5 Minute Tech Challenges

Today’s Contributor: Melissa Prepster

Melissa is an 8th grade US History teacher at Gorzycki Middle School.  She serves as her campus Campus Innovation Coach and Social Studies department chair. Melissa loves integrating technology to help bring the past alive. In her free time, she likes hanging out with her 3 dachshunds, traveling, and attending concerts. She has seen the Eagles over 100 times and is a two day Jeopardy champ.


Do you have 5 minutes? You can learn some technology!

As the CIC on my campus, one of my biggest challenges is finding the sweet spot where the staff’s available time and motivation meet.  I want to share all of the exciting things I’ve learned about implementing blended learning and technology in the classroom, but I also don’t want to overburden my colleagues or make them feel like I’m pushing something on them.  I want them excited and I don’t want to waste their time.

After I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) conference in February (thanks, PTA!), I had so many cool ideas to share. I sat down with another teacher and we brainstormed what we knew about our audience

  • Teachers have limited time for PD
  • Teachers want to have a takeaway from PD…something they can implement immediately
  • Teachers don’t want to have their limited time wasted
  • Teachers are willing to try things if they have directions and support
  • Teachers love baked goods and surprises.

Thus, the 5 Minute Tech Challenge was born.  We introduced it like this:


People seemed excited. We offered prizes like a dozen homemade cookies, stickers, starbucks cards and some of the swag we accumulated at TCEA.

Then, we started sending out tech challenges. I wanted them to be a combination of cool tools that would be easy to implement, information about Blended Learning, and strategies to introduce technology into lessons.  We started with one that I knew would have people talking. A screen magnifier:


We collected feedback from teachers. This was a way to enter people in the drawings, but also see if teachers appreciated the challenge and how they planned to use it. We also let them ask for additional help at this time.

Tech Challenge #2 was an online tool (Rewordify) that helps teachers accommodate text for students. I knew this would be useful to my staff because we have currently been focusing on providing meaningful content and language supports to Special Education and 504 students.

Now that teachers were hooked, it was time to try for something deeper. Tech challenge #3 provided information about a model of blended learning: the station rotation model. Teachers just had to watch a video and reflect (remember, baked goods were on the line).

Tech Challenge #4 showed teachers how to add Chrome Extensions and introduce them to the Chrome store. This was to prepare for some challenges down the road.

The 5th challenge showed teachers the possibilities of Google My Maps, a tool that is great to use in blended learning classrooms to process information.

The 6th challenge probably was the teachers’ favorite. We showed them Flippity.net which is a great resource with a bunch of tools that make life easier for teachers. It’s got spinners and bracket makers and things students can use as well.

Tech Challenge #7 introduced teachers to Nearpod.  I’ve tried to do a Nearpod PD, but just couldn’t arouse the interest. This quick introduction had teachers talking and asking questions.

The 8th challenge was another tool (this time a Chrome extension) to again help teachers with content / language supports. We showed them Read and Write…and it’s math cousin Equatio and showed teachers how they could get a free full version.

For the 9th challenge, I wanted to help answer the question “…how do you know all of this” so I introduced teachers to my virtual PLN…teachers and others I follow on blogs and twitter to learn ideas. I wanted to show them how easy it was to get ideas from other teachers.

The final challenge was just for teachers to reflect on the process. We found out that teachers enjoyed the challenges. They also admitted that they would have done the challenges even without the prizes.

All that was left was to hold the drawing for the prizes. We used Wheel of Names (a bonus tool that we shared) and selected the lucky winners.

I felt that this initiative was incredibly successful and I look forward to doing it again.

Now, I have to get baking!!!

If you are interested, all tech challenges are here:  https://goo.gl/hwug8X



  1. Wow! I absolutely love this! I struggle with how to hook the interest of overburdened teachers. Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing the challenges documents, too. I can’t wait to try some of them with my staff, too. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing! This is something I could implement on my campus and they love contests. Having it all on the google drive to share is a great help!

  4. This is amazing! Would love to try this with my campus. Would you be willing to share the documents you made?

  5. This is fabulous. I love the incentives that you used to steer colleagues towards learning about tech based teaching tools. I am so excited about the possibilities and grateful for the resources that you shared with us.

  6. Thank you for sharing! I really love this idea and how you motivate your teachers to give them a try.

  7. Fantastic ideas and such creative ways to share the info with your colleagues! Great job!

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