Google, Professional Development

Oman #GAFEsummit – a whirlwind!

After spending spring break in Oman last year, it is now one of Jeff and I’s favorite countries. We love it. When Jim & Marcello asked if we wanted to come to the EdTechTeam Summit…we were all in!

Now that the craziness of the last 2 days is over, I’m sitting here in our hotel room enjoying the view and reflecting on the Summit before we fly back to Kuwait tonight.

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Friday we had a great time checking participants in – I really enjoyed starting the summit off with this kind of energy and connection! I’m just bummed I didn’t have time for the photo booth 🙂 I had two sessions on Friday (slide decks embedded below). Most of the pictures in my slide decks are links. I’ve been doing the Harnessing the Power of Google series for a couple years now and it’s always a good time. I found the participants at this Summit engaged and excited about learning. I loved reading my feedback on Friday evening – the positivity and realness was much appreciated.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and not really sure how I was going to make it through Saturday. Then I woke up Saturday morning and realized I was presenting during 3 of the 4 sessions and doing the closing keynote. Whoa. I was a little nervous I was going to fall over from exhaustion at some point. But the energy & excitement of the participants kept me going and I made it through! My two unique sessions are embedded below.

I’m always looking for more recent examples to share of how world language teachers are using Google Apps in the classroom – please contact me and I’d love to include the cool things you’re doing in your classrooms 🙂

My goal for the Hangouts session is that everyone leaves having participated in 2 successful Hangouts – one On Air lead by me and one of their choice, initiated by them. It’s a hands-on session where we experience lots of bugs in hopes that next time they try it will be smooth and they can start thinking about how to use Hangouts in their classes. I wish I could carry around a box of headphones for this session.

Jim contacted me Tuesday (yes, 3 days before the Summit) and asked if I would give the closing keynote. Freaking out ensued:image1

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Christina‘s response made me laugh at first…and then the more I thought about it, the more genius the idea sounded. I started brainstorming, moved to an outline and then just wrote. I asked for advice from my UKSTL & COETAIL mentors on giving keynotes and bounced ideas off of a few people (huge thanks to everyone!). By 4:15pm Friday I had a slide deck and keynote ready. There were definitely some growing pains! When I gave the keynote it was the first time I’d ever read through the entire thing out loud. A couple minutes in Jeff helped me remember to breathe and slow down. I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without having the speaker notes with the timer going. Working on memorizing it will be a huge plus for the future. I have a lot to work on but it felt really good to get the first one under my belt!

Thanks to everyone involved for a great weekend! We’ll be back Oman 🙂

TAISM & the mountains
TAISM & the mountains
COETAIL, Collaboration, Kuwait

Ancient civilizations coming to life

Have I mentioned that I one of my biggest passions is connecting classrooms around the world? Hopefully that’s old news because I’ve let it ooze into most of the posts I write. The grade 2 blog about Sharing the Planet w/ a focus on water is up and running – and they’re eager to read posts & comments from classrooms & experts around the world.

Next up – grade 3! Andria and Anna have been going through the COETAIL journey together and are gearing up to start their course 5 final project. They have chosen the IB PYP unit of Where We Are in Place and Time in which the students will be learning about ancient civilizations. Read more specifics here and here.


via Stux on Pixabay

Andria and Anna are hoping to connect their students to other classrooms that live in the ancient civilizations they will be studying – China, Egypt, Rome/Italy, Greece, Maya (southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Mesopotamia (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria). Although Mesopotamia is the closest to Kuwait, it might also be the most difficult to connect to.

Their unit starts at the beginning of March. If you or anyone you know is interested in connecting to a grade 3 class in Kuwait, please let one of us know! They are open to Mystery Skypes, video chats, asynchronous communication and any other ideas you have 🙂

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 🙂

Collaboration, Kuwait

The sweet sound of student excitement

Today I participated in my first Mystery Skype. Awhile ago Alex was searching on Twitter for a class to Skype with. I contacted our 2nd & 3rd grade teachers and Andria was interested (love our COETAILers at AIS!). It took some logistical planning, but we made it work today!

