I offered a workshop at the McLean Stake Relief Society Personal Preparedness Conference this weekend. This Prezi is full of resources, links, and ideas to help you get your digital life in order.
I was asked to contribute to this month's edition of a blog that is published by Nepali English teachers. They are a great group of professionals who make a difference in the lives of their students. I've included some great resources. Enjoy!
And here's a Prezi I made that is linked to in the article but not embedded:
Attending a 20-year high school reunion has likely always been interesting, but in today's world it's even more so.
For one thing, social media has changed the entire experience. At our 10-year reunion it was fun to see what everyone looked like, who they married, where they were working, where they were living, etc. Now, through Facebook, we've already covered a lot of that ground. I know what some of them ate for dinner last week, I've seen first day of school photos and summer vacations, I've watched their children be born and grow up. Some of their children I would recognize at the park before I would recognize my own classmate.
The face to face reconnection is still far greater than anything online, but we start at a different level. As I wandered around visiting with classmates and their spouses, there wasn't a lot of small talk. With most it was like we picked up mid-conversation, like we just spoke recently and got interrupted. "How'd your son do in that golf tournament?", "How's the marathon training going?", "How do you like living in Southern CA?", "How was your recent trip to London?" Stuff like that.
Initially it seemed we had less to talk about because much of it has already been communicated. On the other hand, we got deeper quicker, and covered more ground than we ever would have otherwise in that amount of time. It was kind of cool.
Part of my responsibility as a Google Certified Teacher is to use technology to make a difference and I developed an action plan on ways I would try to do that. For this I decided that I would try to take our reunion to the next level and called it Reunion 2.0.
I created a website with reunion information, Google RSVP and other forms, PayPal payment buttons, and such. I created a private Google+ community so we could better connect and share with each other. I encouraged everyone to use some sort of Web 2.0 tool to tell their story, and many contributed and shared. People used Prezi, Animoto, Mixbook, GoAnimate, and other tools to create short snippets of their lives since high school. They didn't have to be fancy or professional to be really fun to watch. It will be a great way to capture this milestone in our lives and maybe, depending on how the technology evolves, we will be able to look back from other reunions and see how young we looked at our 20th and where we were at.
A Call to Change the World
I was asked to speak and chose to talk on how education has changed during the last 20 years and what it means for our kids. This took me out of my comfort zone for sure, and qualified as serious risk-taking in my book. Give me a group of students in rural Nepal any day over this experience. As often seems to be the case, the technology itself failed me which left me a bit flustered, scrambling, and floundering. I would have liked it go as seamlessly as I had hoped and practiced for. Instead, I barely made it through without fainting.
But isn't that what we're ultimately trying to teach our kids: to try, to reach, to make an effort, to risk, to swim no matter what pond they're dropped in, to fail, to keep on going no matter what?
I streamed using Google Hangouts on Air and more than 40 of our classmates who couldn't attend were able to watch live. Others will watch the recording. Sure, I wish I would have had a professional team that was able to man the camera, sound, and lighting. It was certainly a makeshift effort to wander around the room with my laptop, angle it just right to catch the action, all while trying to visit with people, eat, man multiple devices, and speak. It was far from perfect.
Yet, it was an effort and efforts matter. People who couldn't make it were at least able to catch a choppy glimpse of the action, which was more than they could have otherwise.
So, I'm not sure where things will be in another 5 or 10 years. Many of our children will have graduated from high school. Some of the things I briefly touched on (MOOCs, the Maker Movement, Google Glass) will have either taken off or flopped. New ideas and technology will have become ubiquitous.
We've got some hard questions to answer about education and where we're headed. My goal was to encourage everyone to keep on asking the hard questions, keep on searching, keep on reaching.
I know I will.
There are a few times I have been moved so deeply that I can’t say anything. Instead, I calmly close my eyes, breathe in a long breath, and just feel the moment. Today, Adam Bellow’s ISTE keynote, was one such time. His words were so true, so powerful, that they resonated to my very soul. Breathe in, breathe out.
The ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education) conference brings together roughly 13,000 educators and education leaders from around the world for three days of learning, playgrounds, discussion, BYOD sessions, and an overwhelmingly massive expo hall with vendors. This year’s conference, held in San Antonio, was my first and did not disappoint. [I even had the guts to present two poster sessions Project: 140 and Project: Me]
I’ve seen various forms of this picture before, including during the conference, but this really was what it was like:
Information was full force and powerful. Like-minded people were everywhere: in every nook and cranny, every seat, every line, and near every charging outlet. Anyone who is anyone in edtech was either there or wished they were. It is a hi-energy, overwlhelmingly huge deal and gave me blisters from massive amounts of walking. My QR-code scanner and Diigo library is packed with resources to look up later.
The point is not to absorb it all at once or try every new tool or product. It will take time, gradually, to digest it all and I’ll write more later about specific tools and takeaways. For now, let’s talk about making a difference.
I don’t know Adam Bellows personally, though I did introduce myself to him at our Google Certified Teacher gathering and he even let me try on his infamous Google Glass.
I follow Adam's amazing work on eduTecher and now his new brilliant eduClipper (a Pinterest for educators). His talk today You're Invited To Change The World was powerful because it wasn’t about him. It was about us. It was about me. I was about you. It was about the kids we love and the kids we teach and the future we are trying to influence. He was able to rouse a gigantic room of exhausted, overwhelmed educators to their feet and send us out the door running to make a difference. He claimed he was no superman but I truly beg to differ. He helped everyone in that room remember the great teachers in their own lives and why they wanted to be a teacher in the first place. He reminded them that when they touch a child they touch the future and that we are all builders.
As he spoke nuggets of truth in such rapid fire I could barely jot down a word, I was taken back to when I delivered a similar topic to a group of at-risk teenagers in Nepal who had gathered for a leadership conference. I was invited to speak, and while I’m certainly no Adam, I chose a very similar topic Creativity and Innovation: Leveraging Technology to Change YOUR World. I wanted those students, all of whom faced very difficult life circumstances and most of whom had little hope for a bright future, to realize beyond anything else that they could improve their lives and make a difference.
Here are a few key takeaways for me:
Lastly, find a teacher and thank him or her. Encourage him. Learn with her. Hug him. Then find a child and do the same. Turn problems into exciting possibilities. I’m ready to start fresh...are you?
Let’s do this.
I love summer. I love having the kids home, moving at a slower pace, and doing things that we normally don't fit in during the rest of the year. Since we generally live overseas, our summers also mean traveling and visiting family and friends. Our routines are disrupted, we enjoy long daylight hours, and we don't have a set schedule. Yet, as a mother of four I've learned that my children still need some element of structure.
It’s also no surprise that children forget a lot of what they learned at school during the year. According to research reported by the National Summer Learning Association, we're lucky if our kids stay on par. Most of the time, it states, they lose 1-3 months of academic knowledge (especially in math and spelling) over the course of the summer. That means they start off in the Fall worse off than they ended in the Spring. Who wants that? This summer, even though we're in the middle of an international move, I've decided to make a student-centered proactive learning plan.
Summer Learning Adventures
Each child signed up for a private one-on-one meeting with me called "Summer Learning Adventures." We talked about what they have enjoyed learning about this year, what they have struggled with. I then helped them set two sets of goals. One set is Stretch goals and these include self-identified areas of improvement (involving some reading and math). The other area is Fun goals and these include anything they want to learn that they just don't have time for during the year. One wants to learn about space and the world (Google World Wonders Project and Google Earth are winners for these). One wants to learn about birds. One wants to take an online photography course on SkillShare or try out ModernLessons. They each had a list of things they really want to learn about: just because. We've discussed apps, websites, and field trips we can take to support their goals.
