Friday, March 21, 2014

EdTech Team Arizona Summit - Featuring Google for Education - Part I

This is a summary of my experience at the GAFE Summit held this week at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. First off I want to emphasize how great this conference was. I knew that Google was a powerful tool, but had no idea to what extent these tools can impact how teaching and learning could be impacted in the right hands. Now the challenge is to get this information out to anyone willing to listen - especially teachers in Pinal County where I work. This is more an attempt to collect and sift through the information for myself in hopes of making some cohesive and useful information for others, so forgive me if I wander around a bit. Here is a link to the schedule of events which has links to lots of information provided in the sessions. http://az.gafesummit.com/ 
Day 1
Day 1 started off with keynote speaker Jaime Casap (jcasap@google.com, www.google.com/edu/#utm_source=email-sig-jcasap). I honestly don't remember all, or much of, what he said, only that his message was to not be afraid of failing. This also seemed to be a message from several of the presenters at the conference. More about this later. He also talked about the need to adapt and accept that things are different now and so should our classrooms. He spoke about the power teachers have to affect change in the lives of our students saying, "Teachers are the most important people in a kids life." Scary - yet errrr encouraging? After all, who better to effect a student in a positive way than a teacher that is passionate about making change in the world. He also challenged the audience to think about the technology that we had used just that morning. This got me thinking that it is rather hypocritical to not allow students to use the technology that they use in their "real-lives" inside the classroom yet we would not do the same. Technology is a door-way to student motivation and inspiration. The possibilities truly are endless. Unfortunately educators take a hangar-door size opening and restrict it to doggy-door size. In doing-so we inadvertently crush the desire of the students. 
Session 1 - Connecting the More in Google Drive
Cherie Stafford (cstaffordtips@gmail.com, https://sites.google.com/site/edtechtipsaz/) presented how to connect apps through Google Drive and then highlighted some apps. 
http://goo.gl/nFjczf - Tutorial on how to connect apps through Google Drive
http://goo.gl/5QLEXm - Handout on the apps presented along with my notes and links to tutorials for some of the apps. 
I personally like WeVideo and PowToon. I can see the application in the classroom for both of these as ways to 1) present/introduce/hook students 2) have students use to create product as an assessment. There is more information within my notes section and on the tutorials. It was also during this session that I started to see how awesome Google Apps could be for teachers. Through add-ons teachers can push out documents, collect and organize student documents, give feedback to students, and on and on and on....Great stuff already and it's only 11 am on day 1. 

Session 2 - A Beginner's Guide to Google+
I will start this off by saying that 1 month ago if you asked me about Google Apps, Google+, Google Docs or Google __________(fill in the blank) I would have told you that I had heard of it but not much else. I am also pretty new to the Twitter and have started to rely on in it more and more for information, feedback, and idea sharing. I'm starting to become just a bit addicted. I sometimes dream of having a smart phone (yes, I know you are laughing. My wife and I may be the only two people left in America that don't have smart phones. She teaches 2nd grade and most if not all of her students have their own) so that I can keep better track of my Twitter feed. So I am a bit behind but am gaining speed as I roll down the mountain. I even have started to use HooteSuite so I can post to all of my new social networks and stay in contact with my growing PLN.


Anyway, the presenter for this session was Michelle Armstrong (armstrong@rundle.ab.ca, http://google.com/+MichelleArmstrong). I felt right at home as her Canadian accent sang to me and reminded of how some people talk in my hometown in northern Minnesota. She first introduced us to what Google+ is all about and how to use it most efficiently to grow your PLN. Visit my Google+ page http://goo.gl/46LcSX to see my progress. Maybe you can give me some pointers (for instance how do I get I nice handy url like Michelle instead of this https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112921157637300425836/112921157637300425836/posts) Like I said still a rookie but learning none the less. My take away from this session was this is another great way to connect with others that are interested in similar stuff (teaching math, tech integration, outdoorsy stuff, etc.) Here are the links to info. provided by Michelle.


We learned about Circles in Google+ and most awesomely, Hangouts. Certainly will be testing the waters here in the future.
Session 3 - Get More from Your Google Drive with Apps
Monica Martinez (mmartinez@teea.org, edtechteam.com) presented more apps to use in the classroom.
Above is the link to the website where you can find highlighted apps. My favorite from this session is , an app that allows you to take notes on a YouTube video while you view it. Every time you enter a new note, a time stamp is recorded. To return to that point in the video later, all you have to do is click the comment. I can see using this with students in a flipped setting or even putting in questions when having students watch a video. I'm sure there are many other uses that people much smarter than me can think of so please share your ideas too.

Session 4 - Chromebook 101

Chris Bell (chrisbell.pro) provided information on how to operate Chromebooks. This was the first time I took the opportunity to use our office Chromebook extensively. I am really impressed with it. We have the Samsung version which by my estimates seemed to be the most popular by far at the conference. I am really impressed. It did everything I needed it to and was very easy to use after learning a couple of little tricks from Chris. I really want one for myself. The battery lasted most of the day and I was using in constantly from 8:30 in the am until 5:30. I did have to find a place to plug in at about 4. A big step up from our office lap tops which last 2 hours max. I also liked that as soon as I opened it, it was ready to go. No waiting for boot-up and forgetting what note I was going to write or site I was going to visit. Lots of information can be found on Chris's website about Chromebooks and other Google related stuff.

Demo Slam -
A plethoro of information was thrown at us in 4 minute chunks. My favorite was Jim Sills presentation about some of the tools available in Gmail to help avoid getting fired. He included how to enable the "undo" button to take back a sent email and how to create auto reply messages. Very entertaining and a great way to end day 1.
Wow. Only halfway home. I think this will be a 2 part blog.
Enjoy! Connect with me via Twitter or Google+ and make sure to drop some comments.