It was awesome. You had to be there to feel & hear the energy of the students. I loved being a part of it. As I’ve mentioned before, this kind of thing is what makes me love teaching & education. Both groups of students were excited before they even started. They eagerly created Yes/No questions that would help them figure out where the other class was. As their questions were answered and they gathered information they had to quickly adjust their questions based on their knowledge. They were excited about inquiry without even really knowing it.

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Our students had Atlas books. They started with the world page (no countries labeled). Once they found out that the other class was in Africa they turned to the world page with countries labeled. As they asked questions about where in Africa, Andria & I helped them use their hands to cover up where we knew they weren’t (North, South, West). When they narrowed it down to the Horn, we showed them the page with only those countries. I wish I would have been taking video when one of our students asked if they were in Ethiopia and the response was yes – the entire class cheered. The only cheer bigger may have been when the other class figured out that we are in Kuwait!

What Andria thought about the experience: “My class and I enjoyed the mystery Skype session immensely! I cannot believe the amount of learning that went on in such short period of time. I definitely want to do it again.”

Both classes figured it out a lot faster than I thought they would which gave us time at the end to ask open-ended questions about the countries. I think our students’ favorite question was about the type of animals in Ethiopia. They were shocked that there are SO many exotic animals in the wild. I’ll have to share my pictures from Learning 2 with our students so they can see the ICS campus. Our principal visited the room right after we ended and was bummed to miss it. But the excitement of the students was still evident and they were able to relive their experience by telling him. Hopefully we can have more opportunities like this for our students in the near future. Our principal would like to share these kind of things with parents so that they are excited for global connections and technology in the classroom. I’d also like to experiment with giving the students access to Maps on their iPads while they are Skyping.

This was extra cool because Andria is from South Africa. The perfect first Mystery Skype – connecting to ‘home’! I learned that Kuwait is a really difficult location to find which makes us the perfect Mystery Skype partners 😉

Next week our elementary is doing an EdCamp during their division meeting. I’ve decided to facilitate a session on Mystery Skype. But what better way to help teachers understand it than to actually do it?! If anyone (teachers or classes) is interested in talking to us Tuesday, December 2 between 3 and 4pm GMT+3, PLEASE let me know! [It wouldn’t take the entire hour, probably just 3:25 to 3:45pm with the teachers.] 

Collaboration, Kuwait

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.]

Kuwait

Wanted: Suggestions for school stakeholder tech survey

We just finished up our MSA re-accreditation in the spring. Our newly formed Technology Committee has been tasked with addressing the issues that were brought up surrounding technology. We need:

a 3 to 5 year IT plan to be developed with input from stakeholders. The plan would include benchmarks/specific tasks to complete, projected cost for ongoing purchasing, and maintenance of current and future technology. Once the plan has been approved, it would be shared with all stakeholders.

To this end we have started brainstorming ideas for a technology survey that will be given to all school stakeholders (students, teachers, staff, admin, parents).

Instead of completely reinventing the wheel, we’d love input about other surveys that exist or questions that you (or your school) have used in the past. Please leave a comment or suggestion on this brainstorm that we’ve started. Any and all input is much APPRECIATED!

Professional Development, UKSTL

Semester 2 of #UKSTL

WAY back in May I finished up my second semester of my MEd in School Technology Leadership with the University of Kentucky. As soon as the UK semester was over, I started a 4-week category 2 International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) Design training. I’ve become pretty good at keeping myself BUSY!

ELS 616: Leadership for School as Inclusive Community

This class sounded awesome and I was pretty excited. The parent population at our school isn’t super involved and I was really looking forward to learning how to involve both parents and the community in a deeper way. Unfortunately the class was a little disappointing. Blackboard (or how it’s setup at UK) was a disappointment after using Canvas. And the professor may have taken on a little too much. However she was extremely willing to work with us and adapt the final assignment to fit our needs.

Our first assignment was a snapshot of our school. It was interesting for me to dive a little deeper into the statistics at our school. And realize that it’s much harder to find out stats about private international schools than it is public schools in the States. I also had fun creating this with Prezi – I tried to use Prezi for it’s strengths and not simply shove a regular presentation into Prezi format. [It won’t embed :(]

Our second assignment was about the stakeholders at AIS. This was a great reminder that a successful technology initiative includes a shared vision that includes all stakeholders.

