Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PD Day of PLAY - Take 2

Last school year (October 2009) we ran a High School Professional Development Day called the PD Day of PLAY, where PLAY was an acronym for Passionate Learning About You. It was a scaled down version of the IB-MYP Personal Project based on the readings of Dan Pink and Sir Ken Robinson along with John C. Maxwell and Todd Whitaker. Teachers had the day to explore an area of Singapore, investigate a problem they wanted to solve or create a project ... all on their own schedule for the day. Teachers wrote and recorded music, some just wrote, they learned software, some explored the far corners of Singapore, a couple kayaked, one learned a new art, one worked on her Mandarin and a few experimented with some new recipes. All in all the feedback was positive. So much so that I felt I need to share the success of the day at the IBO Conference in March 2010.

My Prezi for the IBO presentation in March 2010 and staff reflections from the first PD Day of PLAY:

But as this school year developed and I wanted to run another PD Day of PLAY, something just didn’t sit right with me, I was one of the kayakers, there were two of us. There were three aspiring chefs, but the rest of the staff chose to work in isolation. Don’t get me wrong, they did some amazing things. But as an educator in the 21st Century, I can hear everyone screaming “collaboration” from the top of the internet satellites. That along with my recent ADE 2011 experience, where sharing and learning together were consistent themes ... I felt I needed to address this.

So on May 17, 2011, the basic idea was the same, full day, do what you’re passionate about. But we ran through some exercises (thanks to Rebecca Stockley) that engaged the staff in finding out more about each other, exploring common ideas and forming groups. The reflection at the end of the day was different as well. The groups had five minutes to present their findings to the rest of the staff. Here’s what came out of the day:

1. A emotional day of volunteering at an old age home

2. Photography and camera work at Jurong Bird Park

3. Writing and recording an original score

4. Creating a movie of the people of Singapore

5. Learning Yoga and biking the area around the new campus

6. Individual challenges with photography around Singapore

7. Exploring Kent Ridges Park, Science Centre and the Asian Civilization Museum

8. Learning new software

9. Risk Analysis and Golf ECA inquiries

Staff reflections on PD Day of PLAY - Take 2 are in the comments below:


Anonymous said...

This year's day of PLAY was far less successful for me personally. This could have been due to the timing or the new rules (which I didn't follow), or the fact that i felt a little busy on top of it all. I think my reaction to the collaboration rules was that although collaboration often yields great results (two heads are better than one) it can also often drag things down to the LCD. Last year I enjoyed setting myself a personal challenge (writing and recording a song in a day), whereas this year I needed to try and fit myself into a group of people with the same interests but probably not the same goals (the photo group ended up working this out very well - should have gone with them).

None of this is meant to say that it isn't a good idea or a valuable experience. I hope this continues and spreads to the other divisions (Are you reading this Keith). It's still the best PD money can buy.


Rick B said...

Making a Song
While the original intent was simply to do a cover of a currently recorded song, not having one in mind allowed us to start from scratch and make our own. As there were only 3 of us, this required some adjustments as to the possibilities. Collaboration and teamwork were necessary. As it was a Monday and two of us would have preferred watching baseball, we decided to think of a blues number along the lines of "Missin' Baseball Blues".
The day went well: finding a key, developing a progression, developing a structure from the progression (verse, bridge, verse, etc.), finding a melody within the structure, and finding soloing spots to round it off.
This PD activity will help me to assist in music ECAs, especially with students who want to do original tunes.

In the end, as with all artistic activity, the final product usually doesn't match up to the vision in the mind, but I was pleased with the sound that we were able to produce (although we really do need to get rid of that guitar player)!

Amanda O said...

I found this year's Day of PLAY to be extremely beneficial to me as a growing and developing photographer. This has become a relatively new hobby for me and collaborating with more experienced photographers really helped to further develop my skills.

We spent the day walking around Chinatown, Club Street, and the Marina Financial Center exploring parts of Singapore we had never seen before. Although our group went to the same locations, the four of us each had a personal goal that we were trying to achieve. I wanted to see Singapore through the creative eye of a tourist, not just someone who lives here. Living in a county we often take it's beauty for granted. Travel photography has become one of my biggest passions, yet here I am in Singapore with no detailed, creative photographs to document my travels.

One of the most interesting aspects of the day was to realize the art of perspective. We could all be standing on the same street in Chinatown viewing the same red lanterns, but all produce a very different type of photo. I thoroughly enjoyed my learning experiences of the day and appreciate the talent/hobbies that my three colleagues have.

Anonymous said...

Last time, myself and 2 other teachers taught each other how to cook one dish. That was fun. But this year, it was good to do something outside. I went to Jurong Bird Park with 4 other teachers. Some of us had never been there before and it has changed a lot since the last time I was there. The bird shows were entertaining as well as educational.

A lot of the park rangers talked about conservation which fits in with the Environment and Sustainability unit in grade 9. The students would probably enjoy a field trip there.

I took a lot of photos, but I think I need a better camera.

Anonymous said...

Is a risk taker born or made?

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of having time to explore something new or engage in something you are passionate about. For my Day of Play I began the day with trying Yoga for the first time and than spending the afternoon exploring Juroung by bike. I associate play with physical activities and therefore took a physically active approach to the day. Being placed in a situation of a beginning learner in Yoga was a good experience and reminder of what techniques and skills teachers should be trying to use to be effective with students who are constantly taking on new material and challenges. I plan to go to at least two more classes before I leave Singapore. Biking was a refresher and reminder of the need to get out and explore. These are both activities.

Anonymous said...

