Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Absolute Best Time of Year to be in Education

Guest Blogger Michael Wacker
Director of Professional Development, EdTechTeam

Though recently my direct role within schools and districts has changed, one thing remains the same: I am UNBELIEVABLY excited at this time of year. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE working and strategizing with teachers, coaches, admin, and leadership. This drives so much of my work, my passions for learning, and my support and belief in children and teachers. 

Photo by Ken Shelton

My excitement and inquiry of why I felt so excited this month came down to a simple question with a follow up:

"Why is New Year’s Day a Holiday and What if New School’s Year was also a Holiday?"

What makes the New Year so beautiful can be summed up by folks way smarter than, me.

“This unique tick of the clock has always prompted us both to celebrate, and to step outside the day-to-day living we're always so busy with, and reflect; to look back, take stock, to assess how we did, and resolve to do better going forward.”

So, I immediately thought to myself, YES! My friends, this is the time to slow down and absorb the awesomeness that is back to school week! The energy is truly palpable in our social echo chambers but also our externally internal community, which is to say, everyone is affected and influenced by “back to school.” You can feel it in your child’s school. You can feel it in your social media spaces. For me, I sense it in my bones and I feel the energy and excitement from mamawack (a former AP with a different set of experiences and of course the littlies!

Photo by Ken Shelton

 It’s important to note that I understand completely that my excitement does “look and feel” different than it did when I was teaching in a classroom. It is true, I don’t get the direct enjoyment of my favorite back to school teacher roles of: prepping my classroom, working with my team, hanging out at the “meet and greet” ice cream social meeting parents and siblings, building community connections (I miss that the most.)

 But today, while my peers and amazing educators prepare and brainstorm next iterations of lessons, objectives, and assessments, I find myself super excited about the new year! I'm fresh off a micro math session with my kiddos and about to head to Redondo Beach Unified in California to help kick off their new teacher induction and development. Redondo has done amazing work the past year preparing their schools, children, and teachers for the next iteration of teaching and learning; or as we on the team like to think of it as, being “future ready." 

Jennie Magiera shows off Future Ready Schools support. 
Photo by Ken Shelton.

 We have spent time working with and cultivating “Courageous Leadership” from central office to the classroom, focusing on change. The work we’ve done with principals and leadership has been huge in gaining support. Primary to all of the professional learning has been about making sure we are “Empowering Teachers” cultivating and supporting (for far too many the first time) professional development and learning opportunities for the “rock stars” the teachers evangelizing and inspiring their peers through their innovation and passions.

 There has been a focus on “Student Agency” by having professional development and learning opportunities for the children. Walking through the nouns of devices and platforms was a start, but beginning to brainstorm the possible was an awesome experience, especially asking children out loud, “What are you going to ask with access to all of the information ever?” It was a fun couple of days and I believe this type of student agency and support even external of the school is a must for every systemic change in education spaces, no matter the size. One key for the community and teachers, particularly here, was the timeline and ability to do a slow, transparent, and well-designed rollout.

We also have spent time allowing and building the growth mindset spaces for the early adoption by teachers and leadership. This inspired and created incubators of sorts for innovation in the district micro-pockets of teachers and schools excited about what was possible, next.

 They have built the bandwidth to support three devices per child. What is really exciting for me is the next iteration or 2.0 focus on their “new” teachers in a newly designed platform. Induction is rarely differentiated. Inspired through the spaces and learning opportunities and who knows, maybe we have even more pockets of excellence to learn and share from. And this gets to the heart of change. How do you support and sustain an iteration of an age-old model? In working with their leadership team the past year, one thing is certain, they value their teachers' input a lot.

To create this change systemically: we must inspire, ignite, and bring folks on board with us. This looks different in varying locations, schools, and districts, but empowering your new teachers is a great place to start. And for what it’s worth a great place to stop as well. So, As I prepare to plan and design a fun day with my future friends in Redondo, I find myself authentically excited and pumped up about the upcoming school year.

 I am excited! I am so lucky to work in education and be able to feed off of the energy and excitement from the teacher leaders in Redondo and everything they have been working towards, become energized by the buzz of walking the halls of my kids’ school at back to school night this week, and of course have a bunch of fun exploring and discovering some ways to empower and inspire the children of Redondo with the “new” teachers of Redondo tomorrow, Eileen Czesk, Stu Woodward, Shawn Lemmer, Amanda Steinacher-- and the vision from Annette Alpern and Derek Kinsey.