My final project morphed into a 1:1 parent engagement action plan. I was able to tailor this to my school and my needs and I really enjoyed coming up with a plan for how I would have implemented our 1:1 program if I had been in charge (at least the parent engagement piece of it).

EDL 662: Digital Age Learning and Technology Leadership

A great title…that also ended up being a great class. The focus was on ISTE Standard 2 for Administrators. I had Dr. John Nash in the fall for Quantitative Methods but it was easy to tell that this class better matched his passions. As always there was a lot of great discussion on Canvas.

One of our first assignments was an autoethnography. I’d never done one before and it ended up being a beneficial experience forcing me to really think about WHY I am who I am.

I also created two 60-second PD lessons (in the form of podcasts) about two of the terms from the educational technology standards glossary. My original goal was to use TouchCast for the social media one but it didn’t work out with the devices I had available to me.


Our final assignment was to conduct a “point-in-time critical analysis of how technology is being used by students, teachers, and administrators in their school(s) or institution” using Standard 3 (Teaching & Assessing for Learning) of the AdvancEd Quality Standards for School.

Google, Kuwait, Professional Development

Kuwait International Educators Conference 2014

A couple weekends ago, Jeff and I presented at the third bi-annual Kuwait International Educators Conference at Al Bayan Bilingual School (BBS). We were invited to present in the fall after we met Lynda Abdul Raheem (FAWSEC Professional Development Coordinator) at PEAK in 2012.

KIEC was the first time we were sought out to present and the first time we’d ever done 4-hour workshops. We met with Lynda in the fall and learned all about their organization and the conference. Their philosophy is that any professional development that betters their staff will also better education as a whole in Kuwait. Love it. All BBS employees were required to attend both Saturday and Sunday (with Friday optional). They opened the conference to all educators in Kuwait and even allowed people to split tickets (3 people, 3 days, a different person attends each day). Each day there was a keynote, 4-hour workshop and 1-hour session (except Friday). At 60KD (~$212) it was a pretty great deal for a conference!

Jeff and I each led one 4-hour workshop each day. We each had two different workshops. I was scheduled to do Empowering on Friday and Sunday and GAFE – Next Level on Saturday. After Jeff lead GAFE for Beginners on Friday and Saturday, we realized the demand was high and people were excited. We switched it up and I replaced the Sunday Empowering with GAFE – Next Level. Saturday and Sunday (when all BBS teachers attended) were full sessions…and we even had to turn people away! The energy in our rooms was impressive! I had SO much fun nerding out with people over Google Apps 🙂

Empowering Teachers & Students with Technology

  • My Empowering workshop was good…but I had very high expectations after attending Scott McLeod‘s workshop at NESA. I ended with only 5 people…which made it difficult to really engage in discussion and get them creating. One piece of feedback was that the first part of the session was theoretical…but I’m not quite sure how to have attendees analyze lesson plans without the background in the frameworks (SAMR, etc). Also, almost the entire group was not educated in North America. I wonder if this makes any difference in the way teachers teach. Would definitely be interested to know how teacher education programs differ! Although it didn’t live up to my expectations, the feedback made it seem like people still got something out of it.

GAFE – Next Level

  • I left this session both days feeling energized and excited! I had a pretty big range of knowledge in the room which was difficult to keep up with at times. I started with a Google Race (adapted from my classroom in SC). The race ended up taking a little longer than expected. If I did this session again, I would like it to take less time…but I’m not sure what I would take out! I had a range of feedback from “I got a little lost at times and would have preferred a slower pace” to “I felt like it could have moved a little faster.” Seriously…it couldn’t have been more opposite! But every single piece of feedback was positive. It was incredibly rewarding and reminded me why I love what I do. I need to remember that feeling when I’m not feeling quite so positive about my job, school, etc.

Presenting at KIEC was an incredible learning experience. It was a lot of work but we also had a lot of fun. Working with Jeff so that our GAFE sessions spiraled was a great opportunity. If you have any questions about either of my sessions, let me know! If you want any of the information from Jeff’s session, contact him. 🙂

iOS, Kuwait

Community walk

In November, I participated in a Community Walk with one of our Grade 2 classes as part of their ‘Where We Are in Place and Time’ unit of inquiry. Their teacher, Ms. Kira, is currently working on her International Teaching Certificate and IB level 1 award and this was part of her course requirements.

