Videos & Redesign

I’ve been incredibly busy with grad school and teaching French (yupp…that’s right. I’m teaching ‘temporarily’ teaching French again. I’m going into my 5th week starting tomorrow.) A few of my recent assignments were interesting so I thought I’d cross post them here.

For UKSTL EDL 661 with Jayson Richardson, we had to recommend 3 blogs for our classmates. I couldn’t pick only three so I recommended 4 in my first video using Jing. (If you have ideas for how to embed Jing videos in WordPress, let me know!)

For COETAIL course 3, there were 2 pieces to my final project. The first was to create a digital story. I decided to make a first draft of my video in order to become a GAFE Certified Trainer. Feel free to watch my video, read my post and leave me feedback so I can make it better!

Also for COETAIL, I had to revamp an existing presentation. Below is my final product. Check out the original and the handout I created on my COETAIL blog.

I’d love any and all constructive criticism to make these better! Thank you!

Google, Kuwait

Tracking Counseling Services with Google Forms

Last semester, our middle school counselor (Kit) asked for some advice on how she might best use technology to keep track of her time throughout the year. I suggested she create a custom Google Form. She did some brainstorming about what kind of data she would want and then we met to create her form.

Kit added 2 icons to her iPad – one linked to the form, a second linked to the results. Every time she provided a service she documented it by filling out the form.

Yesterday I met with her to walk her through analyzing the data.

First, we sorted the data on the Results tab by column. We copied and pasted the relevant data into a new sheet (one sheet for each category). We used the sum function to total the minutes she had spent on each service/category. Once each of the categories had been totaled, we created a new sheet with only the totals. We used this simplified data table to create a pie chart.

It was incredibly eye-opening for Kitr to see this data. She was not pleased that she had spent so much of her time in meetings (as opposed to working with students).

She did admit that although she had been diligent in documenting her time October through December, she did fall off the wagon in January (and completely stopped in March). She did feel as though the data she did collect was a good snapshot and could be extrapolated. She wanted advice for how she might be more consistent next year. We came up with a few ideas:

  • chunk her time by setting aside 5-10 minutes twice a day to fill out the form (instead of after every service).
  • put a copy of the pie chart on her wall so that she remembered how rewarding it was to see the data at the end of the year.

Kit does not see herself as tech-savvy…but I think the way she is using Google Forms is pretty awesome! It takes her time to learn, but she is eager to make her life easier and always appreciative. I love working with colleagues like that! She was also the brains behind the allowing grade 5 & 6 Buddies to communicate over the summer. I hope she keeps the challenges coming next year! 🙂

Google, iOS, Kuwait

Google Earth in lower elementary

Last weekend at the Middle East GAFE Summit, I had the pleasure of meeting John Bailey and attending one of his sessions on Google Earth. The man knows his stuff! While I was at his session, I was finally inspired to share an idea I had for the KG2 teachers recently. I’m sure John could embellish it and make it much better (as he found out he was selected to attend the next Google Teacher’s Academy while we were there..congrats John!) but I do what I can. 😉

During the 3-hour planning meeting for the IB PYP KG2 unit, it was mentioned that in the past students have looked at their food wrappers to see where their food comes from. I thought this would be a great way to incorporate Google Earth!

After students find out where their food is from, the teacher could create a placemark for each student/food item. Instead of just creating simple placemarks, I went one step further  and inserted pictures. I took a picture of the food item using my iPad. I then created a secret board on Pinterest (using the iPad app). On my computer, I copied the image URL of the picture on Pinterest. In the placemark, I clicked ‘add image’ and pasted the URL. You could also put the pictures on your website…you just need to be able to get the image URL. If you want to get really awesome, you could mess around with Tours and create a video of all the placemarks.

Although you cannot create placemarks on the iPad (that I’ve found…let me know if you figure it out!), you can open your Trip on the iPad. I emailed myself the Google Earth attachment (you can also upload it to your Google Drive) and was able to open and view it on the iPad. Students can now actually SEE where their food came from! Pretty cool, huh?

