Posts Tagged ‘Google’

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.

Read Full Post »

I’ve read a lot of posts during Connected Educator Month, about the value of being connected. I consider myself a connected educator, though sometimes more connected than others. What you put in directly relates to what you get out; it does take work and time. However, it’s well worth it. As many have said in a variety of ways, “all of us are smarter than any of us.”

What Being Connected Is:

  • Developing trusting relationships online and face to face
  • Giving as much as you take
  • Sharing
  • Collaborating

Last week I went to visit another school district to facilitate a session for their in-service day. I offered a session about the importance of blogging with students. When I shared about students writing for a larger audience and the change in motivation, a number of teachers in the room asked how you build that audience. How do you find other classes with which to collaborate?

I said that I use my PLN – especially networks on Twitter and various Google+ Communities of which I’m a member. Many in the room stared at me as if I was from another planet. I reflexively turn to these networks to ask questions, to share ideas and resources, and to connect that I don’t even think about it anymore. But for someone new to it all, it can be intimidating. chain link

Tips to Get Connected:

  • Start slowly, it won’t all come together at once.
  • Join one of these networks – Twitter or Google+. Just one. See how it goes. If you like it, keep going. If not, try the other one.
  • Ask others who are already connected to help you.
  • Observe, watch, lurk.
  • Put your toes in the water and send out a tweet or a post in a community.
  • Take risks. No one will judge you. Instead you’ll be welcomed.

There’s a whole wide world out there full of educators who are sharing and connecting. Join it. It will change how you view education and your work, and then have an impact on your students as well. Get smarter- connect.


Image originally from: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by jspad: http://flickr.com/photos/jspad/3349733909

Then adapted with pixlr.com


Read Full Post »

3 Go-To Sites

Post 26 of the Teach Thought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeWhat are your 3 favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?


No hesitation here, these are by far my top 3 go-to tools!

twitterTwitter:  As I wrote about in this post, Twitter is a huge part of my PLN. I learn from others, gather resources, connect, and share. This past summer while at ISTE, I heard someone say that if it were possible to break down Twitter users by profession, educators would represent the largest group. I am not surprised by that fact. (myth?) There are educators at every level, subject area, and area of expertise sharing and connecting with one another on Twitter. Rather than follow individual blogs, I follow people on Twitter who provide links to new posts. The education chats provide connections with others with whom I reflect on my practice, create new collaborative projects, and professional development in its best form, (Feel free to click on Twitter in my tags and view other posts on this topic)

google plusGoogle+: Some people are surprised at this one. People question whether or not anyone is using Google+. The resounding answer is YES – lots of educators! I have joined a number of communities on Google+ that provide similar resources and connections as Twitter. If you are a Technology Integration Specialist like me, check out the Instructional Technology Integrators & Coaches Community, or the Technology Integration Specialist Think Tank Community. If you’re a classroom teacher, this is one of my favorites – the Connected Classrooms Workshop Community or the Mystery Hangout Community.


diigoDiigo: I use Diigo to collect resources, save posts, and then access them again when needed. I have the Diigo extension installed in Chrome, and have also installed the tool on my iPad. I go to Diigo all day long, to save things I come across on Twitter and/or Google+ as well as to retrieve things I’ve save. I create a Tech News every few weeks as a resource for our educators. It’s simple to gather the recent articles and posts that I want to share by going to Diigo and searching for my TechNews tag. When teachers ask me if I know of resources about a particular topic, I immediately go to Diigo to see what I’ve already saved that I can then pass along. This tool is a life-saver and time-saver for me. And I’m not even sharing about the ‘social bookmarking’ capabilities!







Read Full Post »

Post 13 on the 30-Day Blogging ChallengeName the top tech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in order of their effectiveness, in your opinion.

tools “A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamt of by its author.” – Stephen C. Johnson

The larger challenge here is that nowhere in the above prompt does it give me an idea of how many top tech tools I can list!

I’ll go for 3 that I use professionally and 3 that I recommend using with students.


1. Google tools: Email, Calendars, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Maps, Drawing, Google+, and Sites. There are more tools than that – but those I use on a daily basis. I haven’t used Office products in many years. When you can collaborate and access your things from anywhere, why use anything else?

