What did you do at work today?

My daughters get confused sometimes about what I actually teach. Even though they’ve been to my office, they know sometimes I’m in a school teaching. They know I also go to school every Tuesday night. So they never quite know how to ask me about my day. Sometimes they ask me how work was, sometimes how school was and more recently they have caught on a bit and have started asking me what age the people I worked with that day were. But that can get tricky too.

This week was long. But amazing.oms_wordpress

Monday AM – I spent my morning here working with middle school students and their teachers on video podcasting. Last year I had helped their wonderful Technology Coordinator, Linda Epps, with the list of software and hardware she would need to purchase to start video podcasting with some of the classes in the school. The grant that Ms. Epps wrote included, as we discussed, professional development for the teachers involved, including in-class coaching with the students. So, on Monday, as part of the final phase we storyboarded, recorded, found podsafe music and made the most of the 60 minute block. I saw four classes that day. One ELL, one math, one reading and one writing. By the end of the day we had established a plan for my return that coming Friday.

schwagMonday PM – I left straight from the school and went into New York to check into The Pod Hotel. From there I took the subway to Google.  Did you know that the footprint of the New York office is larger than 2 football fields? Anyway, I arrived between Eighth and Ninth avenues and 15th and 16th streets to meet with Mark Wagner, Cristin Frodella and Allison Merrick to help set of for the Google Teacher Academy the next day. We filled schwag bags, put out the teacher binders and did anyhting and everything to make sure that we were ready for the 59 prospective GCTS.

Monday 8PM – dinner with all above and the rest of the lead learners. We had a fantastic dinner and it was great to catch up with old friends and have a chance to get a acquainted with new ones.

The Night Before the GTA
The Night Before the GTA

Tuesday 7AM – 9:30PM Google Teacher Academy – It flew by. Before I knew it, the day was over. Each participant went through 6 tech tools rotations, 3 inspiring ideas, a tour of the Google offices, presentations by Cristin Frodella and Mark Wagner with regards to GCT responsibilities and details about Google Apps Education Edition as well as group activities, Office Hours with the Lead Learners and of course trips to the micro kitchens.

Me & Erica Hartman
Me & Erica Hartman
Me and Kathy Schrock
Me and Kathy Schrock
Me and Peggy Sheehy
Me and Peggy Sheehy

Wednesday AMAmerican Education Week – I’m lucky that I can work from home occasionally. I try to once a week to catch up on phone calls and e-mails and to be able to participate in my children’s education. On Wednesday morning from 9:35-10:20, parents of first grade students in my daughter’s school were invited to come in and observe a lesson. I was so impressed with my daughter’s teacher. She kept the students engaged and she obviously had varying levels of abilities in the room and worked her way around during the lesson to try to meet all of their needs. She was patient and nurturing and everything that my husband and I had been hoping for in a first grade teacher for our daughter. My daughter and I both enjoyed having each other there. My visit was extended when her Speech teacher came to get her and one of her classmates for their twice-weekly session. Bonus for me – an additional 40 minutes of school time.  I followed the small group of three as they stopped to pick up two additional students and continued with them as they made their way to a small classroom (or closet). I appreciated the extra time with my little one and look forward to speaking with both of the teachers at parent-teacher conferences.
From Speech I was off to the Scholastic Book Fair and then a quick meeting with the building Principal to talk about the needs of the teachers involved in the Center’s 21st Century Learning Initiative.

Wednesday PM – E-mail, Google Reader, returning phone calls and prep for Thursday PM and Friday.

Thursday AM – I usually get to the my office on campus once a week. If I’m there a second time, it’s usually because I’m teaching a workshop in our lab.   We had a quick meeting Thursday morning, one of consultants came in to borrow some software from me to install on her laptop (it was a legal install) and I tried to go through my snail mail. Thursday was also the Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Rutgers Faculty Dining Hall. So at 12:30, I headed over there with my colleagues and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

Thursday PM – The 4th in a series of 6 after-school academies at a local (to my house, not to Rutgers) elementary school. At the superintendent’s request, I designed a series of 90 minute workshops to be held after school. One set was for the middle and high school teachers and another for the K-5 buildings. Today, I was excited as the teachers were coming prepared with pre-recorded audio to edit in Audacity and then upload to their Schoolwires pages. I knew the group of 10 or so would come in ready to work as they had been so enthusiastic the weeks prior and I had really enjoyed working with them. I was right. They all left that day with something published.

Thursday 7:30PM – I didn’t think my week could get any better, but it did. For an hour Thursday evening,

Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes
Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes

Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes and Alice Barr interviewed me on EdTechTalk. Their Seedlings show airs every Thursday night from 7:30-8:30. I usually listen to it on my iTouch, since that’s when I’m putting the kids to bed, but this time I listened live.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them. I hadn’t had the opportunity since BLC08. But I had spoken with Alice and Cheryl at the Google Teacher Academy on Tuesday and we spent some time going through the different events of the day. We also spoke some about Universal Design for Learning and how my Center has been working with some local school districts to bring UDL into NJ. I’m honored that Bob, Cheryl and Alice asked me to join them Thursday evening on Seedlings. I hope they’ll consider asking me back.

