Planning PD and Computational Thinking. Who would have thought that this is connected!

Planning professional development for teachers through the lens of computational thinking 

As an educational technology coach, I had the chance to attend numerous conferences over the  last few years.  

When teachers at our school go to conferences, the school ask them to implement a new idea, document and share it with the wider community. This year the sharing was happen at a professional development day organised by the coaches. My colleagues and I were very excited to organise a conference style PD day which is aligned with our educational technology vision

“Learning at GESS is enriched and fostered through the 21st Century Learning concepts and skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity and digital literacy.”

 and the theme “Recreate together”. 

For the final assignment of the ISTE U course “An Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator” I took the opportunity to look at the organization of the PD Day through the lens of the four parts of Computational Thinking.  

How does this look like?  


  • Structure of the day
Time What Details  Room
7 – 7.45am  Yoga

7.45 – 8.30am Coffee Networking Teacher
8.30 – 9.30am Opening
Introduction / Announcements
– Unconference 
– Well-being
2 Keynote Speaker a 15 min
– Igniting Creativity 
– Innovation and Entrepreneurship
9.30-10am Break Networking / Wellbeing

10 – 11.30am (60 OR 90min) Learning

– Preschool &Primary

– Primary  

– Secondary

– Whole

1. Design Together in
EY classroom  
2. Film Together  
3. Draw together 
4. Snap together 
5. Jam together  
6. Code together 
7. Motivate together (in German) 
8. Sketch together 
9. Collaborate together! (Padlet) 
10. Creating a new reality together 
11. Film together  
12. Sketch together 
13. Collaborate & Ink together
14. Create and publish together  
15. STEAM together 
16. Making Thinking Visible 
17. Create and share together
(in German) 

11am – 1pm  Student led
Swift, Spheros, Scratch, Minecraft, Cubetto, VR, Raspberry Pi
Multi Purpose Room
12-1pm Break Lunch / Networking / Wellbeing opportunities 
1-2.30pm Learning

– Preschool &Primary

– Primary  

– Secondary

– Whole

1. Design Together in EY classroom  
2. Film together
3. Sketch together 
4. Draw together 
5. Let’s do “6 in 60” together 
6. Code together 
7. Motivate together (in German)
8. Personalised together
9. Creating a new reality together 
10. STEAM Together 
11. Create and publish together
12. Making Thinking Visible 
13. Create and share together (in German) 

2.30-3pm Break Networking
Wellbeing Opportunities

3-3.30pm Unconference Participation

3.45 – 4.30pm Closing
Celebration  – slide show with pics of the day
2 Keynote Speaker

Action (EdTech): 
What is the call to action?
What is your next step? (EdTech) 
What are you are going to do to inspire the students? 
-> Role of EdTech 
4.30pm Network
  • Learning experiences 

-> Inspiration: keynote speaker, student led inspiration stations, wellbeing program 
-> Participation: workshops, unconference 
-> Celebration: social media (#GESSlearns), photos, network event 

  • Coaching of the workshop leaders
  • Workshop participants (inform, sign up, follow ups)  
  • Communication with various stakeholders (leadership, workshop leaders, keynote speaker, marketing, …)
  • Well-being (Catering, Appreciation workshop leaders, Wellbeing opportunities)
  • Other requirements  


Comparing previous PD Days at school and other conferences  

What made them so successful? 

What should rather be avoided? 

What should be done differently/similarly? 

What doesn’t make sense in our context? 

Successful conferences follow a similar pattern – the learning is personalised. Participants are first, it is organized by teachers for teachers, and it is understood as a social act.  


What is unimportant/important for the PD Day? What drives the decision?  

The PD day follows the theme “recreate together”. Our goal is to inspire teachers, let them be active participates, as well as to celebrate together. 


The timeline for the project is a step-by-step description. We separated it in four phases, determined what we have to do, when it will be done and who is responsible for it.  

Phase What When
Phase 0 Research about
meaningful PD
opportunities for teachers

Reflection on previous
external and internal PD
Mid of December
Phase 1 Deciding for the theme

Creating the structure of
the day

Contacting possible
keynote speaker
End of January
Phase 2Finalising the participationthe teachers in the workshop

Listing the requirements
for the workshops

Finalising the inspiration

Room Bookings

Finalising the wellbeing

Setting up TEAMS as
communication tools
during the conference 
Mid / End of March
Phase 3 Organisation of the

Service requests for rooms and equipment 

Sign up for yoga 

Last meeting with
workshop leaders

Detailed plan of the
announcements on stage
1st week of April
2 weeks BREAK
last week of April /
beginning of May

The professional development day was a great success. Participants appreciated the preparation and their experience. Thank you everybody to make that happen.

At the same time I stumbled over the Shifting Our Schools podcast – Episode 80: The Questions I get asked as well as the research The Mirage, an in-depth look into teacher professional development and what does and what does not work.

The day itself might have been a success. On the other hand I’m questioning how much impact on teacher improvement does such a day really have? Any thoughts?