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Going Google At Home, A Reflection of my GTA Video Process

Going Google At Home, A Reflection of my GTA Video Process

For the past week, I’ve been trying to brainstorm my GTA video and thinking about how to best tell a story in 1 minute. I sat down and wrote a script, recorded a movenote and sent it to a colleague. It was still very “vanilla” to me meaning that it sounded more “teacher voice” instead of conversational. It’s like I was reading what I wanted people to hear instead of saying what I believed in my heart…if that makes sense. I hate talking in my “teacher voice” because it can often come across as “plastic” and I’m definitely not fake.

The thing is… we can all attest to the tools that we use in the classroom. We can talk about how we train teachers. We can talk about how we use the suite of Google Apps. We’ll throw in words about Docs, blogger, groups, google+, chrome, chromebooks and even youtube. However, can we attest to the impact that these tools are having at home. How are kids really using them in their world after the bell rings?

I took a step back from my “fake cue card read video” and looked at the kid right in front of me. For months, I’ve shared and talked about my nephew and his puppets. He’s not in a google school. Heck they can’t even use “google search” but he’s definitely a “google kid” meaning that the apps are a part of him. As I was coming home to excitedly talk about what we were doing and sharing…he was learning. He picked up on tools through conversation and watching me work. He learned about tools as he needed to accomplish a goal and sometimes he’s even taught me a thing or two.

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 6.12.29 AMEverything that he has learned has come from a google tool. I’ve watched him take a flat sheet of foam, design a pattern and give it curves. I’ve watched him watch youtube videos for hours as he honed in on his techniques. He’s using docs to write scripts for his videos and sharing them with me to gain feedback. He’s blogging using blogger. He even makes google forms in order to collect data on his puppet types as people request them. Last week, he learned about spreadsheets and now maintains one where he’s keeping track of his savings in order to purchase a few Axtell puppets. He is 9 and if he is owning these tools as they relate to his normal life, I can only imagine what our kids are doing when they go home.

How we use technology shouldn’t be some abnormal event but should be a part of our “normal” just like it is for him.

The same rules apply to our kids in our classrooms and that is what our kids are exposed to as we integrate with google apps.

In the past, I didn’t apply to GTA because I honestly didn’t “get” it. I wasn’t in a google apps district and I wasn’t effectively using these tools. Yes, I am all about community, learning and growth but I also have to believe in the power of the purpose.

It seems only fitting that at this stage, while I was thinking through ideas, they were right in front of me all along.

No, I’m not going to talk about Braeden but I’m a storyteller and through him, I “feel” the story and that’s important.

Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Share and Borrow Each Other’s Stuff

Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Share and Borrow Each Other’s Stuff

Yesterday I taught what was supposed to be an intro session to google forms in my school district. I wasn’t scheduled to teach but a peer took sick and of course I volunteered to teach the class. I’ve taught google forms quite a bit so teaching on the fly wasn’t that big of a deal. Typically when I teach a class, I pre-send resources to attendees. This can be anything from a video to simple “getting started” instructions. In the case of this course, I went to the google forms article below written by Beth Still for which really is a brilliantly thorough guide for those getting started.
Google Forms

Sharing resources such as this actually help to accomplish three other intended yet unintended goals.

1. I get to provide my teachers with another way of learning…a new resource or blog post.

2. I get to share a new person to learn from socially. In this case, it was Beth Still.

3. When teachers have tools like this ahead of time, they actually spend the time going through them which save time during sessions as I did not have to repeat basic information.

I believe wholeheartedly in the power of social learning and sharing from my peers gives me room to communicate that. In addition, I did not have to recreate the wheel on a resource as it was already done. It’s important that we do this as it communicates to teachers about the power of sharing. I don’t “re-brand” the work of my peers as my own. Teachers need to know that there are other resources out there for anything that they want to learn.

It was great seeing teachers walk in, get on their computers and pull that resource up. Quite a few of them printed it and were not just making new forms but were embellishing the ones that they started earlier in the day. My session was no longer a “basics” but a “What do I do now to apply this knowledge” session which meant that we were able to spend time on add-ons like Flubaroo and Autocrat which we would not have gotten to otherwise.

