Big News for Google Classroom!

The Google for Education blog announced some awesome news for Google Classroom today. The most important of which is multiple teachers in each class!

Teach together: Whether it’s a substitute, a teacher’s aide or a department chair, almost every teacher and professor is supported by other educators. So starting today, you can have multiple teachers in a Classroom class. To try it out, just go to your class’s About page and click “Invite teacher.” Additional teachers can do almost everything the primary teacher can do: they can create assignments or announcements, view and grade student submissions, participate in the comments on the class “stream,” invite students and even get email notifications – everything except delete the class.”

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This is great news for co-teachers, in-class support, substitutes and any classroom arrangements that have multiple teachers. Enjoy!

Google+ Photos Coming to Google Drive

This is such great news! According to the Google Apps Updates blog you will now be able to access your Google+ photos from Drive.

“They will appear in a new menu item called Google Photos, and can be shared, moved, and renamed like any other Drive file.”

For those of you that have your mobile devices set to automatically back up photos and video to Google+, this is awesome!

This should be available in your Gmail account now, and in your GAFE account soon.

Awesome Updates to Google Classroom

A few updates to Google Classroom I thought I would share (read their blog post for additional information):

1. Custom Themes – Add your own header images and choose from an additional 18 new images and 30 pattern themes.

2. Updates to Mobile Apps including:

  • Students and teachers can now view the About page in the mobile app for quick access to their class materials and resources
  • On iOS, students can now add images, videos, and any other files to assignments from other apps
  • Your favorite emoji are now available on the Android app [insert smiley face here]
  • We’ve made overall changes that will increase the speed of the app’s performance, so you can get your work done even faster

3. I wanted to be able to say it was so, but I can only ask…..Google – Please, please add the ability to utilize co-teachers in our Google Classrooms!

Let’s Talk About Attrition Rates at UnConferences


Attrition
I’ve been helping to run UnConferences since way back in 2009 when Liz Davis and I organized the inaugural EdubloggerCon East at BLC. I’ve since helped to organize that conference for three years, a TeachMeetNJ, EdCamp Common Core and two EdCamp Leaderships.

Running an unconference is not rocket science, but it is a commitment of time and effort. I’m happy to do it. I welcome the opportunity to exchange information and ideas in an informal setting. I’m even happy to go to vendors asking for money to pay for food and door prizes.

Here’s my concern:

Is 50% attrition acceptable?

Why do we accept only half of registrants on a free event showing up as a good turnout?

For planning purposes the organizing committee must plan for:

  • enough space
  • enough food
  • give-aways
  • sponsors

Honestly, the time and efforts donated by the organizers is the same whether it’s 200 people or 400, but I hate to see the wasted food, that could have fed some local hungry families. I hate to see the vendors spend the money on the wasted food when they could have donated equipment or supplies to a local classroom in need. I hate to see the organizers stress over how many people will ACTUALLY show up and whether there is enough space and food for them.

So, why do I bring this up now after four years of hosting these events? 

I have seen the attrition rates creeping up over the years. Back in 2009, almost everyone that registered for a free event would show as the concept was such a novelty. Over the next couple of years, we would plan for 30% of folks that had “bought” tickets not showing. Then, last summer I planned for 50% attrition. But, last Monday, for Edcamp Leadership, we had only 25% of registrants show. Believe me, we all had a fantastic day, but it was disappointing.

What’s the plan? Do organizing committees continue to guesstimate? Or do we establish some unwritten rules about only registering for something that you are committing to attend. Please share your thoughts.

Forming Communities of Practice

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I work with a great team here at the SGEI.  With the end of the academic year closing in on us, we have spent some time re-envisioning how we would like to address the Common Core. Since we view learning and teaching as a process of collaboration, creativity and sharing, our team has decided to form Common Core Communities of Practice.

These CoPs will focus on grassroots improvement of practice and provide a collaborative onsite/virtual workspace for teachers to connect instructional practices and inspire creative implementation, gain in-depth knowledge and take immediate action steps to enhance learning and teaching.

It’s all going to begin with a conference we have designed for August 8. The Kean Institute for the Common Core Statewide Teacher Conference will provide a professional learning experience designed for NJ teachers by NJ teachers. The day will start with a presentation by Lauren Marrocco, 2013 NJ State Teacher of the Year and continue with breakout sessions designed and facilitated by classroom practitioners. 

Please consider joining us not only for the conference on August 8, but for the Saturday morning CoP gatherings