Extending learning w/ global collaboration – Middle School Art

One of my favorite things as a coach is to work with a teacher and then see them take the initiative. Last year as part of my COETAIL final project I collaborated with our middle school art teacher (Lindsay) to create a unit based around photography using the Design Cycle. One of the most powerful pieces of the unit (IMHO) was the connection we made with Brian & Yuko of Photohoku. As part of their inquiring & analyzing, students created questions for Brian & Yuko. We then did a Google Hangout with them and the students were able to talk to them in real-time. The students loved it.

Fast-forward 4 months to the current school year. Lindsay approached me for details on how to use Google Hangouts to connect with an expert. The students were learning about the Volumes of Design and she had arranged for a collaboration with Jodi Harvey-Brown (Statement of Inquiry: Our interpretation through time and space facilitates change.). We decided on a Hangout On Air so that students could re-watch the discussion whenever they needed to. I didn’t do any of the planning – just the technical details to help it be a success for the students. [Luckily I had presented on Google Hangouts in Michigan this summer and had some resources readily available. Google Hangouts On Air can be tricky!]

Lindsay arranged with the other 8th grade teachers so that all of her students could be in the classroom for this special event. Students created questions in advance and Lindsay sent them to Jodi so she had a heads-up. During the hangout, students asked her questions in order to help them create their own book sculptures. The event was yet another reminder of how meaningful & powerful it can be to connect our students to experts around the world. Teachers no longer need to be the sage on the stage – they simply need to help students safely connect to other people who have knowledge or skills of value.

[If I had to do it over again, the only thing I would change is discussing the norms of this type of activity with students before beginning. Many of the students had never been involved in something like this and weren’t really sure how to act. I also think it would have been helpful to explain a few features of Hangouts prior to starting.]


I’m officially a Google Apps Certified Trainer!

EEEK!! I’m not going to lie – I’m super pumped about this! After more than a year of working on this application, it’s officially official 🙂

During the fall of 2012, I completed the coursework, paid for and passed the 6 qualification exams (you have 90 days to complete the tests). On December 4th I was awarded Google Apps Qualified Individual status.

Since then, they have (supposedly) updated the tests to reflect the recent Google Apps updates. There are now only 5 tests that can be taken for $75 in English, Arabic or French.

After becoming a Qualified Individual, I had one year to complete the Certified Trainer application. I started working on the application in October/November. Since it is a Google Form (and therefore not savable), I kept all the answers to the questions in a Google Doc so that I could simply copy and paste when the time came. I made sure to share all my documents so that anyone with the link could view them.

The hardest parts for me were the two videos. Luckily I had used the COETAIL course 3 final project as a rough draft for my about me video. The most difficult thing was getting my videos cut down to the under 2-minute requirement…it goes by fast!

I recently discovered FormMule and have found it incredibly useful for disseminating information during my PD workshops.

There were a few hiccups in submitting my application. I started trying to submit by application on December 4th (the 1 year anniversary of my Qualified Individual status). However I kept getting an internal server 500 error. I was freaking out a little! Luckily I found the Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer forum. Becky notified me when the applications were back up (December 10) and assured me that I would not be penalized for submitting ‘late.’ Applications are currently not being accepted again for the first 8 weeks of 2014.

I can’t wait to explore the GACT community and see my name listed on the ‘Find a Trainer‘ site! Although I’m not super into badges, I have no problem displaying my new badge over there in my right sidebar 😉 And I’m proud to be officially considered ‘Googley’ (“Definition of “Googley” (according to Google) – Googley people are creative, passionate about their work, and ethical. They communicate openly; can thrive in a fast-paced, rapidly changing environment; and are willing to “roll up their sleeves” and get things done. They can be serious without wearing a suit and tie. Googley people can be worldwide experts and still encourage curiosity and questions without being condescending.”)!

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! 🙂

Let’s take a step back

So I’ve talked a lot about our district going 1:1 but I haven’t given many details. Implementing 1:1 in a district of 25,000 students and 30+ schools is a big undertaking! So here are some of the logistics…

*all schools are site-based. So the district office gives recommendations, but the schools (principals) have the final say. This applies to devices chosen, professional development, discipline policies, etc.

