Thursday, December 18, 2014

What 10x Thinking Can Do For Your Classroom





By Kevin Brookhauser
Director of technology at York School
 in Monterey, Calif. 







US troops invaded Grenada in 1983, Tennessee Williams left our world that same year, and in 1983 the phrase “I ought to” appeared less frequently than the phrase “I need to” in the published word for the first time. Most students armed with a little curiosity and some library skills could discover the first two important facts by sifting through books. The third bit? That requires the use of some serious computers that have scanned, stored, and indexed almost every printed word in the English language.

This week in my computer concepts and programming class at York School, D Feher, a member of the Google Education team, spoke to students about how computers do more than just help people send emails, filter photos, and share cat videos. She discussed how computers and programmers are shaping our future and how they also help us understand our history.


With the help of Google’s Ngram Viewer, linguists and historians can analyze the frequency of words and phrases like “I need to” and “I want to” and just about every published word or phrase. Ever.


Why did “need to” come into fashion in the 80s? Perhaps it’s related to the rise of the “Me” decade. Could the commitment toward one’s duty and dependents connoted in the word “ought” take a back seat to 70s and 80s individualism implied in the word “need”? Maybe. But now we have some hard data on the frequency of these words’ usage to help feed our curiosity.

Access to these kinds of comparative data allows researchers in all academic disciplines to expand their understanding of their fields and our knowledge of everything.

Behind all of this rapid expansion of knowledge? Computer programmers.

Feher encouraged students in CCP to consider what bugs them about the world adults have built around them and asked them to create solutions in a very big way. People at Google are not out there trying to solve problems with incremental improvements. They engage in what’s called 10x thinking.

“If you want cars to run at 50 miles per gallon, fine you can retool your car a little bit,” says Astro Teller, Director of Google X Laboratories. “But if I tell you it has to run on a gallon of gas for 500 miles, you have to start over.”



The creators behind this Ngram tool didn’t just want to add to existing etymology dictionaries. They dreamed up the idea of cataloging every instance of every word printed in every book since books started getting published. That’s true 10x thinking.

I try to encourage the kind of innovation Google cultivates in their offices by having my students take on 20time, which are independent projects modeled after the 20% projects Google employees tackle to solve big problems not necessarily mandated by management. Students are simply charged with solving a real-world need by designing novel solutions and executing them.

As students talked about their CCP 20time projects, Feher kept coming back at them, asking them to think bigger. She asked them to dismiss the fact that they didn’t yet know how accomplish that big idea and to ignore the probabilities of the project’s success. She asked students to look hard at a challenge that is very likely to fail and to try anyway.

Over the past couple of months, CCP students have been building websites, designing 3D models, and they’re cooking up something big with Ms. Kiest’s environmental science class for a unique interactive experience in York’s Outdoor Lab, 100+ acres of a former army base our school recently acquired. We’re quite excited about it, but we just need to find a way to take this big project ... and make it 10x bigger.





Kevin Brookhouser is an active presenter with EdTechTeam and is their student agency specialist in the emerging Future Ready initiative. He is the director of technology at York School in Monterey, Calif. and author of the upcoming book The 20time Project: How educators can launch Google’s formula for future-ready innovation. Learn more about the 20time and the book at 20time.org.










To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.




Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Five TED Talks Every Educator Should Watch This Holiday Season


Every holiday season we have a little more time to find those great ideas that will help galvanize our teaching and classrooms. Here is a list of five Ted Talks you can watch to inspire this next year of teaching. The first one is my personal favorite.


The Myth of Average by Ted Rose



ADHD As A Difference In Cognition, Not A Disorder by Stephen Tonti




Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin




“I Declare the Enemy the #2 Pencil” Ted Talk by Heidi Hayes Jacobs 




Occupy Kindergarten by Kurt Schwengel





If you have a favorite please add it to the comments below.



