In my school district, every other Wednesday we have an hour and a half at the end of the day for professional development .  This year, we have had two of the training days with technology break out sessions that teachers could choose their learning with tools such as Windows Movie Maker, Voicethread, Microsoft Excel, imovie and Google Calendar.  This week was our last early release training day of the year, so we decided to kick it up a notch.

Last year at NECC, I heard the term speedgeeking mentioned in passing but was never able to find out how it was implemented in practice.  Through my PLN, I was able to see examples implemented by Kim Cofino and Karen Ditzler, but my Technology Team and I found a way to do it Chets Creek style...

A few days before the event I put a flyer in the teachers' mailboxes inviting them to a "Speedgeeking Event" with the following cheeky phrases listed on the flyer:
       *  Have you had trouble finding Web 2.0 tools that are technologically compatible with your needs?
       *  Fast, fun, safe, comfortable way to discover technology tools
       *  FIVE fun tools in one afternoon
       *  Confidential feedback given to the technology instead of awkward personal contact
       *  You may find the technology that changes you life!!!!

When teachers arrived in the media center for an overview of the event we were playing the theme music from Love Boat to set the mood.  We handed each person one of an assortment of five color cards so we could sort them into five groups.  The plan was to send each group to one of five classrooms in a row where they would rotate through the sessions.  I gave two minutes for transitions and ten minutes for each session.  I asked the presenters (my Technology Team) to follow this guideline:  two minutes - name tool and tell what it is used for, three minutes - show quick examples of the tool, three minutes - create a product with the tool to demonstrate steps and two minutes - questions and sharing how they feel they could use the tool.  One of our team members, Maria Mallon, manned the intercom system with intermission messages such as, "Match maker, match maker, make me a match!  Time to move to the next session..."  "Don't call me, I'll call you.  Time to move on to the next session."  It was a nice comic relief and seemed to really get everyone quiet at transition time to start moving. 

At the end of the event, teachers were asked to go check their email for a link to google form provided for feedback on each tool and the event in general.  I wanted to keep the feedback in the form of our "theme" so I listed questions this way:

Do you think this is a tool you would use in the future?
___Maybe, if the chemistry is right
___Only on a double date (if someone helped me)
___No way

The open comment area at the end of the form made it clear to me this training was an overwhelming success.  They enjoyed the new training format, learning about the new web 2.0 tools and had fun with the playfulness of the theme.  Our leadership team is already thinking about how we can infuse more fun themes into our trainings and how to change some of our typical trainings into more fast-paced learning. 
Here are the tools my Tech Team shared during speedgeeking:

Flixtime - Cheryl Chascin and KK Cherney shared this fun tool that makes video slideshows.  It has the ability to use images, video and text. It creates a product similar to Animoto, but has the added feature of text.

Time Toast - Melissa Ross shared this useful timeline tool.  If you look at this example of the Gulf Coast oil spill timeline you will immediately begin to see the usefulness of this tool with your students.  2nd graders used it this year to make a timeline of their own life. 

Jing - Toni Chant and Lauren Morgan shared this valuable tool that can snap a picture of your computer screen, record online actions on your computer and can be shared instantly through email or shared links.  Look at Toni's example jing on how to log in to your wiki at wikispaces.

Wallwisher - Rachel Bridges and Dorry Lopez-Sinclair shared this unique tool that can post a virtual wall with sticky notes.  So much like the actual charts we use in a classroom, this tool extends learning to home and our global audience.  Check out the wallwisher that Mrs. Bridges' and Mrs. Correia's class did on the facts they learned about frogs.

Fotobabble - was the tool that I shared.  It is a really fun tool where you can take an image and upload audio that goes with that image.  Look at some examples of how these kindergarteners used it as a visual for their poetry reading.

If you have a similar type of event we'd love to hear ideas about how to make this and future trainings better and more engaging.  Feedback encouraged!


I enjoyed the afternoon tremendously and definitely look forward to our next session.

This was a wonderful way to spend time "getting to know" some new web tools. We learned that there are "a lot of fish in the sea" and not to "get stuck on just one" way of doing things. "Playing the field" is the way to find just the right match!!MM

thanks for sharing this in such detail. I love a good gimmick to draw people in. I'd like to try something like this next year.

Thanks for posting this. I tried something like this in Sudan but the pace was too slow. I'm adding this to my list of strategies for PD next year.

Dorry Lopez said...

It was so much fun! I loved hearing everyone's great ideas on the useful applications of the new web tools! By rotating to the various tech stations, it kept the momentum flowing for learning, and no one had time to get bored. I heard raving reviews about the creative way we were able to learn about several new tools in such a short time.

Great fun!

Toni Chant said...

Thanks for the opportunity to share a cool tool. I enjoyed seeing everyone and getting feedback on creative ways to use Jing. CCE faculty rocks!

Speedgeeking was really FUN! I mean it - PD that was really FUN! I noticed that several teachers had used one of the tools to post to their blogs by the end of the day! That's when you know PD has been a hit!

Sherrie Rabe said...

I had such a great time learning about new tools on the web. The Speekgeeking was too funny and we always make learning fun at Chets. Thanks for all you do.

nice blog!i found it via flickr.
im actually taking my last course at UNF in order to be an elementary teacher. so glad i found your blog!!