I owe a huge thank you to Beth Still because her sharing made my session an amazing learning event and our teachers were pretty ecstatic! If you have not connected with Beth, you should!

Beth Still (BethStill) on Twitter

The latest from Beth Still (@BethStill). Wife & mom – Nebraskan – Founder ISTE Newbie project – Difference maker – Love to empower teachers and students.

Sharing is an important part of what we do. Truthfully, there are so many new tools out that one cannot possibly be the expert of them all. Whether admitted or not, we are all sharing a piece of someone else. I believe that it’s equally important to say, “I didn’t create this, but this person did and it’s amazing” as it is to say, “I created this for you to use.” because both of those statements lend themselves to… “You can create this too”…which is where we should be aiming to be.

Helping Kids Deal In Spite of Life and Baggage

Helping Kids Deal In Spite of Life and Baggage

There are moments when it’s difficult for me to have certain edu conversations. I would love to drown my thoughts in twitter chat hoopla but it’s not happening…not today. Today, I get to deal with real life and not to say that what we discuss in the edu realm isn’t real…but this is the stuff that we never discuss…the real stuff that children face when they leave our schools.

Yesterday, I watched a young single mother clutch her children as her belongings sat on the side of the street of the home that she could no longer afford. We stopped to help them pack and move them to her grandparent’s home. I did not know this young lady nor did I know her children but I knew the pain in their eyes all too well. Her babies were 5, 6 and 11 years old and this is the memory that they will carry with them…their things on the side of the road. By the way, they will all walk into a classroom Monday morning with these memories…their baggage.

We don’t know what kids go home to. We know what they allow us to see. We think we know but we really have no idea.

Even when we do know, some issues are out of our reach yet the children that deal with them daily are well within our hold. I’m not talking about situations where children are in danger. I’m talking about those moments when parents are doing all that they can…yet life for them is just much more difficult than most.

It’s hard to get a kid to care about math when he’s worried about where he’s going to lay his head at night. It’s hard to get a kid to care about science when his only meal, which happens to be at school, was missed because the cafeteria ran out of food.

For older kids, especially those accustomed to struggle, it’s even harder to get them to envision a life beyond high school where they would leave their parents to seek higher education, because through all of the struggle they just want to stay and help at home…which is typically what occurs.

On a personal note, it has been an incredibly difficult 8.5 months watching my sister struggle to make ends meet while dealing with the disruption of her family. What I could do is what I did. We make sure that the 9 year old is ok…that he has an outlet to create and deal…that he can still see the light through darkness. His puppets give him that.

Today, as I sit and watch him dance around and sing “The Circle of Life”, ironically in spite of life…I know that in doing all that we can do, we are doing as we should.

Now, we just have to find a way to make sure that the rest of these kids have this kind of access to “light in life” too.

How We Used TACKK To Share Braeden’s Puppet Story

How We Used TACKK To Share Braeden’s Puppet Story

It may have been two weeks ago when Michelle Baldwin‘s class tweeted that they were inspired by Braeden and making puppets. We’ve shared every bit of his process in doing this across twitter, instagram and facebook. One thing that I did not consider was putting the entire story together in one place to make it accessible to anyone that wanted to read it. So, when I saw the tweet from Michelle’s class, it was a no-brainer that this one last component needed to happen so I created the TACKK below.

TACKK is a simple FREE tool for creating digital posters. For our students, it’s one of the goto tools since kids can create their accounts using their non-email google logins. In addition, users can customize every aspect of their poster in so many ways…from choosing a custom url to adding a background image. Every piece can be customized to the user’s disposal.

I loved that I could easily import images from instagram as well as instagram video. I had so many images that I had to choose as there is a limit of I believe 20 imports from that service. After I reached my limit, I was able to save and upload with no problem.

My favorite parts about TACKK are the sharing features. Check out the video below as I take you inside our TACKK to learn about sharing!

Sharing TACKK

Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Often Pay to Go Train and Connect

Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Often Pay to Go Train and Connect

Tonight, as I was going through my training events from now throughout the summer, I had to laugh at the number of events that I plan to go to that are coming directly from my pocket. I laughed because I know that personally paying TO PRESENT professional development is just a normal part of what we do sometimes. Some schools will cover expenses but for many of us, that doesn’t happen unless there is funding. It most certainly does not happen for out of state events.

