoff and Green also advocate for a CHOMP framework of PD that encourages “Collaboration, Hands-on learning, Ongoing experiences, Mindset shifts, and Personalization.” Hands-on play with an intention to learn a new skill, especially when the experience is shared with other, like-minded people can be an invigorating and rewarding experience.
Once you have learned something new through active learning and playing the last step is to share. If working with a group, leave time to let participants SHARE what they have discovered so that others might benefit. Encourage teachers to try the skill, strategy or technology tool with students, and share back feedback. You can also benefit from sharing your learning and observation in a more global way using social media and the #KyGoPlay hashtag.Sharing could be something as simple as a gallery walk or a tweet with a hashtag, to something more involved in the form of a How-To Video or blog postAs George Couros points out in the Innovator’s Mindset “When we view ‘sharing’ as something that both supports and pushes us to be better, the big winner will always be our students”. Through sharing you not only help to solidify your learning by becoming the teacher, but you also help to open up discussion so that others might share their own learning back.
As you try to navigate the steady stream of skills, strategies and technology ideas that surround us, remember to look for those things that really IGNITE your curiosity and passion for learning, make time to PLAY to learn and don’t forget to SHARE using #KyGolay