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.

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K-12 SAMR PD – Phase 1.5

After introducing SAMR to our entire PreK-12 staff, we were granted a little extra time with the middle school teachers. Here’s how it went down:

1. Compile a list of how teachers answer the question “How are you using technology in your classroom as a direct tool substitute?” in a Google Doc to be shared with the entire middle school staff.

2. Allow teachers time to brainstorm tasks that they ask students to do.

3. Share out, creating a Popplet.

4. Brainstorm technology tools that teachers could use to accomplish their tasks (stress task first, tool selection second), adding to Popplet.

After the meetings, we finalized the Google Doc and all 4 Popplets. We also added more tools that we thought would best fit the tasks (quality over quantity). We sent the links to all the documents to the MS staff reminding them that the Popplet compilations are a work in progress and a toolbox for them to start using.

Do you have tools to add?
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8 (there was a different thought process for this one)
Specialists

Lots of thanks and props to my wonderful co-worker (and husband) for helping brainstorm and give this PD! The popplet suggestion was genius! Thanks Jeff 😉

UAE #GAFESUMMIT 2013

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.

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 🙂

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! 🙂

My foray into Elementary

One of the first official things we’ve been asked to do as Technology Coaches is to go into every classroom in the elementary (Pre-K through grade 5) and do a short introductory iPad lesson. We met with the Primary Years Programme coordinators and the Elementary iPad Advisory Group (made up of 7 teachers) to create and refine our ideas for our lessons. It was decided that the most important concept before the students received their iPads was how to treat it (where it should/shouldn’t go, how they should/shouldn’t hold it).

To get started, we created a sign-up sheet for the teachers in Google Docs. We then sent them an email with the link telling them a little about what we wanted to do and asking them to fill in their information.

As a team, the three of us decided to split the grades so that our lessons would be able to be tailored for the target age group. After my two gentlemanly colleagues had chosen, I was left with 3rd grade and half of 2nd. I was a little hesitant and nervous at first as I’ve never worked with students younger than grade 9!

I emailed my elementary counselor friend for some advice, gave my creative juices some time to flow…and voila I had an idea! Using the pictures and cartoons that the guys took and drew, I wrote a short picture book for the students. I based my story off of Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. Here is my book (written using a Google Presentation)…

My first class this morning was a 2nd grade classroom. I started by introducing myself to the students and told them that I work with Mr. Jeff and Mr. Smith. I also explained how we would be coming into their classrooms sometimes to work with their teachers and that they would see us around the school. Before starting the story, I had them read the title and make predictions about what the story was going to be about. While I was reading the story to them, we talked about what made the iPad sad and happy. We talked about how the iPad wouldn’t like the canteen because she doesn’t like food, wouldn’t like the bathroom because she doesn’t like water and how she doesn’t like being up too high or down low. The story ended up being more interactive than I thought it would be…for each picture the students tried to find the iPad and it become like a “Where’s Waldo?” game.  It was fun and they really seemed to get into the story 🙂

I then asked them for their help. I told them how I knew a little boy who needed their help deciding how to treat his iPad. For each drawing (thanks bunches to Matt!!), they raised their hand if they thought it was a good way or a bad way to treat the iPad. Before showing them the “answer,” I had a couple students share about why they thought it was good or bad. We talked about why it would make the iPad happy or sad and I reiterated to them that I would be sharing their advice with the little boy. Before letting them switch to question mode, the teacher and I steered them towards giving me advice about what should be put in the iPad (only charger, headphones & case), what shouldn’t be put with the iPad in their backpack (no food/drink) and how the iPad should always stay in the keyboard case (unless a teacher tells them differently).

When I took out my iPad to demonstrate some of the things that might make the iPad happy or sad, they were in awe (they literally cooed when I took it out of my bag!). They loved seeing it and were excited to be able to get their own soon. I then let them ask me questions. I quickly saw that there were going to be WAY too many questions in the time we had (the whole lesson lasted about 30 minutes), so I asked them to talk with their table groups in order to come up with 1 question. This was great because they had to work together to pick a question and then also to pick who would ask it.

