This month we’re exploring how personalized PD supports adult learning theory, through incremental learning techniques (chunking), and self-directed study. At San Jacinto Unified School District, teachers and administrators are putting these techniques into practice, using our blended learning platform as a resource. SJUSD, one of our partner districts and a Chrome Warrior early-adopter, serves over 9.500 students at seven elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools in Southern California. The district boasts a technology-rich, 21st century curriculum and provides Chromebooks, tablets or iPads for students and teachers.
Achieving educational technology goals
The program is supported by the district’s education technology department, whose mission is “to use educational technology as an innovative way to design, deliver, facilitate, and manage instruction for learners of all ages.” Led by coordinator David Sheiner and TOSAs Heidi Baynes and Gabrielle Henderson, the department provides resources to help integrate technology and create technology-enhanced student-centered learning environments to improve instruction, collaboration, and student engagement. In an effort to support their vision to provide personalized learning opportunities for both teachers and students, the department decided to launch Chrome Warrior as part of their 2016-17 school year goals. Ultimately, Chrome Warrior was adapted in the district to “promote the use and integration of Web 2.0, iOS, and Google-based technologies.”
“We adopted Chrome Warrior last year and have loved how it has shifted our PD options. We were able to customize the game according to the needs of our district, but Chrome Warrior provided us a template to get started. The system is easy to use and the developers are constantly making upgrades that improve both the user and back-end administrator experience,” said TOSA Heidi Baynes.
Designing the game
Our team met with representatives from SJUSD in July of 2016 to develop a game that would support ed-tech goals, and create a self-paced, bite-sized, differentiated professional development option for learning skills and pedagogical applications. The district also hoped to empower teachers to attend professional development training from a distance any time they choose. In addition to developing the framework and content for the game, our team assisted the district in branding the game as “Chrome Warriorland,” which draws inspiration from theme parks. Each level is a ride, and badges are named and designed after Disney attractions.
- Big Thunder Bronze Communication, Collaboration and Digital CitizenshipLearn how to effectively communicate and collaborate with students and staff through the use of Google tools.
- Small World Silver Research Skills and Assessment each your students excellent and time saving research skills and learn how to use assessment to drive your instruction.
- Pirates Gold Blended Learning and GamificationBring blended learning and gamification to your classroom. Increase learning through highly engaging activities.
- Space Mountain PlatinumProject Based Learning and Individualized Instruction Learn approaches to designing and implementing effective PBL in your classroom through collaborative projects, team problem solving, technology and individualized instruction.
- Chrome Castle Critical Thinking Earn certifications in Google, Microsoft and Apple tools. Become an Ed-Tech leader at your school site!
Self-directed & self-paced
SJUSD opted not to make Chrome Warriorland mandatory, ensuring that their PD program is self-directed, self-paced, and drives choice. Since its launch in August of 2016, over half of all teachers (220+) have signed up for the game. Teachers are rewarded for their participation with individual and school-wide incentives. For signing up, teachers receive a Chrome Warriorland sticker. When they achieve bronze, they receive a CW tee-shirt, and an Acer 11” Chromebook when they advance to silver. School-wide incentives include a pizza party for the first school to have every teacher registered to play, and a Friday donut party for the school with the most total points at the end of each month.
“It is not mandatory in our district, but people are willing to take the time and complete the missions in the game because they can spend 5 minutes working on it, or hours working on it if they choose. Chrome Warrior is also optimized for mobile devices, so I know that some teachers work on it outside of school hours when they find themselves standing in lines or sitting in waiting rooms. (I’ve also had teachers complete Chrome Warrior sorties while they were sitting in other PD meetings!) We are looking forward to continuing to build and promote our Chrome Warrior game within our district,” said Baynes.
Online for just six months, SJUSD’s new blended-learning PD program has been positively received by both teachers and the educational technology department. Many teachers have already advanced to bronze, silver, and gold, and are publically recognized by the district for their achievements on social media. The district has managed to foster a self-directed learning environment and a positive attitude towards professional development through the enthusiastic participation of teachers who are supported by program administrators. Take a look at what some teachers have to say about Chrome Warriorland:
- “I am having fun with this Chrome Warrior. The coding one was really fun. I had never played Minecraft before but all my students are obsessed with it. I will have to use it with them." -Jennifer Dean, 2nd grade teacher from Hyatt Elementary
- "Chrome Warriorland is the best PD! It's a great way to learn educational technology at your own pace and at your own level" -Denise Leonard, MVHS TOSA
- “It is getting me to try new things, and it's answering some questions I actually had... instead of researching how to do something, I've actually come here to see the tasks and found ones I needed.” -Tara Andreassen