Dec 09Image by rmom352 via Flickr

I attended the Google Teacher Academy in December 2009 in Washington DC. It was a fantastic two days of learning about the different tools Google has and how to apply them to the classroom. I met some awesome educators from around the country, and one from Canada! The Lead Learners shared their experiences with Google products in their districts, we were treated to excellent instruction on several tools I had not tried, a statement from someone from the Department of Ed and of course the micro kitchen!

Part of the process in becoming a Google Certified Teacher is to create an action plan for implementing the tools in your district. My plan was two-fold 1)plan and implement a training for our UCFSD teachers 2)share the tools with the Wilkes University graduate classes I teach. The WU course began in January and we quickly jumped in to creating a blog using Blogger. Most of the folks had never even read a blog before, so we worked through the process. Each week there was a topic for a blog post. They started slow, but by the end of the semester were very comfortable using Blogger. I strongly recommend it to beginning bloggers, as it is so simple to edit, change templates, add photos an post.

Throughout the semester we moved into other Google tools including, docs, mail, iGoogle, reader and squared. They enjoyed the process and many created lessons to use with their students. The one area where we struggled was using the presentation tool. The assignment was for the class to work in pairs and each pair create 3 pages of a slide show using presentation. I had created a template for them to edit. We discovered that when two people are using the same template page at the same time only one of their work will be saved as it overwrites the other person's work. There was a really healthy discussion about setting up projects and testing things before giving students access. Good lesson learned for all.

My second goal was to create a workshop for our staff. In April 2010 I created the 5 on the Fly - Workshop for teachers sharing 5 Google Tools; GoogleForms, Google Squared, GoogleDocs, Custom Search, iGoogle. We will focus on how these tools can be seamlessly integrated into their classroom or their management of a classroom. The content of which is available HERE.

About a month after the workshop, our tech director decided that we would be going forward with Google Apps for Education for our students. This summer I have been able to use what I learned at the GCT days in Washington DC to prepare our staff for the changes in the fall. We will be implementing GMail for our middle school students and teachers. There have been numerous hours of planning and creating to get ready for when our teachers return at the end of August. My experience at the GTA gave me many tools to be an advocate of this change. The GTA also exposed me to some of the best minds in education around the country. I have followed many of them through their blogs, but now I can call many of them friend. They have been a great source of information for deploying Google in our district and

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

I am grateful for having met them.




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LOGO2.0 part IImage by Ludwig Gatzke via Flickr

There were so many links shared at the DEN Symposium, that I want to be sure that you have them too! Most of these are found from within the Edmodo.com group as well, but I found it easier to see them in this format.
Enjoy!!
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July 17Image by rmom352 via Flickr

Even though most of us were not there at the DEN LC Syposium or the DEN Summer Institute, in Bentley University, we followed the discussions on various ways; Twitter, Edomodo, CoverItLive, Plurk and of course reading the blogs that were posted with tips, websites, videos and photos of the action. The first day Steve Dembo introduced us to using Edmodo to share thoughts, opinions and information that needed to be shared. Not only did the groups do that, but produced several smaller groups for specific information. Here is a link to the notes and group codes for The DEN LC Symposium if you wish to look back at some of the conversaton. So not only was our collaboration side by side, but across the miles as we followed, responded and even made some real face to face friends.
See you all next year!
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Image representing <span class=Image via CrunchBase

Tuesday evening the two guys from Glogster, Andrew and Jim, came to get input from the group about what new features they would like to see. There were questions about connecting and collaboration which we will see in the newer versions of Glogster in about 6 months. Did you know that the product was developed in Prague? Most of us did not either.

You can become a Glogster Ambassador by clicking on the link at the very bottom of the main page. Read through the details carefully and send along your information. In addition to the Ambassador program, Glogster will send you some information, handouts and some previews for the pro version to give away at any training session you deliver.

In addition to the above enhancements, Glogster is in talks with Discovery for some direct connections. This follows their announcement that you can now embed glogs into wikispaces and PBworks. Watch for some announcement about Glogster for iPad as well, it is in progress.

When starting out with Glogster be sure to view the introduction tutorials and if you email the team about an enhancement or feature you think will improve the product, you just might see it in the next release!



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June 26Image by rmom352 via Flickr

Today was filled with unconference sessions set by request of the participants. There were 24 different sessions offered in 4 time slots. My day began with geocaching in the rain with Porter Palmer. She confessed to being new to geocaching, but has a great depth of knowledge and enthusiasm about sharing it with others. We started with a discussion of devices vs iPhone app and decided to go with the Garmin device for this morning's adventure.

Porter placed over 10 caches on this campus for participants to locate during the conference. After learning how to use the Garmin, we set off in search of the first find. There are many types of cache containers and objects to use, but she recommended using the travel bugs from geocaching.com since they offer their services for free and selling items is a source of income for them. It is nice to support this organization in this way. Containers can be the leftover container from Chinese food, to official boxes purchased online.

How would you use this in the classroom? Many ideas were shared including: following directions, scavenger hunts, informational cache, study guide questions at each station, group project at cache like math question and the answer will lead to the next clue, for smaller children you have one or two caches with prizes.

All in all it was a fun walk around this part of campus looking for caches of different types, even if there were a million steps involved!! Thanks Porter.



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<span class=Image by rmom352 via Flickr

Last night we had the pleasure of visiting the office of Peter Reynolds company, FableVision which are located in the Boston Children's Museum on the harbor. The work areas are whimsical as each person has their own collection of toys, books and visuals around their working area. Posters of Peter's artwork adorn the entrance to the offices, along with the numerous awards FableVision as received for software as well as animation productions.

In addition to 18 published books, FableVision has created several animated short films and a new feature film will be out next year. Their website offers many educational tips including a word of the week in a poster format so you can easily print and post in your classroom.

Peter graciously spoke to the group about his inspiration, a middle school math teacher who encouraged Peter to use his doodles to show what he knew about math concepts. He made his first animation at age 12 and never turned back. His latest book "Rose's Garden" is dedicated to this teacher and the story is based upon Rose Kennedy's love of gardening and the new greenway along the harbor of Boston. Each of us received an autographed copy of this book to remind us to inspire, desire and encourage our dreams and the dreams of our students to come to life.




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