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Saturday, February 16, 2013

You Can Never Be The Expert in Your Own Backyard - Guest Post

This is a guest post from Alicia Roberts. Alicia invited me to her school last year and I finally got to visit last week. This is what she wrote about my time with her students and faculty members. 

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Richard Byrne as a guest speaker and trainer for 2 days of inservice for students and staff at Paradise Valley Christian Preparatory (PVCP) in Phoenix, AZ. I wanted to invite an “expert” to our campus and re-awaken the dream that students and teachers could and should be actively engaged in the borderless and global classroom we call home in the 21st century. Here is some insight on “what you get” by inviting an expert into your own backyard.

Lessons Worth Learning

Share what you have...and others will do the same.
PVCP held a Technology Symposium for the 21st Century Classroom with Richard as Keynote speaker. Knowing the value of Richard’s work we sent invitations out to five surrounding school districts to attend free of charge. Collaboration counts and we now have a Professional Network with Grand Canyon University, Dysart USD, Fowler USD, Cave Creek USD and Northwest Lutheran School where there had been no sharing of resources and Professional Development opportunities before.

Every minute can count. The week before Richard arrived the inservice schedule had to be completely revised. We adapted by having “A Round Table with Richard” for classes and teachers that could work with the unexpected game change. The ability to diversify content for each group was inspirational. See Richard’s schedule below:

1st Grade: Teaching students how big and connected we all are using Google Earth. Richard followed a path from his house in Maine to a friend in Canada to the place in Iceland where they like to go biking. He then had the class use Skype to sing to Jen the IT Specialist from Alberta, Canada the students' favorite song. Priceless!

7th Grade: Richard knows how to control a mob. The activity was to use Google Presentation and create a slideshow on Myths of the Desert using research tools, picture inserts, and citations. Student feedback - this tool met their needs and interests more than Powerpoint or Prezi.

High School: Topics that mattered most - Google Earth, Google Drive, Creative Commons Use, and How to Promote a Performance on Youtube. Nice to know...Richard shared stories of himself and created a genuine opportunity to discuss career options and personal development.

Staff Development: Richard really moved mountains by using the 3 hour inservice to get teachers comfortable using Google Drive, Evernote, QR Codes and Socrative. My personal highlight was seeing our Headmaster create a Twitter account and get a “hello” from those who follow Richard. The most inspirational moment of his visit was having the staff see what students had already accomplished online. Richard measurably pulled together our campus and community by his words and his ability to get teachers to buy into the power of these free tools.

FYI: All the tools “introduced” during his visit have been part of a professional mantra I tried to implore my staff to learn, but one they never fully embraced...which just proves the point that you can never be an expert in your own backyard!

Disclosure:
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 The generosity of time, talent, personal and genuine encouragement Richard gave to to students and teachers has provided fertile ground for the inspired student, and teacher.

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