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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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!

Work smarter, not harder

The bottom line for educators and technology (not tech integration) usually seems to be saving time. If it’s going to make my life more difficult – no thank you! But if I can utilize technology tools to make my life easier – tell me more! This is one of my favorite ways to get educators to buy in to Google Apps.

I recently discovered a script for spreadsheets that has changed how I collect and distribute information when I’m giving PD. It’s called formMule. Just as the name implies it does tons of work for you (saving you tons of time). While there are lots of ways to use it (most I haven’t yet discovered) I’ve been loving it to send out resources from my professional development sessions to the attendees. I’ve now used it 4 times and have had great success.

At the beginning (or end) of a PD session, I have teachers complete a short Google Form. Once they have submitted the form, they instantly receive an email from me.formMule auto email

I have to do a little work up front to set everything up, but it saves me enough time in the long run to make it completely worth it. The short video below is one I made for my Google Apps Certified Trainer application quickly showing how to set up the basic mail merge function.

Have you used formMule’s other functions? I’d love to hear about what else it can do!

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! 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