Collaboration, Google, Kuwait

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.

Google, Kuwait, Professional Development

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 🙂

Google, Kuwait

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.

Collaboration, Google, Professional Development

#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 😉

Google, Professional Development

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.”)!

Collaboration, Google, Kuwait, Professional Development

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.

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 🙂

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!

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 🙂

1 Two 1, Chromebooks, Collaboration, Google, Social Media

#RVKony Day 2 w/ @Invisible Roadies @ICDeepSouth #KONY2012

Whew! Day 1 was a great success (in my humble opinion)! My students stayed on task and made some great comments on their articles. They loved being able to annotate a document at the same time and thought it was the coolest thing that they could see what their partner was doing to the document in real time. One of my biggest challenges for Day 2 was finding an online platform for my students to discuss what they read and #Kony2012. This proved to be quite difficult! Chatzy is blocked with no hope of becoming unblocked. I didn’t want anything complicated that students had to “learn” (left out edmodo, Campfire, etc.). I also needed something that identified them and that I could moderate (left out TodaysMeet, etc). One of the ITS at another high school in my district suggested Google Groups. Since we are a Google Apps for Education district, I took this idea and ran with it!

1. When students walked into the classroom on Friday I had these instructions on the board…

2. Students in the outside circle had these directions waiting in their email…

3. In addition, if students in the outside circle expressed an interest (on their survey) of tweeting, they also had these instructions…

4. Students on the inside circle discussed the Kony 2012 video, Invisible Children, the articles they read and their thoughts & opinions on those issues out loud. I moderated this discussion if needed (although one of my classes did so well I barely said a word :)).

5. Students on the outside circle weren’t allowed to say anything out loud…they expressed all of their opinions on the discussion board and Twitter while listening to the inside circle. I embedded both the discussion board and the #RVKony TweetChat into a google site, however the students were having trouble viewing them. That’s when I added the link at the bottom of the page so that students could go independently to the google group.

6. While all students were discussing in both circles (out loud and online), I had the TweetChat on the board so all students could see what was being said on Twitter.

The day went incredibly well and I was extremely proud of my students! One discussion got quite heated while another one went so smoothly I barely had to say a word. A couple highlights from the day..
*my 3d period only participated in the online discussion because we were watching the Kony 2012 video in the gym with the Invisible Children Roadies (Deep South team).
*we were lucky enough to have Laura (from IC) come spend time with my 5th period class. She sat in the inner circle and joined the discussion. It was an amazing asset to have her there with us! (and she was impressed by how well read the students were!) In the future, it would be great to have a Roadie with each class, if possible.
*a couple other teachers/classes in the school participated in the online discussion. I tried to get the word out (sent an email about FREE lesson plans!) but it didn’t catch on quite as well as I would have liked. But this project could definitely become a larger school project with time.
*one of my students chose to come back to my class for the last period of the day and help us tweet out what students were saying (on discussion board and in class). He struggles in French, however something about this issue connected with him. He was planning on skipping and going home, however I convinced him to come to my class and help out with Twitter.

I encouraged my students to create their own opinions from the information. I didn’t care if they agreed or disagreed with Invisible Children & Kony 2012, I just wanted them to have an educated reason for what they thought. If you want more information, here are some of the resources I gathered.

This week was one of those weeks were I love being a teacher. Educating students about current events, encouraging them to think and create their own opinions, getting them involved in a REAL discussion and seeing how much they care…priceless. 🙂