There are events like, Educon, that I would pay for in a heartbeat because I will leave that place as a better human being. Having said that, tech events are not the same. I rarely learn anything new that I could not have learned through twitter, blogging or a google hangout…so why on earth am I paying out of my pocket to go?

Events can be hundreds of dollars to attend…and that’s just registration. Add airfare and hotels and that means that our out of pocket expenses could be over $1,000 per event. By the way, when I say “our”, I am 100% referring to those of us that present on the basis of submission.

There are a few who have “earned” featured spots and for the most part, those speakers are there expense free…other than meals maybe. Those spots are typically the exact same people conference to conference because those are the people that draw a crowd and get others to pay to attend. They’re typically people who have a resume of great sessions, a reputation, have an insane number of twitter followers and who have extreme visibility.

How and Why

I will say that without the relationships formed through twitter, travel such as this would be financially impossible. Typically if a group of us are going to an event, we’ll split the cost of lodging. It’s those relationships that keep us paying to go teach because those events are where we typically connect face to face. The learning, for me, happens in those conversations and not necessarily in a session. Honestly, I kind of despise sessions that are not conversations. I’m a bit “edcamp-spoiled” in that aspect…which is why I LOVE Educon.

Free Registration

This summer, I’m presenting at TxGoo, Ipadpalooza and iDesign Coppell. Each event gave free registration to presenters, which should really be a no-brainer! Why aren’t they all this way? Hello TCEA, ISTE and Miami Device!

I’m attending Discovery Ed Summer Institute as well as the SMART Global Summit in Canada. Aside from travel TO Tennessee, both of those events are free events but both required an application and acceptance. Anytime that we can get PD at zero cost, we’ll try our best to do it. (Edcamps are awesome for that)

Paying to teach? No Really…Why???

I hate sessions yet I love teaching with a passion! I will even say that I’m pretty good at it and I’m not going to back down from that statement either. I also love seeing new faces and places. I’m not complaining about selling my left kidney to teach because it is a choice. We don’t have to go. We choose to do it and largely because we’re just that passionate about what we do.

I also go because as someone who has a great deal to say about lack of diversity at these events, I think that it’s necessary to be present, counted and heard.

One last thought…

At some point the “featured presenter” page needs to not be void of color because there are plenty of us in this edtech world with just as great of credentials as the typical faces that appear.


Tools for Digital Storytelling in the Secondary Classroom

Tools for Digital Storytelling in the Secondary Classroom

When most teachers hear the phrase, “digital storytelling”, they probably think of telling a story as it would be in a book. For that reason, many teachers struggle with understanding what this is or should be. Stories that are similar to those that students would read in books are only one type and may notContinue Reading

Make Your Blogs Interactive with Embedly (My New Favorite Blogging Tool)

Make Your Blogs Interactive with Embedly (My New Favorite Blogging Tool)

I love when I run across tools that are quite useful…completely by accident. I found embedly as I was working on a post about digital storytelling with instagram for secondary students. (posting shortly after this one) Embedly is a tool that allows users to embed any linkable content to a website with an interactive responsiveContinue Reading

Learning Through Rose Colored Tights

Learning Through Rose Colored Tights

When I was in high school, I was an officer on the dance team. We had strict requirements to adhere to regarding appearance. One of those requirements was that we all had to wear the exact same color of tights for performances “flesh tone” rose. Our director was adamant that our legs had to beContinue Reading

Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Don’t Magically Know How to Do Everything

Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Don’t Magically Know How to Do Everything

There is a myth that technology experts/specialist have all of the tech answers. We don’t. As a matter fact, if it were not for collaboration and google search, my trainings would be a black sheet of nothing…well, almost nothing! I do have SOME innovative ideas of my own. Technology is an ever-changing bowl of vegetableContinue Reading

Bammy Awards, Missing NCSM14, Sharing and Ignite

Bammy Awards, Missing NCSM14, Sharing and Ignite

Yesterday, I had to remind myself of Amanda Dyke’s great post from last year, “What’s Your Job“. It’s still one of my all time favorites. I was sitting at my desk revising my narrative and redoing my Haiku Deck for my NCSC14 Ignite talk. Up until Sunday, I was supposed to be in New OrleansContinue Reading