Professional Development Activity Types

"You can't be what you can't see."

Just as teachers benefit from having a ready set of activity types to draw from when planning, professional development facilitators need a set to draw from as well:

Activity Type
Description | Examples | Inspiration
6 Word Learning Memoir
Description - After listening to NPR's story, have teachers create a 6 word memoir that summarizes their experiences as a learner.
Inspiration - Six-Word Memoirs: Life Stories Distilled
  • Modified for a professional development reflection - 6 Word Story
  • Short
  • Focus on what is most important
  • Excellent jumping off point for discussions on learning and teaching
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  • Could be cryptic
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Affordances & Constraints Chart
Have teachers fill in an organizer that lists the affordances and constraints of a tool, pedagogy, etc. If examining more than one, this could be done as a Round Robin activity.

Back Channel
This is more of a tool to combine with other Activity Types such as Sharing, Webinars, etc. Teachers use a tool (or tools) like Moodle's Chat, Chatzy, etc. to open up a back channel of dialogue.
  • Opportunity to capture many ideas while presentations are going on
  • Keeps side conversations in a quiet virtual realm
  • Can distract from the presentation/sharing
Give pairs or small groups of teachers an unfinished topic from an earlier session or one that they have since "played" with in their classroom (or let them select their own) and let them create a blog post (see March 2010)

Blog Response
Get the teachers out interacting with the wider edublogosphere. Give teachers a small set of "real" blog posts to comment on, or teach them about RSS Readers first and then let them comment on one of their discoveries. This works even better in pairs or small groups as their discussions/thoughts usually end up more diverse or deeper. This connects well with teachers setting up a PLN (see below).
  • Brings the outside world into schools/districts that have a history of being insular

Classroom Visits
Teachers visit another teachers classroom to see first hand how they "teach."

Compare Contrast Venn Diagram
Compare two or three tools or pedagogies i.e. F2F discussions versus Online Discussions

Teachers try new activities with the support of a colleague or facilitator.

Creating Sample Projects
Teachers create a project to have a sample for students to examine. This requires teachers to engage in the project as if they were a student and gives them a deeper appreciation for what the students will do. This helps to create a realistic project, to describe the steps needed to complete the project, and a better ability to assess the students' work. (Ideally teachers create two samples, one that has most of the elements they want and one lacking certain elements.)

Crowd Sourced Book
Use a Google Doc, Twitter, etc. to gather crowd sourced ideas. Example:

Curriculum Commenting
Teachers comment on others activities/projects. This can follow an Examining Activities activity.

Curriculum Development
In cross district teams, teachers develop activity types or projects for their students.

Curriculum Gardening
In pairs or teams, teachers examine existing units from the TPaCK Framework (or Prensky , ETaP , LoTi , or SAMR ) and suggest improvements.

Digital Sandbox
Playing with the tools, sharing tips, making fun stuff, experimenting, getting flexible (tool flexibility)

Digital Sharing
Add here

Examining Activities
Use Prensky's Old Things New Ways and New Things New Ways to examine and discuss activity types/lessons/projects. Or, use Apple's ETAP, LoTI, or SAMR to take it a bit farther.

Examining Student Work
Teachers use rubrics to examine student work. Together they can discuss what they see, what they can surmise, and what they think is missing. Ideally this is followed by reflection on teaching practices related to the assignment and on the rubric as well.

Mini Inquiry or Inquiry Project
Think Cohort 1's second year activity
Related: Action Research

I am not sure a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) belongs as an activity type, due to the scale/scope, but the approach might.
Related Links:

Multimodal Glossaries
Teachers use text, audio, video, animations, drawings, etc. to define and provide examples of core concepts (see Habits of Mind table)

Online Discussions
Add here (see T-P-S table below)

  • Blog Replies
  • Moodle
  • VoiceThread
  • Wiki Discussions

Online Module or Class
Add here

Related Links:
Wikipedia External Links - Professional Learning Community
  • Lessen teacher isolation and improve instruction
  • Can be implemented in a recipe like fashion
Teachers organize digitally networked information and people whose ideas fit their interests/needs.

  • add
  • Add
Give teachers a particular question, issue, or article to discuss in a small group. Post the podcasts to the wiki for others to listen to and comment on.

Professional Development2
Teachers develop a professional development activity in an area of expertise (Think Cohort 1's second year activity.) This would be a more formal version of an unconference.

Integrated into many of the other Activity Types, but sometimes in needs to be highlighted and stand out on its own.

Role Playing Discussion
See WebQuest from Spring 09.

Rubric Development
Teachers develop rubrics or a single criteria. This works best when combined with Curriculum Development (see above), Creating Sample Projects (see above), and later, Examining Student Work (see above)
  • Pushes teachers to identify criteria/descriptors for student learning
  • Can make grading less subjective

Add here

Speed Sharing I bet we could modify this for a unconference sort of sharing. Here's a link to someone who did it with student "presenters" - Speed Geek your faculty meetings

Teachers As Students
Teachers participate in a collaborative project as one of the students.

Teacher2Teacher Tips
These can be done with blog posts, podcasts or Flips. Teachers record short tips for one another (or next year's teachers) in general or on a specific topic. We used Edutopia's tips as a springboard.

Teacher Portfolios
Teachers collect links to the Wiki pages, blog posts, online discussions throughout the year. This fits well as a precursor to Reflections (see above) including Then and Now Reflections (see below)

Tech Challenges
Add here
Tech Mini Olympics

Then and Now Reflection
Can be used at any point to get at teacher, curriculum, or student change over time.

Things That Suck
Things That Suck is a fast paced debate/discussion. The facilitator announces a controversial educational topic, and people move to one side or the other of the room based on whether they think it sucks or rocks. Then the facilitator leads a discussion about why educators were on one side, the other or on the fence.
Related - See Suck-O-Meter or Assessment Rocks or Sucks

Think - Pair - Share
See Think-Pair-Share

Top Ten Lists
Link to student Top 10 Lists

Unconference / EdCamp

Virtual Conference
Pick a set of presentations from TED , K12Online , ISTE Webinars, Future of Education interviews , etc. Set up a schedule so that attendees can only attend a subset of the sessions. Set up a backchannel for each session. Setup a task or essential question to follow each session. Run a virtual conference. Point the teachers to a select list (only high quality) of other "conference sessions" they might want to attend on their own time. Suggest they take these back to their principals.

Teachers attend a single webinar, posting comments and questions to the attendees and presenters. It is also possible to have a group of teachers "attend" a webinar after the fact, but have the conversation take place using a back channel (see above).

Description: "A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web."

  • Fits well with using perspectives, roles, or other interdependent tasks