We had a professional development faculty meeting after school today.565cb82227332b27df342de5b68f42d3.jpg

The format?

It was a modified “unconference.”

Teachers were given the opportunity to choose their own topics for the meeting. Then, with a sense of what everyone wanted to talk about or work on (via face to face conversations or email), the building principal helped teachers locate meeting spaces throughout the building…and away we went!

I spent the hour with a group of teachers discussing data.

Wait, wait!

It’s a lot more interesting than that sounds!

We didn’t just talk about data or even about how collect the data. (There are plenty of those conversations happening already.)

We talked about how to use the data.

We talked about existing data sets as well as how our students can start looking at the information they are constantly discovering on their own, differently.

We talked about visualizing that data and the importance of developing a stronger sense of numeracy. We talked about presenting information with purpose and discussed some tools that our students could use to design information.

Given the “unconference” style of the professional development, there really was no leader. Each of us in the small group contributed to the conversation and a few of us shared some resources. All of us learned something.

One teacher shared how he is using Gapminder — an interactive website for analyzing data about the world’s population — according to indicators such as life expectancy, economy, infrastructure, and more.

Here is founder of Gapminder, Hans Rosling, demonstrating the program during his TED Talk from February of 2006.

Another teacher shared how she is using ArcGIS — an online program for making custom maps and layering data and geographic information over images.

We spent a good deal of time looking through a map we found that compared the current minimum wage to the cost of living across the U.S. (a timely topic) and, just as our students will also do when they use the program, we discussed and analyzed the information we learned, we interpreted it and thought of ways we could apply it. 2016-04-18.jpg

And then I shared a couple of my favorite videos that I’ve been using as I work with teachers in planning lessons — in all subject areas — that incorporate data visualization and information design and give students the opportunity to create their own designs.

This first one is short and sweet and sums up data visualization nicely. It’s a great video for working with both teachers and students. There are often many lightbulbs and “ah-ha” moments about upcoming projects or ways to execute a design after watching this video.

Finally, I shared this video from John Spencer about the LAUNCH cycle. I love using this video (and the LAUNCH cycle vocabulary) for helping students to slow down through the creation process, incorporate more design thinking, and take more pride in their work.

I had a fun time with this group, and I learned a lot. We each have lots of things we want to explore on our own and things we know we will follow up on with each other.

Not bad for a Monday afternoon faculty meeting.*


Looks like a pretty happy group, huh?

~What did YOU do in school today?


*Here are the other teacher-generated topics from today’s “unconference” faculty meeting:

  • LGBT/Dr. Sax Extension
  • H/PE & PARCC
  • Best Practices
  • Classroom Projects Done with Video: (Bring examples if possible) 
  • Progress Indicators for Special Education Students
  • World Language Rubric Workshop
  • Why Students Cheat
  • Annual Input Support

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