Last night I took part in something both powerful and exciting… A Virtual Classroom Visit. I had received an email from Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) co-founder, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, asking me if I would be interested in being one of three “peeks” into classrooms implementing TPACK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge). If interested, I would have to videotape a TPACK lesson in my classroom, upload it to YouTube, and write a description of the content, pedagogy, technology, and how inquiry was embraced in my classroom. PLP would post the video online, and I would respond to any comments or questions for a week. Then I would participate in a 30-minute webinar in Blackboard Collaborate where folks could come discuss the lesson with me and ask questions.
I was truly humbled by the request to be one of these three Virtual Classroom Visits, and yet I was a bit nervous airing a video of a lesson and opening it up to feedback from both strangers and people I have a great deal of respect for! Despite my anxieties, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share what I have been working on since I completed PLP’s Connected Learner Experience professional development program two years ago – integrating technology in a way that cultivates connected learning in my classroom, and focuses on student-driven learning and inquiry. I chose a Mystery Skype session, and quickly set up a Skype call and recruited a videographer.
Briefly, Mystery Skype is a fun activity that supports our study of states and regions in 4th grade. Students receive a Mystery Skype call and use yes or no geography questions to determine the location of the other class. Students are in teams with different roles, and must use reasoning skills to determine the next question that will help them narrow down the class’s location. After the exciting moment when each class correctly guesses the other’s location, the students share interesting facts about their state.
The video turned out well, and I was excited to show others how I merely had to facilitate, and allow my students to drive. I couldn’t wait for folks to see their engagement and visible learning!
Despite this, I was quite nervous going into the webinar session. I had no idea how many folks would come, or what questions I might be asked to answer on the fly! Of course, my fears were immediately assuaged when I realized I found myself immersed in a wonderful community of dedicated, enthusiastic, and supportive educators. The thirty minutes flew by!
So What’s Next??
These Virtual Classroom Visits are unique opportunities to watch teachers in action, obtain information and resources about their lessons, and chat with them about the work they do. Next week, on March 14th at 8:00 p.m. in Blackboard Collaborate (Click Here), PLP will host another webinar based on the practice of middle school teacher Alan Fletcher. Alan’s lesson is packed full of great topics such as using technology to find and share current events, creating Google presentations to inform others, and the art of commenting on student blogs. Although he works with middle school students, the information and methods he’ll share are applicable to all grade levels. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the great things he does in his classroom.
One more session will be held on April 11th, with high school teacher Beth Sanders. So mark your calendars for these remaining two sessions. Make the time to step into some innovative classrooms, and learn from these great educators in only 30 minutes! In the meantime, if you missed my information about Mystery Skype, click here for information, resources, and a lesson plan.
My deepest appreciation goes out to Sheryl and to Lani Ritter Hall for this opportunity – They are brilliant leaders, inspirational educators, and they never fail to push me out of my comfort zone!