Saturday, February 18, 2017

My experience with FiresidePD

This school year I took 2 different technology classes, both for 3 credits.  One was on my couch (an online/correspondence course taken through a school in California).  The other was on my coworker's couch (a personalized PD course through Josh Gauthier and Jason Bretzmann both of Bretzmann Group).

To be honest, the online class was selected because it would be cheap credits.  Having taken courses like this before, it was exactly what I expected.  I learned a few tips.  I now get an email every day telling me that there are no events on the calendar I created and don't use.  When I open a new tab, Google Earth takes me to a new random place on Earth.  The Great Wall of China really is quite impressive.  I spent my time creating fake assignments to get to know features of the technology.  Plus, I learned more about this thing called e-mail.  I hear it is really going to take the world by storm.  😉  The class was clearly outdated. This is the problem with technology courses, they become outdated so quickly.  They must constantly be revised, as anyone who teaches a technology course knows all to well.  As a former technology teacher at both the middle school and graduate levels, I have first hand experience with this.  The only constant is change.  (Thus my undying respect for anyone who is in this line of work.)  

As an educator, I want to learn more about technology resources and how teachers are using them in their classes.  I am connected on Twitter and attend EdCamps.  I learn far more from these experiences but do not earn the graduate credits I need by doing so.  Enter FiresidePD.  Needless to say I was so excited when this opportunity became available.  We met at someone's house once a month on Saturday mornings.  I brought my coffee and there were pastries.  (Food is just as important to me as learning.)  There was no et agenda for each meeting.  We talked about upcoming units and shared ideas, resources, links that would be useful.  We came with questions about technology resources we had heard about but didn't know what they were.  We shared things we have done that went well.  It was like a 3 hour lesson planning session where we could bounce ideas off each other.  I loved every minute of it.  

Some of the things I accomplished while in the class:
  • I was able to successfully moderate the #msmathchat because I learned about how to schedule my tweets with TweetDeck and use Poster My Wall to create the questions. 
  • I was able to make Notice/Wonder activities cross-curricular by finding pictures to go with what the students are learning in science and social studies through Google Arts and Culture Institute.
  • Lead a professional development with the math teachers at my school, incorporating some Poll Everywhere to help facilitate discussions.  FYI: If you are presenting to math teachers the linear view is better than cluster (it's just the way our brains work).
Ideas I have played with but haven't fully accomplished yet:
  • I am certain there is a 3-Act task involving rates and ratios, area and perimeter using Google Earth Engine and Screencastify as we watch the growth of our small town.  
  • Create a quarterly house newsletter with Adobe Spark.  It's so simple and looks so impressive.  
  • In 8th grade math our focus question has been, "What is a solution?" The definition of solution is always the same but it looks different in different problems, inequalities compared to equations, single variable, 2 variable, 2 equations with 2 variables, no solution, infinitely many solutions etc.  I would love to have students create Piktocharts showing the different types of solutions.  Then using the new File Upload feature in Google Forms, students can download their infographic as a PNG and submit the form with the file uploader. All of their infographics will come to one folder, and if I embed the folder in a Google site with a thumbnail display option we can all see everyone's work.  
  • Spiral is another resource I need to explore more.  It seems to have the functionality of many of my resources all in one place, formatives (like GoFormative), polls (like Poll Everywhere), videos with embedded questions (like EdPuzzle), and collaboration features.  
This class was by far my favorite grad class and everyone felt that way.  No matter what level you were at, you took something away.  We had time to explore, collaborate, and create.  
My biggest question at this point is how do I create this type of experience for my students?


  1. Love your commentary and reflection Adrianne. Your enthusiasm and curiosity as an educator really added to your journey as well. Well done! What you noticed is exactly what fireside pd was designed for. Can't wait to roll out the summer version in a couple months. It's almost time for patio pd!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity. I can't wait for patio pd (This weather makes it seem closer than it probably is)!