This spring I had the honor of being selected by our leadership and the NESA Center to present two teacher workshops at the Spring Educators Conference. This conference is near to my heart as it was where I met Scott McLeod & Jayson Richardson in 2013 and decided to pursue my MEd with UKSTL. This year was special because I got to spend professional and personal time with a great group of educators from my school. The time we spent connecting with each other and other attendees was valuable (I got to finally meet Jeremy and Stacy!).
I enjoy the mix of PD experiences at this conference – keynotes, teacher workshops, 4-hour specialist workshops. Plus the location is always a bonus. This year the theme seemed to be all the ‘other’ skills that students need, not content. I was pushed to think about why we do things in the classroom, how research informs instruction and teacher attitudes. It was the first time I had seen Heidi Hayes Jacob, Bena Kallick, Debbie Silver (absolutely hilarious) and Dylan Wiliam…and I learned a lot from them. They’ve made most of their material available on the NESA Center website. One of my favorite sessions was Dylan’s Formative Assessment 4-hour workshop. I appreciated his research-based approach. Because my colleagues couldn’t attend, I took notes for them. Enjoy!
One thing I would like to see going forward at the NESA SEC is facilitated time for connections. I ‘met’ a lot of people virtually while tweeting but didn’t have the opportunity to meet F2F. During morning coffee or lunch, it would be great to have tables set aside for people who would like to meet up with other educators. I found myself sticking to my comfort zone (my colleagues) which was great for this time but would like to have the organized opportunity to meet other people.
Two of my PEAK 2014 sessions were chosen: Harnessing the Power of Google for Collaboration and Creating a Globally Connected Classroom. Teacher workshops have lost of of their importance at the SEC (understandably) so I was excited to have the number of attendees that I did (not zero!). My resources are available on the NESA page.
Abby (who co-presented with me at PEAK) couldn’t make it to Istanbul for our Creating a Globally Connected Classroom presentation. So she joined virtually. It was the second successful virtual presentation of the weekend! It was a wonderful learning experience and just another reason I’m grateful for the power of technology. My mom even got to watch from Michigan 😉 I’m excited to present with Abby again at the CISD Camp Inspire in Michigan in July!
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 🙂
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!