Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Inquiry Sessions: Jakarta Bootcamp

Only dedicated professionals get up early on a Sunday morning to travel a potentially traffic-snarled distance in a downpour to attend an all day educational technology Bootcamp.  And two weeks ago, a contingent of Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) faculty and a similar number from British School Jakarta (BSJ) did exactly that, spending the day on the BSJ campus (thanks, Matt Harris!) at an EdTechTeam-organized event intended to prepare attendees to pass the Level 2 Exam as part of the Google Educator Certification program.

Fortunately, with educational technology experts and star presenters Jay Atwood and Patrick Green leading the workshop, it felt less like bootcamp and more like an inquiry session where everyone was encouraged to follow their curiosity and share their ideas.  And even with significant focus on exam preparation, Jay and Patrick made a point of placing tips and tricks in the context of daily practice.  There was lots of gain and little to no pain!

As a member of the JIS Professional Growth and Reflection team, I know that our school, like others, aims to invest time and money into professional development that will have a meaningful impact on our students’ learning.  While that impact can be difficult to measure, I was pleased that the Bootcamp received positive feedback and generated some immediate application from those in attendance.  Some clear takeaways for our teachers:

  • Google Maps has a lot of appeal in multiple subjects as a way to put ideas in context (e.g. showing traditions in Indonesia, sparking awareness for our recent UN day, putting our student-created videos for service learning literally on the map)

  • Small tips for the use of tools can generate conversation around bigger pedagogical ideas (e.g. how do we balance teacher/student preference and consistency for ease of use when it comes to the use of Google Sites, Docs, Classroom and legacy systems like Moodle for learning management)
  • The session raised awareness of ideas like Multimedia Text Sets for curating content and differentiating learning, YouTube annotation for blended learning, and the ability to create visuals with Google Draw and Sheets sparklines

To quote one JIS faculty member:

“[Seeing] how all the Google apps could be applied in different contexts, it really got me thinking.”

At JIS we are looking forwarding to seeing that thinking become visible for our students, because the real value of a tool emerges in the minds and classrooms of enthusiastic and innovative teachers.

Christina Devitt, Educator
Jakarta, Indonesia
Interested in Bootcamps at your school like this?
Check out for more info.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Just in Time! G Suite Holiday Tools

1. Santa Tracker

Play games with elves in jetpacks, rolling
gumballs, sleighs powered by rockets and
Google Cardboard on the Android app.
Once the 24th arrives, follow Santa in his
journey around the world.

Play on the web >
Google Play:

2. Google Flights

Use Google Flights to book your travel.
See and compare flight costs and options for the best deals.

3. Holiday Slides

Use Google Slides for some holiday fun! Tell stories, share intros, learn about adjectives, and more... all while learning how to collaborate, use the order, colors, and other features in Slides. See examples by @preimers below.

Make your copy and share!
Halloween Jack >
Grateful Turkey >
Holiday Sheep >

4. You Tube Capture

Movies on the go! Record, edit and share your holiday videos to YouTube.

> iTunes:

5. Movies and Collages- Google Photos

Easily create your holiday collages and movies from your mobile app. Open the app > Assistant > Select Collage or Movie > Select your photos

> iTunes:
> Google Play:

6. Special Delivery- VR Story

Just in time for Santa’s big night, Google Spotlight Stories gives you a 360-degree view of the big man in action. Special Delivery, an original short film is available on YouTube and can be viewed in 360 on Google Cardboard.

> iTunes
> Android:
> YouTube:

7. Chrome Webstore Goodies

MyWeb New Tab Holiday Holiday Feeling Countdown Holiday Snowfl ake Theme Holiday Theme Zombie Holiday Christmas Snow Countdown to Fav Holidays

8. Snapseed

Retouch, crop and add frames to your holiday pix!
> iTunes:
> Google Play:

9. Plan Your Holiday Vacation

Google Trips makes exploring the world easier by organizing essential info in one place and making it available offline.
> iTunes:
> Google Play:
> Google Play:

