34 Replies Latest reply on Jun 6, 2012 8:27 AM by glen_w

    Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"



      We all know that the key to an effective professional development opportunity is the ability to be prepared and organized.  We're curious to know what tips you have for organizing yourself and your participants - lists, spreadsheets, digital timers, etc?  All submissions and comments submitted between January 18th-March 21st  to this thread will be entered into a drawing for an Amazon Kindle. The drawing will end on March 21st, but this thread will remain active after the incentive period.


      Unfortunately, for legal reasons, we can only ship prizes within the U.S.,but the contents of this discussion are applicable to every Intel Teach educator worldwide, so please help build a solid set of tips and resources for everyone.  We look forward to your contributions.


      Vanessa and Dyane


      Note: The incentivised discussion period has concluded.  A drawing was held and the winner was notified.

        • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

          To make sure I am not missing any important documents for any training, I put documents on a flash drive and upload them to Dropbox. I have found Dropbox may be blocked and I've misplaced flash drives before. My motto is Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance.


          Am I the only one who reviews the agenda overnight for the next day's training?

          • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

            Did you say "Organization"?  I organize my organization. I begin by placing my participants in an email group.  I begin early with emails to introduce the course and to answer any questions they have prior to the training.  I set up my wiki and my group on the Intel Community and have a pre-course assignment that makes use of all the resources I will be using. This lets me know a little about them, who might have technical difficulties or are procrastinators. 


            I have a notebook with sections.  Each section has a check list which defines what I need to do prior, during and after a training.  I organize any handouts needed for each day in folders.  I then look over each day's agenda the night before.  I use stickies (I love stickies) to place reminders, comments, ideas, etc. (things I want to make sure I cover) on the agenda.  And, I use a timer to keep myself as close to the time frame as possible.  I really try to build a relationship with my participants before, during and after a training.

            • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

              I create a main folder with subfolders for each training. My organization is similar to what we teach for Unit Portfolios. I, however, add other documents related to specific training location (nearby hotels and restaurants as an example.) Perhaps the most important document I add is the contact information for the IT person who I may work with. I find even in my district that the IT contact has changed for almost EVERY training I have done. I then program that number(s) into my cell. (I may have to use a landline and don't want to hunt down the number on my cell if required.)

              • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"
                Bonnie Feather

                I do many of the same things you all do, but I guess I'm a bit more trusting.  My preparations are not that redundant.


                Most of my trainings are away from my "own" lab.  So, when training outside my native habitat, I have to add a few things.


                • Find out how they want participants to register.  Set that up.Some districts have their own system, others use the state-provided registration system, and others have none, so I use my own system: often a Google Form.
                • I create the distribution list in my email client.
                • Print that out, just in case...; or if I have collected that info in a Google Doc, I print that out.
                • Find out if they prefer Mac or Windows in their lab, and whether I must bring my own computer or not.
                • Often, I prepare a wiki with all the resources I would use and any handouts I might want.  I rarely print out actual handouts these days.
                • If I am going to give them handouts on flash drives, I copy materials to those.
                • Create business-card sized handouts (!) listing URLs and my contact information, along with a logo, if available, for the content.  This is great for things like Intel courses, Scratch, etc.
                • I have to call-off on our online Subsitute line, even though I don't have to have a sub.
                • I have to fill out paperwork showing that I called off!
                • Make hotel reservations; I need that a LOT!
                • Gather materials such as manuals, disks, sticky notes, markers, candy!
                • Print out a sign-in sheet
                • For Intel courses, prepare a group for them in the Engage Community.  Start a discussion or two which we will be using.  Create a document (posted on wiki) showing URLS and their login information slots.
                • Gather my evaluation survey link cards- I have a set laminated that I reuse.  My job requires evaluations of all my trainings.
                • Book a house- and dog-sitter, double confirm with them before the trip.
                • Gather the equipment I want.  (No, I don't NEED all of it, but I've gotten into the habit of taking everything in case someone wants to see it!)
                  • iPad- I use it for a time, so I can see just how much time I have left at all times.
                  • Livescribe pen and notebook
                  • iPod- for listening to audiobooks in the car
                  • snowball microphone, in case we want to record anything.  Yup, could use built-in, but...people like to see it.
                  • Wireless headset, in case I want to skype from a hotel room, or if I'm training on podcasting.
                  • portable speakers for ipod, for listening in the classroom prior to  training and in my hotel room.  Could use the laptop, but....as I said.
                  • Remote presenter.  Many presentation rooms are set up so that I will be controlling the computer from an inconvenient area.  This piece of equipment is a godsend!
                  • Flip cam, digital camera...
                  • I need to gather the cables and chargers for all these little goodies...including my phone.
                  • Notebooks, digital viewers, rosters, and more...my own notes
                  • Name tents
                  • GPS, directions, extra rechargeable batteries for camera and other gadgets...
                  • and I have to pack my own clothes
                  • I hope I didn't forget anything!


