On Saturday, I attended the Missouri Google Summit at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School. It was a homecoming of sorts since I started teaching in the M-RH School District in 1989. The renovated high school building was spectacular, just beautiful. The learning during the day was equally spectacular.
I got to meet or attend the sessions of several educators that I follow on Twitter which was a kick in itself. The first session I attended was Bob Deneau's (@itechbob) "Beyond the Apps: More Google and Connected Tools for the Classroom". Bob showed us several tools, many of which I knew I had to show the kids as soon as possible. The various creation tools (Powtoon, Google Cultural Institute and Tour Builder) that Bob talked about would go beautifully with the YOUville project we're doing in social studies.
The second session was called "Building Digital Citizens" by Bill Bass (@billbass). Melissa (@melissahellwig4) and I have talked about using Discovery time this year to talk about digital citizenship. Bill showed us the Google Digital Citizenship Curriculum (https://www.google.com/goodtoknow/web/curriculum/) and the Common Sense Media materials (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/). Just learning about those two resources made this a killer session but Bill talked a lot more about how to show kids their digital footprint and ways to manage their online content.
I have found blogging to be a good way to document some of the things we do at school and also a good way to reflect. Justin Tarte (@justintarte) is someone I've followed on Twitter for a while and I like his take on learning. We attended his session "Let's Get Blogging with Blogger". It was both motivating and validating at the same time. He talked about consistency and relating experiences and reflections in our blogs.
Julie Szaj (@shyj) moderates the New Teachers to Twitter (#NT2T) chat every Saturday morning at 8am. I try to attend every week and always learn a few things from her. I had a feeling that her talk, "Here an App, There an App, Everywhere an App App" would be really informative. Well, it was more than that. She had a load of apps and tools that our standing-room-only crowd appreciated seeing. Some I was familiar with and some I had never seen before. I especially liked "Build with Chrome" and some of the photo-editing tools that she showed us and will be showing them to the kids this week.
Between sessions, we also had a chance to stop by the Google Sandbox. Patrick Dempsey (@midschoolsci), a fellow Hixson Middle School teacher and Google guru, was featuring all kinds of cool tools from a 3D printer to music apps and gaming apps. Very cool stuff.
Days like Saturday really motivate me to learn more and do more with my students. I get such a charge out of learning all of these new things. It's no different for the kids at school. If kids find things that they want to learn about then they will learn. The trick for me is to figure out what those things are and make sure that I include them with some of the things I have to teach the kiddos. Right now we're creating civilizations based on Maslow's hierarchy of human needs as part of our Ancient Civilizations unit. I saw at least six tools on Saturday that kids could use this week for their projects. Today, I showed them three. Tomorrow, I will show them another three. The kids are already exploring those tools and using them in their civilization project.
I try to implement new things in my classroom as soon as I learn them, even if I have not yet mastered them. For example, I learned about "Build with Chrome" on Saturday and played around with it for about two minutes, long enough to show the kids what it is. By the end of the period today, several kids had already constructed buildings to be part of their civilization. Amazing! I don't have to master everything, I just need to know enough to be dangerous and show the kids. They can take it from there.