Wednesday, January 11, 2012

14 Things to Tame

While at AASL in Minneapolis, I went to a session about 17 Things to Chew On, a 23 Things-style learning program for teachers created by two school librarians (Alicia Duell and Allison Cabaj) in Illinois. I'd been thinking about doing something similar for a while, but couldn't wrap my head around the logistics; the plan that Alicia and Allison shared filled in some of the blanks for me.

Inspired, I returned to my school and started to think about how to make my own "Things" program a reality. I'm lucky to have a very supportive administration, and even though I'm not sure they understood exactly what I was planning, they gave me the go ahead.

The next step was to create a video to promote the program. I wrote a script, and then gathered my performers. I also went around asking faculty if I could take a picture of them looking frustrated in front of a computer; none of them asked me why I was taking these pictures, displaying a level of trust in me that I both truly appreciate and plan to exploit again in the future.

I introduced the program, 14 Things to Tame, during our professional development day last week, and the response so far has been amazing (and I only had to strong-arm a few of them). There are incentives involved along the way; I've also been putting candy in the teacher's mailbox after each task they complete, in an effort to create a Pavlovian response (learn something new! get a piece of candy!). Dear colleagues: please do not think of yourselves as subjects in a science experiment.

There are teachers from all different departments participating; there are also at least a few teachers who are following along, even if they're not participating. And that's part of what I love about a program like this--you can participate in the conversation in whatever way you're most comfortable, but--one way or another--everyone becomes part of the conversation. The people who are participating are talking about it to the people who are participating--and they're all talking about the role that these technologies can play in their professional development and in their classrooms.

I'm excited. I already have more teachers participating than I expected, and I'm sure I can guilt even more into participating. I know it's going to be a lot of work, but I think the payoff will be worth it. If you're thinking of doing something similar in your own school, please feel free to ask questions or borrow anything from my own program!

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