 1. "Why We Celebrate New Year's Day: Survival | Psychology ..." 2013. 18 Aug. 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School with iPads

Guest Blogger:  Ben Friesen
Director of iOS Professional Development | EdTechTeam

The EdTechTeam is excited to be launching new PD opportunities for iPad teachers with the same high-energy, fast-paced, and fun style of other EdTechTeam events. You can check out more of the information at www.iossummits.com and see the growing list of iOS events.  We have events set in Texas, Minnesota and New Zealand but will be adding more soon.  

As you go back to your iPad classrooms there are some important things to consider when working in a digital environment.  It is important to establish routines, especially with how to turn in digital assignments.  Check out this handy workflow guide that was created in the Hopkins Public Schools to support the 1:1 iPad initiative.  Students don't do well with long sets of wordy instructions and teachers are sometime overwhelmed with all the options. Establishing standard workflows and posting them in classrooms can help the teachers focus on the content and require the students to take ownership of the process.  

Giving choice with how a student demonstrates their understanding is important and this guide will provide choice while scaffolding the experience and ensuring the teacher gets the assignments. Your examples, apps and workflows might look different based on your system but they will go a long way to support teachers and students working in digital classrooms. 

This is a simple Google Presentation linking out to other presentations.  The links are published and they can be updated behind the scenes as the app interfaces change.  These living workflow guides change as apps are updates, processes are revised or better systems are found.  

6 Ready-to-Go Ideas for Using Google Apps Back to School this Fall

Guest Blogger Rolland Chidiac

With a new school year about to start I am filled with excitement about what is to come. As my students and I embarked on blending our learning and using Google Apps for Education to create content and collaborate, we discovered new and exciting ways to meet our learning goals and have fun at the same time.

My students were introduced to Google Apps for Education (GAFE) late in 2013 but that didn't stop them from learning the tools and using them innovatively.

They used Google Docs to write friendly letters (mostly to Santa). I was able to provide them with "real time" feedback and we were able to share their work with their parents instantly. It was a great way to get our feet wet with GAFE while working on components of the writing curriculum. 

They used Google Presentations to show their learning in Social Studies - each student got their own slide to invent their own holiday. Then we put the work into a single presentation and shared it with other students and teachers. You can see the entire presentation by clicking on the picture below.

We used Google Docs to work together on challenges in real time. We were able to collaborate and learn from each other by working in the same document to create 3D Geometry riddles. It allowed the opportunity to provide feedback to the students by leaving comments in the Doc that would assist them and that they could refer to at their leisure.

In Mathematics they created surveys and bar graphs as they applied what they were learning around Data Management. It was a great way for them to start learning how to use Forms and Spreadsheets to show their learning.

At the start of of exploration we were learning how to use the tools to benefit our learning in a linear fashion. After we had time and experience with a variety of apps we started to become more dynamic in our use of the technology. I blogged about this and called it Blended Learning via GAFE 2.0. We used our LMS site to incorporate a YouTube video, Google Form, and a link to a shared Google Doc where students would share their work so that their classmates could see what they were doing and provide them with helpful feedback. When I think back to that time I am pleased with how far my students and I had come - a nice indication of our advancement with respect to Blended Learning, the use of GAFE, and the use of our Chromebooks.

Aside from the great learning that was happening in the classroom, many of the students were supplementing their learning on their time at home. My students were so interested that they had empowered themselves to use GAFE at home because of its creative and collaborative nature. They would share their work with me and sometimes ask for feedback.

There are many more examples of the positive change that GAFE and blended learning has contributed to over the last school year. I have blogged about many of our experiences so please feel free to check the site out and let me know what you think.

The sky is the limit when students have tools to help them become more creative and innovative and I look forward to being part of the new learning journey my students and I will be on with the start of the new school year.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

OC GAFE Summit: One Teacher's First Blog

Guest Blogger Ashley Fulmer
Attendee of EdTechTeam Orange County Summit ft. Google for Education
Cross-Posted from: Mrs. Fulmer's Science Blog

This weekend, I attended the EdTechTeam GAFE (Google Apps for Education) Summit in Orange County.  I just had my 2nd baby, Nolan, and have been out since May 12th.  I have not been officially working for almost 3 full months.  Yes, I have been on Twitter, I read a book about PBL, and did a small amount of planning, but nothing like I have done the past couple of summers.  This summit was two days of intense training and amazing keynotes.  Talk about getting back into the game!  In my last session, the presenter stated that she believed every teacher should blog and she challenged us to start blogging.  Challenge accepted!

