Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What is Patio PD? Reflections on my first experience

    A few weeks ago, I was cruising on Twitter and saw some tweets that caught my eye.  I had recently started following Jason Bretzmann (@jbretzmann) after attending one of his sessions at Summer Spark. Jason was tweeting out reminders about #patiopd. Hmmm, I thought. I wonder what that is. Then, I followed the link and found out that patio pd is exactly what it sounded like. Jason invites educators to come join him and Kenneth Bosch (@kennybosch) on his patio to have conversations and to learn about flipping classrooms and anything else teachers might like to know. It is a fabulous idea, right? If you want more information, you can find it here:

    I quickly made a plan to get to the first session. I even convinced my husband Ramon, who just finished his second year teaching, to come with me. We had a wonderful time. The best part of the experience for me was sharing it with my husband. I had not been able to convince him in the past to attend edcamp with me. I didn't convince him to come to Summer Spark with me. Somehow, this format was less intimidating or something and he came along. Woo-hoo! He loved hearing ideas from other educators and finally understood what I have been talking about for years...this kind of collaboration is energizing and inspiring. I love that he also was able to help a few teachers to set up their Google classroom accounts and to be the expert for that part of the time. I will have a lot more success in the future when I am trying to get him to come with me to PD opportunities.

     So, you ask, what actually went on at this session of Patio PD? Well, I am glad you asked. First, Jason and Kenneth took time to describe what flipping a classroom means. They each told about how they implement this concept in their own classrooms. This conversation morphed into a discussion about passion time/genius hour/20% time. We talked about different models for genius hour and how it is implemented in different classrooms and subject areas. A shout-out was given to Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr) and her amazing LiveBinder all about genius hour. I shared a little bit about how I have implemented this idea, both in middle school ELA classes and in 4th grade. Our discussion really got people thinking about what this would mean in their own classrooms.

     Another thread of conversation at our Patio PD was the discussion of implementing Fantasy GeoPolitics in middle school. This is a really cool resource for any Social Studies teachers out there. Since I teach 4th grade, I am not sure this will be something I can do in my classroom, but I think it would be a fabulous way to bring current events to a middle school or high school class. This is an activity similar to fantasy football or baseball. The students do a draft and get countries throughout the world. They then get points based on mentions in world news for the country they drafted. I am sure students would really love it. To find out more about this amazing resource you can go here:

    One other fabulous website that we looked at is Kahoot I have never used this website, but I was glad to be able to ask my questions about this fun site. I think both my husband and I will be using it this year.

    Then, the coolest part of our session was playing with the cool tech toys. We looked at a lot of fun tools that would have varying uses in classrooms. Of course, now I really want to buy all of these great tools. Here is what we got to play with:

 Swivl --I had heard of and even priced this tool in the past. It would be excellent for making a teaching video for any of the many reasons that people might do this. I think a tool like this would be fantastic to have in the classroom. The demonstration and conversation focused mostly on being able to make videos for flipping. We also talked about how videos are great artifacts for evidence in the Educator Effectiveness evaluation process in Wisconsin. I also think this would be a great tool for videotaping student groups during a time like literature circles.

Osmo -- This is a fun game accessory that works with iPads. Students can manipulate things on the table and the iPad reads what they are doing. It would be so much fun to come up with games for students to do as stations or small group work. Right now, on the website, there is a buy one, give one promotion. When you buy an Osmo, the company gives one to a classroom in the USA of your choice. What a great deal!

Sphero -- I want to do a lot more with coding in my classroom this year. Sphero is a great tool for helping students to be motivated to do this. I would love to have multiples of this tool. Oh, how I wish there were funds for one of those classroom packs!

Catchbox -- This is a microphone that is in a protective, cushy box that can be thrown. Oh, the possibilities for this fun technology. I am imagining class meetings, great presentations that everyone can hear, and even better days for my voice. Time to drum up some funds.


As we wrapped up our day together, we did have a discussion about how to afford these types of tools in our classrooms. We suggested that DonorsChoose would be a wonderful resource for helping us to be able to get some awesome technology.

    Overall, our time at Patio PD was well spent. Ramon and I left energized and still talking about all the great ideas we heard. My mind is spinning with all sorts of new ideas about technology and how to continue with passion projects this year. I know Ramon is also really interested in doing Genius Hour in his AP Spanish Language and Culture class. I am excited to get to more sessions to hear the great ideas and collaborate with these great teachers! If you are nearby, you should definitely join us for Patio PD!

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