I can’t believe that only 6 months have passed since I attend the Google Teacher Academy in London in April earlier this year. Since then, I have visited Slovakia on a European Teacher Trainee exchange, qualified as a primary school teacher and started my first teaching position with a class of 36 energetic and inspiring year 4 children (8-9 years old).
As I am just starting as a newly qualified teacher, the technology I love has had to take a back seat while I establish classroom routines, conquer a myriad of behaviour management techniques and generally cope with the 1001 things that you need to do as a classroom teacher that never occurred to you as a student. However, I have been very fortunate to find a position where the Senior Leadership not only support my interest in technology but actively encourage it and slowly I’ve started to have time to get our Google Apps account up and running. We have started three class blogs this week and have made blogs to share learning logs (homework) and the marvellous moments we have in school. One of the blogs is for my class, the other two are for the classes taught by the senior leadership team (foundation and year 6). It has been wonderfully inspiring to help them get started on this journey.
We will be publicising the blogs to our parents soon, having first built up a few teacher-written posts. Once permissions are sorted out from parents, we can start to give the children accounts and they will be able to write blog posts and comments themselves. So far we are on track for developing blogging at the school over the coming year.
Without attending GTAUK, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to set up the Google Apps for Education account myself. The Google Certified Teachers I met in London have been an amazing source of wisdom, help and advice. I hope that with this support and the encouragement of my senior leadership team, our use of technology in school will be transformed by the end of the school year to be relevant to children, practical and easy to update, child-led and reach out beyond the physical school and into the wider community beyond.
On 16th April I will be in Bratislava, but that won’t stop me presenting to our ICT Specialist day on our PGCE course.
I’ve made a short video with some of the things I learned at Google Teacher Academy last week.
The sites demonstrated in the video are:
- Safe Mode in Youtube (removes comments from all videos)
- Google Art Project (now with collections from 150 museums, stunning quality down to the brush strokes!)
- Google search by reading age (filter your search results by basic/intermediate/ advanced reading age)
- Much more on Google Search from Catlin Tucker (fellow GTAUK attendee)
- Creating a google form for an online survey (The Big Breakfast survey: http://bit.ly/JoBadgeGoogle ). See how the spreadsheet updated . Some suggestions of how to use them in the classroom.
Other stuff that might be useful….
Great YouTube playlists:
Video was made using Screenr (free screencasting direct from your web browser) and iMovie.
Audio: Tryad ‘all the same’http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals CC BY-SA 3.0
Plus my Google Teacher Academy Application video
It was an amazing and jam packed two days. I’ve tweeted and bookmarked and blogged on G+ but I felt I needed to take some time to pull together the stand out moments from Google Teacher UK 2012 for me.
The community – sitting in a room full of incredibly inspiring and talented educators cannot be under estimated. While the Brits in the room winced at the whooping and cheering, I’m sure we all felt just as excited and privileged to become part of this community, we just don’t like to shout about it I know that I will rely on the help of those I’ve met in the last few days, and I know that I will help them too. Connections to people are incredibly important. I feel I have made some invaluable connections to people that will sustain my teaching career for a long time to come.
The tools – I’ve picked up so many tips and tricks that it is going to take me months to digest and think about how I can make best use of them all. I have bookmarked as much as I can on delicious and will steadily work back through them when I can.
The kit – I used a Chromebook borrowed from google to blog and tweet and take notes. I was really impressed with it, fast start up, easy to use and once I had got used to the fact that there was no storage on it (still not sure where screenshots and files went from the ‘file shelf’ that popped up when I downloaded or saved stuff) it was a great workhorse. Chrome was central to that, being able to access all the bookmarks, settings, extensions, etc immediately. They were all set up there waiting once I had signed in to the chromebook and it was a massive boost to my productivity. What’s more I know that when I go back home all the stuff I’ve added over the last two days, will be there ready and waiting for me on chrome on my iMac. Working on the chrome book made me realise that 90% of my work is now online, so I really should pay more attention to the workhorse behind that, my browser.
The philosophy – the tone of the meeting was undeniably American in it’s positivity (whoops and all), but the genuine passion and enthusiasm for everyone to do their best for the children or other educators that they are working with was truly inspiring. We can be particularly rubbish in the UK about celebrating our successes and having a ‘can do’ attitude, we love to be the cynical one in the back, disrupting the backchannel, but I was grateful to be in a room where is it was cool to be a geek and cool to love teaching. Personalising learning was a huge theme across many presentations and discussions, and I’ll give that a whoop any day!
The mission – taking this knowledge and these personal connections forward and back to my own community of teachers and students is going to be difficult but an essential part of the programme. We were given some amazing stats about the number of people and children we can influence as Google Certified Teachers, I’m thinking carefully about my GCT action plan and how best I can share what I have learned and begin to build some communities of practice in my local area and amongst the my peers in the PGCE cohort at Leicester University. I know I need to start with some practical tips that will give quick success and some of the tips I’ve learned about YouTube may be the starting point.
Google Teacher Academy, UK 4 April 2012.