This morning's keynote speaker, Jennifer Magiera, shared her story and the way she's been so innovative in her classroom, which was truly inspiring.  She had her students creating videos, screencasts, music videos, interacting in Google hangouts, writing grants, and so much more.  Talk about authentic engagement and active learning!  At one point, she talked about how excited she was about technology and she would want to share both her enthusiasm and the new technology, but some teachers would literally run away.  I think  that I am a lot like her in this aspect.  I get so excited about technology, but I have to remember that not everyone is as excited as I am.  
For example, when I flipped my classroom, I read about an entire high school that flipped and saw some major changes in the percentage of students passing classes. I was sold and suggested we flip our entire middle school.  If a high school in Detroit, MI could do it, why couldn't a middle school in Riverside, CA?

My very wise administrators said no and told me to take baby steps.  Start with one colleague, then go from there.  I am realizing that teaching your colleagues is no different than teaching your class.  The keynote shared this as well.  I really want my colleagues to embrace technology like I have, but I have to remember that they are individuals and need to be invested in order to fully embrace and learn, just like our students!

 She ended the presentation by stating that these innovations did not just magically happen over night.  They took time and there were lots of failures.  She also stated that we should get out there and present.  So, as I drove the Ortega Highway home, I made a goal for myself to present at a conference within a year.  I don't know what I will present or how, which makes me nervous and anxious, but that's my goal.  Hopefully, my name will be in the program of ISTE or CUE or some other conference and I, Ashley Fulmer, will be a presenter!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School with Chromebooks

Guest Blogger Molly Schroeder, 
Director of Professional Development and Summit Program Chair, EdTechTeam

Many of you are heading back to school this year with more devices in the classroom that you’ve ever had access to!  Chromebooks have spread like wildfire into schools all over the world and now students have the world’s information at their fingertips!  Let’s make sure that we use those devices for engaging, real world learning in the digital age.

Here are a few things to think about as you head back to your Chromebook Classroom.

1.  Make sure to review Chromebook vocabulary together in the first week so that you are all on the same page when you talk about the OmniBox, Tabs and Extensions.  

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 8.04.18 PM.png

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 8.01.42 PM.png

We’ve even had fun calling the navigation array - the Waffle and the Chrome menu bar the three hotdogs.  
Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 7.47.47 PM.png
Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 7.47.39 PM.png

The refresh button above the number 4 key on your Chromebook - we call it the Google Magic Button - because REFRESH usually solves most of our Google hiccups.  

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 7.51.54 PM.png

Create a common language of vocabulary with your students and establish those terms early.

2. Customize your Chrome Browser with these extensions and teach the students how to use them.  It’s probably a good idea to also have a conversation with your students about when it is appropriate for them to download something from the Chrome Web Store.  We like to create some rules about searching and downloading extensions.  Have a conversation and set expectations clearly.

  • Read & Write for Google - Accessibility extension for emerging or struggling readers and writers.
  • Google Dictionary - View definitions and hear pronunciations easily as you browse the web.
  • Awesome Screenshot - Capture a web page or any portion, annotate the image and save to drive.
  • Clearly - Clearly makes blog posts, articles and webpages clean and easy to read.
  • Shorten Me - Instantly shorten links with goo.gl, copy them to your clipboard and generate a QR code.
  • SpeakIt - Tired of reading? Select text you want to read and listen to it. SpeakIt converts text into speech so you no longer need to read.
  • TechSmith SnagIt - Take a screenshot, screen capture, or screen video recording. Collaborate and show what you know.

3.  Make sure to talk about Chromebook Care the first time you take the Chromebooks out of the cart.  James Sanders created this fun Chromebook Care video that you can share with your students to encourage proper care of your precious devices.


4. Be proactive with talking about Digital Citizenship!  We don’t expect our students to go throughout the year with out issues out on the playground or at recess so we can’t expect that students are going to get through the year without a “digital citizenship” situation.  Start the year by enrolling the students in Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport (good for grades 3-5) or by committing to teaching the Interactive Scope and Sequence with your students.  Each unit has student assessments built in as well so you can make sure the students understand what they are learning.

5.  Digital Age Learning is using devices to ACCESS CONTENT, COLLABORATE and CREATE.
Here are a few great websites and tools for Digital Age Learning in these specific areas..


