12 engaging activities to rock your back to school PD - Ditch That Textbook

12 engaging activities to rock your back to school PD

Professional development

Professional development | Friday, August 16, 2019

12 engaging activities to rock your back to school PD

12 engaging activities to make your Back to School PD rock
12 engaging activities to make your Back to School PD rock

Those first few days back at school before the students arrive are precious. We need time to collaborate with our colleagues and get back in gear. We also have required trainings and meetings we must attend.

For some, these days are filled with dread. Boring meetings that “could have been an email” or trainings that don’t meet our needs in the classroom.

But for others, these first few days are motivating, meaningful and even fun.

So what can we do to make Back to School professional development more inviting? And how can we incorporate teacher voice into the planning process?

During a past #Ditchbook chat, moderated by Evan Mosier and Elizabeth McCartney, educators tackled these questions and more. They shared their thoughts along with tons of ideas for making the most of these in-service days.

12 engaging activities to rock your back to school PD!

Below you will find 12 engaging professional development ideas and activities. Be sure to check out our Back to School post to see tons more ideas to share with your colleagues plus visit our Back to School Pinterest board full of even more resources.

1. Get them collaborating and critically thinking with a digital escape room!

Digital escape rooms are a super fun way to get your staff collaborating while putting on their detective hats and solving puzzles! Try putting them in groups and sharing one of these free digital escape rooms with them. Remember don't share the page with the answers until AFTER they complete the escape room!

Shared by:  Tisha Richmond

2. Offer lots choice.

Whether it's choice as to which sessions to attend or choice of learning opportunities inside the session teachers love options as much as our students do. 

Check out this "A Time to Create" PD choice board shared by Nick Riemann for inspiration and a link to the template used to create it.

You can also offer self paced PD options with our Summer PD BINGO choice board.

Shared by: Stacy Saia

3. Celebrate the unsung heroes at your site.

We know that there are tons of staff members that work behind the scenes making our school communities work. Spending some time at the beginning of the year to honor these unsung heroes is a wonderful way to start the school year.

Shared by:  Matt Meyer

4. Try a school scavenger hunt.

Using Goose Chase EDU or by creating your own, you can send your PD participants off on an adventure they'll never forget!

Back to School Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Staff from Goose Chase EDU

Shared by:  Amy Ronayne

5. Use Flipgrid to create staff intro videos.

Using Flipgrid for your back to school PD sessions can be a great way to connect with each other even before you see on another face to face. 

Looking for more ideas for using Flipgrid in PD? Check out this Flipgrid in professional development integration doc.

Shared by:  Elizabeth McCartney

6. Talk about time-savers (and model efficiency!)

As John Hartmann reminded us, teacher's time is precious. Be sure to keep your pd sessions efficient. You can also give teachers the gift of time by sharing your own time saving tips and help them get the most out of the hours they have.

Try out some of these and share your top ten!

Shared by:  John Hartmann

7. Play a familiar school-themed game

There are lots of ways to gamify your back to school pd and playing a school-themed game is one of them. 

Try a school year Pictionary game. It's like regular Pictionary you can play with your class but all of the topics are school related.

Shared by:  Abbi Lievens

8. Use Kahoot, Quizizz, Gimkit, Quizlet, Blooket and more to gamify your PD

The best way to learn about a tool is to try it yourself. What better way to do that than to play a fun game show style game with your staff. 

Idea: Have your pd participants answer a few questions about themselves and use that to build your game!

Want more ideas for how to gamify your PD? Check out our Gameshow Classroom online course.

Shared by:  Katherine Goyette

New online course!

Game Show Classroom

Designing gamified learning experiences for your students

9. Assign a STEM challenge

STEM challenges are so much fun! Try one with your PD participants and give them a fun activity to do with their own class. 

Try any of these from the PBS Design Squad Activity guide. Our favorite is the Watercraft Challenge which can be used again with this Introduction to the Design Process HyperDoc.

Shared by:  Lisa Dick

10. Add a Family Feud-style game to your next PD

Who doesn't like adding a good game to a class or professional development session? It's great for mixing things up and breaking out of the traditional hum-drum.

PowerPoint Jeopardy! has been done for years -- probably decades at this point.

How about a Family Feud game instead?

How to add a Family Feud-style game to your next class/PD

Shared by: Matt Miller

11. Collaborate in real time with Jamboard

Jamboard is great for brainstorming -- gathering ideas, sorting them by color, organizing them on different frames, moving them together, drawing lines to connect important ideas, etc. Give participants a brainstorming space -- and, if it fits, let them collaborate, too!

Get the template here.

Want MORE Google Jamboard ideas? Check out our online course!

Shared by: Matt Miller

The Do More with Google Jamboard 

Online Course!

This course will introduce you to Jamboard features you might not know. It will give you dozens of ideas for using it in the classroom.

Plus, it provides you with:
- A collection of more than 100 templates.
40 activity ideas you can use immediately
Tutorial slides to use as a quick visual review.
- Interactive infographics you can give your students
- Video playlists, posts, and extra resources.

12. Have a theme

Themes give us a great way to tie everything together in a fun way.  You can use a theme to create a game, add decorations, name tables/teams and more. 

Shared by: Stacy Saia


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