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Archive for the ‘professional development’ Category

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been asked to work with teachers and students to help introduce Google My Maps. Now that it’s found in My Drive, it’s getting used more often. I’ve always been a fan of maps in general, and we’re starting to see more and more applications for using My Maps.

One teacher is using My Maps to help students see the historical timeline and locations of flight. Students are creating layers for different famous aviators, including the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh. They’re dropping pins at various locations depicting where events happened in the history of flight for each aviator. then they add extra information in the placemark from text describing the event, to photos and videos.

Another teacher asked me to support students who were excited about their personal travels over the summer. The students had photos from their trip in Drive, so they were able to map out their trip. I’ve never seen fourth grade students so motivated and invested. I have a feeling that they’ll become experts and teach others.

This past week, I had the opportunity to work with faculty from another school for an in-service day. One activity we did revolved around integrating a variety of Google tools. Teachers responded to this form, then saw the data represented in a sheet.

We then imported the sheet into Google My Maps to see our data in a different, visual representation. Here’s the result.

This activity sparked enthusiasm around all of these tools.

Here’s a quick screencast to show how to import data from a sheet into My Maps.

I’m excited to continue using Google My Maps with a variety of students and teachers.

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I’ve come across two things recently that caused me to pause and reflect. One was a post on Edutopia’s site, 8 Skills to Look for in a Director of Technology by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (@wolpertsclass) and the other was the graphic seen below. That one is based on work by Lee Araoz (@LeeAraoz) and illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) using Sketchnote.

coach1

While my official title is not that of director or coach, I connect with many of the attributes described in both examples. I know that educators in my school, fully immersed in the day-to-day of classroom teaching, may wonder what I do all day. When I was a classroom teacher, I certainly pondered that of my predecessor. And believe me, no one works harder than a classroom teacher.

I believe that I subtly demonstrate the qualities listed in the graphic as well as in the Edutopia post. I try to respect teachers and how busy they are, while also providing vision, support, encouragement, and the necessary knowledge to keep us moving forward. However, I also learn every day from my colleagues and they keep me grounded in the realities of classroom work, student lives, and the daily challenges they face.

As we often say, it’s all about relationships. It’s a team effort and we’re winning the game. I’m extremely thankful to work in this district and with this amazing group of professionals.

 

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I have the amazing opportunity to facilitate a meeting 4-5 times a year with our PreK-2 faculty. I thought I’d share what we did yesterday. Some of this stemmed from an observation in both of our schools that sometimes teachers ask students to do tasks that they themselves can’t do or haven’t tried. Plus, we’ll be adding Chromebooks to the mix at our PreK-2 building next year and it was time to highlight a few things that our youngest students might do with Google Apps. It resembled one of those “9 Things Teachers Should Be Able to do with GAFE” posts that I’ve seen, but I designed this one myself.

Teachers were asked to join a Google Classroom for the meeting, mostly as a way to distribute the doc to them, but also to model using Classroom. We talked later about how it helps to organize things in Drive; something that the teachers might find useful in the future.

Once they joined the Classroom, they each got a copy of a doc with directions and a Tic Tac Toe board. Here’s a link to a copy of the doc. The board looked like this:

GAFE for PreK-2

As you can see on the doc, teachers were asked to make Tic Tac Toe by completing at least 3 of the tasks. They needed to change the background color of the cell to indicate which tasks were completed. Underlined elements above took them to other links, sheets, drawings, etc that were collaborative. (not linked on the copy provided here)

There was a lot of energy in the room (we were in a computer lab) and a quick visual assessment showed everyone on task. There were not doing other work or things of a personal nature which is often the case at faculty meetings. Yay!

Near the end of our time together, we not only shared, but also completed surveys for one another that had been created, and provided the process for how things were accomplished. With Google Apps, there’s often more than one way to do things.

Finally, the group helped me by playing guinea pig while we tried out a new tool I had read about earlier in the week from Richard Byrne via Practical Ed Tech. It’s called dotstorming. Not only did teachers share thoughts on how they might move forward with ideas generated during our time together, but they also ‘voted’ on the ones they felt they’d actually try themselves. It was a great exit card. Here’s a link to the final board that was completed, ranked by votes.

All in all, we packed in a lot, but it was a very positive gathering, generated practical ideas that could be put into motion right away, and provided respite from work on report cards.

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I’ve written quite a few posts that are about the power or usefulness of Twitter. Recently, I’ve noticed discussion on Twitter and in other forums about Twitter’s future. That has caused me to stop, pause, and reflect.

As an educator, I can’t think of a more perfect tool.