10. Holidays with Art and Culture

> Christmas through the Post
> British Music Collection
> A Christmas Carol

Friday, November 25, 2016

My Epic Failure and other Learning: Toronto Summit 2016

Re-posted from:
Endless Possibilities

Recently, I spent an entire weekend geeking out with some absolutely inspirational speakers and presenters, friends, and an amazing group of attendees at the Toronto EdTech Team Summit at Cresent School.
I’ve presented at a couple of similar Summits. In fact, I’ve presented probably at least a hundred times to audiences as few as 6 and as large as 400. I love to share my learning. I am becoming a better presenter ever time I speak at a conference. And yet…
There is a thing called a Demo Slam. Have you seen one? It’s a 3 minute live-demo of a tool you love. It’s supposed to be fun, but it’s intense: it’s just such a compact time, often the tech doesn’t work, and some of the keynote speakers participate which means you are up against some brilliant people.
I am a pretty courageous, go-get-em kind of person, so I’m not sure why I was so nervous to begin with. Maybe it’s because I was presenting up on a stage and I prefer to present at the same level as the crowd (maybe it’s because my subconscious flashes back to grade 5 when I was on a stage and froze in front of a live audience and couldn’t perform, Is this Love by Whitesnake). Perhaps I didn’t practice enough, because I chose to go out the night before? (when the Royal Ontario Museum becomes a Night Club, it’s kind of a no-brainer). Whatever the reason, I know that I made a promise to myself for 2016 to jump out of my comfort zone whenever I can. Also, I am organizing a Demo Slam for an upcoming PA Day, and felt like I really needed to participate if I was going to invite others to try it.
But to say I was nervous would be an understatement! I was literally shaking when I approached the stage. I was doing fine until the demo part and I completely blanked. I was demonstrating Google Keep–one of my favourite tools, which is so simple a grade 2 student could use it and I have used it hundreds of times.
And yet there I was, standing in front of all of these expectant faces; many of whom I admire very much because they are techno-EDU rockstars, and I could not for the life of me remember how to create a note in Google Keep! I drew a complete blank and stared at the screen and likely mumbled quite a bit.
Within the last 15 seconds, my brain popped back and I started to demo the tool, but of course, the timer went off. Needless to say, I walked off the stage mortified and despite the fact that I got some high-fives and a few very supportive words and tweets from friends and peers (Thanks Sylvia, Larissa, Amit, Jeff, Jeffrey, Andrea Mike, Sandra, Dawn, Diana, & Kevin), this was an extremely difficult pill to swallow.
I felt embarrassed and almost let that feeling stop me from attending the social afterwards.  I’m glad it didn’t, because despite what I thought in my head, I don’t honestly believe everyone was whispering about my failure–not then and not now.
As I drove home last night, my feelings of embarrassment and failure continued to creep into my consciousness. It was very humbling.
Let’s face it though: if you are going to publicly fail, doing so at an Ed Tech Summit where every person there is taking time away from their life to learn on a weekend, is a good place to do it.
When I was chatting with my daughter about it, I told her that I had the most embarrassing moment. Here’s how that conversation went (excuse the crudeness)
Me: Oh my gosh the most embarrassing thing happened to me when I was presenting my Demo Slam.

Teen: Oh no! Nip Slip?
Me: Um, no.
Teen: You farted in front of everyone? You peed yourself?
Me: (laughing) No!
Teen: Then it wasn’t THE most embarrassing thing, was it?
Gotta love that girl for throwing a bucket-full of perspective my way!

