Oman #GAFEsummit – a whirlwind!

After spending spring break in Oman last year, it is now one of Jeff and I’s favorite countries. We love it. When Jim & Marcello asked if we wanted to come to the EdTechTeam Summit…we were all in!

Now that the craziness of the last 2 days is over, I’m sitting here in our hotel room enjoying the view and reflecting on the Summit before we fly back to Kuwait tonight.

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Friday we had a great time checking participants in – I really enjoyed starting the summit off with this kind of energy and connection! I’m just bummed I didn’t have time for the photo booth 🙂 I had two sessions on Friday (slide decks embedded below). Most of the pictures in my slide decks are links. I’ve been doing the Harnessing the Power of Google series for a couple years now and it’s always a good time. I found the participants at this Summit engaged and excited about learning. I loved reading my feedback on Friday evening – the positivity and realness was much appreciated.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and not really sure how I was going to make it through Saturday. Then I woke up Saturday morning and realized I was presenting during 3 of the 4 sessions and doing the closing keynote. Whoa. I was a little nervous I was going to fall over from exhaustion at some point. But the energy & excitement of the participants kept me going and I made it through! My two unique sessions are embedded below.

I’m always looking for more recent examples to share of how world language teachers are using Google Apps in the classroom – please contact me and I’d love to include the cool things you’re doing in your classrooms 🙂

My goal for the Hangouts session is that everyone leaves having participated in 2 successful Hangouts – one On Air lead by me and one of their choice, initiated by them. It’s a hands-on session where we experience lots of bugs in hopes that next time they try it will be smooth and they can start thinking about how to use Hangouts in their classes. I wish I could carry around a box of headphones for this session.

Jim contacted me Tuesday (yes, 3 days before the Summit) and asked if I would give the closing keynote. Freaking out ensued:image1

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Christina‘s response made me laugh at first…and then the more I thought about it, the more genius the idea sounded. I started brainstorming, moved to an outline and then just wrote. I asked for advice from my UKSTL & COETAIL mentors on giving keynotes and bounced ideas off of a few people (huge thanks to everyone!). By 4:15pm Friday I had a slide deck and keynote ready. There were definitely some growing pains! When I gave the keynote it was the first time I’d ever read through the entire thing out loud. A couple minutes in Jeff helped me remember to breathe and slow down. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without having the speaker notes with the timer going. Working on memorizing it will be a huge plus for the future. I have a lot to work on but it felt really good to get the first one under my belt!

Thanks to everyone involved for a great weekend! We’ll be back Oman 🙂

TAISM & the mountains

TAISM & the mountains

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Our GAFE pilot – one of my favorite things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.
~My Favorite Things, The Sound of Music

[Please reread that and sing along in your head.] My all-time favorite movie. I’m pretty sure I watched it every day for several years between the ages of 5 and 10. In real life some days are just ‘one of those days.’ When I’m feeling frustrated, I simply remember the exciting things that are happening in our school because of our teacher-initiated GAFE pilot.

I've gone Google

On a day that I need a little happiness in my life, here are some of my favorite things:

