A Technology Infuser

I came across this picture on Pinterest the other day, and it swirled around in my mind for a bit until now.


It’s a tea infuser.  You put whatever blend of tea leaves you enjoy in that infuser, and lower it into the hot water until your tea reaches the desired strength.

This is very much my philosophy as someone who helps teachers with technology.  The privilege is called by different names – a tech coach, tech trainer, tech integrationist, or.. I propose… a tech infuser.

First, tech infusers need to realize that for many reasons, they may be approaching hot water.  Teachers are sometimes reluctant to try new things, have a general insecurity about technology, or be uncomfortable having someone come into their rooms to offer help.  

The water itself also symbolizes ‘normal’ classroom instruction.  Guess what…sometimes water is exactly the ‘taste’ that’s needed in a classroom.  Sometimes it works just fine.  Sometimes, plain old water is really the perfect thing.  But not always.  Not for today’s learners.

Sometimes, a little more flavor is needed.  Sometimes, a lot more flavor is needed.  That’s where a tech infuser can do the most magic.  He or she can bring so many varieties of tea to show a teacher!  She can give tastings in the form of demo lessons.  He can observe a lesson, get a flavor for what’s going on, suggest a few ideas and – let them steep.  She can brainstorm with the teacher and prepare special blends – for any occasion!  

Here are five things that really great tech infusers do beautifully:

1) Really know their tea!  Know lots of teas, stay current on the latest teas & be creative with cool new ways to blend them.  

2) Go in gently.  Sometimes a subtle dip is just the right way to get those who’ve never drank the tea accustomed to the taste.  

3) Know balance.  Know when plain water will do the trick, when a gentle infusion is called for, and when a mighty strong infusion might just be a complete zinger!

4) Let things steep. Sometimes it takes awhile for a taste or a flavor to really develop.  Let it steep, but come back to check every once in awhile until it appears ready.


5) Have tea parties!  Let all of those who have developed a taste for infusion come together & celebrate!  Be sure to invite those reluctant ones to the party, too, to hear how delicious it can be to infuse a little variety into their TEA-ching!

Tech Playdates – Try Sump’n New

As I reported on Twitter in 140 characters or less:  I tried sump’n new this week.  I hosted a little very informal, very unstructured,  and very welcoming event which I dubbed a “Tech Playdate”.  It was pretty much a Professional Learning Community in disguise, but we had too much fun to even realize that!

I’m always looking for new ways to get teachers excited about Purposeful And Relevant Technology Integration (PARTI). I’ve tried PD sessions during the day, little after-school workshops, putting resources online, and even stopping into classes to see if I can help facilitate lessons with tech.  This time, the goal was different, and it was simple:  provide lots of  food, invite lots of people, make it as unassuming and casual as possible, don’t call it professional development, DON’T have a presentation or agenda, and let the people in the room dictate what happens.

Oh, and have it after school, for no stipend or reimbursement, no credit…and just see who is curious or ambitious enough to come.

First, I ran the idea past a group of amazing teachers with whom I spent a week during a summer technology institute.  They loved the idea of being able to continue learning ed tech together, especially with no strings (or mandates) attached.  They helped me by completing a quick little survey to see which days and times would work best, and for us that turned out to be Wednesdays or Thursdays from 4-7.   I picked a bunch of Tech Playdate dates for the rest of the year, ran the idea through administrative channels, got the okay, and developed this invitation:

techplaydatememo

The approved invitation was sent out to all seven elementary school principals, and from there it was sent out to staff.  I asked for an RSVP for this one (because pizza was involved), and about 20 people said they’d come!  I was pretty elated with that response, as this was a great unknown and it involved after-school travel for many.

signage

The turnout was accurate!  We had 20 people, representing six of the elementary schools and two administrators.  For a first try, this was not only impressive, but a revelation.  Clearly, there is a desire for folks to learn & explore ed tech, and evidently informality and choice are critical components.  Teachers are craving this.

StickyNoteCharts

The photo above was the most critical part of planning the Tech Playdate.  It couldn’t be a “sit & git” presentation-style PD session.   There would be nobody at ‘the front of the room’ …no presenters.  I really wanted it to be participant-driven, where everyone was invited to share or learn, and there was no fear in asking questions – any questions.  I set up these three posters on a table and put some sticky notes nearby.  I suggested that attendees fill out a note and try to find a ‘sticky-note buddy’ that matched their needs.  There were knowledgeable people in the room who were empowered to share what they knew, and there were people (myself included) who just wanted to try learning something new with someone else.  All kinds of beautiful sharing and learning ensued….it was collegiality & collaboration at its best!

AliciaKelsey

Alicia (left) learned about Plickers at our summer technology institute.  She became the expert, and was more than happy to teach Kelsey all about it!  Alicia was ready to share all kinds of wonderful things that she learned during the summer and had since been trying in her classroom:  draggo, Quizizz, Google Forms, and more!

LisaJan

These two ambitious teachers wanted time (How often do we hear that?) to work on their teacher pages on the school website.  They both liked just being in a room where there was support and other people with the same questions…and their teacher pages are really awesome!

CathyKim

These ladies were amazing in their zest to learn new things!  They not only supported each other, but asked a ton of great questions and we all learned new things from their questions.  Together, they explored a site called Curriculet so that they could develop great Reading lessons for their classes, but then they wanted to know more from people in the room:  how to take screenshots and edit them, how to make word clouds, and how to earn Ed Tech Digital Badges that are now used in our district!

JimMary

Mary heard about Plickers, too, and James was more than happy to teach her about it!  She had time and support to set up all of her classes, create folders, and start to set up questions.  By the time she left, Mary had an activity she could use the next day.

 Jim

One teacher came ready to share all about a site called GoNoodle, but didn’t get a chance during this first Tech Playdate.  Hold that thought for next time.  Another teacher didn’t get the opportunity yet to show people about coding with kids, and someone else is still willing to teach about Symbaloo!  Great!  It looks like we have an awesome starter list for next month!

IMG_4570

Ambitious Rich came with the hope that he could learn web design!  Luckily, there was someone in the room who was willing to share all about a site called Weebly, which allows for very user-friendly, very beautiful website creation!

RichMeriLinda

Linda’s sticky-note just said that she wanted to learn how to ‘work with pictures’.  She was interested in learning how to upload, crop, edit, and get creative with her photographs.  Lo and behold, there was someone in the room who knew that, too!  This time, it was my brilliant friend Meredith Martin from a neighboring district, who”‘crashed the tech playdate” just because she loves this kind of learning, too!   Linda and others got some very cool lessons on how to use Sumo Paint!

MikeAnneLisaJan

You know it’s a REAL playdate when the principal comes to play!

food

TBH, for our first Tech Playdate, this might have been part of the lure.  This plus seven pizzas.  I wanted to have a very homey and welcoming feeling for this first one, so – uh – food!   The gang decided that now that we’re all friendly, techy buddies, we’re going potluck for the next one!  Everyone’s bringing a treat to share with the class!

Oh, and everyone’s bringing other colleagues who will enjoy a Tech Playdate, too!  This thing’s going viral, and I hope that this kind of informal, free, no-accountability, exploratory, collaborative, playful learning becomes the ultimate ‘computer virus’!

For local friends:  The next Tech Playdate is October 28 from 4-7.  No RSVP needed. 

Kids React To Old Computers

I came across this video on the internet the other day, and it’s just plain funny.  I was sitting alone in my family room, just laughing out loud (yes, actually LOL) as I watched the reactions of these kids as they checked out a 1970’s computer.  Their comments are hysterical!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  We sure have come a long way since then.