Monday, August 17, 2015

The Tonka AppMazing Race

Just over a week ago I attended the second annual iPadPalooza- Minnesota conference at TIES in St. Paul. Like last year, Carl Hooker was there as a speaker. He started the iPadPalooza events at his district in Texas. Carl is a fun, energetic guy with a lot of great ideas. Besides iPadPalooza, one of his great ideas is the AppMazing Race. In an AppMazing Race, teachers work in teams and go through a series of tasks using various apps on their iPad. 

One of our Tech Integration Specialists, Peter Gausmann, actually first heard Carl speak about the AppMazing Race at the TIES Technology Conference in Minneapolis in December 2014. Carl led attendees at a session through an abbreviated AppMazing Race, and Peter loved it so much that he and Sara Hunt, another Tech Integration Specialist, implemented it at our middle school iPad teacher trainings a few months later.

It was an immediate home run. Teachers reported having fun and enjoying their training session, which was great to hear! They practiced a number of apps in the process, experiencing learning just like their students in a deeper and more memorable way than a traditional training model. We then brought this successful experience to our high school training sessions, where Technology Integration Specialists Ben Stanerson and Sara Martinson had our high school teachers go through an AppMazing Race in the spring of 2014. Once again, it was a success and teachers loved it. Andy Smith, our District Videographer, filmed some of this and produced the video you can watch below. He did a great job capturing the learning and fun that took place. Our teachers have started creating activities for their students using the AppMazing Race format, too. I recently saw the lesson plans from one of our high school social studies teachers who has this planned for an activity on the first day of school with her students in a few weeks.

In Minnetonka, we attribute much our success as a leader in educational technology to our professional development. We constantly strive to provide the best training and support possible for our teachers, and are always looking for new and innovative ways to do this. I am thankful to Carl for sharing his AppMazing Race idea with others outside his school so that other teachers can experience this fun, successful professional development learning experience, too!

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