  • Our 6th grade English students are participating in Literature Circles. Megan & David are using Doctopus to push down meeting templates to the groups (created w/ Doctopus). The students rotate jobs each meeting and complete the meeting notes in preparation for class. Megan was telling me today how the students are using comments within the notes – giving each other encouragement & feedback, reminding each other to complete their portion, and even setting up phone dates to read the book outloud when a group member left hers at home. WOW! And the excitement Megan had when talking about the fact that the students are actually enjoying READING was contagious! They’ve been asked to share more details of what they’re doing in an upcoming department meeting 🙂
  • While I was observing Megan’s class during their first day of literature circles a couple weeks ago, the students realized they weren’t able to add to the vocabulary tabbles in the Doc because they were using iPads. After identifying the problem, one student created a Google Sheet, shared it with his group and told the class what he’d done. Megan and I were both impressed at how quickly a SIXTH grader had solved his own problem. His English teacher mom wants to start doing whatever Megan’s doing because her son is engaged and excited to read.
  • Megan also rocked it with a Google Slide collaboration. She created a template slide deck and made a copy for each of the middle school advisories. She organized them into folders by grade and then gave everyone with the link editing priviledges. Students and teachers worked together to add people from around the globe who exemplify the IB Learner Profile. Megan was then able to import the slides from each advisory into one big merged presentation. 400 students and teachers collaborated to create this final presentation. 🙂
  • Collin (HS Humanities) used a shared Google Sheet for a recent banking simulation. I had the pleasure of observing his lesson…I want to just go hang out in his class everyday! I learned a ton about economics from his short lecture/discussion. Students then participated in a banking simulation – pairs chose to either be the accountant or the lendor for their bank. Collin gave 5 of the ‘banks’ a starting sum of $100,000. Lendors then had to make as many loans & deposits as possible with other banks. Accountants kept track of their bank’s transactions using a Google Sheet that Collin created (it automatically kept 20% of the deposit in the bank so students could loan out the other 80%). After the simulation the class discussed how $500,000 became over $2 million and the concept/idea of money…your money in the bank isn’t really real!
  • Our 6th and 7th graders have been using Khan Academy to learn math in a self-directed environment. Rose has been using Google Forms as formative assessment and to collect data on student progress/goals. She was worried that students were becoming focused on getting the right answer and forgetting how important being able to show their work & arguement is. She wanted a way for students to take pictures of their processes and share them with her and their classmates. During our discussion we went through lots of ideas – Instagram, Snapchat (ha!), WordPress, Blogger…we wanted to meet students where they were but also protect their privacy and show them the importance of school vs personal online space. We felt pretty silly when we realized we already had a tool that she could use – Edmodo. She created a new group for all classes – Grade 7 Problem Solvers. Using the app on their phones/tablets, students can take pictures of their work and publish it to the group. Rose (and the rest of the students) can comment and leave reactions to the posts. I’m pumped to follow-up with her and see how this is working!
  • The IB MYP Personal Project always seems to be a huge headache. It’s worth it but it has been difficult to get kids motivated and keep both students & staff supervisors accountable. Our new Personal Project Coordinator (part of our GAFE pilot) asked me to work with him to transfer our PP paperwork to Google Drive. I’ve done some experimenting with it and I’m hoping that it will be live next year. Since this is a work in progress, I’d love feedback on the documents!
  • I made a rookie mistake with Google Forms. But I’ve learned from it so I’m willing to accept it! Our middle school students take Classroom Climate Surveys twice a year for each of their teachers. Typically these have been done on paper and teachers have hundreds of surveys to wade through. This year our MS principal wanted to move an online survey. We tried Office 365 first (since we do pay for a subscription) but it wasn’t powerful enough (can’t make copies, etc). Instead I created a Google Form and made everyone with the link collaborators. I then went into each of the grade level meetings and worked with the teachers to make a copy of the form and use their own copy for their students (edit & add questions, give students the link, turn the survey on & off, view responses, view summary of responses, etc). It was incredibly smooth for some teachers. For others it was way too steep of a learning curve. After having to change my ‘template’ multiple times, I finally realized I should have actually created a template in the gallery. Now I have one! Next time it will run much smoother…inshallah 😉

I’m PROUD to work with these educators who demanded a GAFE pilot and are now running with it. I love observing their classes and hearing about the ideas they (and their students) are coming up with. Even on frustrating days, I love what I do.

Year 3 of PEAK

This weekend I participated in the Professional Educators Around Kuwait conference for the 3rd year in a row. I did 2 sessions in 2012, 3 sessions in 2013 and 4 sessions this year. It was a full day!

Each year PEAK moves to a different school in Kuwait so each year it’s a little different. In 2012 I learned that I needed to be in computer labs. Last year I learned that I would gain the most professionally by presenting during all 4 sessions. This year I learned that it’s quite difficult to run a workshop in 45 minutes.

My first session of the day was Making the Web Work for You. After waking up at 6am on a Saturday, I was a little disorganized. It was the second time I’ve done this workshop and I much preferred having an hour. If I do this session again I want to allow participants to create the account of their choice at the end. I still want them to be active during (check out #edchat, discuss, etc) but it’s difficult to get people back when they sign up for an account in the middle of the session (and you never know what kind of technical issues you’re going to have). This woud also allow them to choose which account to create (Twitter, Diigo, Pinterest, etc). and explore with. The slide deck below is slightly updated from last year.

My next two sessions were my two-part Harnessing the Power of Google for Educators & for Collaboration. I was SO pumped that Google Spreadsheet Add-ons can finally be triggered on submission (from a Form) again! I love having attendees fill out a form & automatically receive all the resources in an email. The biggest change I made in the Educators session was not having them sign up for a GMail/Google account. A pushed it to the end in case we had time (we didn’t) but most people already had some sort of Google account already. This allowed them more time to explore & ask questions.

