Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Flipping PD with Blendspace

All year I have been waiting for the right opportunity to flip professional development for the teachers.  I wanted to create an experience that would benefit the various levels of knowledge within the teaching staff.  It needed to be an experience that would be inspiring and positive so they would be willing to take risks and flip learning experiences they create for students.  We as adult learners have done so much around blended learning and Google Apps for Education via the typical PD presentations.   It was time for me to take all my learning and transform the way I plan and implement PD.  The focus would be Google Classroom (GC).

Enter the world called Blendspace. This platform for flipped opportunities allows you personalize learning with videos, images, various presentation platforms from Powerpoint to Prezi, google applications, documents, etc...  Learners can begin anywhere in the pathway depending on the foundational knowledge.

The pathway I created provided a brief introductory prezi which targets the benefits of Google Classroom.  This introduction was important because not all students will have 1:1 devices next year but GC can be relevant as long as there is some access to technology.   Then teachers could moved to part two and watch a brief overview of GC.  After part two, the pathway depended on how a teacher learns.  For learners who need direct instruction they could watch part three but if a teacher wanted a holistic overview and then play around with the tool, they could move right to part four.   Part five was noted that all had to complete because it brought them through a "joining a class" experience.  For this segment, I used a Google Slide that provided teachers step by step instructions with visuals for joining a class, the CMS Faculty page.

We will use this GC for future PD opportunities, agenda postings, calendars, announcements, etc...  It will be the virtual CMS faculty meeting site!  Very exciting! The last few parts of the pathway were for those who wanted to go further in their own learning.

Check it out and hopefully you learned something about Blendspace and Classroom!

Friday, May 1, 2015

To think...

"Come on, ride the train, woo woo, hey, ride it, woo woo.  Come on, ride the train. It's the Choo Choo, ride it, woo woo."

I am off track, no pun intended.  The GAFE train continued on at CMS for teachers as they dug deeper into Google Apps for Education.  In March, teachers chose a playlist to follow independently or with a colleague.  A tool we used was Blendspace, which allows you to personalize learning.  Teachers can organize resources such as video tutorials and assignments.  You can have students take assessments and track their progress.  This playlist along with other playlist models provide differentiated learning opportunities and recognizes pace too.

Playlist options teachers could explore were Docs, Presentation, Forms, and Spreadsheets.  These four Google apps are the foundation for changing the way we interact with each other as a staff and will inform the learning experiences we provide for students.  Through this PD teachers learned how to use the apps but also experienced being a student in a digital learning environment.  Shout out to +Jessica Geremia for creating this experience.

CHOICE is the theme of the year because it is so important that we emphasize choice for students. We provided a choice learning environment that recognizes learning styles, pace, and depths of knowledge.  This work continued in April.  Model Educators provided a series of workshop that teachers could choose learn about as thinking about using technology as the third layer to enhancing teaching and learning.

Offerings included a Google Presentations.  How can a teacher use slides to enhance students in classroom individually, in partners, or in small groups?
Another session was about the use of Padlet.  Wow, this is an amazing virtual bulletin board that has various uses in a classroom from posting comments to to a dilemma, brainstorming ideas to write about, creating lists, posting links that need to be shared, posting information for others to note, etc...

A third offering focused on Google Cultural Institute.  This amazing resource allows teachers and students to "discover exhibits and collections from museums and archives all around the world. Explore cultural treasures in extraordinary detail, from hidden gems to masterpieces." Talk about enhancing the humanities.

To think that we have only learned about probably less than 1% of the technology resources in the world.  To think that this less than 1% will make us so much better.  To think about the types of masterpieces teachers will be creating because of the little we know and what we will know more about!  It is a fascinating time in education. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

All aboard...

The GAFE train is running smoothly through the middle school unlike the MBTA these days throughout the Boston area due to the incredible amounts of snow. Poor Boston!

