These Real-World Professional Development Setups Actually Work

professional developmentWith “Back to School” signs cropping up all over stores, educators are certainly aware of the imminent countdown to the first day of school and the first few days of inservice. But why wait till August or even September to indulge in exquisite professional learning… when these Wicked Good Ideas for Professional Development are ripe for the picking?

So What is a Wicked Good Idea? It is more than pin-worthy… it is something that forces you to stop and challenges you to think differently. In this two-part series, we will delve into professional development ideas that not only make you halt and take notice… but also jump-start your imagination and inspiration and drive you to pluck them and take action by remixing them or even creating one of your own.

Differentiated Professional Development

While we all agree differentiated instruction is a pedagogically sound idea for the classroom, oftentimes we neglect to apply this idea to professional development with adults.

“In our district teachers are all at very different (technology) integration levels. It makes it hard to support all learners at one time.” – Laura Moore

professional development

Laura Moore (@LearnMooreStuff), Kasey Bell (@ShakeUpLearning), and Cindy Darden (@iTechExpedition) have created delectable differentiated resources using tools like Canva, Thinglink, and even Bulb to meet the needs of a diverse group of educators. Based on the comfort level with technology, a participant selects from one of three learning paths or levels. Each of the three resources pictured above offers three different, thoughtfully designed, learning paths with tailored resources and tasks for each:

Truly, these ladies practice what they preach and teach:

“I think it’s important to model in professional development the strategies we want to see in the classroom.” – Kasey Bell

Personalized Professional Development

While Sabba Quidwai (@askMsQ) may take a slightly different app-roach to the obstacle of creating meaningful and engaging professional development, her vision clearly aligns with the intent of the educator’s featured above:

“We don’t want to tell you our vision for 21st century learning, we want to show you! We want you to feel it and experience it for yourself so you understand the level of excitement you can bring to your classroom.” – Sabba Quidwai

Providing self-directed challenges in the form of scaffolded interactive race tracks created with PhotoShop and augmented with Thinglink is just the ticket for Sabba. Rather than self-selecting their level of familiarity with technology, participants take an initial assessment to ensure that the professional development is personalized, giving the power to the teacher to set their own goals for progression in a way that best meets their needs.

After goal-setting, an AppSTACLE course is available for teachers that would like to familiarize themselves with the basic functionality of an application before diving in to developing lessons. As face-to-face professional learning time is valuable, these resources can be completed at the teacher’s convenience… leaving valuable time during a session or workshop for creating content rather than merely exploring and consuming it.

Even within a single track template, Sabba is able to provide a variety of step-by-step practice tasks for apps such as Book Creator and Touchcast or even create an entire iPad lesson flow for students using apps to discover the Impact of Imperialism allowing teachers to visualize what an entire lesson with multiple apps might look like.

professional development

For teachers that felt confident with an application, they might jump directly to creating their own AppTRACK of objective-focused tasks to be used with students or as professional development.

professional development

When educators are allowed to create and collaborate, curriculum and instruction truly begins to transform:

“AppTRACKS encourage app-smashing and the competition levels start to rise as educators challenge themselves to redefine learning.” – Sabba Quidwai

Check out all Sabba’s App-Stacle Courses on Thinglink and visit her blog for an in depth look at her spin on blending gamification and professional development. She even has additional race track backgrounds! And keep an eye out for her upcoming iBook on this very topic!

In the words of Austin Kleon…

“There’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing.”

Hopefully, this installment of Wicked Good PD has whet your palette and left you with a pedagogical nugget or two worth stealing… or at the very least… worth adding to the shelf of your pantry, or professional development warehouse, for future integration.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Wicked Good PD. In the meantime, peruse the “Wicked Good Ideas” Pinterest board and discover more ideas worth stealing.


  1. Michelle Macumber

    July 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Wicked good idea = something that forces you to stop and challenges you to think differently.

    I love this statement from the article above and I agree wholeheartedly! With so many resources and professional development offerings floating around, I think teachers truly are looking for those kinds of experiences – ideas and learning opportunities that will allow them to grow as educators, practical ideas that can be used in their teaching, and professional development that transfers directly back to the classroom and results in student learning and success.

    Each and every day I have the opportunity to engage with teachers who are involved in online global professional development. PD that does encourage educators (and then also their students) to think differently – to develop new attitudes, skills, and knowledge. They work through modules that are specific to their roles within their school (K-5, 6-8, 9-12, ESL, Dual Language) and design global PBI learning experiences, lesson plans, and activities based on their curriculum. The PD is designed for those who wish to develop skills as global educators while improving or expanding upon their use of technology within the classroom, as well as for their own professional growth. Teachers work at their own pace and towards their individual global and tech related professional goals.

    All of the professional development modules model best practices and strategies that are desirable in today’s classrooms as teachers prepare students for a globally competitive future. The PD is also accompanied by our global competence indicators for students and teachers – tools that assist teachers as they integrate global awareness into their classrooms.

    Really enjoyed reading about these other PD resources and experiences and I look forward to reading part two!

  2. Lisa Johnson

    July 23, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Thank you so much for your kind words and in depth accounts of global integration. I would love to hear more and see more from you. Is there a blog that details and showcases some of these resources and case studies?

  3. Dee Porter

    August 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    “…leaving valuable time during a session or workshop for creating content rather than merely exploring and consuming it.”

    All of my professional devlopment this summer has allowed time for reflection and creation. I love this trend! Thanks for this helpful article filled with great resources and more educators to learn from.

    I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn from you this summer at the iPad classroom workshop, Lisa. Not only have you shared useful tools and huge take-aways, but you have taught me how to carry the learning forward.