Personally I enjoy the Collaboration session more than the Educators session. Although I love helping educators see how GAFE can save them time & energy, I really enjoy the possibilities for working together. However the Educators session is always first and tends to get more people. The best is when they’re 4-hour sessions 😉 Scunching Collaboration into 45 minutes was tough but I think people still got some good stuff out of it!

My last (and maybe favorite) session was Creating a Globally Connected Classroom. It’s a brand new session and the first time that I presented with my sister! We developed the presentation together and presented it as a teacher-coach team. It was the last session of the day (after a 50-minute break) and we only had 3 people. But it was freakin’ great. They were totally into the topic and inspired that someone in Kuwait was actually doing this. I can’t wait to try this session again soon!

Overall the day was a success. I had a lot of great conversations and learned more about each of my sessions that will help me perfect them in the future. I only wish I had had more time to collect information in order to stay in touch with people who attended my workshops.

Coming soon: Edcamp in Kuwait, GAFE Summits in Oman & Qatar 🙂

Finally a little #GAFE in my life!

After just over 2 years in this position (and almost 2 as a Google Edu Trainer) I’ve finally been granted the permission to run a GAFE pilot! I was just scrolling through my blog posts and can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this yet…I’m pretty pumped!

At the beginning of the year several teachers approached me wanting to use Google Apps in their classrooms. We currently have Office 365 and I wasn’t sure how the proposal of a GAFE pilot would fly with the principals. From my view we had a couple options: a) tell the teachers no and they do it anyway (without support) or b) pilot the use of GAFE in select classrooms and give them support. The principals agreed that option b was probably smarter. The one restriction I was given is that we cannot (yet) use our own GAFE domain. Instead students will be using their school provided email addresses to create Google accounts. The principals asked me to write up a short statement to document the process. I collaborated with our curriculum coordinator (Christina) in order to include our school objectives.

During the last month, we’ve been hard at work getting our pilot started! I’ve been co-teaching in classrooms getting the students signed up with Google accounts and introducing them to Google Apps. For students under 13, we are teaching them how to be safe while setting up their account and then asking their parents to sit down with them to sign up. We’re teaching all students that this is a ‘professional’ space for them to create and collaborate. A little digital citizenship never hurt anyone!

I’ve had a lot of fun in classes introducing students (and teachers!) to some of the features of Google Apps. They’ve been amazed at the possibilities for collaboration and started experimenting – a couple students started playing tic-tac-toe using a shared Google Drawing. Working in an IB school gives GAFE a whole new meaning. When exploring the additional apps that can be connected to Drive, we discussed that this is the perfect place for them to go when their teachers ask them to show their learning but don’t specify how. I’m especially excited to see how year 4 MYP Design students use the new tools at their disposal.

As we dive more into the pilot, I’ll keep updating 🙂 EXCITED!

p.s. This post was made possible by @wordpressdotcom. Yesterday I tweeted that I had lost this post while using Waltz and the new interface. It didn’t save in my drafts and was nowhere to be found! I was pretty bummed. Until WordPress tweeted back…and low & behold there was my long lost post! Another reason that being connected and Twitter are #awesome.

#CISDGcamp14 – worth it!

Many months ago Jeff and I got an email from my mom. The Calhoun Intermediate School District (where she works & in my hometown of Battle Creek, MI) was planning a 3-day Google based PD event in July. Since we’d presented at previous Summits and I was a newly minted Google Certified Trainer, she thought we might like to present. She put us in touch with Mike Oswalt and away we went!

Fast forward 3 months. It’s July and I’m in full summer mode, sitting at a cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan with my family. Figuring out my presentations and getting pumped to “work” was not my idea of fun! Camp started on Monday and boy was I exhausted Monday night! After this post I’ll be back in summer (with 6 graduate credits) mode ;). The three days of Camp were pretty awesome. We met lots of new people, had fun presenting about things we love and got some great compliments. I presented 2 different sessions a total of 9 times in 3 days…they kept me busy! But the food was FANTASTIC and it was one of the most organized conferences I’ve been to. Imagine – teachers in the middle of their summers excited about learning! Crazy right?!