It really got me thinking about some of the students I have taught who have such high anxiety about presenting in front of others. And I wondered if I had created a safe environment for them. I also I strained to remember if many of their classmates reached out supportively and with encouragement. How could I foster those behaviours in a classroom? Did I reach out afterwards to ensure the student was feeling ok?
I wondered about whether or not many teachers who we call “resisters”, may be afraid of failure: in front of their students or their peers. Who to them, the idea of sharing on Google Drive puts them completely out of their comfort zone. Do we treat them with empathy or with disdain?
I also began to think about the fact that maybe my public failure was a good thing; you see in my sessions, I think I am perceived sometimes as an “accomplished expert”. In fact, when I shared what I called my epic fail, people said, ‘Oh, I’m sure to you it wasn’t good but to everyone else, it was.” Maybe a teacher who is just learning needs to see someone they perceive to have all the answers, fall flat. Perhaps it should even be an administrator or District leader? It really happens to everyone, and before I became proficient, I worked really hard to learn what I know.  There is still a whole lot I don’t know, and I continue to learn (and fail privately) every day.
I can’t say I want to repeat this situation, and truthfully I could  have kept this blog in Draft rather than click Publish, but really I think reflecting on negative experiences is what helps us to grow and learn. I know this incident sure did that for me.
And so here it is. Publish.
Sylvia Duckworth shared this image during her keynote. I think it fits perfectly–except this time, my failure was pretty public!

Jennifer Casa-Todd
Newmarket, Ontario
Re-posted from:
Endless Possibilities

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Reflections on my First GAFE Summit: Toronto 2016

Recently I attended my first GAFE (or G-Suite now) Summit at the Crescent School in North York where I was also a presenter. It was so incredible, I feel like I’m still coming down from the learning high.

Not only did hundreds of people give up their weekend in order to learn, dozens of presenters shared so many of their ideas and resources with each other. It was an amazing experience to see people sharing for one purpose: to help students learn.

I loved how there was something at the summit for everyone: beginners, intermediates and geeky GAFE (sorry, I can’t call it G-Suite yet) users. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and thought that I might be completely out of my league, but it was great to see how many different learners there were around.

The keynotes were inspiring, and the sessions made me think about new ways to use the Google products I’m already using but in different ways. I loved the Demo Slam where very courageous people went up to give a 3 minute explanation of a great Google Tool they are using that others found amazing. All in all, I couldn’t have asked for more.

It’s so important for teachers to continue to be learners in their practice, not only so they can find new ways to empower their students, but also so they can feel what it’s like to be in the students’ shoes once again as a learner. There is no end point to learning, and it’s important to stay up to date with new ways to help students.

Amit Mehrotra
Instructional Technology
Resource Teacher
Peel, Ontario

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What's the New Sites Look Like?

Announcing: The All-New Google Sites! Now available to use! Check out our webinar below from Emily Fitzpatrick to see it in real-time.

Need more? RSVP to Google Education on Air to watch:

Google icon
Meet the NEW Sites
Time: 3:00 - 3:30 PST - 3 Dec 2016
Lisa Thumann is the Senior Director, Teaching & Learning for EdTechTeam and a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Let's Get Productive with It!

I think we all can agree, at times, our digital devices just become a wasteland of content that has been collected for far too long. From taking pictures, making notes, or bookmarking websites for later use, these devices are our greatest aggregator as well as our digital curse.

Thankfully, there’s a method to the madness to make the most out of the iPad… it just might take changing some old habit with some of these new tricks. For example, Split screen for watching content and taking notes is a simple and easy way to get started.

The Apple Teacher Starter Guide, Enhancing Productivity with iPad, provides some great resources for educators to embrace productivity and share with their students. In fact, it’s a great time to be teaching with technology as we have the power to avoid the creation of ineffective practices as students are sponges for using iPads. The book is conveniently broken up into four categories to focus on Productivity:
Fundamentals, Organization, Planning & Documenting.

One of my favorite newer features of iPad is the ability to make sketches inside of the notes applications. As useful as the Notes app is, it gets THAT much better as you’re able to bring your thoughts to life not only with text, but with hand-sketched drawings directly IN the app… no longer do you need to try to tie the sketch in one app to the notes in another. If you want, students can also add images directly to the note as well. Together, this allows students to visualize their learning in a more meaningful way. To expand on this idea, with the Pages app, students have a full creative suite at their disposal as they are able to create and share multimedia rich ePub books. By utilizing the camera, students can create and share in the same way they are beginning to consume media on their own.