This isn't about rigorous structure, because that's not what summer looks like in our house. It's about making an effort – together – to keep our brains alive and growing. Bring it on!
Here's the Symbaloo (also linked to in the Prezi above). Click on 'View on Symbaloo' to see the whole thing:
And here's the Google Doc (also linked to in the Prezi above full of some creative iPad apps we'll be using:
In a few weeks I will present this Learning Station Session at ISTE 2013 in San Antonio. Here's a sneak peek:
If you're going to ISTE, stop by and say hi!
This is a new resource from Edudemic's Jeff Dunn and appears to be a Khan-Academy-like free video tutorial system on real-world skills. Here's a sampling on social media tutorials. The list is small but it is growing. I dare you to walk away without learning something new!
I'm excited to take my first course. If you try it out, let me know what you think!
I'm going over this document with a few teachers today who want to know more of what I learned at the recent Google Teacher Academy. It's by no means comprehensive but it represents a few recent favorites. I dare you to walk away without something you're itching to try.
Some are fun but most have strong (and fun) potential to improve student learning in exciting ways. For example, Voice Comments Chrome extension allows you to leave easy audio feedback right within Google Docs -- now that has some powerful potential for student reflection and feedback.
Wish you could join us!
I just returned from the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Sydney, an amazing mind-blowing two days. I am now officially a Google Certified Teacher (GCT), a true honor and privilege, and I join the ranks of 1,000 worldwide GCTs. Lucky me.
As I think about how to explain this experience to others, I am flooded with swooping, game-changing, reach-for-the-stars verbs that I merged into the word cloud above. Fifty-two educators from 13 countries were invited to the Google Sydney office to inspire, connect, collaborate, create, engage, learn, laugh, share, synergize, and plan a forward course of action. We are each ambassadors of change in our various learning environments. These two days were but a pitstop as we paused on our journeys, refueled, and designed a plan of action to move forward. Between us we directly influence 32,727 students, 40,311 teachers, and therefore indirectly influence 1,410,885 students. And we’ve only just begun.
What is the GTA?
The Google Teacher Academy is joint effort between Google and Computer-Using Educators (CUE), an educational non-profit organization. It launched in 2006 and seeks to Improve teaching and learning by leveraging innovative tools. Admission is by invitation-only, is extremely competitive, and is the only way to become a Google Certified Teacher.
What does the day look like at GTA?
It’s a mind-blowing, hold-on-tight kind of experience. There are no beginners. We were divided into small groups with lead learners even before the conference began and continued with our group members throughout the day. We are all active members of a community within Google+ so by the time we arrived we recognized many others by name. The agenda was fluid and changed as needed, but generally the day was a mix of short presentations by Googlers and small group breakout sessions led by GCTs. The sessions were fast-paced creative exercises using Google tools on a new level. For example, in the Discovering Your World session, we realized that exploration is not over: we can still create, edit, share, and contribute to the maps of the world. We used some advance Map features to create, edit, and share maps with others. In the Creating Your World session we used YouTube editor to create a short inspirational film starting with a still image and using Creative Commons footage. In Collaborating with your World, we used a variety of tools like Story Builder to share to social media platforms. In Automating Your World we saw how advanced scripting can save teachers heaps of time. I ran out of time on everything, even though I’m generally fast, and have a lot to play with once I get home. For sure.
What pedagogy is used?
It’s hard to pinpoint one exact model, but it’s certainly a student-based, inquiry-based, active learning environment. Creative energy flowed through the room. There were a few short presentations, but mostly we were given the tools we needed, thrown into the ring, were given a task to produce, and were supported along the way. Things moved fast. we got up and moved a lot. Everyone had at least one device active at all times. There was never enough time to take it all in or finish something completely. The agenda was a living document that changed frequently, loaded with resources and links. Backchannels were active on both Google Plus and Twitter. Feedback and reflection were built-in. We were doers, thinkers, creators, and active participants. No one was a passive observer.