                WOW!  I didn't intend to write all of this, and I'm sure you are not interested, but once I got started, I went ahead and listed all of my preparations.  No wonder it's a pain!

                  • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                    Bonnie - this is an excellent checklist for all of us.  Thank you so much for sharing.  

                    • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"



                      What an excellent checklist. I would add a reference to the local Geocaches from Geocaching.com since that is a fun hobby of mine when I need a break in the evening. Those excursions do NOT make training go any better, but allow me to relax and see the city a little better. (Yes, I even do create such a list when my training will be at my local district office.)


                      Thanks for sharing your list with us.

                      • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                        Wow Bonnie, that is a daunting list. You obviously have it down to a science. I feel fortunate that I don't have to travel too far so I don't have so many other things to take care of. I haven't had a training since I got my ipad but using it as a timer to keep me on task is a great idea. I use sticky notes all the time. I have stopped printing much. I print out a basic reference sheet to my wiki and google docs and put everything in there so they don't have too many places to go.

                        I always bring my own laptop and projector because I just don't trust that they will have what I need. I also make sure I have my own verizon wireless card for internet access in case things are blocked that I need to get to. I have a router for my card that has saved me on several occasions when internet access has been a problem. It obviously doesn't work well when cell service is bad but it has been a life saver.

                        I can't wait til they make one charger that will work with all devices. Remember the charger for all the different devices is tough. The video cameras we use have are USB so that helps on cables.

                        I always give each participant their own flash drive which they love and have them save documents to the flash drive, and I still find people who have never used one and they get so excited.

                        I have put the Action Plan for Elements in Google docs but it has some issues at times but they really get how it can be collaborative. It also helps for me to keep track of their progress and we able to comment as they go along. If they aren't comfortable I have them email the Action Plan to me but often I can't catch issues or problems as early as I would like. I haven't put the Unit Plan in Google Docs, not sure how some of the formating would work. Has anyone tried it?

                          • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"



                            I'm a geek. I have to admit I tried to upload the Unit Plan Template to Google Docs. I wanted it in the Google Doc format so it could be edited online (not just downloaded and edited offline.) I can honestly say I was VERY disappointed with how the Unit Plan Template looked in Google Docs. It was not in a usable format (at least I felt it was clunky and hard to navigate). I am a HUGE fan of the Unit Plan Template and would not recommend trying to use it in Google Docs.


                            Google Docs is one of my favorite collaborative tools. I was in a district committee meeting and shared Google Docs with five geeks in the room (plus our district IT director.) Three of the five geeks had never used Google Docs before. The IT director had looked at the tools briefly and then not really paid any attention to them. In five minutes, we had seven people actively collaborating on a document. There were HUGE smiles from those who had never used Google Docs before. BUT ... the IT director was NOT smiling. He turned to me and said "You just opened a can of worms! You know these teachers are ALL going to take this and share it with their departments and probably have students using it tomorrow!" My response was "I sure hope so. "


                            This made me wonder what other fun stories have come out of trainings where teachers learn to use Google Docs. Please let us know how this collaboration tool improves your trainings and helps teachers.

                              • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                NY has just entered in an agreement with Google to offer and support google apps on a district wide basis if districts are interested. We are also rolling out training as a state in the google apps. We have heard some very good reports from districts on how using the google apps have saved them so much money. One district had put all of their curriculum mapping in google docs and linked it to their calendar and it was truly a living, breathing document that was being looked at and edited on a regular basis.

                                I have gotten those kind of comments from the IT dept, especially the technicians.

