Part of our RUS Grant requirements for each of the buildings with new videoconferencing carts this year has been to participate in a 30-90 minute staff meeting overview of videoconferencing. Today’s session was rescheduled three times due to snow days and fog delays, and we almost had a snow day today! Yes, that’s the view out my window this morning!
These professional development sessions were all conducted via videoconferencing, and most of them were during regularly scheduled staff meetings.
Overview of RUS Grant
We start with a quick overview of the USDA RUS DLT grant and how it came to their building, along with an explanation of the eligibility requirements of the grant. Some of the districts in our service area weren’t eligible, so I always explain why they were included.
Overview of VC Equipment
Next we talk about what they see in front of them. I always like to ask teachers questions that they can ask their students to make sure they understand this isn’t broadcast quality TV. “How can I see you?” “How can I hear you?” We talk about muting and etiquette. I compare the pixelation to the blocks you see on digital TV and joke about a local student who thought the presenter was morphing into a monster. Then we play a game with the remote. I ask for a volunteer and have them “pick on” another teacher and zoom in with a nice head shot. We set a preset and then that teacher gets to pick on someone else. I usually do 2-3 of these depending on how much time we have. Then we process how fast presets are and how long it takes to move the camera without them.
Next we cover the three main categories of VC use in our service area. I always start with projects since they are free! I put on my hat and talk about Read Around the Planet. I tell them about the MysteryQuest sessions available for their grade level(s). I usually show a video clip of MysteryQuest World for middle school. For elementary I show either Where in Michigan or my tape with clips from Read Around the Planet and Michigan Week. I talk about projects they can come up with on their own, usually using my worm farm story for elementary or the ESL story for middle school.
I talk about our ASK programs and feature upcoming sessions with openings. I show them a picture book kit and explain the difference between connecting to an author and connecting to a specialist. I emphasize that these programs are free to them but not to me! REMC funds these programs because we believe they are powerful learning experiences.
Finally, we end with content providers. If time, I show them how to search and we talk about possibilities for each grade level represented. We cover local scheduling procedures and how our mini-grant program works. Finally we take time for questions and wrap up.
It’s a very quick overview, but it sets the teachers at ease with the idea of videoconferencing and helps them realize the potential for their curriculum. This year, buildings who did the demo earlier in the school year were more likely to have more teachers participate in videoconferencing throughout the year.
So, how do YOU introduce your teachers to videoconferencing? Share a comment!