Photo Credit: Boston Globe - Matthew Lee

The GAFE train image displayed above was tweeted out by Sylvia Duckworth.  As our district technology fellow and I were brainstorming how to roll out Google Apps for Education we came across this image, which inspired our direction and vision.  We wanted to test drive this train prior to implementing school-wide professional development to ensure it was the right trip for us.  We took a road trip to another Rhode Island middle school that uses Google Classroom and Apps for Education.   Originally, the thinking was to provide break out sessions for the first four stops on the GAFE train. After visiting Cole MS we learned so much more about Drive that we needed to dedicate one entire professional development to it and differentiate it based on the various knowledge levels in the building.  Stops 101, 102, and 103 were developed, which all focused on Drive for beginners to native users.  Check out the three stop descriptions on the Google form, http://goo.gl/forms/KlngBGrw7c, which was sent out for teachers to sign up for one of the stops.

It was critical that the vision of GAFE be communicated so that it encouraged teacher autonomy, aligned with moonshot thinking, and made teaching and learning more efficient and effective.  Google For Work’s video did just that so it was presented before the train stop sessions.  Check it out here:

All aboard!  Teachers and Teacher Assistants exited the GAFE train at their stops. Throughout the various sessions teachers were navigating through the most basic functions of Drive with the support of a tutorial video used in Stop 101 to thinking about ideas on how to incorporate it into their lessons at Stop 102.  Stop 102 teachers were asked, how do you imagine Google Apps for Education? Responses ranged from, “peer revision opportunities, real time feedback during writing sessions to multiple students at the same time, revising and creating assessments, and surveys/ formative assessment.”  These are just some of the few opportunities we explored, which is probably less than one percent of what GAFE can offer to the classroom experience. 
I am looking forward to where the GAFE train brings us in March and hopefully the MBTA will be back to 100% business by then and flowers will be popping out of the ground!  I can dream…

Monday, December 1, 2014

Social Media: The New Professional Development

During the infancy stages of Twitter no one would have ever guessed that it, along with other social media platforms, would become the New Professional Development.  It truly is the way to go for anyone to personalize his or her own learning. 

This professional development had two purposes: 1. To show teachers how social media can influence their professional lives and 2. To show teachers how it can influence their students learning. 

Side note: Before planning the session I wanted to model the use of new technology for teachers.  I decided to use Keynote presentation.  Not only did I model the use of this application for Macs, but I also, unintentionally, became an example of bombing a presentation just after I showed a spoof on presentations by growinleaders.com (see below).   If anything, I got there attention and they realized learning comes out of struggle, especially if you are using technology.

Back to the New Professional Development: I was able to walk teachers through a slideshare called, Ten Reasons Why Teachers UseTwitter by Mike Paul, Teacher, EdTech Consultant, and CEO of PikeMallTech.com.  I actually found this resource while participating in an #edchat.  It was an opportunity for me to show teachers how to use it to gain resources and information pertinent to their work.  Next, I shared some of my tweets with experts in the field as a way to show how Twitter can build and strengthen networks.  It gives any teacher the ability to engage in real discussions with real experts in any field from technology to social studies to assessment.  Twitter is give and take.  It allows you to take resources but you should also share what you do so you are helping others.   


Finally, if Twitter can enhance the work of a teacher then it can do the same for students.  Students can tap into experts as they research, create partnerships with organizations, meet other students with similar interests, and follow colleges that may be of interest to them.  These are just some of the few ways it can make their educational experience stronger. 

Overall, the audience of teachers seemed excited and scared.  Teachers were excited to see a new possibility with Twitter.  Teachers were scared because it was a world they were not too sure they were ready for but they knew it is something they need to do so they can be relevant.  Students need their teachers to be relevant, to be on the same page as them when it comes to technology use. 

A piece of good advice for beginners and gaining comfort with social media such as Twitter from our principal is to try following a field based on a hobby you enjoy.  Taste it first with something fun then take it to another level and begin personalizing your growth. 

Check out some of the learning on twitter by going to #cmscharged