To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jumping into GAFE - Advice from a Newbie



By @SylviaDuckworth

Sylvia Duckworth is a French teacher in Toronto, Canada.  She is a Google Certified Teacher

Two years ago I was honoured to be invited to the Google Teacher’s Academy (GTAMTV12) at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. I was a relatively new user of Google Apps and shortly after the event began, I had the overwhelming feeling of being in way over-my-head. I was surrounded with Google Ninjas educators from all over the world: What was I doing there?!! It was an exhilarating yet humbling experience as I shuffled my way from session to session. At the end of the two day Academy, my head was spinning and I could barely digest all the information that was thrown my way. I didn’t know where or how to begin my GAFE journey.

On my return home, I started to slowly integrate the things I learned, trying one thing at a time. Fortunately, my school had already launched GAFE (Google Apps for Education) for all teachers and students, so the infrastructure was already in place for me to get Googley.

The five ways I jumped in:
  1. I joined many GAFE Google+ communities online.
  2. I devoured GAFE-related posts and tweets (#GAFEsummit) 
  3. I participated as much as I could in social media with other GAFE educators. 
  4. I attended more EdTechTeam GAFEsummits because I discovered that with Google, the learning never ends. 
  5. Eventually I mustered the courage to present at a local GAFEsummit and I even participated in a Demo Slam (gulp)!

This year my school purchased 60 Chromebooks for our students and everyone is well on their way to becoming very comfortable using GAFE. 

                               Indeed, the prevalent feeling around our school now is
                                   “How did we live without Google Apps?” 


For me and for many of my colleagues, the GAFE experience has been transformative. Incidentally, our students are becoming experts too, constantly showing us how to do cool things on their devices!

My advice to all GAFE newbies is: “Baby steps”. Try something new as often as you can and celebrate your successes and newly gained expertise as you move along your journey. If you experience a setback remember that FAIL means “First Attempt in Learning”. Do not compare yourself to other educators more experienced with GAFE. Instead, reach out to them and to other members of the vast GAFE community when you need help. Always keep in mind that "The only person you need to compare yourself with is who you were yesterday." (Rushton Hurley, Montreal GAFEsummit, 2014)




Special thanks to Sylvia Duckworth

She lives and works in Canada and was a member of the Google Teacher Academy in Mountain View 2012

Please click here for some ideas on how you can use GAFE in the Foreign Language Class.





To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.









Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hoo-ray: Goobric comes to Google Classroom!



By: Jennie Magiera

Digital Digital Learning Coordinator for the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a network of 32 neighborhood Chicago Public Schools.

Jennie is also a valued member of the EdTechTeam Extended Team.

Reposted from Jennie's blog Teaching Like It's 2999

Thanks Andrew Stillman and team for combining Doctopus, Goobric and Classroom into an easy-to-use solution for classroom teachers around the world!

Here is a tutorial for how to get set up with this new integration.


For more information from Andrew Stillman: Kindly click here.



To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again: Writing & Mapping with 3rd Graders


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This past week I was asked by a friend (and colleague and an amazing teacher!) to come into her classroom and teach a lesson with her 3rd grade students. I gladly agreed to come in as it’s always fun to get back into the classroom and I haven’t had many opportunities to do this in the last year due to workload, scheduling conflicts, and the like. So we put our heads together to identify where it would be best to lead a lesson and we decided to piggyback on the work the students had been doing in social studies regarding mapping and Portola’s expedition.

As I was planning the lesson, I thought about what I really wanted the students to take away. I wanted this lesson to be an entry point to Google Maps for collaboration. I knew the students had 1:1 Chromebooks so I could take advantage of that. I also knew they were familiar with using Google Docs for writing through Google Classroom. So I set about on a mapping activity about “My Favorite Place”. It wasn’t to be an overly complex lesson as I knew coming in that I would feel like a substitute teacher.