                                I like the Unit Plan template but it always has to be an attachment and that gets to be cumbersome going back and forth with people. Maybe Intel or a few of us could work on creating it in google doc so we can give feedback in the body of the Unit Plan without another edition of the plan. It makes it so much easier for people to navigate.

                                I like to bring in other people to my training, usually via skype to share some aspect or expertise and then teachers go back and ask to do it with their students and they get comments like, "Who told you to do that? That's not so easy, I need at least a couple weeks notice to do something like that."

                            • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                              WOW!  That's a COMPLETE list!  Thanks for sharing it.

                              • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                Wow, Bonnie


                                Thanks for the extensive list.


                                I also maintain a wiki presences where I can have pages on specific topics that may arise as we are preparing curriculum


                                For example I have a section on Backchanneling, RTI, A look at the future, Creativity etc.


                                This is a great tool to have so when a topic arises in class that is of interest but we may not have time to explore, I can just quickly link them to my wiki for their own personal exploration.


                                It is nothing spectacular, rather a quick little personal reference, the topics have grown from questions raised in my classes and other activities I have supported. It is really a nice time management tool to share resources. If needed, I can quickly on the fly add resources. I do this in the community also but having an additional resource seems to enhance my sharing.

                                (http://ccmjaeger.wikispaces.com/)  Not really ready for prime time but just a nice support.

                              • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                These are a few of the steps for preparing for training:

                                • Contact the training contact person for information on lab, hotel, travel directions and closest airport.  Ask about Master teachers and any special circumstances.
                                • Update from community the latest, greatest, facilitation materials
                                • Begin folders (electronic and hard copy)  e-ticket, hotel, mapquest directions, rental car information, addresses, contact people and phone #s, (hard copy has lists of information on front cover for easy access in line or setting GPS in car)
                                • Check CMT (Course Management Tool) make e-mail lists in word and save in folder system ( one set with commas for google docs, one set with semi colons for email and other tools) E-mail introduction letter
                                • Use Trainer Checklist for course which includes setting up wiki with resources, handouts, links and discussions and setting up blog in community groups or setting up VR, SR and SE projects.  Printing sign in sheet, name tents, agendas, etc.
                                • Pack and stay within airline weight limits if flying
                                • Training organizers:  write power point slide # on each section and time alotted in manual, digital timer, sticky notes, review agenda and training materials the evening before and prepare web 2.0 such as Wallwisher etc.

                                This is a summary and I am sure I left out many things that I will think of in the next few days.   I will look forward to reading the different ideas about preparing for trainings and being more organized. 

                                • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                  I have become addicted to the community so I upload documents so that my participants will become accustomed to visiting the community to look for resources not only from me but from others in the community as well.  In a tight budget year, it also helps to save on printing cost.

                                  • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                    One way I helped my participants stay organized was to provide them with a list of intel websites that included a brief description of what they can find at that site. This kept them from being confused by all of the different Intel sites.

                                    • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                      1. Always go through your training. I see a lot of people who train where I work that do not go over their material ahead of time.

                                      2. Always test your equipment the day of and the day before- get tech help if needed. I am my own help tech so it is really important that I check all connections, equipment, links.

                                      3.  Always make a back up plan for loss of Internet connection.


                                      Other than my top 3 rules for myself (above) I also like to have an outline for myself that helps to keep me on track with time. I may have to revise it but at least I have plan.


                                      I like to lay out any handouts in the order in which I use them. If there are a lot of different topics, I do handouts that are not stapled.


                                      Since I usually do training in house I like to set up folders and an organization system in advance.



                                      • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                        While I still work on a WORD table with four columns - time, topic, materials and person responsible, I move it to the cloud.   I have been using the tool made available to Texas educators, Project Share, within a group that I set up but can just as easily put it into INTEL community or in Google.  I tend to use google docs a lot since they are readily available in most districts. 


                                        I use the four column table as the agenda and the checklist so I don't have to look in too many places.

                                        • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                          Wow, I am very impressed with all of the suggestions listed below. I have tried many of them. The concern that stands out for me is always the tech support at the location of presentation. As everyone mentioned below it is key to have access to your resources, you can be extremely organized and then hit a school district that:

                                          • won't allow your computer on the network
                                          • won't allow external devices like jumpdrives
                                          • block dropbox
                                          • block wikis
                                          • block google docs
                                          • block access to your external email


                                          Unfortunately I have experienced that - yikes it seems the best laid plans can be railroaded.

