Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rolling the Dice with Teacher Professional Development

I am lucky to come into contact with some really special educators. Every day I see the most fantastic and energetic teachers helping their students, helping each other and helping themselves. Today we have some of these special teachers as guest bloggers. Annie Barton and Hayley Schirmer are two teachers who have developed a fun, interactive and inclusive way of developing teacher's confidence in the touch and swipe environment. We have invited them to guest blog their story on providing professional development to their staff.

Rolling the Dice with Teacher Professional Development
In January this year we took on the role of eLearning Leaders at Melbourne’s newly opened Albert Park College. Our aim for the year was to show and encourage teachers to transform learning and teaching through the meaningful use of iPads, and also to share our passion for using technology creatively to increase student engagement.
Albert Park College has a strong focus on professional development. Each week staff meet to engage in professional development focusing on particular areas such as differentiation, e5 Instructional Model and eLearning. Over the year, we have delivered a range of interactive professional learning sessions aimed at encouraging teachers to become immersed in the digital age.
Our biggest challenge was getting teachers to think about how apps can be used for more than just a token activity, but rather, to combine multiple apps to meet lesson outcomes. The following concept was born,

App + App + App = Outcome
In July this year at our annual two-day conference, we presented a session to staff with the intention of clearly demonstrating the possibilities of combining apps to meet a lesson outcome.

After lots of brainstorming we finally had the idea!! To use dice to help show how easy it is to combine apps and have a little fun! We used three dice, each dice represented a particular e5 principle; explore, explain or elaborate. It was easy to develop lists of apps for each e5 principle, but we narrowed them down to six apps for each dice with a focus on introducing new apps.

Explore – QR Reader, Notability, Twitter, Pinterest, Pulse and Wikinodes

Explain – Evernote, Over, Haiku Deck, Skitch and Messages

Elaborate – ReelDirector, Storify, iMovie, StripDesign and inFlowChart

Now to make the dice come to life…We printed each app as a sticker and manually created each of the dice. Little did we know our great idea would become hours of work. 40 people x 3 dice x 6 sides = 720 stickers to be placed carefully on each side of the dice and in the right combinations! That almost sent us crazy!

In addition to the dice, we created 'Idea Cards' for each app, giving suggestions for how an app could be used across curriculums. This was used to help teachers stimulate creativity and ideas and extend this concept after the conference.

During the workshop we encouraged staff to consider an outcome for one of their lessons. Then, they needed to roll the dice and come up with a combination of apps that could be used to meet the lesson objective. This idea encouraged our teachers to consider the spontaneity of combinations of apps. If one app didn’t particularly meet the lesson requirements teachers were encouraged to roll a dice again.
What occurred during our session was teachers working together developing lessons with technology in the forefront of their minds.  At the end of our sessions teachers had written a lesson that they could put straight into action when they returned to school, some even begin this process during our session.
As part of our objective for App + App + App= Lesson, we encouraged teachers to implement a culture of planning lessons around using apps that meet a certain criteria, rather than specific apps. We also encouraged teachers to encourage their students to use apps they felt met the outcome, rather than relying on the teacher knowing how to use every single app of the app store. We want to develop a culture of students teaching teachers, and students to think creatively to choose the best way for them to produce work for an outcome, rather than teachers limiting the only options.
Our workshop was really successful. We had teachers implementing their planning the very next week in classes, and students were excited that they no longer were told which apps to use for what. They had the freedom to conceptualise the product for each learning outcome.

We encourage you to give it a try at your school - what feedback do your teachers have about these ideas? How does it open up possibilities for lessons and outcomes in your subject areas? You can use any apps for this activity - and could even use it in the classroom with your students. We would love to hear from you, contact us via email or twitter.

Annie Barton 

Hayley Schirmer


  1. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing. I would love to use this with my 1:1 iPad student class next year. What size dice and stickers did you use?

  2. Would love to have a copy of your flow cards. I will definitely give you credit! I would like to use this idea with my teachers.


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