Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rad Tech Adventurers

I had the BEST morning today at one of our elementary schools. I just could not wait to come here to tell you all about it!

Recently, we heard about school district tech teams invading a classroom with cool technology. They swoop in and bring some awesome technology with them. The staff and students both enjoy having an energizing, techie lesson. The concept is a bit of a play on those home improvement / makeover shows where the designer or contractor swoops in to overhaul a home, seemingly by surprise.

It's a great idea and we wanted to implement it in a way that could accentuate the teacher as the superhero who comes in and invades his / her own lesson with cool technology. And after some brainstorming, Rad Tech Adventurers (RTA) was born! It took on a superhero theme since our adventurers are definitely heroes! RTA is being used interchangeably as a noun (the teacher), a verb (the event itself), and even as an adjective when describing amazing lessons with meaningful educational technology.

RTA is planned in five stages:
1. Identify a teacher who is rad and adventurous with educational technology.
2. The identified RTA finds a lesson that he / she is planning to use in the classroom.
3. The Instructional Technology (IT) team meets with the teacher to find the right tech tool for existing technology and to find how the tool can be used in the right way at the right time.
4. A day and time is selected for the RTA to take place.
5. The IT team visits the classroom on the selected day / time for the RTA.

The students are unaware of this planning. IT will arrive on the selected day / time and it's a complete surprise to the students. IT places a superhero cape on the teacher and explains to the class that their rad teacher has energized today's lesson with a fun tech tool. IT remains in the class to assist but the superhero teacher is in control of the class.

When the lesson is over, IT congratulates the teacher and students for being truly adventurous. We also present the teacher with a certificate as an official Rad Tech Adventurer! And even though we take the cape with us, we all know the superhero in that teacher is still there creating meaningful lessons for those awesome students.

So, what does RTA look like? We did our first one this morning and it was AWESOME. PACE Specialist and ETSI family member, Ayanna Black, introduced us to her colleague who was interested in being the first RTA. That colleague was Tiffany Harrison, 4th Grade Teacher. My colleague, Leah Pendleton, and I met with Tiffany and Ayanna to plan.

Three days later, Nancy Watson and I appeared in the 4th grade classroom to drape a superhero cape on Mrs. Harrison and explain to the class that their rad teacher planned something amazing.

The students had been working on an advertisement for a tool / product that would be available in the future that will contribute to society. (The lesson was taken directly from the social studies content in the curriculum planner.) The students answered questions about their product in a Google Form Mrs. Harrison had created. They worked in teams to create a poster to advertise their product.

They used the app Chatterpix Kids to turn their poster into a 30-second commercial using their own voices! IT brought iPads with the app already installed for the students to use in class.

Their commercials were SO great! Here is one example! After each team completed their commercial, the iPads were left on the desks so the students could do a gallery walk to view the other commericals. 

It was an amazing start to the day. It's wasn't anything wild and crazy. It wasn't anything out of reach. It was using the right tool at the right time in the right way. I am still all giggly about it! If you know someone who wants to be an official Rad Tech Adventurer, tweet me and let me know!