(I couldn’t get the embed gadget to work for the Google Earth file. Feel free to open it in Google Earth! Merci to Jeff for his modeling skills 🙂

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

Collaboration, Google, Kuwait, Professional Development


Jeff and I headed to Dubai for the first time last week to attend and present at the Middle East GAFE Summit. It was everything we hoped it would be…and more (I know, so cliché but so true!).

Both of our presentations were on Thursday. In the days leading up to the Summit, I reached out to my PLN to help show the power of global collaboration. Everything went extremely well and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who attended my session and collaborated on the document with us (feel free to keep adding to it)! I’ve embedded my presentation slide deck below. You can also check out my website for Conjugating Google Docs in the World Language Classroom.

The last session of the Summit was a demo slam. I’ve seen demo slams before but never participated. I found the courage inside (maybe the biggest group  of people I’ve ever presented to) and did a slam of Google Story Builder. I asked the crowd to help me create a story and we had fun story written and ready to share in under 3 minutes! If you use this in your classroom, I’d love to see how! The slam was a competition but I wasn’t in it to win it…just wanted to have the experience and do some sharing! The other presenters were a great group and we had fun slamming!

We met a lot of new people – it was extremely refreshing to be in Dubai and hang out with like-minded educators. We also attended several quality sessions. If you weren’t able to make the summit, all the session resources are online and Jeff Genest was kind enough to set up a Google Spreadsheet to collect all the #GAFESUMMIT tweets! The next summit is in Virginia next weekend so be sure to check out the resources and hashtag for more fun stuff.

Collaboration, Google, Kuwait, Professional Development

Presentation x2 from #Peak2012

Last weekend I attended and presented at the Professional Educators Around Kuwait conference (PEAK). Calls for presentation proposals went out last month and I had a difficult time deciding what to present about. My husband suggested I choose something I was passionate about…so Google Apps it was (duh!). A colleague helped me refine my ideas and off I went!

I had no idea what to expect from this conference. Honestly, I didn’t expect a whole lot. The rooms did not have projectors or internet (I brought my own). There was no keynote, simply 4 sessions with lunch and a raffle afterwards. When I got the HUGE document with the descriptions of the sessions I didn’t think there was any way that there would be enough people present to attend them all. Turns out there were close to 1500 educators from over 30 schools! After my 2 presentations, I attended a session on ‘Arabish‘ and a second session on strategies for teaching students are are English Language Learners. Both were decent but learning about Arabish was incredibly interesting, especially after taking an intro Arabic course this semester. The buffet lunch was fantastic and I even won a tea set at the raffle 🙂

My first session was ‘Harnessing the Power of Google Apps: For Educators.’ I focused on using Google Apps in order to make educators’ lives easier and save them time (Google Apps basics).

My second session was ‘Harnessing the Power of Google Apps: For Collaboration.’ This session assumed that you attended my first session or had a basic understanding of how to use Google Apps. I focused on effectively using Google Apps in order to facilitate and encourage collaboration among teachers and students.

I think these sessions could be combined into a 3-hour workshop where all participants had devices (preferably laptops or Chromebooks). The biggest false assumption that I made was thinking that teachers would bring devices to an education conference and, specifically, to a session on Google Apps. I learned that this was not the case in Kuwait. Many participants had devices, but mobile devices (including iPads) are not optimized for using Google Apps effectively.

My sessions have been submitted to NESA for consideration to be included in the Spring Conference in Bangkok. Our plan is to go to Thailand for Spring Break either way…so it’s a win-win!  I would love any feedback about these presentations for the future 🙂

1:1, Google, iOS, Kuwait, Reflector

An Update: @ReflectorApp

As I mentioned in a previous post we bought a Reflector (formally Reflection) license for each of our teachers. In that post I laid out some issues. Here are my updates to how things have been going!