In groups of 2 (each with an adult supervisor), students walked around the community near our school for 30 minutes. The majority of our students do not live near the school so this was a new experience for them. Their goal was to take pictures of the community and interview someone in order to learn about life in the community. Shahad and Lulwa were ready to go with their interview questions (2 pages!) and iPad.

They wandered around a bit before finding a man working at a bakala (convenience store) who agreed to answer their questions.

They had two full pages of questions that were…quite interesting and definitely detailed! Although I did have to help focus them, it was really fun to see them interact with a local community member in both Arabic and English.

They took pictures and videos using their school iPads during their walk in order to create a presentation for their classmates and parents. Afterwards, they ended up creating a 6 minute long Explain Everything…it was a struggle to watch. The heart was there but it was a time when the technology seemed to inhibit the demonstration of their learning. Explain Everything just has a few too many tools for 2nd graders. But I was also impressed that they did the video all by themselves (I had my suspicions about some of the other groups).

Overall I really enjoyed being a part of this experience and hope I can be more involved next year! Kira asked me to reflect further on the experience:

Explain how you believe the Community contributed to the cultural life of your school and how it contributed to the local community.

  • Most of our students don’t live in the community of the school. Being forced to actually go out and explore this community helped the students understand what life is like here. The saw the stark differences from what they’re used to seeing where they live. Walking around the community was not a normal part of their everyday lives and took courage on behalf of the students (and adults!). The walk helped our students become more open-minded and reflective. It also benefited the community – our school and the community are kept almost completely separate  99% of the time. This was a fantastic opportunity for the community to see and interact with the students at our school. It created a better understanding, both on the part of the school and the community, about what is on the other side of the walls. Our students took a risk to be communicators with adults in the community and were rewarded when those adults treated them with respect. Everyone learned something!

How did the Community Walk change your perception of the local community?

  • I enjoy interacting with the local businesses around our school (while still being conscious of my surroundings). Although I live in the community, our walk took us to streets that I do not often traverse. I enjoyed seeing the new businesses and how the employees interacted with the students. It was definitely a positive experience!
COETAIL, Course 4, Course 5, Kuwait

Looking ahead to course 5 – MYP Design & Art

Background
The specialist classes in the middle school (French, band, art, drama) previously met 3 days during an 8 day cycle. This year they now have .5 credit (3 out of 8) and 1 credit classes (6 out of 8). In an attempt to give middle school students more flexibility in their schedule, our MS principal decided to pilot incorporating the MYP Design Cycle into the full credit specialist classes. This makes it so that not all students have to take a formal Design Tech class. Two units in each of the specialist classes during the 2013-14 school will be assessed on both subject and design criteria. It was agreed last year that the technology integration coaches (there are 3 of us PK-12) would be the ones to assess the design cycle criteria.

I have been assigned to work with the French and art classes. During a meeting with the MS principal (Dave Botbyl) and the art teacher, Dave suggested that I use a unit in art next semester for my COETAIL final project. Genius! 🙂

We are using the the ‘old’ design cycle and not the new one from the next generation materials.

Ideas
I have shared the course 5 final project details with Lindsay (our MS art teacher). Next semester her classes will be doing a unit on photography. It is a brand new unit that she will be building from the ground up. She has agreed to let me write the unit with her – yay!

After learning more about problem-based learning, I’m excited to incorporate the design cycle into art. I think there is a lot of potential! But it is also a lot of pressure…a brand new unit with a brand new concept. Solving problems with design and art just makes sense. Lindsay is currently doing a unit on logo design with her 8th grade visual arts class. It looks like a great unit and I’ll be eager to see the results.

I’ve started brainstorming for the photography unit but Lindsay and I haven’t sat down together to plan yet so it’s all pretty rough. A recent presentation to Language B teachers about visual interpretation had me mulling over how these tools might be applicable to the photography unit. When I think about SAMR and redefinition, the ability to collaborate, share and learn from others around the world is where my mind goes. Below is a working list of ideas. I’ve shared the document and made it open for comments – I’d love any input from YOU!