As PLAY is new to me, I wasn't sure what to expect initially. My day's plan consisted of a hike to be followed by a museum visit. More advanced planning would have be beneficial as the museum of choice didn't open until later than anticipated.

Limited planning and organization issues aside, I had a great day as a member of a group, and then pair for a day of enrichment. I would have appreciated more time to finish out the planned activities since a 3pm presentation meant an early return to school.

Exploring Science Park, Hort Park, and Kent Ridge Park was wonderful. With civilization squeezing out Singapore's nature, I feel it's important to encourage our students to appreciate their surroundings and nature in general.

Scott L. said...

What I enjoyed most about the day was the collaborative element of our PLAY. Both our morning and afternoon sessions gave us an opportunity to learn from one another and about one another. It was a great day of teambuilding that set the groundwork for collaboration on future projects.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed last year's PD far more as I had a chance to plan my activity and set my personal goals well in advance. This year was somewhat rushed, or maybe just felt that way. I did enjoy exploring the Jurong Bird Park (JBP) and my camera with my colleagues. I got to see the JBP with new eyes with those who hadn't been and experienced it anew for myself. It has lots of possibilities for enrichment as the eco-system, sustainability and statistical analysis are all elements that can be highlighted by a visit. I found the cost and excessive prohibitions on discounts and panorail use to be offputting as they are blatant mony grabs. The shows put on by the JBP staff did make up for some of that. For my own peace of mind, I will be following up to give feedback to the JBP as those un-user-friendly aspects that marred my first visit are still in evidence, such as inadequate signage or poorly placed signage. I enjoyed this activity overall because we were a diverse group and each person brought different emphasis and focus to each part of the day. I wish we had a more coherent goal for our activity, but that would have required time and planning which we didn't have this time around.

Anonymous said...


Having completed a very guided photography course not long ago, I've been feeling dissatisfied by not working on a photography project of my own. So I jumped at the opportunity to do this on our day of PLAY.

I was with a fabulous group of women and our working style for this project was extremely compatible. Even though one of our ground rules was that we should feel free to leave the group at any time, somehow we never felt the need. Our meanderings through two sections of Singapore were led by our varying interests. And our differences fed into each other's individual needs of the day.

I felt stretched as a photographer in the best way - I had time to plan, to reflect and to move along with the tide of the day's experiences too. As a life-long learner, for me, it was a very satisfying day.

I now have more material for my personal portfolio and look forward to sharing it with the students who will be in the photography ECA next academic year.

Finally, for better or for worse, this day has opened a Pandora's box for me. Spending an entire day thinking in terms of a truly personal project brought to mind a few more things I have on my wishlist to do in the very near future.

Anonymous said...

I certain enjoyed the idea of having a day of play, however I would have liked to have more time to think about and plan the day. Some activities that came to mind during the planning session would require research, phone calls and booking.
I decided to join a group that wanted to explore new parts of Singapore, interview locals and make a short movie of the day. What I gained from the experience was the opportunity to be a risk taker. I often encourage my students to be risk takers but seldom do so myself. To break out of my comfort zone and conduct interviews was nerve-wracking. How would we come across? Would people talk to the camera? Would we just be bothering people?
In the end I found it rather enjoyable to walk up to complete strangers and interview them about the city they live in.

Anonymous said...

Volunteer work

St Joseph's Home and Hospice, located in West Jurong is a home for the aged and terminally ill people from lower income families.

I felt good that I had been able to finally organize volunteering at St. Joseph's home and that too at such a short notice. I was enthusiastically waiting to start the day.

As I was taken around the home 'the bounce in every step' feeling that I had was slowly fading away. I was soon overwhelmed with feelings of anger, guilt, joy and gratefulness. I was shocked with the tears that flowed down my eyes when the old lady that I was feeding finally managed to swallow down water after twenty long minutes of our combined effort. I was drained of both mental and emotional energy. I thought of my own loved ones who are with me no more. I thought of all my blessings and of those around me that we often take for granted. I thought of all the things that I could be doing and wasn't doing.

I was impressed with the staff, mostly very young girls from Philippines and Myarmar, their cheerful smiles and patience with the old folks. I was impressed with how clean the place was and that it did not have the dreaded smell that I usually associate with such places. I was impressed with how little it takes to make someone so happy.

The PLAY day was very meaningful, a day of learning and reflection. I had never gone on such a roller coaster ride of emotions with something that was not directly connected to my life. I hope to continue the PLAY day. I hope to be able to continue it through CAS for our students and perhaps a staff volunteer day.


Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you to our great leader for giving us this opportunity. I know that it must have been a struggle to get the ok for something this unconventional. Hats off to you!

I have to admit that I was hoping to get time to complete our Atlas projects, enter comments as well as make our exams, therefore I did not enter the game openly. But once I had chosen my day of PLAY, I was very happy with this opportunity. I really enjoyed being active as it is a sometimes difficult to take time to add physical activity to the week. The chance to be in nature is refreshing and energizing as well. (With the exception for the many mosquito bites... :(

Thanks again Ted,

Renee B

Andrew said...

Day of Play was interesting for me as we were able to show creativity, see new places and work as a team to deliver a product. I had no experience whatsoever in video editing so picking up these skills was useful.

I was shy at asking questions of others but overcome that somewhat when I discovered that people really weren't that shy in answering questions. Maybe if they knew there answers were going to be manipulated as they were by our devious crew they would not be so forthcoming.

The planning was a bit lacklustre given the short lead in time. The scope of the task was probably also too large to compelte in a day. It would have been nice to have the time to explore other places but we knew that the editing would take time.