The general workflow would be to push out a template doc via Classroom. Students would start off with a writing activity in Docs followed by a brief search activity. Students would then submit their writing and search results in a Google Form. I’d take the data they submitted and build a custom Google Map. We’d analyze the map together and they would have the opportunity to edit their individual placemark. In general, the lesson went well, the discussions were on target, and we were able to accomplish everything I set out to do. However, were I to do something like this in the future, I would scale back my expectations of what I would want to get through in order to slow down and enjoy the ride.



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Some reflections:

  • I was overly ambitious and wanted them to give me two paragraphs about their favorite place. Despite having daily access to a device in the classroom, their typing skills were still underdeveloped despite having an adopted keyboarding program. This clearly hampers productivity. I recommend daily typing practice as a transition task or warm up activity along with using a timed daily creative writing prompt writing exercise to help students gain experience with thinking/writing on a digital device while under time constraints. If the students were older, I would use John Spencer’s awesome prompts

  • The students understood how to copy/paste, but weren’t using it consistently in their daily work. This also slows down productivity and increases the amount of time a teacher has to float and assist with the task. I recommend embedded practice exercises via short close reading tasks in Google Docs where students cite textual evidence via copy/paste before explaining their own thinking.

  • This activity could be both asynchronous and/or group-based with the right amount of scaffolding. I envision an activity like this being part of a learning center rotation/blended classroom as long as proper student support is available when students need it, but I would want to first construct what this would look like, test it, and revise the process/program.
In the end, getting back into the classroom is always a good reminder of the realities of what teachers experience in the classroom. Far too often education consultants, academics, and reformers tell teachers what is “best” for the classroom without having battle-tested lessons, programs or ideas. Thanks again for the opportunity, Jen, and I look forward to our next collaborative lesson. Next time, let’s kick off a PBL unit together :)



To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Google Takes Snow Days Away From Students?

By Holly Clark

Don't let the title fool you, this an incredible example of an innovative way to keep our kids engaged in learning even when its snowing.


Recently while visiting a school in Newport News, Virginia my mouth dropped as they told me about how they are using Google to do away with snow days. As their principal Janine Franklin described their experiences transforming snow days, imagine the picture that appeared in my mind: Students picketing outside the school, holding signs begging the administration to “Bring Back Snow Days."

After a particularly difficult winter and many snow days Peninsula Catholic High School did something different! Instead of the students and staff having to come in on scheduled days of no school, they used Google in a way that I had never heard of before. Assignments were given via Google Apps for Education. As the Channel Ten News Team reported...


“Instead of coming in over spring break for additional makeup days, students will have a week to do assignments on their own pace and schedule. As long as it’s turned in by the scheduled time and it’s time stamped, it’s done.”

This year should there be blizzards and school has to be closed the plan will be brilliantly simple:

If students have a first period, they will just attend that same first period via a Google Hangout. Assignments will be given at that time with directions and a question and answer session. Students will then be responsible for completing the assignment that day or in the time period provided by the teacher. When they are ready to turn in the assignment they will use the timestamp features of Google from the various apps including Docs, Forms and Classroom. This way the teachers can confirm the assignments have been completed on time.

Students who might miss the Hangout can watch the “on air” session because the hangout will have been recorded. Those who have additional questions can email their teachers or use Google Hangouts to ask their friends.

This all happened a bit organically, but the school is now in the process of writing up a formal plan as the approaching threat of more snow days and a winter of storms begins.

To learn more about what they did in Virginia, watch this news report from 10 On Your Side Wavy.com



To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The How (and Why) It's Time to Create Digital Portfolios