US ON TWITTER

I could share the many ways our teachers utilize Twitter as professionals and/or with their students. I could share how they’ve connected to experts, authors, other classes, and joined collaborative projects. I could share so many more things. But let’s keep this simple. I think Twitter provides us with something that other tools and sites do not – a quick way to share with, connect with, and access the world.

I saw this post yesterday, and hope that others will consider how we can use Twitter for GOOD. Let’s harness the power of this great tool, help one another, and move forward positively.

 

 

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I have always wanted to use this blog for reflection and celebration. A good deal of my work in recent months has been focused on details for the SBAC assessment. I’ve been given the job of coordinating the entire effort- creating materials, gathering and curating resources, training teachers, determining logistics, being on call for any issues, and more. The tests are underway (finally) and all is going smoothly. It has been a struggle for me because I’ve been pulled away from the work I’m most passionate about – my role as a technology integration specialist. I felt that I didn’t have much to offer for this blog that would be positive.

But that changed in the last few weeks. I had the opportunity two weeks in a row to facilitate the faculty meetings in each of our buildings. We start each meeting with a time for people to share. It’s great for us to hear about things happening in our own building! That’s what turned my outlook around.

Here’s a sampling of what people shared (with examples where possible):

  • A kindergarten class using Skype in the Classroom to find an expert on animals in the forest. They Skyped with a forest ranger from Yellowstone.
  • A kindergarten class creating “How To” books using BookCreator on the iPad
  • A first/second grade class creating their own version of “All About the Books
  • Third/fourth grade classrooms collaborating using Twitter to share their thoughts on Red Clover books. They even pulled the authors of many books into the discussions. Check out Ms. Ward’s class and Mr. Willis’s class on Twitter.
  • Third grade classrooms used Google Slides to share and present about Passion Projects
  • Third/fourth grade students creating videos featuring reasons not to drink or smoke for Health classes.
  • Middle school students use their own blogs as a tool to reflect upon a long-term project and keep themselves organized.
  • Middle school students using LucidPress (via GAFE accounts) to create literary magazines.

And finally, here’s an additional snapshot of what’s happened recently in our schools. Teachers contributed to this Thinglink on or around Digital Learning Day and shared happenings with digital tools.

So, even though I’ve been pulled in a different direction, our wonderful and amazing faculty continue to move forward in innovative ways.

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I signed up to participate in the @TeachThought Attitude with Gratitude 30-Day Blogging challenge for November. But something seems to have happened and we’re halfway through the month without many posts! I’m going to try, when possible in the next few weeks, to blog more often.

Today’s prompt is this:

5 things you are grateful to have learned in your teaching career

1. Stay true to the principle that all children can learn. (This one took precedence in a conversation about beliefs and principles yesterday. Make sure that your principles guide what you do.)

2. Relationships are key. (Enough said.)

3.  That there’s always more to the story than you know. (I’ve learned that before I get myself all riled up about something,  do some research and find out more from different perspectives. Take a deep breath.)

4. Technology is not even a tool, it’s a digital assistant. (I recently started reading the book 1-to-1 Learning: Laptop Programs That Work, by Pamela Livingston. I’m only on the introduction and already there are so many ideas that resonate for me! The idea of changing the language about technology and tools to digital assistants works. This is also attributed to Prakash Nair – “Student Laptop Computers in Classrooms – Not Just a Tool“)

5. All of us are smarter than one of us. I attribute this one to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, who stated this frequently in our work with PLPNetwork during a formative year of professional development. I strongly believe in the power of my PLN and collaboration.

Obviously there are MANY more lessons that I’ve learned, but these come to mind this morning.

 

 

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Post 27 for the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeWhat role do holidays and weekends play in your teaching?


 

Like many educators, I take weekends and holidays to relax, enjoy my family, and get some ‘me’ time. But, given how we’re all so easily connected in today’s world, I also respond to questions or queries from teachers in our schools, I read  and interact with my Twitter and Google+ feeds, and often take time to try out new tools.

Today, we went for a beautiful foliage drive here in Vermont with one of our sons. The leaves are nearing peak in the highest elevations and we’re seeing beautiful color in the valleys as well.

foliage

 

Once I got home, I decided I’d try out some screencasting tools on the Chromebook. To get some practice, I made a screencast about how you can create photo slideshows on YouTube. I learned this trick from my friend and colleague, Lucie DelaBruere this summer and have been meaning to share it with teachers in my school. I thought a screencast was a good way to get the word out. Teachers are frequently seeking ways to share photos in slideshows and use a variety of tools. Here’s one more for their toolbox.

I used Snagit on the Chromebook to create this screencast. It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m exploring new tools. That’s how holidays and weekends play a role in my work. They provide time for me to do some things that I can’t fit in during the work week.

 

 

 

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