*We are rolling out Reflector slowly. I chose the first 5 teachers from elementary based on who I’ve worked with and after talking to the principal. We have one teacher in each grade (1-5) testing out Reflector.
*Before teachers could use the app, I met individually with each of them to show them how it worked. They have to connect to the wireless (instead of wired), open the program (it runs in the background), activate mirroring using AirPlay on their iPad…et voila! I showed them how to change the settings (white or black frame) and set a password (a MUST!).
*I created a Google doc for teachers to share their experiences with Reflector. They are busy people and don’t have time to meet weekly so I thought this would be a great use for Google Apps 🙂 Although you can’t see them (this is a copy), I add comments when teachers share their experiences.

As you can see our biggest problem right now is the glitchy mirroring. We are doing some experimenting to figure out which piece of the puzzle is causing this (app, wireless network, computer, wireless card…). When I use my new Lenovo laptop on the school network I have no issues. Teachers, however, are having issues (same network, different computer). My scientific brain tells me that this could be pointing to the wireless card. We bought two new cards (one internal, the other a USB) for the grade 4 & 5 teachers to test out.

(From my previous post) Some issues we’ve already encountered:
*All computers using reflection will show up on AirPlay on the iPad (if there are 100 computers with Reflection, you will be able to see and choose from all 100). Update: So far this hasn’t been a problem (we only have 5 running). When I met with each teacher, I taught them to exit the Reflector application and disconnect from the wireless when they weren’t actively using it. Even when we roll this out to more teachers, I doubt all 170 will need to use the app at the same time.
*We are running Windows 7 32-bit Professional. When Reflector is installed & authenticated on the admin profile, it is not authenticated on a teacher profile (prompts you to enter license serial code again). Update: After contacting the support team, they gave us the step-by-step for setting up Reflector on each computer so that anyone who logs in can access the app. I have been INCREDIBLY impressed with their customer service. They are quick to respond when I ask for help and are keeping track of my blog & Twitter to make sure everything is going well.

I’d love to hear about other schools that are the implementing Reflector App! Are you having any issues? What is your hardware/wireless network like?

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.

Google, Kuwait, Professional Development

I’m a #GAFE Qualified Individual

I’ve been using Google for personal email for 10+ years. I worked at a Google Apps for Education School and had a classroom that was 1:1 with Chromebooks. I’m now a Technology Coach in a school going 1:1 with iPads. I still use Google Apps daily for personal and professional reasons. So in September I decided I wanted to do some PD on my own time. Three months, countless hours and 6 multiple choice exams later…I’m officially a GAFE Qualified Individual 🙂 YAY!

Even though I’ve been using Google Apps for(what seems like)ever, I learned a ton of new tricks! I tweeted about most of them using #gafe. Here are just a few…

The modules are available (free) for anyone and are specifically geared towards education. Whether your goal is to become a certified trainer, to use GAFE in the classroom or to simply learn a few of Gmail’s sweet tricks…the edu training is a great place to start. The modules are published Google docs so that they can be updated at anytime (cause we all know Google is constantly updating!).

Now that I’m a Qualified Individual I have 12 months to complete the application to become a Certified Trainer. It’s definitely a lot more work than reading through a few modules and taking a couple tests. Although my school does not use GAFE, there are still quite a few teachers here who are using (or are interested in) Google Apps. Last weekend I presented 2 sessions at a conference in Kuwait and will hopefully be able to present at the GAFE Summit in Dubai and/or NESA in the spring.

Becoming a Qualified Individual is one of the ways I’ve been trying to better myself as an educator in 2012. 🙂

Update: I received an email with some additional (great) questions. I thought I’d share them and my answers here in case anyone else is asking the same questions. 🙂

Q: How many questions are on each of the 90 minute tests?
A: Each test has 60 multiple choice questions. I don’t think any of them took me more than 70 minutes to complete.

