Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sharing the Knowledge- Tech Learning Community goes on the Road!

Whew! Two weeks ago was such a crazy week! I am  happy to be back to "normal",  but thrilled with the opportunities I have been given. I love learning more about my profession and how to improve and be better
for my students. I work and learn for the love of learning and for each of my kiddos.

As some of you know, I was fortunate to attend the Google Apps for Education 1:1 Summit in Napa. My reflection can be read here. 

Immediately following Napa, I headed to San Jose for the California Teacher's Association's (CTA) Good Teaching Conference. I was asked to present the Common Core pre-conference as well as the Good Teaching Conference with the amazing Karen Taylor. Karen and I met last summer through the CTA's Teacher Leadership Cohort. Through this cohort, each member was to put together a project that would be beneficial to teachers, school, district, and/or beyond. Karen and I had the same passion for technology and recognized the need for ongoing professional development in incorporating technology into our classrooms.

Through our project, we have created our Tech Learning Community (TLC) website, professional development for teachers within our districts, and the development for an "unconference" for both districts to merge and learn from and together. It seems we have been working non-stop toward our goal of growing, developing, and learn with technology. It has truly been an honor to get to know Karen, to work with the teachers in my district and help them with their needs.

Since the creation of TLC, Karen and I have been given the opportunity to share what we have learned with others in the state (and possibly beyond!!)! That alone is connecting us with educators that inspire each of us and push us even more than we push ourselves.

Our first joint venture was at last weekend's Good Teaching Conference. Next is Common Core in Anaheim and one per month till April!

AND yesterday I was asked to present for CUE and CTAP!

I am truly thankful for Karen, CTA and Teacher Leadership Cohort and their members, and all the educators and students who inspire me to be better every day!


 It truly is an exciting time!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gafe Summit: Napa 1:1

One to one...that is the move of many districts as technology grows and Common Core becomes the norm. And following the trend is Oakdale Joint Unified and I couldn't be more excited.

But where do I start? I haven't even received my class set of Chromebooks and I am already plotting and scheming on how my students will utilize them in class.

So, I BEGGED my site to send me to the Google in Education 1:1 Institute. 

Wow! I should have known that I was in for an intense and amazing learning experience. Not to mention mind blowing and exhausting!

So here are some highlights:

Day one was jammed packed with all things EduAwesome! I am a Google Certified Teacher, but as all educators know, there is always room to grow.

I spent the day with educators who have the same passion for learning and technology as I do. I was surrounded by tech geeks! It was GREAT! You could feel the excitement in the room as Jamie Casap spoke.

My first session was with Sergio Villegas on reaching students with Google lesson presentations. What was great about Sergio was his attitude. He was so gung-ho and excited about Google, lessons, and what he was doing. The one thing he wanted us to take away (other than he is a lazy teacher, HA!) is that anything we would learn in these two days was that the "how to's" are on YouTube! Someone has made a video tutorial for YOU. Once in YouTube search, go to filters AFTER the search, find videos from this month or year. And after a conference, most of us go back to the "real" world. Back to teaching, classrooms, grading etc. and don't get to use those tips and tricks learned. Or in my case, I can't always decipher my own notes on what I learned! Great that we can all go back and search for those videos! 

I have to say, I caught the excitement. Thanks to Karl and his session on Doctopus and Goobric...finally have Doctopus working. It made my brain hurt, but the ease of sending out work to students, turning off the ability for students to edit that work, and then attaching a rubric, AND sending it back! Amazing! Not to mention that now in Google Drive, you can add voice comments and even video. COOL! His amazing, step-by-step instructions can be found here.

Then I discovered ways to make my life easier....by making it faster! Thanks to Mark Wagner for some great productivity tools in Google! In addition to the text extensions and clipboard buffers, I think my favorite tool was simply the site to find alternatives to other software. Since I have gotten my Chromebook and my preparation for 1:1 in my district, I am constantly struggling to find alternatives to software I and my students use. Through the alternatives site, I can find options for the software I use. OPTIONS. Not just one, but many! Save time and frustration and search there first!

And that was just a snippet of #eduawesome that was GAFE Summit Napa! I was inspired by may Google professionals and teachers, some I haven't seen or talked to since Google Certified Teacher's summit in Sydney or on Twitter! Simply amazing individuals! 

The best thing about Google summits (this and all summits) is the connection with other teachers who share the same passion I do. Although this was a summit leaning towards 1:1, the passion for technology, students, pedagogy, and growth is what brought us together. We, as life learners, came to grow in our profession. To teach our students for the world as it now and what it could be, the world our students will create.    

I am just so moved by my professional learning network and thrilled to have an opportunity to learn and connect even more!

I can't wait for the next! 

Thanks EdTechTeam and Google!



Sunday, January 5, 2014

Genius Hour - A First Time Reflection

My students and I have officially completed round one of Genius Hour!


When I learned about Genius Hour this past summer, I was excited and nervous. Excited about the possibilities, and yet nervous about the chaos and/lack of participation.

Silly, right?

I couldn't have been more pleased, impressed, and simply wowed by my students research and passion. I learned about dogs, saddles, a variety of sports and athletes, as well as building your own iPhone, and the reasons behind why celebrities don't have the same consequences as we "regular" folks. I was truly inspired!

After all projects had been shared and questions were answered, I gave my students an evaluation and reflection to complete. Students were incredibly thoughtful and forthcoming. Students mentioned what they could improve on, what they felt they did well, and even suggestions for me to make Genius Hour even better. Some suggestions included a time limit on presentations and to use a web-based program to access their presentations faster (Google Docs, anyone?). What surprised me most was that all students truly enjoyed the project and wanted to do it again next semester. 

Now THAT is pretty genius. 

Now that we have completed a round of Genius Hour, I now have questions and concerns for the next Genius Hour.

Although students had plenty of time to research, plan, and create; many switched their projects at least once and others focused on the lacidazical task of finding pictures for their presentations even before they had their material complete. So how do I keep my students engaged throughout the process?

Additionally, I had hoped for more in depth research and questions. Many students simply did expository research, the history of something, who created this or that, or all about this or that. For our next Genius Hour project, I'd like to see students asking deeper questions, looking for creative answers, or creating answers on their own. How do I go about encouraging my students to think beyond the history of "insert a topic here"? 

All I do know is that my students LOVED Genius Hour. Loved it so much they are asking for more. I also know my students will be blogging their process this next semester, so please follow the Duck Pond and give them (and me) some feedback.

Thank you to all who have inspired me and my students to take this venture on. It will be one that continues in my classroom for some time.

Check out some Genius Hour highlights below!