Written by Holly Clark and reposted from hollyclark.org


Warning: True Confession of an Educator Ahead…I always find it quite confusing when educators tell me that students in their classroom are reading at a 7th grade reading level. What does that really mean? Does that mean that they are truly reading? When I say truly reading I mean with full comprehension. They are able to share their learning, demonstrate it in many different ways and extend that knowledge. Too often when I hear that students are at a particular reading level the person is referring to decoding not reading. Reading is only when true comprehension happens. I want to think I know what a 7th grade reading level is, but in actuality, I am only guessing. I am not sure this categorization does enough to prepare me to help that student grow as a learner. I have to spend a lot of time getting to know that child individually – only then, am I prepared to help him or her grow as a learner and reader. Usually it takes until October before I have enough information to be equipped to make a difference in the life of that student. I wish instead, I had more valuable information that I could draw on at the beginning of the year: past work, oral reading examples, all the things that would help me to make a difference much earlier than October. The problem is, I think, that we are assigning numbers and values to things that we could have much richer and detailed information about. Enter digital student portfolios.


Digital Student Portfolios are becoming more important now than ever! Students are creating and remixing information like never before – and where is all that amazing work going? At my old school it was wiped off the devices at the end of the year – a heart-wrenching idea that I was personally against. This is why we need to publish student work in one place and let it serve as a home of student reflection, and a become a destination to unleash student pride and curiosity.

There are many reasons to begin the journey to digital portfolios – here are just a few.

We MUST Archive Student Work


Students are creating amazing work in both analog and digital versions. It is becoming more crucial that students learn how to curate their best work to share it with a larger audience other than the teacher. I would love to have access to the work I produced in 4th grade – for nostalgic purposes of course – but today’s students may want to use their work from 4th grade and expand and build upon it in 9th grade or whenever they have developed a better skill base for making that work richer. In those classrooms with devices most work has been already digitized and the task of keeping it in one place, for students to access later is imperative. For those without the devices, your classroom probably has more cameras than students – because most of them have a camera on their phone which are right in their pockets not even being used. Have them take photos of their work and upload it to Google Drive or Evernote – to be reflected and expanded upon at a later time.


Empower Students to Create Their Own Digital Footprint

Students are building their own personal web presence with each post and status update they share. Many students give little thought as to how this might impact them in the future. Set the stage for allowing kids to see the power of creating and populating their own digital footprint by having students share their work in an online portfolio. Students can learn to curate their work, thoughtfully and reflectively choose the best pieces and then showcase these for a global audience. Students will have begun to populate their digital footprint with great work and important contributions. What appears online about them won’t be placed there by others, but curated and carefully constructed by them – this is so powerful!


Students Can Expand on Work as Their Skill Base Improves

Can you imagine the impact on student learning if a student could take a story they started writing in the fourth grade and expand on it later – in 9th grade – when they had a better grasp of writing mechanics, word choice and voice. What about a science project that could be passionately developed over several years? The possibilities are limitless and will happen organically if student work is digitized and housed somewhere that is easily accessible to them.

Reflection, Reflection, Reflection

Students need to reflect on work, not just take tests where they are required to recall facts and regurgitate information. When students are given unit tests – more often than not, they are never given the chance to reflect on their learning – taking time to thoughtfully ask more questions, envision real life connections and find ways to relearn something they might have missed. Digital Student Portfolios allow students to do just this. This process can spark curiosity and ignite passion and should be part of every great unit of learning.

Pushing the Envelope of Redefinition

One of the great intangibles of students’ digitizing work happens at the instructional level. During the digitization journey, teachers begin looking at lessons through a new “portfolio worthiness” lens. They often ask themselves whether or not a lesson has had the proper curriculum upgrades that make it something kids would want to highlight as part of their learning journey. Most teachers want to have students digitize work that is a bit more cutting edge and engaging, and now they have just the platform to push a re-design of a unit that might need some updates.

A Place to Show Growth – Not Just Talk About It

With digital portfolios parents can “see and hear” student growth from the beginning of the year to the end. Think of it as a longitudinal learning study. Imagine having kids record their reading fluency during the first week of school and then ending the year with the same task. What about uploading a writing piece at the beginning and then again at the end for a comparison to help ascertain growth. Imagine the power of showing parents’ growth rather mailing home numbers from a one-time, one-chance, high stakes test.

To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.