*K-2 will NOT be going 1:1, grades 3-8 will be going 1:1 by grade level and high school will be going by thirds

*Phase 1 (February 2012) – grades 5, 6 and 1/3 of each high school (based on student population, ~26 teachers at my school). Phase 2 (August 2012) – grades 4, 7 and next 1/3 of HS. Phase 3 (TBD 2013) – grades 3, 8 and last 1/3 of HS. At this point high schools MAY allow devices to go home instead of classroom sets.

*all high schools & elementaries chose Google Chromebooks, middle schools have chosen a variety of devices (iPad, Android tablet, Chromebooks)

*all high schools & elementaries have carts for 1:1 teachers with class sets, middle schools are doing homeroom models and also allowing students to take devices home



*Before we ever saw our Chromebooks, our Integration Technology Specialist (ITS) (Tami) had her work cut out for her! She received over 700 Chromebooks. Each one was assigned to a class set (district asset & serial numbers were recorded), set up to the network (we have a special Chrome wireless network), labeled and inserted into a cart.


*Tami created (and shared) a google document with all of this information so that we (teachers) could assign Chromebooks to students (my students use the same CB every day). The original spreadsheet includes information for all teachers.

*Tami started holding professional development for the 1:1 teachers at my HS in late fall. We received our locked carts in nid-February. We were required to attend a full day of PD on March 1st to obtain the code to unlock our carts. Unfortunately we didn’t get to all of the following agenda (everything took much longer than anticipated!). I helped present the session on “Unlocking the Chromebook Power” using an adapted version of my SCLFTA presentation.

*The morning was spent determining which CB numbers (1-27 for my cart) matched the asset tag info that Tami collected (see above spreadsheeet). I exported rosters from my PowerSchool gradebook then copied and pasted my students names and ID numbers into a Google spreadsheet for each class. I then assigned each student to a number (alphabetical order) and converted their ID numbers to email addresses.

*This full day of PD was priceless because we were given useful information and the TIME to do things that we needed to do. I adapted my rules presentation (from Tami) and my user agreement.

*Among other information, we also viewed and discussed the discipline policy. As we go 1:1, I think it is extremely important to have consistent consequences and hold students accountable. Below is an example from another high school in our district.

Whew that was a mouthful! But implementing 1:1 on this scale (or anywhere) is such a huge undertaking 🙂

Second Semester!

Whew! Second semester is in full swing! It’s been a bit crazy here but things are starting to settle down nicely. Last semester I taught French 1, French 2 and French 3. This semester I’m only teaching French 2 (block & year long classes)! I have high hopes for a much less stressful couple of months. Some things to stay tuned for…

*My class will be getting a class set of ChromeBooks soon as part of our district’s 1TWO1 initiative.

*My French 3 class finished up their final projects, so I’ll be sharing more on that soon.

*I also found out that my proposal for the 2012 SCFLTA conference was accepted. In February I’ll be presenting on using mobile devices (phones, ipods, etc) in the classroom.

*My semester French 2 classes are just finishing up their review projects. I’ll have more to share about how it went this time around.

*On a whim (and since my desks were in groups) I experimented with a speaking activity with my year-long French 2 classes today. I think it went decently well but I want to get it down on “paper” for the future.

à bientôt!

Google docs and coaching

Just after I was hired, the athletic director approached me and asked if I would be interested in coaching track & field. I was a little wary of the time commitment but ended up saying yes. Last year, in my second year as an assistant coach, I was able to really experiment with using google docs (before my district went to apps for education). This pre-season form was our first experiment…

It worked pretty well for keeping up with athletes’ training routines. Once the season started, I knew the coaches were sick of spending hours together after practice figuring out who would be running what at all of the meets. I was also done with constantly sending different versions of everything back and forth. I convinced the other two coaches to jump on board with google docs (you don’t have to have a gmail account to use gdocs!). We shared spreadsheets to organize meet entries, keep track of top times & varsity letter points and create scouting reports & rosters. We were then able to allow anyone with the link to view these documents so that students and parents could access them on our facebook page and website (social networking with coaching & teaching to come later).

Throughout the season we used two more forms to gather information – one to get contact information from parents and another to collect RSVPs for the end of the year banquet. Throughout the year, google docs saved us countless hours and headaches. We were able to edit the schedule without having to re-send it to parents each time we changed it. We were able to quickly and easily get information to our athletes. In addition, google docs are compatible with most smartphones and other devices so people could access the information wherever & whenever they needed.

Using google docs to make more efficient use of our time as coaches was when I first really started to get obsessed. This year I have been able to use google docs almost primarily in my classroom…more to come later.