Our journey with Google Education

Over the last term (Aug-Dec 2017) we’ve made some major changes to the devices and services we use across the school with children. In Jan 2017, I went to BETT and met with Ian Addison, who was kind enough to use the google stand and one of their chromebooks to give me a tour of his school’s set up on Google Suite for Education. I’d been wanting to get back to using google across the whole school for some time but finally the stars aligned and a chunk of capital, school expansion leading to the need to remove our ICT Suite and me being in the very fortunate position of being out of class meant it was possible.

Our ICT Suite was in need of updating but pressure on the space was at a premium and so we decided to free up the room by replacing it with mobile devices spread across the school. I was keen to provide a mixed environment for our children to work in, so chose a combination of ASUS chromebooks and Lynx Windows tablets (with removable keyboards). We set up Google Suite for Education (with lots of help from Google through their education tour last year as well as Ian’s invaluable blog posts) and began this academic year with 60 Chromebooks, 45 Lynx tablets and 2 new storage trolleys.

I’ve been very lucky to be able to deliver the roll out of the devices through teaching computing in our PPA sessions. We work on a two week rota, so each phase has a day out of class together every fortnight (brilliant for collaborative planning and working together as a team). The children have a programme of curriculum enrichment on those days comprising PSHE, dance, sport, computing, French and music. So I’ve had the amazing experience of teaching computing to roughly 360 children (years 1,2,5 and 6) every two weeks. Year 3 and 4 have been taught by my colleagues wormy my support. It’s worked brilliantly and the children’s skills have really developed and the insight I’ve gained into teaching computing has been amazing!

Some key points I’ve learned along the way (in no particular order!)

  • The ASUS chromebooks are a dream to work with. They are super fast, incredible battery life (they last 8.00 am – 3.15pm being used on 6 sessions of 50 min carousel with 180 children without recharging and usually have around 60% battery left!). They are amazingly consistent, behaving in the same way on every device, so I can practise on one and know what I show the children will be exactly the same when they do it.
  • Our Internet is more stable than I thought it would be. I chose to have some windows devices so that we could least have something on regardless of our broadband status. I needn’t have worried, after a few teething troubles whilst we had fibre installed, it’s never been a problem.
  • The windows tablets were cheap but they aren’t a patch on the chromebooks. Logging into google accounts on them can still take some year 6 children 10 minutes, whereas my entire year 1 cohort can turn on and log in in under 2 mins 30 s. This is due to a couple of factors – the chromebooks turn on in a few seconds, it can take the windows tablets 5-8 minutes just to turn on. The domain name is pre-completed on the chromebooks and the log in is the first screen the children see. On the windows tablets, children must open Chrome then go to classroom to log in. Despite numerous attempts by our technicians, some tablets still don’t open on our default homepage which has a short cut to classroom, adding further steps for the children to complete.
  • I picked up a tip on the google ed tour about asking children to close the lids on their devices when you want to talk to them. Sounds obvious but I’ve introduced it across the school and ‘lids down, eyes forward’ is something everyone knows. Once the children realise their work won’t be lost as Google autosaves everything and that the devices come back on instantly at the page they were working on they soon learn to concentrate on my modelling and we all get on much quicker!
  • The Google Education Group on G+ are fantastically helpful and have responded to my badly worded questions with patience, generosity and clarity. Along with hangouts with the wonderful Tim Bleazard and help on twitter, I am always grateful to have access to and the support of the online teaching community.

The next steps for us are now to embed the use of the devices across the school with our teachers taking up the challenge to use them in class.

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Google Teacher Academy 6 month reflection #GTAUK

Google Certified Teacher

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.

University of Leicester Primary PGCE ICT specialist day #lupgceict

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:

  1. Safe Mode in Youtube (removes comments from all videos)
  2. Google Art Project  (now with collections from 150 museums, stunning quality down to the brush strokes!)
  3. Google search by reading age (filter your search results by basic/intermediate/ advanced reading age)
  4. Much more on Google Search from Catlin Tucker (fellow GTAUK attendee)
  5. 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 credits

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

Reflections on google teacher academy UK 2012 #gtauk

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.

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Blogging at Google Teacher Academy #gtauk

googlepluspage

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).

Simples 😉

(how long go you give me before my head explodes tomorrow?!)

 

Backchannel and notes for #GTAUK : how to get the best from G+?

G+

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 🙂

Update 31/3/12

Plenty of comments over on G+ and I’ve set up a G+ page to see if that is way to collate stuff.

Still can’t believe I’m going to Google Teacher Academy UK #GTAUK

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.