My district is really getting moving with Google Apps for Education (GAFE). There is lots of sharing going on, and teachers are students are enrolling in all kinds of courses through Google Classroom. It is important to make sure that you are reading all of your GAFE-account Gmail, but it can be annoying to check another account multiple times per day. Below is a link to short screencast I made using the Google Chrome Browser and the ScreenCastify extension from the Chrome Web Store. I highly recommend you play around with this extension because it gives you a great way to capture and easily share quick tutorials. The videos are stored in my Google Drive, so I can share them with a link just like any other file!
In my new position this year as an Instructional Technology Specialist, I have had a lot of opportunities to continue my professional development in different ways. Even though I might not be able to directly implement new tools or strategies with my own group of students, I want to make sure that I am a helpful resource for the teachers and staff members I work with so that they feel more comfortable trying something new.
Last week, I was able to attend a Day of Discovery put on by Discovery Education at our local Region 10 Education Service Center. I heard that they come to do similar events every year, but unfortunately as a classroom teacher it was hard to secure and plan for a sub on a Friday in October. So I was happy to attend, take notes, and try out some of their new tools and ideas so that I could share them with other teachers who weren’t able to be there in person. I loved Discovery Education as a middle school science teacher, and my current district has subscriptions to the Science TechBook. Streaming was nice, but the TechBook includes virtual labs, interactive reading texts, and assessment pieces I was able to assign to my students.
Some of the highlights of my day included:
– Learning to better search and filter results in the Streaming section. I knew about their videos and high quality images, but I was surprised to see the library also included a lot of content-based songs that included printed lyrics for use in lessons.
– The new Board Builder tool which allows students and teachers to create multimedia digital posters (think Glogster-style), within the Discovery Education site with the ability to link streaming content and personal uploads. I sat in on one session where I had work-time to create my own Board, which I plan to use to help share information about DE features.
– Applying to become part of the DEN Star program – a network of educators that connect and help one another as they use Discovery Education.
The event was free and was a great opportunity to DISCOVER (haha – I crack myself up) better ways to use a piece of technology that my district already has. If your district uses Discovery Ed, I would recommend that you attend a similar event if you can.
If you’re not already using Remind (formerly known as Remind101) in your classroom, I would highly suggest that you check it out before writing your back to school welcome letters. Remind is a great system that allows teachers to send messages to whole classes or small groups of students and parents via text or email. Through the website or mobile app, teachers can create an account and invite students and their families to sign-up without either group being able to see anyone’s personal cell phone numbers. I liked how I could see the names of my message recipients, but no one had to deal with the privacy issues of visible personal contact information.
In the past year, Remind has added cool features like the ability to send messages to smaller subgroups or attach photos or documents directly to the text message. I also loved that I had the ability to draft and schedule messages to be delivered at a future date/time, so I wouldn’t end up forgetting to send a message while I cooked dinner or was working out at the YMCA. Tons of teachers and coaches are using Remind in new ways, and I know they like to hear feedback about how their program is working.
I just got my preview to the new Google Classroom, and it looks awesome! I’ve just started playing around with it since it was enabled on our district Google Apps for Education environment – but this is going to make life so much easier for teachers and students. Check out the video above to get an idea of how powerful it will be. I believe the plan is to open it up to all GAFE users by September, but it still might be worth trying to sign up for a preview if you’d like to get a look at it before then.
So the spring and end of the school year were super busy, as they always seem to be. I fell behind on blogging, but here I am again. Highlights of some exciting things that have been happening lately…
– My Genius Hour presentation at the Region 10 Digital Fluency Conference went great! I was a little nervous when my session room was filled to the brim, but so excited when I found out most of my audience was classroom teachers. Even though I was sure everyone would already know about all of my ideas and cool discoveries – but I found out I was definitely able to share some new information. And my audience was able to share and teach me some new things, so I would call the day a success. If you’d like to view my presentation, click here.
– The school year ended, and I finished my 4th year as a classroom teacher. I enjoyed trying things out at a new campus in a new district this year, and I loved meeting a new group of kids. My experiences will be very different next year, however, as I will be moving into a full-time position as an instructional technology specialist. I will be housed in my district’s professional development center, and I will regularly go out to junior high campuses to help support teachers. I think my new position will be rewarding and challenging, but very different from what I have been used to before.
– Right now, even though I have only been out of school for 4 days, I am currently back at it and attending the Ed Tech Team Texas Google Apps for Education Summit. For 2 days, I have been learning and practicing all kinds of interesting things about Google. Some of my favorite presentations so far have been on maximizing the benefits from Google Chrome and student ePortfolios – I’ll make sure to share some notes and cool ideas after the conference.
I also hope to get some time this summer to decompress, research some new tools, and enjoy time with my daughter before she starts kindergarten. Hope you are able to enjoy your break, too!
One of the things that I am asked to help teachers and students with most is Google Apps for Education (GAFE). I am proud to be part of a district that is utilizing this tool, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about how powerful it is. It can also sometimes seem overwhelming to new users, and with features being added all the time, I am constantly learning and trying new things, too.
Below are a few of my favorite resources for users of all levels on how to make Google Apps for Education work for you. The tutorials and help sections straight from Google are extremely helpful, but sometimes it’s nice to have information in multiple formats/styles. Please let me know if you’ve got others that I can share with my teachers!