DEN Fall VirtCon – “A Bewitching Combination: Student Facilitators, Professional Development & Livebinders

On October 19, 2013, Discovery Education again wowed us with their full day of presentations, 23 in all. Since it was impossible to participate in all the events, all presentations have been archived and are available at http://www.discoveryeducation.com/community/den-fall-virtcon-archive.cfm

I know many of us intend to go back and view some that we missed, but with new stuff coming at us, it’s very easy to forget. Fortunately, Steve Dembo has come up with an idea to help us to remember. He made a sign-up sheet and asked folks on the blog team to sign-up and blog about one of the archived sessions. Posts will run from November 7 through January 26, until every session is highlighted.

I signed up to recap the session led by Dr. Peggy George and Kim Thomas that aired at 10:00 EST.

Many of you may be familiar with these ladies. Peggy is my particular hero and mentor. She is one of the co-hosts of Classroom 2.0 that runs most Saturdays at noon EST. In August of 2011, I had the distinct honor of being one of the featured teachers on that show. If you go to Classroom 2.0 Live, you will find links to all of the presentations and the accompanying Livebinders. So, on to the recap. Peggy and Kim started the session from Arizona (7:00 am their time) by exclaiming, “Tech or Treat!” After inviting folks to type their own locations into the chat, they proceeded to introduce themselves. Among other great things, seeing Kim and Peggy having fun interacting makes watching the session worthwhile. Click here to access their presentation.

During the presentation they introduced us to LiveBinders, a curation tool which is like having a 3-ring binder on the web. What is also terrific is that Livebinders can be used collaboratively. Also, teachers can sign up students under the teacher’s email address so that each student can have a Livebinder’s account where he/she can create a binder around a topic of interest. In addition, Peggy and Kim have created a Livebinder made especially to accompany the session: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1099204#anchor You might also want to go to the Livebinders site and click on featured binders here. There you will find a veritable treasure trove of resources. During the nearly hour long session, Peggy and Kim enthusiastically explained about what a great tool Livebinders is and emphasized how it helps teachers to organize resources such as webpages, videos, .pdf documents, etc. around a single topic.

Furthermore, they also gave us great ideas on how to deliver professional development sessions around such a tool. They encouraged us to prepare a Livebinder with relevant topics prior to our PD session. They taught us that during the session, we need to scaffold learning by asking participants what they already know about 3-ring binders and explain how LiveBinders is similar but available on the web. They also encourage us to give our participants time to explore existing Livebinders, give a few quick directions about building a Livebinder, and then give participants time to start creating their own binder. As we all know, we learn best by doing. Also very important is providing time at the end to share and celebrate.

Kim and Peggy then proceeded to show how they got started when Kim had asked Peggy to come in and assist her PD on Livebinders. In delivering the session, they followed the guidelines mentioned above. Peggy then added a great element to the presentation when she invited the creators of Livebinders to Skype into the session and answer teachers’ questions as well as ask questions of them. The teachers all had a wonderful time and many went on to use Livebinders in their classrooms.

But, in the words of Kim and Peggy, “Wait! There is more.” Not only did they offer training for teachers, but some teachers invited them into their classrooms to teach the tool to their students. From there, Kim recruited some of the students to teach the tool to other students in the school as well as to teachers. She even took them on the road, and the selected students offered PD in other parts of the district. To find out how she prepared the kids to be teachers and to see some of the promotional videos the students made advertising the training sessions, just get comfortable, grab a cup of tea, and tune in here. I know I’m looking forward to making the time to view many more of the archived presentations. Have a great holiday. Carolyn

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