Do you remember the “Prize Patrol” for the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes? You know, where the group of people holding balloons and a giant check knock on someone’s door. Of course, someone is always home, and the homeowners open the door, quickly overcome with happiness and disbelief. I’ve been lucky for the past four weeks to be a part of our district’s own prize patrol.
Last summer, our very own tech guru attended a conference and came back with an awesome idea; pushing out professional development in the form of a game. Not too long after sharing his idea with the instructional coaches, we went to work. After a few hours of gathering research-based teaching strategies and some video-making, “Top Chef” was born in our district.
This exciting learning opportunity is a way to encourage the use of effective strategies in the classroom. Each week, for five weeks, a topic is emailed out (i.e., vocabulary). Participants, and this is totally voluntary, go to our “Top Chef” website to look at or read about different strategies to teach the topic. When a teacher uses the strategy in the class, they simply take a picture or video and tweet it out with #wctopchef. Each week a winner is randomly chosen for the prize. Thanks to our district’s foundation, the prizes are exceptional! How fun it has been to read and view all the tweets showing wonderful learning in the classrooms district-wide.
Equally amazing is the experience of a group of people, which include a superintendent, several members from our community that serve on our foundation, the instructional coaches, and administrators, walking into a classroom to surprise a lucky winner! What a celebration of learning! Not only are the teachers excited, but students clap and cheer right along with everyone else. Sadly, next week will be our last prize patrol, but what wonderful memories and what wonderful instruction has been created by a fun professional development endeavor!