Thursday, June 1, 2017

Running to the Classroom-Summit Soundboard Colorado

After attending my first EdTechTeam Summit at the end of January, the following couple of weeks were filled with hours of creating, tinkering, and exploring the endless opportunities that the G Suite for Education had to offer. Backed by two teammates who had also attended the conference, we were eager to finally unlock the resources that our school’s Chromebooks had been patiently holding onto for months.

Our first week back in Colorado was a whirlwind that consisted of differentiated lessons through Google Classroom, debates on whether Share to Classroom or Tone extensions would best fit our needs, and of course the newest addition to indoor recess--Quick Draw. As time passed, we started to settle down into our new and improved use of our Chromebooks.

After only a couple of short weeks, our team was excited with how G Suite had changed our individual classrooms. Instruction was more intentional, it was easier to meet different students at their different needs, feedback got back to students sooner, and work was stored in an organized fashion using Classroom and Drive. It was hard to believe that our classrooms had changed so much in such a short amount of time.

Despite the drastic change in our daily classroom and improved workflow using Google Apps, the one thing that had stuck the most came from our opening keynote, Donnie Piercey. Along with a handful of great resources to bring into our classrooms, it was a video he played by Volkswagen that resonated days after we had left the summit. The concept of “Fun Theory” was exactly what I needed to hear most as I had been doing my best to persevere through an odd year.

After pulling the trigger on a BreakoutEDU kit with my team, a stroll through the book section at Target led me to Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. It seemed like the universe was starting to align as I figured there was no better way to introduce our first breakout than with a read aloud that incorporated an escape room theme!

The weeks after the summit consisted of two BreakoutEDU sessions, Dr. Suess pancakes courtesy of our brand new PancakeBot, and virtual field trips to the same beaches I frequented growing up, via Google Cardboard, in Hawaii. Along with our daily challenges as educators to meet the needs of our students, I looked at every morning as a challenge to answer a question from Donnie’s keynote--”Are students running to or from your classroom?”

Three months later, I had the chance to attend another summit a little closer to home in Breckenridge, Colorado. After mastering the rookiest of tasks like, “File/Make a copy,” I felt a bit more confident and I was excited to take the next step and see what else G Suite had to offer. Armed with Google Keep, rather than my composition notebook, I realized shortly into my first session that I had merely scratched the surface in January. Armed with a plethora of resources ranging from digital portfolios, that can follow students until they graduate from our K-12 campus, to digital badging, I left my second summit just as exhausted mentally as I had left my first. My familiarity of G Suite had left me confident and as excited as ever to go “Beyond the 4” as Tracy Purdy urged.

As somebody who feels that they are still very new to the career of education, I am very grateful to have been surrounded by some amazing educators who are so willing to share. I can’t wait to see what else G Suite for Education has to offer and how it will change the dynamic of classrooms for years to come. One of our keynotes in Breckenridge, Daniel Sharpe, reminded us that our classrooms consist not only of students, but of kids, and I’m excited to see the wonders that these children will discover, problems that they will solve, and leaders that they will become as they use these resources to tap into the world in front of them.  

Tyler Yamamoto
Third Grade Teacher
University Schools
Greeley, CO

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