I really thought that my Aha! Moment regarding the reload was going to be that it was worth all the time it took to help plan it. During the months leading up to the Google Teacher Academy Reload for the 2nd Cohort I came to know Cristin Frodella, Product Marketing Manager, Apps – Education Edition, Google a little more as she turned down some of my ideas for sessions. My mind went crazy with making sure the Cohort was kept up to date, that the Agenda was populated with the resources from the presenters I had asked to share that day. There was so much to be packed into 2/27/09, yet plenty of time for the educators to socialize and network with each other.
There were countless moments during the day that could have counted as my Aha Moment.
It wasn’t the fact that the Google Teacher Academy is a wonderful opportunity and continues to be fulfilling as I already knew that or I wouldn’t have offered to help organize the day.
It’s not the experience of going to the Google building in NY. We joke about the micro kitchens, game room and the services that go along with being employed by Google, but the most enticing element of being there is the level of energy. I think I already knew that. I just needed a reminder. (I could take another reminder anytime.)
And then the presentations that I had seen ahead of time came to life. I thought for sure that these would contain my Aha! Moment as each contained a piece of knowledge that captured my interest – too many to list here.
It wasn’t that Nancy Sharoff aka Laelia Laval wore purple hair in real life to match her purple hair in Second Life or that 17 GCTs completed this Google Form during the 30 minute demonstration to either be a Buddy in SL or that they wanted a Buddy in SL to help build the presence of GCTs in the virtual world.
It was the Web 2.0 Smackdown. Just when I thought everyone was completely exhausted and that their brains were on overload and that I had kind of ruined the mood of the room with a failed attempt at leading a question and answer period using Google Moderator, I announced the Smackdown. I wasn’t sure it was going to go well. I figured there were three things working against a successful Smackdown:
Comments from the attendees that they were unprepared as they were unaware this type of activity was going to happen at the Reload.
The Web 2.0 Smackdown was scheduled at the end of a rather long day.
What I thought was a bad feeling in the air due to a failed attempt to use a piece of technology I was not that familiar with. (But hey, who knew I was leading the day? I was only supposed to HELP!)
Here is a list of the tools that were demonstrated. They weren’t all Web 2.0, but it wasn’t about that, it was about sharing tools that we liked and we wanted to share with our GCT colleagues. Even Barry Bachenheimer who had been fighting laryngitis all day wanted a second turn. But we had to bring the day to a close.
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.
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.
Monday 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.
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.
Wednesday AM – American 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,
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.
The New York City Google Teacher Academy is this Tuesday, November 18. Though a large percentage of attendees are from the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia area, many are also coming from Florida, Maine, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Kentucky, to name a few.
I’ve added some additional Google Sites to the list of exemplar Sites in my Tech Tools rotation since the Chicago GTA. There are some that I removed. The only reason for that was because their documents were not public, so the attendees at the Academy could not view them. Here’s my presentation and the resources I will be sharing.
Kathy Schrock is also presenting on Sites. I LOVE the title of her Inspiring Idea: “Ex-SITE-ing Google Sites for the Classroom”. Kathy will be talking about how Nauset Public Schools are using Google Sites to improve teaching and learning.
I’m excited to pass along the news that the Google Teacher Academy is returning to New York City on November 18. Applications are due October 10.I’m truly honored and excited to be leaving today for the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago where I will be presenting on Google Sites.
I get the impression from the number of people who expressed interest at the NJECC meeting this past Friday that competition is going to be fierce! Google only accepts 50 teachers in each cohort, so take a look at my friend, and fellow GCT, Kevin Jarrett‘s post for some tips on how to apply. (BTW – I also posted the announcement on NJECC’s Blog.)
Below is the official announcement and invitation to apply:
We are pleased to announce that another round of Google’s FREE training program for K-12 educators is coming to The Big Apple! Outstanding educators from around the world are encouraged to apply for the Google Teacher Academy taking place on Tuesday November 18, 2008.
The GTA is an intensive, one-day event (8:30am-7:30pm) where participants get hands-on experience with Google’s free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies, collaborate with exceptional educators, and immerse themselves in an innovative corporate environment. Upon completion, GTA participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other K-12 educators in their local region.
50 outstanding educators from around the world will be selected to attend the GTA based on their passion for teaching, their experience as leaders, and their use of technology in K-12 settings. Each applicant is REQUIRED to produce and submit an original one-minute video on either of the following topics: “Motivation and Learning” or “Classroom Innovation.” Applications for the event in New York City are due on October 10, 2008. If possible, please use Google Video or YouTube to post these original videos. Participants must provide their own travel, and if necessary, their own lodging. Though we will give preference to K-12 educators within a 90-minute local commute of an Academy event, anyone may apply.
The GTAs have been a wonderful experience for everyone involved, with 97% of all attendees rating the GTA as “outstanding.”
Here are a few quotes from GTA participants:
“The academy was everything I hoped for and more! I can’t wait to plan out ways to use the tools we learned about, to share my experiences with my colleagues and to re-connect with the other academy participants!”
“The focus on innovation in education, and not just about the tools, was right on target.”
“I appreciate the opportunity to be connected to a group of educators that are passionate about preparing students for the 21st century. I feel inspired and able to meet the challenges that lie ahead!”
“Until now, I had never attended a conference where I was so engaged and loving every minute of it.”
“This was easily the most important professional development experience I have ever had as an educator. World-class tools demonstrated by world-class people at a world-class facility. THANK YOU!”
“I love [the Google Certified Teacher community] for the ideas and inspiration that comes flowing to and from it…folks share professional development strategies (technology or otherwise) that have worked. It’s nice to have a variety of ways to assist others and having that variety also provides spice for those of us responsible for doing the providing.”
Feel free to send any questions to “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and please spread the word to anyone who may be interested in joining us.