It seemed appropriate to try to use Google+ to ‘blog’ my time at the Google Teacher Academy, so I’ve devised a strategy (only time will tell if it will work!):
- set up a dedicated G+ page for my notes and posts from the event. I’m planning to start one post per agenda ‘item’.
- I will be using a laptop (hopefully a Chromebook) on loan from Google so I’ve set up my Chrome account with the bookmarks I need (G+ page, my own G+ account)
- installed two Chrome extensions (silverbird and extended share for G+) so that I can follow the twitter stream and the #gtauk tag and post my G+ updates to twitter. (Silver bird does a great job, you can even add a hashtag search and have the results feed into a ‘unified’ tab of all incoming tweets, all hovering nicely over your browser).
- changed the settings on my iPad2 and iPod touch to upload photos automatically to my G+ account using the G+ app (in fact once this setting is turned on, the photos upload without you taking them from within the app). These are private until I choose to share them. The main downside I can see here is that they are uploaded to my profile account, not the page.
- set up a search on the #gtauk on G+ and saved it to my page and profile.
- make use of delicious / packrati.us to bookmark any useful sites via twitter using ‘#bm’ in the tweet (auto bookmarks any other hashtags in the tweet, so hopefully should end up with them all under a #gtauk tag on delicious).
(how long go you give me before my head explodes tomorrow?!)
I’m beginning to think about the Google Teacher Academy next week and how best to try to take notes, keep a record of useful information and share what we are learning with the outside world. I thought I might have a go at using Google+ to serve these purposes, but I haven’t used it in this way before and would like some advice from anyone that has. My main query is thinking about getting back to the information I’ve recorded later (I haven’t investigated or tested what happens to old posts, I know on twitter they are pretty hard to find after a day or so, what happens to old G+ content?). I’m very aware that there will be a twitter community that might want to follow the events of the day, so perhaps I can set up some scheduled tweets to draw people over to the G+ hashtag? Would a link to a G+ hashtag search work and be dynamic?
What about other archiving? There is a coveritlive session set up by Simon, would that pull G+ tags?
I’ll be working on a Mac Book with either Chrome or Firefox (found the iPad app doesn’t have enough features to use it all day, plus works only in portrait mode and keyboard is hopeless for touch typing in portrait)
Any advice, tips and tricks appreciated :-)
Plenty of comments over on G+ and I’ve set up a G+ page to see if that is way to collate stuff.
After feeling very sorry for myself on Friday night (lessons I had taught on my placement just didn’t flow), I felt like I had won the lottery when I got the invitation to attend Google Teacher Academy in the UK on 4 April 2012. I had seen some of the other 600 video applications and was fairly sure I would never make the cut, especially once I realised educators world-wide were applying. I am thrilled and rather humbled to have been chosen, and am looking forward to making the most of the opportunity and sharing my luck as widely as I can with other colleagues and twitters.
The community is beginning to self-form already, with Simon McLoughlin kicking off a google doc of attendees today, and there is already a sign up list for meeting up the evening before the big day
For the record, the application was in two parts, a written submission and a one minute video which can be about ‘Classroom innovation‘ or ‘Motivation and Learning‘. I chose classroom innovation. This was appropriate for me as a trainee, as I know I will be expected to bring fresh ideas to the profession.
I made my application video twice (this is the final version) after having lots of great feedback from some very generous people:
I can’t wait to get started! One of my aims is to build up a community of educators on G+ that I can share with and learn from.
I’ve been on Google Plus since whenever Alan sent me an invite and we were looking for Social Media networks to replace the ailing FriendFeed we had been using with students. I always think it is worth bagging a username, and I know that Alan usually needs someone to talk to on any new social media network and to be honest, I love to play with suff.
It has taken me a very, very, long time to get used to G+. The main problems I have had with it have been the ones that are obvious with any new Social Media:
- no audience that is unique to G+ or doing something different there that they are not already doing on Facebook/ twitter
- initially, no notification system that attracted my attention, also not helped by not having any ‘stuff’ to be notified about. Email notification drove me mad and I don’t use a desktop browser enough these days to pick up the black google bar notification.
- lack of a decent mobile interface.
I’ve kept dipping in and out, especially as the undergraduates that I used to mentor on Social Media projects with Alan moved from FriendFeed to Google+. I could see the point, and the benefits (no character limit, richer discussions, in-post video/ rich links out), but the mobile interface, notification and audience didn’t change, so it just didn’t have stickiness for me.
Finally, over this last month I have made a concerted effort to re-engage after finding the iPhone app. The interface isn’t perfect (no rich or embedded links when posting) but they have sorted out two major issues, notification and resharing/ +1. I’ve started to change the people I follow and made several revelatory discoveries, like being able to flip between the streams from each circle to filter out noise when I come to catch up at the end of the school day. I’m starting to discover different information from different people than those on my twitter network. It is starting to click. Alan is usually right in the end.