2. Twitter- I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008. That’s 6 years ago! I’d say I began to see the power and use of Twitter about a year later and haven’t looked back. It’s the place where educators connect, share, support one another, stretch each other’s thinking, and get resources – all whenever you want it. I feel very fortunate to have my PLN.

3. Diigo – I use Diigo to save and share anything I find on the web. I have Twitter and Diigo connected so that anything I favorite on Twitter automatically saves to Diigo. I save many links each day and then have access to all of my resources anytime from anywhere. Plus, I can use the social side of it to see what others are saving and sharing, use Groups to collect collaboratively, and offer what I’ve shared to others.

With Students:

1. Common Sense Media: I value the work that went into designing their Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence and highly recommend these resources to all educators. I’ve also used and am again using the Digital Passport site (and app) with students. Graphite is a fabulous tool where resources have been evaluated and vetted by other educators. Thank you Common Sense Media, for all you do to support educators, students, and parents.

2. Google tools, again: Having a Google Apps for Education domain has contributed to a big shift in the way we teach and the way we integrate technology. These tools enable students to use technology as a tool to support learning, rather than starting with the tech and trying to go from there. Collaboration and sharing has impacted the amount of printing as students turn their work in digitally. Google Classroom is just getting underway, but already I’m hearing excitement and enthusiasm from the teachers using it.

3. I use a variety of iPads apps with students to encourage them to share their learning with others. We offer choice and students decide on the best app to meet their needs. Some of these might include: iMovie, Haiku Deck, Book Creator, or Explain Everything. Those apps would be at the top of my list for that purpose.

I look forward to reading the 13th post that other bloggers have shared to get their perspective on top tech tools.

 Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by katerha: http://flickr.com/photos/katerha/5746905652

Read Full Post »

The prompt for today’s blogging challenge is to write about a piece of technology I’m hoping to incorporate into my curriculum. I’m not a classroom teacher and don’t have a curriculum to follow, so I’m going to adapt this post.

planeThis year, we are venturing down the road toward our first 1:1 pilot, with Chromebooks. We had attempted a year and a half ago, to get funding for a 1:1 iPad initiative. That failed to pass muster and we learned a lot of lessons from the experience. Since then, we also learned about how challenging it is to share iPads!

A year passed and Chromebooks emerged on the horizon. We found a way to fund a pilot for this device with a small sampling of our school population. We determined that we could provide Chromebooks for two teams in our school. Our teams are made up of 4 teachers that work collaboratively, with 4 classes of students that move about within the space for various aspects of their day.

All teams in grades 3-8 were invited to submit a proposal, and then had to meet with myself and our administrator to defend why they should be the chosen ones. We had five teams apply and sadly could only pick two. One team selected is composed of third and fourth graders in multi-age classes, the other grades 5-8.

We’re almost ready to hand them out to students. Over the course of this year, we will be looking to see how having a device for each student impacts, enhances, and enriches learning. If access to technology when you need it is not an issue, how does that free up time and affect planning? How will transitioning full-speed ahead to using Google apps play out and transform what happens in these classrooms?

As the Chromebooks get distributed and students get underway with Digital Citizenship activities to begin their work, (thanks to Common Sense Media), we’ll be on our way. I’ll be sharing the ups and downs here on this blog.


Image: creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by Unhindered by Talent: http://flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/573255385

Read Full Post »

This week I began another course where I hopefully can encourage and support more educators on their journey to getting connected. I’m working with 9 fabulous educators representing many different areas and levels of education in our district.

So far, we’ve explored Twitter, Diigo, Edmodo, Google+, and networks such as the Educator’s PLN, Classroom 2.0, and Educlipper. Everyone is feeling overwhelmed while striving to keep track of usernames and passwords. And yet… they’re still smiling. I love teaching teachers!

Instead of ‘sustained silent reading’ time, we have 20-minute Twitter Time each morning. During those minutes that fly by, our participants are finding new people to follow, retweeting someone else’s tweet, replying to a tweet, and composing a new tweet of their own. They’ve begged for more time to continue and it certainly wasn’t silent!