Q: How much time do you recommend dedicating to studying for each of the tests?
A: I simply read through the modules given by Google. I experimented with some of the tools and tricks as I read through them. None of the modules took longer than the time suggested by Google, but I’m familiar with all of the products so I may have gone through them faster than people who haven’t had experience with Google Apps.

Q: What study material would you recommend (outside of reading through the info on Google’s Apps for Education site — and having that information open in a second window while taking the test)?
A: The tests are tricky. I firmly believe that Google is testing your search skills more than they are testing your information retention skills. The questions are very specific. During each test I had all the chapters of the relevant module open in another browser and searched to find or double-check my answers. Google gives you everything you need for free. I wouldn’t recommend seeking out or buying any other additional materials.

I’ll add more Q&As if I get them!

Google, Kuwait

Use Google Story Builder in your classroom! #gonegoogle

The last week and a half has been a whirlwind! Last Monday I was asked to take over two French classes (again) for an undetermined period of time. I spent a couple days trying to wrap my brain around that. On my way out of the building on last Thursday, I ran into our superintendent. He informed that they had hired a French teacher…and that she would be taking over classes this week! I taught Sunday and Monday…and now I’m free again! From thinking that I would teach French for the rest of the school year to knowing it was only a couple of days – it’s been crazy. I do have to say I’m relieved that they were able to hire a qualified teacher (she’s from France AND has teaching experience in the Middle East) and that I’ll be able to continue focusing on my job as Technology Coach.

Last week I saw a post on the Google Drive Blog about the Gone Google Story Builder. Google suggested using the Story Builder to write songs or a story. My mind immediately went to the possibilities for education. This looks like a great tool for language teachers! The Story Builder is exclusively for dialogue which seriously restricts students…but that might be a good thing. This could be an option for students in English classes who are focusing solely on dialogue. Students in World Language classes could turn in the text to skits using the Story Builder. In Social Studies, students could create dialogues between historical (or present day) figures.

I played around with it myself a little for a French class. There are two important things to know – you can only create 10 characters and 10 exchanges (2 characters could each speak 5 times, 10 characters could each speak once). This does limit dialogues a bit, but I think it would be ideal for quick in class assignments. Once the story is built, you can choose music (or not) and share the link. Click here to view my story. Enjoy! 🙂

Collaboration, Google, Kuwait, Professional Development, Social Media

What have you been doing lately to become a better educator?

Last month, I bookmarked an article to read – Technology Doesn’t Teach, Teachers Teach by Bill Goodwyn. As I was finally reading it this morning, this quote really jumped out at me:

…we urge our colleagues in the education community to increase their efforts to provide not only the resources to our teachers, but also the necessary professional development [not always mandatory]. We must recognize that the teacher-student relationship comes first. Only then will we continue to see improved results in the wired classrooms of tomorrow.

This got me thinking about what I’ve been doing recently in the professional development category. I’ve been giving PD to our staff, but what have I been doing so that I am becoming a better educator? I’ve also been challenged recently as to why a Technology Integration Coach would need PD other than the IB training offered. Here are some of the PD opportunities I have been seeking out and some of my thoughts…

I don’t do much educational reading over the summer. I rarely get on Twitter and don’t touch my Google Reader. Some may criticize this, but for me it’s a much needed break (especially this year). As we’ve gotten back into the swing of the school year, I’ve been fortunate to have the time each day to spend time reading through my blogs and keeping track of what’s happening on Twitter. I’ve found new people to follow and blogs to read. Although I cherish how my PLN has grown during the last 2 years, I also find myself overwhelmed by all of the educational material put out there on a daily basis. What is actually quality? Who is just trolling for views? Even after you pare down all the information, there is still an incredible amount that is worth reading and using – who has the TIME to do that and how do you choose which tool or idea is best? But attempting to answer these questions is why Twitter and blogs have been and continue to be great places for me to go for self-guided PD.

