As I mentioned in a previous post, last week I had the opportunity of co-leading multiple PD sessions. One of our goals was to get the attendees up and moving during the presentation. We wanted to engage them in multiple ways in order to model the different ways to engage the various students in our classrooms. One of the activities we organized is one that can be easily be modified for adults and students in multiple settings. I like to call the activity the gallery discussion.
We hung ten quotes/images around the room. These posters all referenced a specific topic: having a growth mindset. We asked the attendees to silently walk around the space and look at each poster. After a few minutes, we asked them to stand by the poster that resonated with them the most as to how they felt about having a growth mindset. They then discussed with other people who picked the same poster. After a few minutes, we asked them to find a poster that they thought represented how their students viewed having a growth mindset. They had a different conversation with their new groups.
This activity worked as a lead-in to more in-depth material focusing on what it means to have a growth mindset in the classroom. It can easily be adapted to other PD sessions, meetings, and lessons in the classroom. The gallery discussion allowed attendees to move around, engage their minds, talk with colleagues, and prepare mentally for longer period of time.
This past week, I had the opportunity to lead three PD sessions. One focused on reading and movement, so moving during the PD session seemed to be an expectation. The other two were based on differentiation, growth mindset, and educational equity. These sessions didn’t have a movement expectation. They could have easily been delivered as the typical presentation, dominating in lecture with a few moments of group talk. I have attending countless PD sessions that are highly informational that follow the same format. The format works, but when I think about what PD means to me as a presenter, I know that I have to utilize similar strategies that I would use in the classroom to activate the brain and keep people engaged.
This concept can and should be used with adults. Of course, the situation may dictate otherwise, but even small movements can help make connections in the brain. Each time I present a topic that is not a movement topic, and use movement, people in the audience are thankful. This past week, my co-presenter and I made a goal to model differentiation activities during our presentation. Since we were presenting for 6 hours, the level of planning it took to carefully align the information we were presenting with activities took time, but it paid off. Our feedback was positive as attendees appreciated being able to take back strategies they could immediately use in their classrooms (this is a goal I have with every presentation I give).
We used a variety of strategies, but we also planned movement at key moments in our presentation. Often times movement was used during transition periods and before/after intense moments of information. Like students, adults also need to get up and movement. Research looking at the effect of movement and learning ranges from preschool through senior citizens. Positive correlation have been found with every age group. In our presentation, we utilized our own version of the gallery walk (with tasks to complete), standing partner conversations, and group work requiring movement. Since we were talking about differentiation, it seemed fitting to use movement as the use of physical activity is a way to differentiate.
Multiple attendees thanked us for actually teaching what we were presenting rather than being teachers who were presenting. This is a thought that is lingering in my mind as I prepare for upcoming workshops at the AMLE Conference in Ohio and the KDP Convocation in Orlando. I think it is also something that presenters in general need to consider. It is relatively simple to present a bunch of slides, but it takes work to carefully consider how to model the information presented. If anything, it would help to add a little movement.