Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Summer Tech Camp with Google Classroom

Last spring, I read Edutopia's article on Technology Summer Camp, and the wheels started turning. I decided that I wanted to offer a Tech Camp to our teachers. I ran the idea past our superintendent, and he was immediately on board.

We offered Act 48 hours (Pennsylvania professional development credits) for participation, and the Keystone Education Foundation purchased two iPad Minis to award to those who finished the greatest number of challenges. We would have a drawing for the iPads in case of a tie.

Organization
I set up the Summer Tech Camp in Google Classroom. I emailed the class code to teachers who indicated interest, and we had 32 enrollees.

Activities
I created six activities that I aligned to the PA Core Standards. I also considered technology professional development needs as identified by a survey we conducted last spring. Each activity included links to related articles and resources and required the use of multiple tech tools to complete. My plan was that the teachers would create resources they could actually use in their classrooms in the fall.

Topics Covered
The six activities included (1) Discovery Board Builder, (2) Providing Reliable Web Resources for Students, (3) Using Graphics in Instruction, (4) Creating a Screencast, (5) Publishing Student Writing, and (6) The Grand Finale. The last assignment included projects using Canva, Thinglink, and Padlet. The teachers earned two Act 48 hours for completion of each activity.

Challenges
The greatest challenge for me was developing activities that would be meaningful to K-12 teachers, whether they taught math, reading, history, music, or any other subject area and regardless of grade level.

The Results
Ten teachers finished all six activities and earned 12 Act 48 hours each. They are high school teachers Alison Albright, Kami Coursen, Bobbie Heller, Kathy Rutkowski, Franki Sheatz, and Pam Warner and elementary teachers Suzanne Buckley, Brandi Fisher,  Barbie Milliron, and Amanda Phillips. Four more teachers completed at least one of the activities.

We held a drawing for the iPads as part of our District in-service days in August and recognized each teacher who completed Tech Camp. High school chemistry teacher Alison Albright and elementary music teacher Barbi Milliron took home the new iPad Minis!

Conclusion
I got nothing but positive feedback from the teachers who attended Tech Camp. Some did say that they worked through some frustration at times, but we all agreed that we learned a lot! Google Classroom worked great as a platform for making assignments and turning in work, and the teachers benefited from seeing the "student" side of Classroom. The teachers also shared links to their work in Classroom so we could see how other campers applied the tools in their curricula. I was so impressed by the quality and originality of the completed projects!

Additional teachers have asked if they might work through the Tech Camp activities during the current school year, so Tech Camp Session 2 is underway!

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