Your Stories: West Beechboro Primary School collaborative, whole-school PD

We spotted Rachael Lehr (Digital Technologies Lead Teacher, West Beechboro Primary School,WA) and her school on Twitter sharing their experience working through the CSER MOOCs together. We were inspired by what we saw and so we invited Rachael to share their story with you all! This is particularly useful for those wanting to know how they can implement a whole-school approach to implementing the Digital Technologies Curriculum and upskilling staff.

West Beechboro Primary School

This term, a number of our staff at West Beechboro Primary School have been completing the University of Adelaide’s CSER Digital Technologies MOOC together during weekly, after school sessions. This has been a fabulous, collaborative learning experience and I can highly recommend that others do the same. Now, to be fair, I can in no way take credit for the idea of completing this course together as a group at school. It was in Sydney at the ACEL National Conference, in a seminar entitled “The Elephant, the Mahout and the Path: Changing Teacher Habit”, where the seed was planted. Mathilda Joubert and Antoinette Wilson were highlighting the change journey that was taking place at Mundaring Christian College, specifically in relation to implementing the new Digital Technologies curriculum, and completing this MOOC together was one of a number of the innovative strategies they implemented in order to prepare teachers for learning change.

West Beechboro Primary School, Seesaw digital portfolio

West Beechboro Primary School, Seesaw digital portfolio

As the Digital Technologies lead teacher in our school, this idea appealed to me immensely and I returned to West Beechboro inspired to get our Digital Technologies team of 7 teachers on board to complete the course with me, as a way of building capacity in this small group of already interested teachers. Our school vision for Digital Technologies is that “At West Beechboro Primary School we engage with technology that is meaningfully integrated, through varied authentic learning experiences. We provide opportunities for the school community to develop digital literacy through practical and creative application of digital technologies for current and future needs” and I could see that completing the MOOC would be a great support in developing the skills and knowledge needed to enact this vision across our school community. Truth be told, I had personally registered to do the Digital Technologies MOOC quite some time ago and had never started it! This was the impetus for me to actually do so, with a collective group holding me accountable to completing the tasks.

As a courtesy to all our staff, I invited everyone (not just our Digital Technologies committee) to participate, so they all knew the option was there, and I was delighted to have 15 teachers who were keen to complete the course together. The rest is history (or so they say!). Each Tuesday we have met in my science classroom for about 90 minutes and have gone through the unit together, watching the videos and then completing additional activities in the Seesaw digital portfolio, which I have created to supplement and support the learning in the video clips and online course. These activities have varied from answering simple questions related to the content to completing hands on activities that will assist us to further develop our understandings. Some teachers have then stayed on to complete their task in the Google + community, whilst others have gone off to complete it later in their own time.

West Beechboro Primary School, Seesaw example activity

West Beechboro Primary School, Seesaw example activity

In order to create the tasks, I pre-watched all the clips at home before each group session, and I must say that I learnt so much more the second time by watching and discussing the content with others. Everyone, no matter how they feel about their Digital Technologies knowledge, has had something to bring to share with the group. Even though I felt that I already was quite knowledgeable in regards to Digital Technologies prior to commencing the course, I discovered over the last 7 weeks that I really had a lot to learn and I have been so glad that such as amazing course is available free and online and that I had a group of fabulous teachers to learn with! This strategy of seeking out interested teachers to complete online professional learning together is one I am going to take with me into 2018, and we already have a group of keen teachers who would like to complete the next CSER Digital Technologies Advanced MOOC together.

Thank you, Rachael Lehr, for sharing your story! To learn more about their experience and to see other fantastic ideas from Rachael, follow her on Twitter @rachaellehr. 

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