What tools are introduced?
Heaps. More than a person could ever master. Old friends were taken to a new level (e.g. Maps, Earth, scripting, Google Art Project, Chrome, YouTube editor, Google Books). New friends were introduced (e.g. Google Lit Trips, Moderator, Story Builder, World Wonders Project, Google Cultural Institute, and dozens of Chrome extensions like Voice Comments, Timeline JS, and Video Notes). Everything that was introduced was looked at through the lens of “How can this (website, tool, app, extension) improve student learning?” That was a necessary and powerful connection. It’s never about the tool – it’s about the learning.
How is the Google office in Sydney?
Google is awesome. I am bound by a non-disclosure agreement, so I can’t discuss many details, but I can say that Google believes and lives it’s motto to work hard, play hard. They have a strong company culture of innovation and it shows in every detail. The food was phenomenal. The workspace design and atmosphere was truly inspiring. They are continually working to improve the user experience and we got a sneak peek at some powerful ideas in the works. I must say it is extremely fun to have a Q&A with a Googler, to hear why they do what they do, to suggest changes and give feedback within certain apps, and to hear about what’s up next. Technology will continue to improve and change the way we interact with the world, and I have no doubt Google will lead the pack.
What is the second day un-conference?
After sleeping on the dizzying amount of information from the previous day, we were ready to better connect in small focus groups on specific topics. We used Google Moderator to submit and vote on topics. There were a few rules that governed the day: no spectators, only participants; if you are not learning or sharing use your feet to move somewhere else where you are; whatever you talk about, that’s what you were meant to talk about; whatever group you’re in is the right group for you, etc. The conference facilitator went through the topics listed in Moderator and small groups formed all over the place. There was a lot of moving around, and a lot of learning and sharing. It was a great time to pick everyone’s brain around me and I have a long list of ideas to look into.
What did you learn?
I learned a lot for sure, but it’s more than that. It’s what I felt. It’s what I wanted to be. Do. Share. Create. My biggest takeaway wasn’t a new tool or trick, though we used some great ones, but it was the reminder of what can happen with shared creative energy. It’s that creative spark that we hope to capture and recreate for our students, that desire to learn when no one is watching and when there’s no grade. I relearned many things too: that educators are amazingly brilliant people who care about their students, that technology can be leveraged in powerful ways for learning, and that it’s up to me to make a difference in my community.
How do I apply?
There are specific qualifications that are released when applications are accepted and it is very competitive. But don’t let that discourage you. I was fortunate to present two sessions at the Google Apps for Education Summit in Sydney during January. That opened some doors and I was encouraged to apply for GTA. I never in a million years thought I would get it. I almost didn’t even try. Many of the others were in the same boat: simply surprised and grateful to be there. Creating the one-minute video was a fun challenge. Here’s mine along the theme of making a difference in my local community:
As Google Certified Teachers we create an action plan that will be peer-reviewed and reflected on in 12 months. In short, we are to develop a project that shares with others innovative ways that Google tools are being used for learning. We are encouraged to think big, dream big, and be the change we want to see in the world. With that, we can start small, take baby steps, and eventually it will come together. We will continue to grow and our ideas will gain momentum over time. We will feed into and gain from the GCT community. I’ve got some ideas, but I’ve been encouraged to sleep on it for a bit, let it all settle, and then dive in and move forward. I’m still stewing. GCTs from other cohorts have developed some inspiring projects. It’s really about student learning and empowering others. We are not only using technology to improve learning, but we are empowering students to become creators of technology. They will build apps, write software, and design hardware. They will be ambassadors for change as well.
Let’s do this.
This is a professional development plan I created that outlines SMART goals and expected outcomes, NETS for Teachers standards, learning activities, and how to measure student outcomes. I can’t wait to give it a try.
[View more about it on my learning log]