We are now working at an IB school with all three programs (PYP, MYP, DP). Training teachers in IB is (understandably) a top priority. We currently attend weekly meetings to work towards being category 1 ‘certified’ (we won’t actually get a level 1 certificate, but we will be able to attend category 2 and 3 workshops). It has been very interesting to learn about the IB and MYP curriculum. A lot of it is just common sense & good teaching but quite a bit more is so incredibly different from what I did in the States. I’m eager to learn more in order to collaborate with teachers to integrate technology into the entire IB curriculum.

Working in a Google Apps for Education District and using Chromebooks in my classroom inspired my interest in Google Edu. After attending the South Carolina Google Apps for Education Summit in June, I knew I wanted to learn more. Although I would love to attend a Google Teacher Academy, it’s probably not going to happen in the near future. Another goal of mine is to become a Google Certified Trainer. The first step towards achieving Trainer level is to become a GAFE ‘Qualified Individual.’ I’m currently working my way through the modules and I’m half-way there! I still have the longest three modules & exams to complete – Calendar, Docs & Sites. I’ve already picked up so many tips, tricks and ways to incorporate Google into the classroom that I’m excited to keep going. As I continue to learn more…I’ll be sharing the love on Twitter!

One of the ways in which I have grown as a teacher is becoming a ‘sharer.’ I don’t want to just consume on Twitter and blogs. I want to help people through collaboration. I’ve slowly been doing a better job at this – first in my department in SC, then in my district, through my Twitter & blog and more recently by presenting PD to other teachers. While still in South Carolina I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present at a SC AATF workshop, at the SCFLTA conference and at the GAFE Summit. This year, I’m adding presenting to a new staff and presenting at international GAFE Summits to the list. My husband and I were accepted to present at both Bangkok and Mumbai. My presentation is titled “Conjugating Google Apps in the World Language Classroom.” This will be a great opportunity to meet and learn from new colleagues in educational technology from around the world.

But why do all this? Would I still have a job if I didn’t spend hours each day forcing myself to go above and beyond what is expected? Probably. Most people have no idea what I’m doing on a daily basis for my own professional development. Would I feel good about myself if I wasted my time? Probably not. I’m eager to learn in order to help our teachers implement technology meaningfully. Actual technology might not be changing on a daily basis, but HOW people are using it does. I won’t claim to know everything but there sure are a lot of resources out there that can help me (slowly) come closer. I also can’t forget that I am no longer in the classroom; I’m not using technology with my students on a daily basis. My best ideas seemed to come to me in the moment…how can I keep them coming? I don’t want to lose my connection to meaningfully implementing technology in the classroom. The only way to stay current and relevant is to push myself always be ‘better’ than yesterday.

1:1, Google, iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

iPad Tips & Tricks

Based on the feedback we received from our staff, we decided to officially start our professional development with ‘iPad Basics’ or as we called it, ‘iPad Tips & Tricks.’ The goal of the PD was to get teachers comfortable with their iPads so that they could become more confident and start experimenting with them in their classrooms. Because we know our teachers are not all at the same place, we created 3 levels of the training. We are offering the sessions on three consecutive Mondays and you can read more about the planning process here.

The three of us split up the presentations…and I was the lucky one selected to do level 3. Although I was not confident to begin with (I don’t have nearly as much experience with iPads as my two colleagues), I’m glad that I had the opportunity to take on the challenge. I learned a lot in the process and even found the Reflector App…which just might be my new favorite discovery. A few notes about the creation of the presentation:

*I took a lot of screen shots on the iPad and edited them with ArtStudio before uploading them to Google Drive using the iPad app.
*I made all the videos using Reflector.
*I used Google Drive & a Presentation to store the pictures and create the presentation.
*I used a Google Form to collect feedback from the staff that attended my session.

Voilà my level 3 iPad Tips & Tricks! Would love any feedback 🙂