EdTech Chef #OTFalcons

The faculty of Osage Trail Middle School recently completed our second annual EdTech Chef competition.  During the challenge, faculty were encouraged to stretch and transform their technology integration through a collaborative activity and competition based on sessions from ISTE 2013.  Each collaborative team used the following ingredients to create a lesson or unit (in one hour) that could be taught within the next few weeks at OTMS:

  • A content standard (provided by the staff)
  • An ISTE Student Standard (given to teams the day of the competition)
  • Three Technology Tools (given to teams the day of the competition)
  • A Library Resource (given to teams the day of the competition)
  • Any Google for Education Apps, textbook resources, or technology tools that teachers already use in class

In full disclosure, I could not have designed this activity without help from our Instructional Facilitator, Melanie Bosch (@MBosch34) who provided ideas, support, encouragement, and redirection at every point in the planning process.  Designing the second challenge was easier for both of us due to the lessons we learned while planning and executing the first EdTech Chef Challenge in 2015,  While much of the process remained the same, we took time to reflect on our first experience while designing the sequel and made changes along the way to improve the experience.

Before the day began, all faculty were given instructions along with a schedule of the event in a blog post. Most faculty members participated in the first EdTech Chef Challenge, but there were also several new staff who were not familiar with the procedures and goals of the activity.  The following instructions summarize the purpose of the activity.

. . . you are not producing a complete lesson plan script, but a general plan including the why and how you will use your technology ingredients.  The main focus of the competition rubric addresses WHY technology is used.  Why is it used to transform? Why is it used to differentiate?  Why is it used in the formative assessment cycle?  Does this technology use truly enhance the lesson or simply replace another tool or process–or worse yet, hinder learning through unnecessary use?  As you participate in the event, don’t get bogged down in all the details (the “how”) of making the technology work perfectly or figuring out every step necessary to setting up a successful assignment–there won’t be time for that.  Begin with your content standards and ISTE Student Standard, then get an idea of what the tech tools can do, and then ask the question “How can we meet our content and ISTE standards along with the requirements of the competition rubric using these technology tools?”  Utilize the strengths of your team and create a truly collaborate result that can be shared with the entire faculty.  Be creative and have fun, but remember that your lesson or activity should be usable in an OTMS classroom.  (The rubric for the presentations will be the same as last year.) We hope that the preparation and presentation portions of this competition will be valuable learning experiences, helping us reflect on why and how we currently use technology within instruction, and where our next steps in the process of transformation lie.

In an attempt to describe the process of designing this activity in a linear fashion, I will outline the steps we took to prepare for the event.

  • Set the date and schedule and invited “Celebrity Judges” from our central office to participate in the presentation phase of the event
  • We designed a rubric based on building instructional goals–we were careful to ensure that technology was used to support instruction, rather than designing instruction to support a particular technology
  • After announcing the event in a November faculty meeting, all faculty completed the Quantic Foundry Gamer Motivation Profile (this was a new step this year).  They reported the results of this survey through a Google Form.
  • Each content area submitted a content standard they would cover in class during January or early February 2016.  We wanted the lesson developed during this activity to be useable soon after it was created.
  • Melanie and I created collaborative teams based on the content standards we were given.  We matched standards from different contents based on a logical connection between the two standards.
  • We created a reference document with links to all of the technology tools, along with a short description and links to help files and tutorials. (I wanted faculty to spend time exploring the tools rather than finding help documents or tutorials).
  • On the day of the event
    1. We started with instructions for the event and announced the teams
    2. Each team received a paper copy their technology ingredients and last minute instructions, along with copies of their library resources
    3. Teams had 55 minutes to prepare their lesson and any presentation slides/documents
    4. Teams submitted links to presentation slides/documents through a Google Form that closed at a specific cutoff time (using formLimiter)
    5. Teams had 5 minutes to present their lesson to the rest of the faculty and celebrity judges (we assigned a time-keeper to keep strict time)
    6. As each team presented, I displayed the information they submitted through the Google Form in step 4.
    7. Using the rubric, faculty and “celebrity judges” (Central Office) evaluated each presentation. (We learned from the first year to instruct the faculty to vote only once and not for their own team.)
    8. We asked a math teacher to help tally scores (using a Google Spreadsheet to do the calculations), and our principal awarded prizes to the three teams with the top scores
    9. Faculty completed an evaluation through a Google Form