Host a PD Buffet for Your Teachers: Tips from a Technology Integrationist
Rock Valley Community School District, Iowa
Rachel Langenhorst, Technology Integrationist at Rock Valley Community School District in Iowa, was interviewed by edWeb about the importance of keeping up with your own learning in order to provide valuable professional development for others. Rachel first came across edWeb as part of her graduate program, and found that it has helped her with her own personal learning as well as guiding the educators in her district through their professional development.
Rachel uses edWeb to provide personalized professional learning for teachers at all levels and in a wide range of subject areas – using technology, game-based learning, school gardening, autism, math, ELA, and much more. edWeb allows teachers to engage in meaningful learning that extends beyond the school walls. Rachel has found that the site provides a vast array of resources and the ability for teachers to connect and collaborate with other teachers around the country and the world.
The teachers in Rachel’s district love to attend live webinars, because they can make all kinds of connections with other educators. However, they love having the option to watch the recordings, since it feel’s just like you’re there, and teachers just don’t always have the time to watch live. Also, the fact that educators can get a CE certificate for viewing a live webinar or watching a webinar recording helps to add accountability to the professional development process.
Rachel’s school district recently developed an innovative professional development program, called Rocket University. This program allows teachers to select their learning and showcase what they’ve done. Rocket University provides a “PD Buffet” where teachers take charge of their professional development by watching a webinar, going on Twitter, and reporting back on their learning to enhance their craft. Rachel incorporates edWeb into this PD Buffet and guides teachers on using edWeb by providing training on how to use the site. Although edWeb is simple, she feels that it is really important to demonstrate exactly how to participate for those who are less tech-savvy or have never participated in a webinar before.
Rachel works in a Google Apps school, so the administration and instructors are very adept at using Google Docs to organize professional development. One of the ways Rachel utilizes the Google Docs is by holding “Web Smackdowns,” where educators each share information about a tech tool they’ve used. The Google Doc provides a centralized location to collect those resources and refer back to them. It’s a great way to share good ideas!
Take a look at one of Rock Valley’s Tech Smackdowns (click on the thumbnail image for a larger view):
The Rock Valley educators have provided phenomenal feedback about edWeb. Even the really new learners, the self-proclaimed “tech newbies,” were shocked how easy it is to use and that it’s free. The educators love that they can meet other people in their field from all over the world and interact with those people in real time, from the comfort of their easy chairs. Rachel stressed that when you’re working on professional development, any time you can make the learning personalized and help teachers get invested in their own learning, it’s huge. The Rock Valley teachers all really like edWeb and have been excited to get started. Lots of teachers even commented that they watch extra webinars, beyond the requirement. For Rachel, it’s great when the teachers are enthusiastic about their learning and can share back!
“I’m so excited about the opportunities that edWeb offers. It is so great to be able to get professional development outside the school walls. When you have teachers and people in my position who are planning PD, and can do it in a way that is meaningful to each and every teacher, in any content area – it’s really exciting, because it’s easy to get onto, easy to work, and everyone can take away something and share with someone else. To me that’s absolutely an immeasurable quality.” – Rachel Langenhorst
Rachel Langenhorst was also interviewed for the edWeb Monthly Show on Education Talk Radio, hosted by Larry Jacobs with Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO of edWeb.net.
Listen to the interview below.
Rachel Langenhorst is a technology integrationist and instructional coach in Rock Valley, Iowa. A 20-year veteran in education, she prides herself on being a change-agent and life-long learner. Her biggest fulfillment comes in educating and empowering others through collaboration, creation, and connection. She speaks and instructs throughout the Midwest, focusing her efforts on technology integration strategies, social media, Internet safety, and effective teaching practices. Rachel serves as an expert and blog contributor for Mackin Educational Resources and has enjoyed participating in productions for edWeb.net and Education Talk Radio. In February of this year, Rachel was the recipient of the first ever Socrative Garden Teacher of the Month. She can be found on Twitter (@rlangenhorst), LinkedIn, and Voxer (rlangenhorst). Her blog, Three Minutes to Pee, is a concoction of musings from her ed tech world.