Monday, October 9, 2017

HCPS Digital Learning Initiative

Digital Learning Initiative Logo 2017.png

It's an exciting time to be a middle school teacher in Hanover County Public Schools! As part of our Digital Learning Initiative, all middle school teachers received new laptops on Friday, the first milestone in our five year plan. Our team of thirteen joined forces with several teachers and administrators across the district to roll-out this initiative in all four middle schools on the same day at the same time.

It was so much fun to feel like Oprah, handing out laptops to everyone! ("You get a laptop! And you get a laptop! And you get a laptop!") Packaging materials were collected to use in the CMS makerspace as teachers eagerly pulled out their laptops and logged on. We discussed the laptop agreement form and provided on-the-spot support via our ITRT Website, then broke into small group sessions to learn the basics of "Getting to Know Your Laptop."

Amelia did an awesome job as our CMS team leader for laptop distribution!

Unpacking laptops and logging on

Time to explore!

CMS teachers gather before the breakout sessions.
Today we provided additional support as we led two hours of professional development sessions for these teachers, but we added a new twist to our PD: We offered a "Fast Pass" option for teachers who had mastered required learning.

As technology integrators and professional development specialists, one of the common refrains we hear is the need for differentiated PD. Just as we modify instruction for student needs in the classroom, we need to do the same for our teachers in their learning environments, too! After much brainstorming and hours of planning and tweaking, we finally implemented our very first "Fast Pass" lane for teachers to choose if they like.

So what is a "Fast Pass"? Based on the concept used at amusement parks, a "Fast Pass" allows you to enter a separate line to get where you want to go faster. By implementing a "Fast Pass" system, we validated the time teachers had invested to independently learn about their laptops, so that on their actual PD day, they could show what they know and reclaim some of that precious time back instead of wasting it listening to information they had already mastered.

It was a fantastic success!!

Look at all those happy teachers!

Casey led Fast Pass Station 1 - All About Chrome

Today's two-hour session was divided into four sessions: Google Chrome, Be a Closet Organizer, Personalizing Your Laptop, and Windows 10 Basics. We distributed the Show What You Know sheets to teachers on Friday, so they could refer to it and decide for themselves if they needed face-to-face training or felt confident enough to showcase their skills Monday morning.


Each school was divided into four groups based off their last name to make the learning size manageable for our teams. Teachers who wanted traditional PD started in one location for twenty-five minutes, then rotated to the next session in a different room, completing four sessions in two hours.

Teachers who chose the "Fast Pass" option came to the cafeteria and gathered around their station number where they opened their laptops and literally showed us the steps of how they mastered each task.

ITRTs were assigned to one base school to provide face-to-face PD, but then paired with another middle school to provide Fast Pass validation during their training time. Two middle schools offered PD from 9-11 am and the other middle schools offered PD from 1-3 pm. It might seem a bit complicated with all the moving parts, but it actually worked seamlessly with each ITRT knowing their exact role in the process.

What struck me the most about the PD training today was the joy. Teachers were happy! Even as they grappled with multi-step tasks like installing printers from a school network, their kind words of appreciation and thank-yous brightened our day.

As our trainings came to a close, we had signed hundreds of Show What You Know sheets, repeated training modules dozens of times, and reached our Fitbit step goals for the day. Despite our feigned exhaustion in the photo below, we were actually quite giddy by the success of the day!


Four schools down this year, nineteen more to support next year! Our first district-wide teacher laptop rollout was GREAT!

Now to get back into the buildings and help our teachers learn how to use these devices to support their professional productivity and instructional learning for students!

Many thanks to ITRTs, district leaders, teachers in surrounding districts and educators in our Twitter PLN who shared their experiences to guide our development of this training model. We are better together and appreciate everyone's input for making our laptop roll-out such a success!
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