TeachMeet – excellent CPD!

 Well, I’ve done it! I’ve attended a TeachMeet! For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it is exactly what it says on the tin – a meeting of teachers mostly passionate to the point of madness interested in technology and how it can enhance learning.

Phrases like ‘unconference’ and ‘a coffee break that is the conference’ are other ways of viewing these events. The prime purpose is for teachers and others to meet in an informal way, share, talk and come away inspired by other practitioners about technology and how it can be used in the classroom. The sharing is in the form of very short ‘presentations’ (max 7 mins) about things that are successful in classrooms and being delivered by ordinary people.
Among the topics covered at the event I attended were: VLEs for free, using Goggle questionnaires,  getting organized via various Google sites, broadcasting with students, using Google maps and Google Treks to create the most wonderful adventures. The thread that went through them all was that by increasing the student voice in the involvement in the technology, learners do become more engaged, focused and make better progress. In the case of the broadcasting the input to the students was about the technicalities of making a broadcast. They researched light between themselves in order to present it as a news broadcast so it was peer to peer learning.
One spin off to letting the pupils ‘get at it’  was a presentation about how a plasma screen in the lobby of a school department running a blog with all sorts on it including weather, tweets, competitions  has now really become a focus for students and is changing their behaviour. They are arriving at lessons much calmer and more ready to learn. They have also asked if they can contribute to the blog!
For me this TeachMeet was a culmination of several months of stalking tweets and ‘eavesdropping’ on other such events. I was aware of the excitement they created and the fact that they are one of the best sources of CPD around at the moment. As is often the case in happenings like this, it is the chatter between presentations that is also so valuable.
We discussed for instance the different impact that has been made between the National Strategy roll outs and the various ICT initiatives (NoF, Laptops for Teachers). Literacy and numeracy are well embedded into our curriculums but in many schools, is ICT still regarded as an ‘extra’ only driven by geeks and keeners? The use of IT as a tool rather than as the answer to specific curricular questions was the purpose of a presentation from MicroSoft. It is all about giving learners another tool alongside pens, pencils and paper to continue their learning.
I had a great time and realize just how quickly the world moves on in technology. I had to be helped to get my memory stick out of the machine and I wrote my notes with a pencil on paper! Still, we’re never too old to learn so can someone pass me that Goggle Guide for Idiots please!

Teachers – do take the opportunity to go along to a TeachMeet if you can. The latest to be arranged can be found here!

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