Sunday, 22 June 2014

Ontario Google Summit

This past April was the second Ontario Google Summit in Kitchener.  You may remember that it was at this summit last year, that I got inspired to start my 20% project (here).  I have learned so much about Google in the past year and have been fortunate to share my learning at both YRDSB Google Camps, as well as in my own school.

The two days in Kitchener are jam packed with interesting, informative and inspiring sessions.  The best way to follow everyone's thoughts were through the # on twitter: #ongafesummit or just #gafesummit (then you can see what is happening at all of the summits throughout the year).  I found that I measured how well the days were going through takeaways; things that inspired me, my teaching and my own learning.

The first takeaway came in the keynote session where I got to hear from Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera), a passionate and funny teacher.  Her keynote for me was all about engagement, and how we have to connect it to what the students like to turn it into creation because that turns it into empowerment.  That last word sums up my takeaway theme for the summit: empowerment.

How can I empower students? Staff? How can technology facilitate this?  I had so many questions.  Ken Shelton's keynote on the second day helped as he challenged us over the hour.  He told us to 'just make 1 minor modification, don't get bogged down in the minutiae".   He continued to challenge us to answer if we were risk assertive or risk adverse.  Such a great question because we are mainly risk adverse because we are scared to fail!  I have tried over this past school year to help my students understand that failing is not a bad thing, because from failing you see where you need to focus and learn.  This was my second takeaway.

I continued to be inspired throughout the two days.  I had a good grasp of how to use Google Apps/Drive, but went to some sessions to hear what was new or new to me (Cultural Institute!).  I learned a lot about digital citizenship from Tanya Avrith's session and hope to have our Positive Climates for Learning committee implement more digital citizenship ideas next year.

But I found the best takeaway was not in the presentation (though it was inspiring!) but from the community at Julie Millan's session.  There were some technical difficulties at the beginning and Scott Monahan jumped in to help. This led to a Google Hangout where I 'met' Rolland Chidiac, as Twitter became a back-channel.  This to me was a great demonstration in not only the possibilities of technology, but also of the reach of a PLN when help is needed.

From my beginnings at the Google Summit last year, I have been inspired to create this blog, try and go paperless with GAPPS, share my learning with others and apply to the Google Teacher Academy.  I didn't get in but am excited to follow Scott and Rolland who did!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Organizing a conference, all through GAPPS

Part of my extracurriculars that I do is that I am the co-chair of my school's Transitions Committee.  We work on various projects during the school year to help students enter and then leave high school.  Two years ago, in conjunction with the Positive Climates for Learning Committee and the Healthy Schools initiative, my school ran a conference for grade 8 and 9 girls.  The conference focussed on healthy relationships, healthy eating, leadership and inspiration from notable female athletes.  Our plan had been to do the same for the boys the next year, but the government helped derail that plan.  This year, myself and a few other teachers were adamant that the conference would run.  And this is where GAPPS came in.

Our logo was designed by a grade 10 student
and used for the invitation, t-shirts and banner.

Dwayne Morgan, Spoken Word Artist
Closing the conference

From the beginning, the preparation for the conference was all done via google apps.  We used Docs for meeting agendas which helped for those who couldn't always attend meetings and could add in their comments.  Then for the conference itself I used drawing to create the invitation, embedding the google form the boys would use to select their sessions, t-shirt size and lunch.  I even pushed myself and learned the autocrat add-on so that I could mail merge the information from the form to create personal letters for the attendees with their sessions.  
Myself and Graeme Murray, Sochi bronze medalist
in sledge hockey
Even though the planning was very time consuming, I am grateful for the opportunity to plan with both staff, students and elementary partners.  I had a great team and support from the staff and admin. We had a great response from many people who wanted to be a part of the day, and the best part was that students really enjoyed it!

Its been a while: catching up

Wow! People say that they don't know where the time has gone and for me that is partly true this year. I am sad to say that I have not really updated the blog in much too long, and I apologize to my readers. But I had some good reasons!  First is that I started my M.Ed!  For the next few years I am completing a M.Ed in Educational and Digital Technologies at UOIT.  Then I decided to help out more in the school and became a Student Council Teacher Advisor, which takes up more time than I thought, but is very rewarding.  And then I decided to organize and run a conference.

But now things have died down, and I can finally publish some blog posts that have been percolating in my head since September.  Up soon posts on 20% with my Politics class, Google Camps and the Ontario Google Summit and getting PD going in my school.

So I hope that you check back because I will be posting, I promise :)