Overall the lesson went way better than expected! The students were adorable, asked great questions and had great advice! It was so different to be in a lower elementary classroom (as opposed to high school) where the students are eager to share and thirsty for knowledge. They really seemed to connect with the characters in the story…let’s just hope they remember when they get their iPads! This afternoon I’ll be working with a 3rd grade class. Who knew elementary could be so much fun? 😉

All the credit goes to Matt for this cartoon!

Update: Today I walked into a 3rd grade classroom and was told they didn’t have a projector…uh crap?! Luckily I created my book as a Google presentation and have the Google Drive app on my iPad. I had the students gather on the carpet and read them the story on my iPad 🙂 It worked really well…maybe even better than when it’s on a big screen!

Update #2: I had my first experience with KG1 students today! Going from high school to elementary was a big jump, but going from 2nd & 3rd graders to 3 & 4 year olds was almost as big. They are SO tiny! The class I was in was sitting “criss-cross applesauce” on the carpet. Each student had a piece of tape with his/her name on it and they had to keep their bums on the tape. They don’t have projectors in the KG1 classrooms, so I used the iPad as a book strategy. I also cut down on the examples of how to hold the iPad after the story. I brought the keyboard case (sans iPad) and let each child stand up to practice “hugging” it. They all clapped for each other and it was adorable! Some other adjustments I made – we skipped the predicting about the story and the giving advice part. I did allow them to ask questions, but they didn’t really know how to so they told me some stories instead. Incredibly cute…but no way could I teach little ones all day! 🙂

How I used #Chromebooks in the classroom today

In my next life I’ll be better at planning my lessons ahead of time (also at blogging regularly). I’ve found that in my teaching life I think on my feet way better than I think in advance. Today was a perfect example!

I was planning on having my French 2 year long class rewrite a present tense story using the imperfect tense (imparfait). Then we’d put the new verbs on the board and talk about what was happening in the story. I was also planning on introducing how/when to use imparfait in a new way & show some videos from my previous classes.

HOWEVER, as my students were working on their bellwork, I realized how long it was taking them and how difficult it was proving to be for them.

Text of story…
C’est une nuit de décembre. Il fait froid. Il neige. Nous sommes deux dans la voiture – ma sœur Lucienne et moi. Mais la voiture ne marche pas. Nous n’avons plus d’essence (gas). Au bord de la route, il y a une vielle femme. Elle a les cheveux blancs et son cou est très long. Elle promène un chien et elle chante très fort. Ma sœur et moi la trouvons un peu bizarre.]

On the spot I made a google form (while they were finishing).

I had students grab their Chromebooks. First I needed them to download a new Chrome extension that my ITS found. It’s genius for math or world language teachers! (I took this picture after I wrote the directions for my block classes – I do this often…write something on the whiteboard, snap a picture with my iPod touch and use it later or share it with students!).

I then had students check their email (I almost always email forms to students so that it shows up right in their email instead of giving them the link…saves steps and is much easier to explain!). As you can see in the form above, I broke the paragraph down into sentences so they could more easily find the 12 verbs to conjugate. I also chose to automatically collect students’ email addresses so that they would receive their responses. (Note: I realized today that students have no idea how to find verbs in sentences. My English teacher next-door neighbor assured me this is the case in English too!)

After all the students submitted their answers, I downloaded the Flubaroo script, ran it and graded the assignment (see website for tutorial & video…super easy!). I opted to have Flubaroo send the students their grades. Tonight’s homework is to use their responses & and their grade to correct their answers.

Tomorrow in class I will share the results of the form with students so that everyone can see on their personal Chromebook (I created gmail groups for each class so that it is easy to share & email gdocs). This is what students will see…

Obviously I don’t want students to see who submitted the responses. So I have hidden the columns with student info (right click on column heading, select ‘hide column’). I also hid the Flubaroo spreadsheet. I didn’t want to delete this information because I still need it! Tomorrow I want students to quickly be able to see which answers are completely correct, which ones would have received partial credit (had this been a formal assessment) and which ones were completely wrong. In order to do this, I used conditional formatting to identify the correct answers in pink. I did have to go through by hand and change the almost correct answers to blue. Anything in black is wrong. Depressing huh?

It wasn’t until today that I realized the power of having students use google forms to submit responses and then share the spreadsheet with them so that they could see others’ responses and we could talk about them. I’m excited for the possibilities!