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2. Why This New Model?

Perhaps that question would be better phrased as "Why doesn't the traditional model of Sit-and-Get work?" It doesn't work for a couple of reasons.
  • Sit-and-Get professional development tries to be all things to all people in a single setting.  As teachers, this notion should be at least a little offensive.  For all of the time and effort that we put in to differentiating our instruction and meeting the needs of as many students as possible, why are we not trying to do the same for our teachers?
I like to think of this model as my attempt to differentiate my instruction for you, to acknowledge that learning happens in many places, at many times, and with many people.  In fact, I took a lot of inspiration from the Flipped PD model in the process of creating this model.  According to, Professional Development becomes flipped when learning is documented with consistent expectations and accountability for all involved, and is ongoing, coached, personalized, and collaborative.  To the best of my ability, I hope that this model incorporates all of those aspects, and that better PD and learning is the end result.
  • You can't cover everything in a single session.  The last time I had at least half an inservice day to introduce new technology to all of you was when we switched over from First Class to Google.  No, wait, wasn't it Smarter Balanced?  Man, I had tried really hard to burn those memories out of my head.  Oh well.  Anyways, I don't see myself getting that kind of time anytime soon; even after school time and early release time is difficult enough to get as it is.  Short of that, I've tried to piece together 45-minute sessions here and there, but we all know that it is not enough time to cover everything.  So, we can learn about a new piece of technology in our time, but are we really learning how to use it, or more importantly, learning how to use it in the classroom?
  • How do we get everyone in the same room?  One reason that most of my PD was offered through the Tech Tuesday series this year, simply put, is that that was about the only day of the week that I had open to do anything.  Between LEGO League, staff meetings, tech committee meetings, student tech team, and the like, there's not a lot of time in there for me to dedicate to these sessions.
Now, I'm fully aware that I'm not the only one around here with a busy schedule; attendance at Tech Tuesdays was low, in part, because many of you are busy on Tuesdays after school, not to mention the other days of the week.  Simply put, relying on available after school time when inservice time is not available and everyone else is otherwise busy, is just not a workable or sustainable way to work with you all on enhancing your ability to use technology.  Quite frankly, I think Tech Tuesdays have been a waste of all of our time this year.

So, a workable model for PD in the future is one where there is no requirement for an entire group of people to miraculously find a day and time that works for every single person in that group.  Learning is everywhere, and happens all the time, and so long as you and the people you're learning with are able to find that time, I want to give you credit for it any way I can.
  • We need more verbs and fewer nouns.  The concept of verbs and nouns was coined by Marc Prensky, and championed by Mike Muir and the MLTI project team at the DoE.  In Teaching Digital Natives:  Partnering for Real Learning, Prensky (2010) defines verbs as the skills that students need to learn, and nouns as the tools students use to learn, practice, and apply the verbs.  A piece of technology is a tool, no more or less so than paper and pencils are a tool, except technology is flashier and more expensive, and we get angrier at students when they break it.
The problem with most technology professional development (and I acknowledge my own short comings in this regard) is that they are so noun-centric.  To some extent, tech PD has to be noun-centric, but we are only getting half the equation if we aren't taking the time to explore the verbs.  Part of this has to do with the very limited time that we have to dedicate to tech PD; you still need time to discuss the nouns even as you build in more time for verbs, but sessions are hardly ever long enough to make it from the nouns to the verbs.  Still, PD sessions too often lack a balance of focus between the two.  In my pilot model I seek to reframe tech-based professional development so that nouns and verbs are both addressed in a better balance.
  • Have you met my friend SAMR?  SAMR is a model for thinking about the depth in which we integrate technology (if you think about it, you could consider it when applying just about any tool or noun).  At the lowest level is Substitution, a one-for-one substitution of some other tool you are using.  At this level, the functional improvement the technology brings is completely optional, because, effectively, you're using the technology for the sake of using the technology.
At the other end is Redefinition, where technology has become indispensable to the learning that is taking place because you would not be able to complete the learning task without it.  Ideally, the goal should be for us to progress in our depth of technology integration to greater and greater modifications of the task, while acknowledging that the progression is just that, a progression, and the expectation should be for us to move from one level to the next at our own pace.

In a lot of ways, the SAMR model is compatible with the verbs vs. nouns comparison.  Redefinition would indicate a perfect balance of nouns and verbs when it comes to technology, as we've focused on what we want students to be learning and doing and the tool's role in facilitating that.  I think that, if I am able to succeed in my goal of better balancing nouns and verbs in technology PD, that the end result will be faster and better transition from SA to MR in our classroom technology integration.