6. Finally, remember that we are all LIVING IN BETA.  Launch things early in your classroom and work with the students to make them better.  Have a bias towards action with Digital Learning in your classroom and use all of the hiccups, mistakes, and failures as a way to create a community of problem solves in your classroom.  The world’s information is at the fingertips of your students - make sure that we are asking questions that the students don’t just have to Google to find an answer to!  Ask questions where the kids are CREATING the answer!

Have a GREAT start to the school year!  More Chromebook info coming soon!

-Catch Molly's "Living in Beta" Keynote at an EdTechTeam Summit near you this fall, www.gafesummit.com!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Out of This World

Guest Blogger Nathan Manderfield
3rd Annual California Summit Presenter

The EdTechTeam California Summit in Palo Alto, CA was my second Google educational Summit. I attended my first summit just months earlier when EdTechTeam hosted a summit near my home in Indio, CA. My experience at the summit in Indio was incredible. The energy, the variety of speakers, the ability to collaborate with like minded people, and the demo slam at the end of the first day all stuck with me. I left that experience with not only a ton of ideas, but also a desire to attend a summit as a presenter. I applied to present at the California Summit and was thrilled when I was accepted.

I spent the first part of my summer preparing two sessions to present: The Magic of Project Based Learning and Ten Tips Tricks and Take Aways. I also prepared something extra special for the demonstration slam at the end of day one. I have to admit going into the California Summit I had mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement. I was excited to be around so many talented educators and ideas. At the same time I was nervous about presenting at such a big conference. It turns out I had nothing to be nervous about. Both of my sessions were amazing. I began each session with a little magic (my summer hobby) and the audience loved it. Each session was interactive and I received fabulous feedback. 

At the demo slam I presented Kahoot. Kahoot is an on-line platform that allows you to build your own custom quizzes and then turns any internet connected device into a buzzer to play the game. Part of each demo slam is presenting your idea or application in a fun way. I decided to take my slam back to the 1980’s. I dressed as Miami Vice’s Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and presented Kahoot with a 1980’s trivia quiz. I came out to my own theme music and even used a little magic to do a quick change towards the end. Finally, it is tradition at the end of the slam to say, “Slam”. I decided to let Onyx, a 1990’s rap group, do it for me, so I left the stage to their song “Slam”. I had a blast.

When I wasn’t presenting I went to other sessions ranging from design thinking to online portfolios. Each session inspired me to take my teaching to a whole new level. The energy and “moonshot” thinking at the conference reinforced the bright future we have in education.

My two days at the California Summit were amazing. I learned so much and made connections that will last a lifetime. I am excited to share what I learned with my students this fall. I plan to stay connected to the EdtechTeam and present at future conferences. Whether you have the opportunity to go to a Summit as a presenter or a participant the experience is truly out of this world!

Catch one of our upcoming California Summits to have a time like Nathan! Marin, San Diego, Napa, Los Angeles coming up this year!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning Everywhere & Everywhen

I had an opportunity to present at the third annual EdTechTeam California Summit ft Google for Education, and it was an amazing experience. I did have a few butterflies about presenting, since I was in the presence of some serious ed tech cerebral muscle. To be counted among some amazing luminaries was an incredible opportunity in and of itself, so I tried to bring the best of what I know.

In my experience, the final session on Sunday is one of those sessions where the energy is low. Most people's brains are full, and that usually includes my own. I was lucky to have one of my lighter sessions (about Google drawings) scheduled in this time slot, and I enjoyed it. We covered topics that the attendees said they wanted to learn, and I had fun.

This week, one of my attendees posted a link on Twitter, and thanked me in it. The link took me to a tutorial on creating a custom wallpaper for your smart phone using Google Drawings. I'd never considered this before, and I was amazed at how the learning continued after the session. It's touching to see someone take what you've shown them and extend the learning into new areas, and to share it back to the community.

For me, this was one of the best aspects of the CA #gafesummit, and it didn't even happen during the summit itself. It served to highlight the amazing network of brilliant educators that attend these events. I consider myself lucky to be plugged into this community of energetic, enthusiastic and creative individuals.

So, in summary, I need to say a big thank you. Thanks to EdTechTeam for putting on this event and inviting me to be a part of it. Thanks to the presenters from whom I've learned. Thanks to the creative thinkers who encourage me to think critically about my teaching practice. And finally, and most importantly, thanks to everyone who came to my sessions. You always remind me after these events just how powerful an idea can be.