When I was making the decision to become a teacher, I started to follow some teachers on twitter. Several that inspired me went on to be the first UK Google Certified Teachers, and following their tweets during and after the event was amazing. It wasn’t necessarily the incredible amount of ground they seemed to cover in the sessions, or the innovative approaches to teaching they presented (though of course they were amazing), but watching the community around #GTA form that for me was the key of the event. Here, a group of teachers were given the tools to collaborate and an experience to bind them together which has resulted in a strong core to the UK twitter teacher community that has driven dissemination and innovation nationwide.
So, when the chance to apply for the second Google Teacher Academy in the UK came up, I started working on how I could show that I was worthy of joining a group of educators passionate about working with children and other teachers with technology. I am still a trainee teacher, but I know that being part of the GTA will enhance my professional practice to another level that I could not achieve alone.
The application is in two parts, a written submission (in progress!) and a one minute video which can be about ‘Classroom innovation‘ or ‘Motivation and Learning‘. I chose classroom innovation. This was appropriate for me as a trainee, as I know I will be expected to bring fresh ideas to the profession.
Seeking feedback from my peers and reflecting and acting on their advice has always been an important part of any work that I have done. I would therefore really value any comments or suggestions you might have on my application before I submit it (I may need to re-record the audio, I’ve realised some of my words are not very clear and I think I sound rather boring!).
UPDATE 4 Feb 2012: following lots of helpful feedback, I’ve made some changes to my application video, and republished it here:
15 February 2011 – Google UK User Group meeting at Loughborough.
I have to admit to being a bit of an interloper at this meeting. We don’t have a Google App installation at Leicester University, but I’ve use the suite of Google products with over 200 first year students on our IT and Numeracy course with Alan Cann over the last two years. My interest in google apps is personal as well as professional and I wanted to see how they were being used at other institutions, in particular to start thinking about how I might use them in the classroom as I know that some schools are going down the app route to supplement or even replace a VLE.
I had a great day and some smart people have already written some great blog posts wtih lots of detail from the day (I particularly liked how Sheila MacNeill put a twitter story together using storify).
My highlights and thoughts from the day:
1. This stuff is free – still struggling to get my head around the fact that Google Apps for HE are free. A four-year contract, yes, but for free. So why are we paying for email?
2. Meeting Mark Allen and Zoe Ross in person, and loving the Google Apps ‘VLEcosystem’ for (mostly primary) schools that Mark has developed using google apps and other free tools to get children and teachers working effectively online.
Via twitter, Kevin McLaughlin pointed at his take on this idea that he has written up in the ALT newsletter. This is a wonderfully inspiring example of how home-grown solutions using free tools can provide the flexibility and simplicity that children and staff need online.
3. I have to admit to being rather star-struck by the Google brand, their people and the great stuff they do (the majority of which I’d already seen and used, like live collaboration in Google Docs and the google goggles solving suduko puzzles). However, I think I checked my critical faculties at the door.
4. I got a first look (albeit at a distance) at a Chrome OS notebook . This made me think about when ubiquitous always-on wifi will be good enough in schools and universities for us to use this type of OS with students.
5. Interesting to hear that the OU help desk cross charges course teams for any errors on their moodle sites that result in increase calls to the helpdesk. Certainly focusses the mind…
Overall it was a mind-expanding day in many ways, even if I didn’t even come close to winning the war of the tweets with Steve Wheeler
Google launched Buzz yesterday and I thought I better take a look I have a good presence online with ‘jobadge’ and like to try and grab the username when something new comes along. I had a few minutes to spare this morning, so at home on my iPod Touch, I went to go and create an account. I didn’t need to bother of course, google just pulled my gmail account username through. Which was nice and a bit spooky at the same time.
As with any new social network, I posted into the empty space and waited to see if I could find anyone to talk to. Nothing happened. Later on when I got into work I explored a little more but couldn’t find anyway to access buzz in my gmail, where I thought it should be. However, a quick searching for ‘buzz’ in my gmail showed me the two messages I’d posted, with a URL link to them both. I was skyping with Alan this morning, so I sent him the URL and he found he could comment on my post, without having Buzz enabled on his own account (I hadn’t realised that it was being rolled out to only some users, it’s not often I get something before Alan does ;-)). We could explore each other’s followers and this led us to realise that if this network takes off, it opens up a whole mess of network and audience issues.
At the moment, I have three (major) distinct networks of people (yes in some places they overlap) : Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook. They represent two different aspects of my work and my social life. Google Buzz presented me with people to follow/be followed by from my gmail contacts. My gmail account is full of all kinds of stuff and I’m not really sure that it represents a distinct audience of any sort. I guess the networks may settle down, but since Alan, Stuart and I have been trying hard to keep a discreet student audience for some teaching we are doing, there is a danger that Buzz could mess this up horribly and blurr the boundaries we’ve been trying hard to maintain.
From what I’ve seen so far, on a Buzz conversation I broadcast on twitter, there is no realtime refresh on the Buzz web page, but notification via gmail. This is bonkers and will drive me mad – where is the button to turn it off? It seems that anyone who joins in the conversation gets the same gmail bacon as me
From a first look, I’m confused and bewildered. #buzzfail. Was twitter like that to start with?