Near the end of the day today, only day 2, one participant asked if  from my perspective I could see any growth. The answer is a resounding YES! These fabulous educators are tweeting, +1-ing (is that a verb?), saving and sharing bookmarks, and much more. They added their thoughts on a slide on a collaborative Google presentation and shared a Google drawing representing being connected in our private Google+ community.

diving in

Image created by @carolhuntingo1

They don’t see the change in their level of comfort, but I do. They’re using the lingo, supporting one another, and taking risks as they learn to trust and share in larger communities and on new networks.

We continue tomorrow with blogging and commenting- both as professionals and with our students. I truly love this opportunity to grow and learn along with my colleagues, build relationships, and ponder new challenges.

Beyond this week, it will come down to each individual. Will they continue to explore and delve deeper into any networks? Will they make/take the time? Will they engage and connect with others? Will they see the value of being connected? And most important, will they help other educators get connected as well?

Read Full Post »

Our schools have adopted PBIS this year. That stands for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. You can read more about it here. This is a school-wide effort in both of our buildings, though it differs slightly from one building to the next.

In our preK-2 building, we are all about Bees. Posted everywhere in the school on bright yellow posters, students are reminded to Be Safe, Be Kind, and Be Responsible. They can earn ‘buzzies’- little fuzz balls in black, white, or gold, when they’re displaying these behaviors. There’s a honey jar for the buzzies in each classroom, which when full, gets emptied into a larger container in the front office. When that’s full, the school earns a celebration. These have ranged thus far from extra recess to pajama day.

Similarly, in our grade 3-8 school, there’s also a school-wide effort underway. In this building, students are striving to Be SMART.(S=Safe, M=Mindful, A=Accepting, R=Respectful, and T=Truthful) When they exhibit these skills and behaviors, they earn ‘Smart Cells’, those glass beads often used for games like Mancala or in vases. Again, they fill containers in the classrooms and then contribute to the ‘brain’ in the front of the school. They also earn ‘cell-abrations’ when the brain is full. They have had dance parties, extra recess, and even a gum-chewing day, with gum provided by the school!

A 1st grader illustrates the 'beehaviors' with technology.

The reason I bring this up and describe it here is that all students are so familiar with this that they can recite the behaviors to anyone and everyone. Thus, our work with students and technology has been positively impacted as well. When introducing email to a kindergarten class and a first/second grade class last week, it was easy to connect proper use of email to being safe, responsible, and kind. The kindergarten teacher blogged about her class using email as well. When talking about the internet with third graders, we generated lists of what being ‘SMART’ online looks like. Here’s an example of a list that one group of third graders compiled in a shared Google Doc.

The tone in our schools has changed this year with the influence of PBIS. There are others in the buildings gathering data and more involved in the implementation of PBIS, but so far I’ve seen very positive impacts in the area of digital citizenship as well.

Just wanted to share. Comments are always welcome.

(Glass bead image: Creative Commons/flickr By ‘tuchodi’ http://flic.kr/p/m5Xm)

Read Full Post »

Giving Thanks

Here’s a list of some things happening in our two schools in the last 2 weeks and coming up this week. I feel blessed to work with such an amazing group of teachers and students.

  1. First graders blogged about what they’re thankful for.
  2. Second graders Skyped with a class in Philadelphia to compare locations.
  3. Middle school students are adding information about their town and school on a Google map for others as a resource.
  4. Kindergarten and first/second grade classes left comments on one another’s blogs as ‘blogging buddies’.
  5. Middle school students discuss, via blog, the benefits of blogging.
  6. Teachers in our schools added their favorite places to visit on a Google map to build culture.
  7. Middle school students created a video about lures that predators might use, acting as news anchor people.
  8. Third/fourth graders used a collaborative Google doc to share ideas about being smart and safe with technology and online.
  9. Kindergarten students shared what they’re learning when using the iPad on video taken with the iPad.
  10. Middle school students took digital photos of math in nature, posted them on their own blog, then described the math featured in the photo and justified their thinking.
  11. Middle school students Skype with volcanologist in Michigan to ask questions about super-volcanoes.
  12. Kindergarten students use iPads to get to their blogs, then create posts and save.
  13. Third/fourth graders are using a Google presentation template to share knowledge about famous peacemakers.
  14. Middle school students learned about Creative Commons and Fair Use in preparation for a project where they’ll be incorporating images.

That about says it all.

Read Full Post »