Thoughts on Technology and Literacy Professional Development

Last week, a number of RCWP teachers met to plan professional development for the 2007-08 school year. The meetings went well, as we discussed a number of issues about how and why we should be doing technology/writing PD and we all agreed that we needed to make the sessions compelling to teachers in terms of meeting real needs and stay focused on literacy practices, too.

To that end, the group came up with five topics that we will present over the course of the year, one each month from October through March. Here is a list of topics and the technologies that we will explore in each.

  • Why Technology? Exploring New Literacies (RSS and Overview of Read/Write Web)
  • Reading, Writing, and Researching Online (Searching, Evaluating, and Documenting with Social Bookmarking, Google Notebook, and Zotero)
  • Creating a Community of Writers Using Technology (Blogs, Wikis, Google Docs, EZines)
  • Free, Easy, and Legal Resources for Creating Content (Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons, Open Source)
  • Communicating Beyond the Classroom (Public and private spaces, Email rhetoric and groups, Flickr)

We are starting to post agendas on our wiki and look forward to hearing what you all think. In particular, do you think that:

  • We give a good survey of available technologies?
  • We move through the ideas in each workshop and over the series in a coherent manner?
  • Teachers would be willing to pay to come to these sessions (once a month on Thursdays, from 6:00 – 8:30 PM)?

Any feedback that you have would be great. I am in the midst of transitioning from MSU to CMU this week, so I apologize about the lack of posts, but I hope to get back in the swing of posting soon.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Technology and Literacy Professional Development”

  1. Howdy Troy,

    I got excited reading this post. I’m intrigued with the idea of offering workshops to teachers independent of local school district professional development structures. I’m wondering if this was a conscious design decision or if it just happened organically. We’re doing something similar at Red Clay and it just made sense to open our monthly technology workshops up to all teachers in the area. We decided that RCWP TCs could attend the workshops for free, and others could attend for a fee. I’ll keep you posted on how that unfolds.

    To address your questions, yes, I think you’re offering a good survey of available technologies. The only difference I see between the two RCWP designs is that you’ve already mapped out your series (which looks terrific, btw). We’re taking a different approach, allowing the monthly technology workshops to be designed based on the reading discussions and interests generated the month before by our small learning community (our tech team). This way, if someone feels strongly about following a particular avenue, that person(s) might take the lead and faciliate the next workshop. Again, I’ll keep you posted.

    About Tuesday evenings and payment for attending workshops, I’m wondering how much you plan to charge. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing your wiki plans, the how/where/what of your workshops. We’ll return the favor. 🙂

  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for sharing your ideas on this. Yes, we have had a good bit of luck offering sessions independent of traditional school structures, so we hope that this one will go well, too. We are asking $125 for the series and they will get the Richardson book and light snacks each night. So, yes, it was a conscious design and we hope to build on the success of previous programs like this (just not tech-focused). I look forward to seeing how your sessions develop, too.

    As for the topics, we had some discussion as to whether they should be organic or more focused. I did an “organic” Tech Tuesday series for our own TCs a few years ago and, sadly, it wasn’t attended well. Usually, the person who wanted one thing one month couldn’t be there the next. So, we wanted to create a systematic series that would be able to work as independent workshops and in conjunction with one another. Thus, we brainstormed the list of topics that teachers seem to be dealing with, then associated the technologies with the topics.

    I think that the reading and response model for your own tech team makes lots of sense. With this series, since it is open to all teachers and we are charging them for it, we are taking that slightly different approach. There will still be readings and online discussions between sessions, so that part seems to be the same for us both. All things considered, I think that your model will work well to establish your tech team (which is your purpose) and ours should, we hope, distribute this work to a broader audience (which is our purpose).

    Thanks again for your response. I continue to appreciate how you push my thinking on these ideas about technology, literacy, and professional development. I look forward to the continued conversation and hope that we can work out an RCWP swap (virtual and real) at some point in the future!

    Take care,

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