I slightly updated Harnessing the Power of Google: Collaboration and now I’m pretty sure it’s a tried and true session – I’ve done it 11 times at 3 different conferences! This works MUCH better as a 4-hour workshop but I really stress to teachers that I’m going to inundate them with info and then give them all my contact info for the future. I really like the style of a little show-and-tell and then having the attendees work and explore.

Hangouts & Chat was a new one for me but we had a lot of fun! My main goal was to have attendees participate in their first Hangout On Air and then experiment with Hangouts so that they would be comfortable to use them with their students. This was the first time that I’ve started a session with a survey to see what the attendees want to accomplish. I had an idea of what I wanted but I could be quite flexible the way I had set up the session. Luckily most people responded that they wanted what I had planned! It was a hands-on session and I provided links to resources they could check out later with ideas for actually using Hangouts in their classroom. I was really dreading this session but by the 3rd time I presented it I was quite happy with it!

Already looking forward to “working” in the summer of 2015 😉

Kuwait International Educators Conference 2014

A couple weekends ago, Jeff and I presented at the third bi-annual Kuwait International Educators Conference at Al Bayan Bilingual School (BBS). We were invited to present in the fall after we met Lynda Abdul Raheem (FAWSEC Professional Development Coordinator) at PEAK in 2012.

KIEC was the first time we were sought out to present and the first time we’d ever done 4-hour workshops. We met with Lynda in the fall and learned all about their organization and the conference. Their philosophy is that any professional development that betters their staff will also better education as a whole in Kuwait. Love it. All BBS employees were required to attend both Saturday and Sunday (with Friday optional). They opened the conference to all educators in Kuwait and even allowed people to split tickets (3 people, 3 days, a different person attends each day). Each day there was a keynote, 4-hour workshop and 1-hour session (except Friday). At 60KD (~$212) it was a pretty great deal for a conference!

Jeff and I each led one 4-hour workshop each day. We each had two different workshops. I was scheduled to do Empowering on Friday and Sunday and GAFE – Next Level on Saturday. After Jeff lead GAFE for Beginners on Friday and Saturday, we realized the demand was high and people were excited. We switched it up and I replaced the Sunday Empowering with GAFE – Next Level. Saturday and Sunday (when all BBS teachers attended) were full sessions…and we even had to turn people away! The energy in our rooms was impressive! I had SO much fun nerding out with people over Google Apps 🙂

Empowering Teachers & Students with Technology

  • My Empowering workshop was good…but I had very high expectations after attending Scott McLeod‘s workshop at NESA. I ended with only 5 people…which made it difficult to really engage in discussion and get them creating. One piece of feedback was that the first part of the session was theoretical…but I’m not quite sure how to have attendees analyze lesson plans without the background in the frameworks (SAMR, etc). Also, almost the entire group was not educated in North America. I wonder if this makes any difference in the way teachers teach. Would definitely be interested to know how teacher education programs differ! Although it didn’t live up to my expectations, the feedback made it seem like people still got something out of it.

GAFE – Next Level

  • I left this session both days feeling energized and excited! I had a pretty big range of knowledge in the room which was difficult to keep up with at times. I started with a Google Race (adapted from my classroom in SC). The race ended up taking a little longer than expected. If I did this session again, I would like it to take less time…but I’m not sure what I would take out! I had a range of feedback from “I got a little lost at times and would have preferred a slower pace” to “I felt like it could have moved a little faster.” Seriously…it couldn’t have been more opposite! But every single piece of feedback was positive. It was incredibly rewarding and reminded me why I love what I do. I need to remember that feeling when I’m not feeling quite so positive about my job, school, etc.

Presenting at KIEC was an incredible learning experience. It was a lot of work but we also had a lot of fun. Working with Jeff so that our GAFE sessions spiraled was a great opportunity. If you have any questions about either of my sessions, let me know! If you want any of the information from Jeff’s session, contact him. 🙂

Speed Dating – Technology Style

About a month ago Tami Lenker, Blythewood HS Technology & Learning Coach (and former colleague), asked me to be part of their Speed Dating. Um…really?! Then she explained it was Technology Style. OHHHH!

Tami had her entire staff split into 4 large groups. These groups were then divided further into 6 small groups. They rotated to 6 different presenters who wowed them in 4 minutes. That’s a total of 20 different presentations going on at the same time! Genius! [Richland 2 blog recap]

I participated via a Google Hangout. It worked incredibly well and was a lot of fun!

my screenAfterwards I recorded my session and gave them some additional info I couldn’t get into 4 minutes. Enjoy!