Friday – I traveled back to Orange Middle School. I worked with students and their teachers for four 80-minute blocks. The classes were all very different. I think the first may have been my favorite as the teacher was actually not there. I had known ahead of time that he was going to be out of the building, but I had wanted to make sure that were able to finish the project, so had offered to work with the students anyway. Did I mention that over half of them did not speak English? I had a great time. They were so welcoming. They were happy to have someone come in who wanted to work with them. I had a webcam with me and we were using the SMARTBoard and the SMART Recorder and they had a blast. We had to do more takes than usual, most likely because of the pronunciation issues, but other than that, I didn’t notice the language barrier. I modeled everything for them and they followed my lead. They were amazing.
The second and third classes were math and reading and we mostly edited. The filming had been done when I was in earlier in the week. But the students were amazed at how easy it was to mute sound, edit out bloopers and add credits to movies.
The last block was a writing class. The students had all written letters to President-Elect Obama and were filming the last of them as I walked in. I sat down with a few of them and modeled how to convert the videos once downloaded from the video camera and then we started bringing them into Windows Movie Maker. From there they really didn’t seem to need me. I was so happy to see that the students were ready to take on projects like this and that the teachers would be able to continue with their plans as the students would be able to implement them.

By the way, my youngest daughter is in the kitchen as I write this asking what grade I teach. My husband is trying to answer her. She’s five.

I can only hope that every week is as rewarding as this one has been. I consider myself very lucky.

12 thoughts on “What did you do at work today?

  1. Wow Lisa! You are doing some amazing things. I listened to your interview on Seedlings, sorry I couldn’t be there live, and you were awesome. You have such great things to share. Your girls might not understand what you do right now, but when they are older, they are going to be so proud of their mom. You rock.

  2. Lisa,
    I thought I was a busy person with four kids and working all the time, but I think you take the cake. It was evident from meeting you at GTA that you are a positive enthusiastic agent for change…and an engaging trainer. I look forward to learning more from you here and on twitter! 🙂

  3. Thanks, Liz. Can you imagine the conversation my two kids would have with your two? That is something we would have to record. 🙂

    Melanie – Four kids – my hat is off to you! It was a pleasure meeting you in NY. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better in the GCT Group.


  4. Wow! What a tremendous week! You have impacted so many people with your positive and lively sessions! I think your girls are learning about the 21st century teacher. It’s no longer about being in one classroom. Thanks again for coming on the SEEDlings show! Your enthusiasm was evident all through the hour. Thanks for sharing the wealth of knowledge you have.

  5. Alice – I had a great time chatting with all of you. Yesterday I DM’d Bob the link to the UDL4All Ning. I neglected to mention it on the SEEDlings show. So, I’ll add it here for anyone who is interested in continuing the conversation about Universal Design for Learning – please join us at http://udl4all.ning.com/

  6. hwjohnson says:


    I have missed seeing you. I am so proud of all that you are doing. The Google Academy was lucky to have you in their midst. I can’t wait to listen to your interview. Thanks to all of the other working parents for chiming in their support. I really need to be reminded that we can’t do it all, but we can all do something!

  7. Thanks for your support Heather! I have missed seeing you as well, but I have been following what you’ve been doing. Let’s plan a Skype and catch up over more than just 140 characters. BTW – My girls aren’t babies any more – I don’t know how YOU do it!

  8. Lisa!

    What an incredible week! Imagine all the lives you touched. Can you even count them all? Truly inspiring! Like the saying goes, if you want something done, give the job to a busy person – I’d add – a busy working mother of two! Holy moly!

    Other than the time with your daughter (which should win hands down, lol), what was your favorite for the week? Working with the students? Helping lead the Google Teacher Academy? Something else?

    Wish you were closer – I’d love to see you in action!

    Keep up the great work!


  9. Thanks for your comments Kevin – and I’m very excited that we’ll see each other at Educon 2.1!!
    Second to the time with my daughter would have to be the GTA. But any other week it would have been working with the kids, because I spend more time with teachers than students. No, wait – was it the SEEDlings show with Alice, Cheryl and Bob? I don’t know- it was an AMAZING week. 🙂

  10. Marvin Goldin says:


    Unbelievable. This is my 1st and probably the last time on a blog. As you may recall I was one of the first to program for the financial industry on Apple and IBM PCs back in the early 80’s. You and your associates live in a different world. Teaching this generation how to communicate is absolutely astounding to me. I could not begin to understand all the software and versatility it offers. What you are doing and the way you are doing it makes me so proud. Maybe, just maybe, your decision to leave me in business for teaching was the right one for you.

    Your Dad

  11. Jennifer Zimmerman says:

    It was inspiring to read about the week you had in November…I hope I am taking advantage of all you have to offer. I want to do so much more.
    Thank you for your incredible enthusiasm!

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