By Mary Worrell
The teams from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia cohort gathered to celebrate at a culminating event last month and share their projects.
Nancy Caramanico, director of technology for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Catholic Schools, said having full participation from all of the district’s high schools enhanced the experience for all the teams involved.
“We have 20 high schools in our system and I was looking for something that would be able to impact the schools,” she said. The district formed their own cohort and invited six people from each school, including teachers, administrators and high school technicians.”We were interested in professional development that harnesses both innovative technology and sound and rigorous pedagogy.
“It was a perfect blend of important parts of the puzzle,” she said. “Having every school involved allowed them to collaborate and connect with one another and share resources and best practices on a broad scale.”
Jim Meredith from Archbishop Ryan High School was initially skeptical when told his school would be participating in PLP.
“When the Archdiocese told us about this, I thought ‘great, something else we have to do,'” he said. “But I got into it and to make a long story short, after teaching AP Government for a few years, I’d never done anything new until this year.”
Meredith decided to take a chance with social networking in his class, but didn’t dive in head first. If he was going to use Facebook in his class, he wanted to do it right. He shared his experiences and ideas with other teams on the PLP Archdiocese of Philadelphia cohort virtual learning community.
“Will and Sheryl talked about Web 2.0 tools and going where the students are. Many adults have such a negative feeling about it like I did, but I thought, if I can just get my students on Facebook and do it educationally and ethically,” he said.
Meredith decided to include his AP Government students in discussions about considering Facebook and his reservations.
“They went crazy in a positive way and I knew I needed to go forward and strike while the iron was hot,” he said. “I had two lessons about what to do on the Internet and use Facebook ethically. I talked about their digital fingerprints. I don’t they ever had an educator talk to them like that.”
Meredith’s class created a Facebook group where they posted discussion topics. The class plans to keep the group going after graduation, Meredith said.
Caramanico said Meredith put plenty of time and thought into utilizing Facebook.
“The best part about Jim’s story is that he really thought it through, the ethics and responsibility, the use policy. Everything he did was within the parameters of our existing policy,” Caramanico said. “He talked to the students about the safety piece and conducting themselves online – really modeling safe and ethical activity online.”
While Meredith pursued Facebook on his own, his team focused on cultivating professional development within the school walls.
“We always have the professional development where people come in, they leave, and nothing happens,” he said. “If we showed them success in the building it’s more effective than sending them somewhere. We got some buzz from our presentation.”
Nancy Summers of J.W. Hallahan High School said her team focused its project efforts on promoting collaboration among the teachers and taking small steps.
“At each of our in-services, we discussed things that came up in PLP – changing our approaches, getting away from lectures, interactive work with students, embracing social technology,” Summers said.
The team from J.W. Hallahan decided to focus their final project on professional development for teachers so that the skills and tools could be passed onto students. The team developed a virtual learning community for teachers to collaborate and share ideas.
“The main focus is collaboration and teachers have shared lesson plans and ways to deal with struggling students,” Summers said. “Everybody is definitely more confident with their tech skills. I think that’s the best change -everyone is more open and not afraid to try something new.”
You can read more about each team’s project by visiting their wiki pages below.
Conwell-Egan Catholic High School
The team at Conwell-Egan took an international approach with their project. The school set up communications with another school in Beunos Aires, Argentina using a wiki and Skype. One of the many goals of the project is to give students real-world practice of a foreign language. You can read more about their project here.
Archbishop Wood High School
The team at Archbishop Wood developed a faculty wiki and a faculty virtual learning community. You can read more about their project here.
Bishop Shanahan High School
The Bishop Shanahan team developed a school-wide, virtual learning community involving administration and department chairs as a way to share ideas and information and to lay the groundwork for the rollout of the social network to the faculty. You can read more about their project here.
Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School
You can read more about the Kennedy-Kenrick’s team project here.
Lansdale Catholic High School
You can read more about Lansdale’s team project here.
Bishop McDevitt High School
You can read more about the Bishop McDevitt team’s project here.
Saint Pius X High School
The team at Saint Pius X developed a faculty network to enhance communication among faculty members and between schools. You can read more about their project here.
Monsignor Bonner / Archbishop Prendergast High School
The team at Minsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast surveyed administration, faculty and students on their use of technology in an effort to identify experts that can communicate their knowledge to the rest of the campus community. You can read more about their project here.
Archbishop Carroll High School
You can read more about Archbishop Carroll’s team project here.
Cardinal O’Hara High School
The team at Cardinal O’Hara developed a virtual learning community for thair faculty to share ideas and new Web 2.0 tools. You can read more about their project here.
John W. Hallahan High School
The John W. Hallahan team’s project involved developing a virtual learning community for the faculty and in-service where faculty members were asked to create profiles on the community and collaborate on a Google document. You can read more about their project here.
Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School
You can read more about the Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti team’s project here.
Roman Catholic High School
You can read more about the Roman Catholic’s team here.
West Philadelphia Catholic High School
The team at West Philadelphia helped team leader Gina Joceville develop a virtual learning community for her honors biology class. You can read more about the project here.
Cardinal Dougherty High School
Cardinal Dougherty’s team developed a school-wide wiki. You can read more about their project here.
Father Judge High School
The team at Father Judge is working to develop a professional digital learning community for the next year. Red more about their project here.
Saint Hubert High School
You can read more about Saint Hubert’s team project here.
Little Flower High School
The team at Little Flower has a detailed plan for implementing school-wide usage of Web 2.0 tools next year. Red more about their plan here.
Mercy Vocational High School
The team at Mercy Vocational developed a cross-curricular learning project for students on Greece. You can read more about their project “It’s All Greek to Me!” here.
Northeast Catholic High School
The team at Northeast Catholic is working on a virtual learning community to immerse teachers in Web 2.0 tools. You can read more about their project here.
Archbishop Ryan High School
You can read about Archbishop Ryan’s project here.
Office of Catholic Education
You can read about the OCE’s team project here.