Monday, November 21, 2016

I'm a PBS Kid and a PBS Teacher!

Morning fellow educators.  Over the past couple months I've had the opportunity to give several different presentations to my peers and colleagues.  I decided I'm going to share out that information on here as well.  So, not in any order, I'm starting with my Tech Thursday presentation to my staff over PBSlearningmedia.

As an adult, when you think back to your first "digital" learning experiences they probably have something to do with a TV and PBS.  I think about Sesame Street and how much I loved Big Bird as a kid.  I remember that we went to Sesame Street Live, and I had books on record (yes, I'm that old). It was a treat when we watched PBS in school in kindergarten and first grade!

As a parent I have never minded having Elmo occasionally sing to my children.  For a period of time my daughter was way into Super Why also.  I couldn't argue with a show that taught morals, values, and problem solving skills!  PBS has always been a go to for educational programming.

It's no wonder PBS makes such great educational content for the classroom also, but not everyone knows about it! Part of my Colorado PBS Digital Lead Teacher responsibilities is sharing the content with my staff.  That's the thing about the PBS content, it's free! So, they don't spend a lot of money on advertising.  That's our job as the lead teachers!

I had a really great time presenting on a Tech Thursday to my staff! Tech Thursdays happen once a month at our school.  These are admin meetings with a focus on technology.  I asked if I could present the PBS website, PBSlearningmedia, and content available because in this case, an email wouldn't be sufficient. I had about 40 minutes to present to each group of 6th, 7th, and 8th core teachers, and 20 minutes to present to enrichment teachers.  I did some of the legwork beforehand of searching the PBSlearningmedia site for content geared toward the standards I knew my colleagues would be covering.

For the presentation I just made a quick Google Slides presentation. On the slides I linked my doc of New PBS Content. Not all of the content on PBSlearningmedia is made by PBS, content may be housed on PBS and also it's original site.  The thing that makes it PBS trustworthy is that the content and videos are vetted by PBS educators to ensure that it is appropriate for specific age levels.  This takes the guess work and time out of Youtube and Google searches!

In the past I have seen Tech Thursdays go down the drain.  Sometimes our staff isn't very interested in what is being presented, and they let the presenter know by completely tuning out and focusing on grading, lesson planning, and checking emails.  I know this because I am also guilty of such behavior. I was prepared to be tuned out, but I didn't get that reaction!  The first group I presented to was 8th grade.  I was about 15 minutes into presenting when one of the teachers said, "Hey Janine, did you see this?"  I suddenly realized that they were all on and searching the content!  Yay!  So, I did what I always want other presenters to do. I stopped talking. I told them I would let them search the content, they had my slides for reference, and I'd be able to answer questions whenever!  This was pretty much the same reaction from 6th and 7th grade as well.

I helped teachers work through the Lesson Builder and Puzzle Builder.  I told them what I love the most is that the videos are easily downloadable.  They can be embedded into other systems such as Google Classroom, Edpuzzle, even PowerPoint. A science teacher on my team liked that she could use the Lesson Builder and give the students the Assignment Code instead of having them log in a create accounts.  One of the 6th grade iPad teachers tested the Puzzle Builder out to make sure it would work on the iPad and didn't require flash.

Enrichment teachers were a tougher audience, but I found small successes as the PE teachers were finding useful lessons for their next health unit.  Our drama teacher loved the videos taken from actual plays showing stage cues and commentary.  Our communications teacher does a lot with debate and elections, so he said he's already used the site to teach about the electoral college and the debate system.

Overall, I felt it was a successful presentation.  The next day I was actually thanked three times by teachers for sharing the site.  They were excited about all of the content and the fact that it was FREE! One teacher said, "I'm not an iPad teacher, so I usually feel like Tech Thursday doesn't apply to me, but this was content that I could actually download and use. I don't need the computer lab to stream a video, but I could give students the link to complete something at home without much prep time."

I believe that fully explains why sometimes technology isn't implemented in the classrooms. It's not just teachers, everyone is afraid of changing the way they do things, especially if it's never been wrong. To switch to a fully integrated tech class means changing the way you teach. A lot of teachers ask, how much work it is to switch everything over and try something new?  The key is to try something here and there instead of trying to make everything different.  My staff really loved the PBSlearningmedia content because they could teach the content they've always taught in a new way. That makes change less scary.

Thank you for reading.  Please check out the PBS site. Comment below or Tweet at me with questions or your favorite content from the site!

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