As we begin to create more of these digital artifacts, finding ways to distribute work back and forth from the teacher to student can be a pain. What I’ve witnessed to be an extremely successful method for working in a class setting is leveraging the SeeSaw app. It literally is everything a teacher needs to connect, collaborate and share with students in a meaningful way. No other tool makes it easier for students to submit work and teachers to instantly see what’s happening on their devices. An extremely productive app that is easy to use and setup. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this app, I’d highly recommend it.

Want to LEARN MORE? Join us on for a Twitter Chat, Wednesday, Dec 7th, 5 PM Pacific on the #AppleTeacher Hashtag! Download the next free Starter Guide at

Mark Hammons
Director of Innovation
Apple Distinguished Educator

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Suite! G Suite Google Sites Top 10 Web-Based Tips

Check out Top 10 G Suite Google Sites Tips!

1. Custom Headers
You can create a custom banner on every page. Options include a large, small and title

2. Size
Drag and resize content using the blue dots or the crop function

3. Insert Menu Options
Insert content from Drive, YouTube, Calendar, Maps and Docs

4. Move Things Around
To organize your site, drag and drop the content to where you want it

5. Sharing Work with Others
Use the "Share" button to give edit rights to let others work with you

6. Share your Site from Drive
-Go to
-Right Click over the file (site name)
and select ‘Share’
-Select the preferred sharing setting

7. Publish
When you’re happy with your site, publish it so
others can view it. Click on the blue ‘Publish’
button and select your preferred settings.

8. Preview Mobile, Tablet and Desktop Mode
-Click on the preview icon
-Select from the different views

9. Differentiate Sections with Background Colors
-Go to the bottom left
and select the paint
palette icon
-From the drop down
menu, select your style

10. Set up Analytics
Connect your site to a Google Analytics account to
get insights and metrics on usage.
-Go to your site
-Click on the three little dots
-Select ‘Site Analytics’
-Add the Google Analytics Tracking ID

Can’t wait to learn more?  

RSVP for our live Q&A and demo with Emily Fitzpatrick when the New Google Sites is released on November 21st to all users at 3pm Pacific/7pm Eastern. You can also catch Lisa Thumann on Google Education on Air: Meet the NEW Sites live on Dec. 3rd!

Check out Emily's EdTechTeam Blog Post on the NEW Google Sites Tips HERE

Friday, November 11, 2016

Inquiry in the Math Classroom

As a teacher, my biggest questions has always been, “How do I get them to think?” This is something I have struggled and struggled with. I teach 8th grade math. As Dan Meyer has put it, I am selling a product to customers that do not want it, but by law have to buy it. I am a firm believer in relating everything to the REAL, real world as much as possible. However, this alone did not give students the desire to think and learn on their own. They wanted me to think for them.
Then at CAMT this summer in San Antonio, Texas, I heard Jo Boaler speak about growth mindsets, specifically mathematical mindsets. I immediately went home and bought her book and read everything on her website, She stresses that math is a beautifully visual subject, full of connections, patterns, and making sense. It should be a subject where students think slowly and deeply to learn instead of quickly to perform.

Students using inquiry to find equations and making conjectures for best choice

We started the year off with and the week of iMath. My students learned all about how their brains grew and what math really is. I gave them challenging open ended questions that taught them struggling and making mistakes are ok as long as you believe in yourself and work hard.

Students using ingenuity skills to bring their ideas to life using 3D Printing

After this wonderful week, I was left with a whole year of TEKS in front of me. My students had learned to think visually and see patterns and connections in math, I knew I could not teach the same way that I had taught in the past. The suggestion from Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler was INQUIRY.

Inquiry was something that I had always associated with science. I had never thought about using it in math. I have created the majority of my lessons to be sure they are inquiry based learning. I also, recently purchased Dive into Inquiry by Trevor Mackenzie to add to how I was using inquiry based learning in my classroom. The book has been wonderful along with inquiry in my classroom! It is a new structure for students, but I truly think growth mindsets paired with inquiry has been the answer to my question! My students are thinking deeply and collaboratively! They truly have a desire to learn and think through challenges on their own. It has been a wonderful year so far and I cannot wait to see how my students and I grow throughout the year.

Keely Hulme
8th Grade Math Teacher
Aledo Middle School
Aledo, TX