                                          Has anyone encountered that and how did you prepare for that?

                                          Without the external device you cannot get to your notes from the viewer.


                                          Any suggestions for that scenario?


                                          As mentioned by others it is so important to contact the district tech department and fully explain your needs and work with them.


                                          In addition to all of the tips and tricks mentioned

                                          • dropbox
                                          • jumpdrive
                                          • notes in the viewer


                                          I also often upload the specific documents I am using to the group that I have setup for that class in the community.

                                          I know that this is double referencing but it does help with the organization. I have also (at times) just had a quick little wiki to show the documents and links used in a linear sequential table of contents. It seemed like "over kill" but the participants enjoyed the assorted approaches.

                                          • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                            Some tips and tricks I use before I run a class:

                                            • I send out the course flyer to several different places (teacher's email accounts, Superintendent's updates, listserves, ect)..so I am sure to get lots of participants. I also try to be extremely explicit about what the course entails so people know the expectations.
                                            • Even though the course is face to face, I have the course in MOODLE so all of the resources are there so I am sure to get the moodle course up for this specific group.
                                            • I email all of my participants a welcome email and ask them to bring something that they are currently doing in their classroom...a teacher's guide, textbook, anything that they need in order to help them with the unit (participants have been extremely grateful for that so their unit is authentic and teachable the next day if they choose)
                                            • I prepare surveys for the end of each day, so I can adjust the pace/things I do with them as based on their needs.
                                            • I also create a widget in my moodle course loaded with Web 2.0 resources that I highlight. Because so many people are at different levels, the people that move quickly through their unit have "time" to go try out the Web 2.0 resources!
                                            • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                              If anyone has ever seen me present then they may have seen my infamous sticky note. I put the most important things that I want my participants to walk away with on this scrap of paper and periodically I check that note during the training to make sure I am covering my HOT topics/points. You can get so overwhelmed in a training that you forget so much but a sticky note is the right size to include those super important things that you want to cover. My notes could range from a particular curriculum connection to a reminder about doing an evaluation/survey. I think the funniest thing that ever happended  with my note... I did a training and had the note by my computer. I came back from the restroom and could not find it. I frantically searched for my sticky and then one guy said ...oh was that your grocery shopping list that I threw that away cause it looked like trash....LOL! So what may be an organization method for one person is trash to another! Do you have an organization strategy to share?

                                              • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                                I'm always updating my ppt. Yes, I still use ppt for f2f trainings. It keeps me organized and I can put everything I want to use (videos, links, notes) right there. This last time I even uploaded my ppt to Edmodo so PT's could refer back to them. I also create the "agenda" that  Intel gave us in Excel. That also helps me to stay on time and I put notes on it as well.

                                                • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"

                                                  I deliver PD in five different parishes and in non-public schools.   So organization can be differnet for each.  I have found that the first key to successful communication is setting up a group in email.  Every announcement I send out in Engage site or BB I send in email to make sure they all receive it.  Some of the districts I work in allow the use of Google.  For those the participants set up a google docs site which goes without saying, NICE!!!  Sometimes I have a hard time winning network over to open Google so it is on to plan B.   I use DropBox thanks to Glen sharing in a summer training, and I create a wiki in PB works.  All of my districts allow PB Works.    I provide a folder with a hand out of all the sites we will be using in the PD.  One of my most favorite sites for orgainization is Diigo.  I have an educator's group and enroll all particpants.  I begin bookmarking important sites for the course and additional sites.   The newest orgainization strategy I will be using is Skype.  I will be conducting a PBL course and we will have a schedule for Skyping.  The participants will be able to share or just ask questions.   I

                                                    • Re: Facilitator Backpack  - Episode 5 - "The Chronicles of Organization"



                                                      You demonstrate how important it is to have Plans A, B, & C for training purposes. I hope you noticed my comment above about Dropbox for educators providing larger referral bonuses. Email is sometimes forgotten but is a lifeline for many teachers - they check email regularly and are grateful for reminders of assignments, upcoming dates, etc. I hope to hear how Skype works for you in the upcoming training. I can see a huge benefit for Skype when providing online trainings. Are you using Skype with individual teachers or groups of teachers?