I have been revisiting Google as a means to connect a group of teachers for online professional development this week. It's been a while that since I used my personal google account, as my school has been using GAFE (we have not turned on hangouts) so I wanted to revisit the features again.
I am working with a group of teachers from various districts, and many have not used Google Apps. So, we decided to jump in and by using Google+, Google Circles, Google Hangouts along with Google Drive for the iPad. It's interesting to see how nicely the Google features allow us to connect.
When starting out with a new group of teachers and introducing them to building a Personal Learning Network (PLN using Twitter) along with new ways to integrate technology into the classroom it can feel a little overwhelming. However, I was reminded of the possibilities this week when a former student Nancy Marrese @nmarese returned to assist me with a class. I met Nancy last summer, an energetic first grade teacher that wanted to learn how to integrate her iPad into the classroom. Nancy encouraged all of the teachers in the class to allow themselves to learn and explore the numerous ways the ipad and technology can help them teach in a new way. Nancy showed the teachers how using technology with her students completely changed her teaching this year. During class, she helped by tweeting useful links and encouraging teachers to join the conversation. She then shared her class blog http://marrese110.blogspot.com so the class could see first-hand the impact technology has played in her classroom. I was energized by her enthusiasm and how much she has accomplished this year!
Another guest presenter that joined the session was Ann DeCristofaro, a math teacher from my high school. Ann has always been an avid user of technology and a talented photographer. Ann started using an iPad in her math class this year. There were a few math teachers in the class that really appreciated Ann's expertise and her demonstration of the graphing calculators apps and Math ibooks. Ann showed teachers how she was using the iPad (along with Reflector App on her PC) to take pictures of student work and project it in her class. Ann then took a few minutes to show many of the beautiful pictures she took during the weeks snow storm from her iPad.
I feel so fortunate to have individuals like Nancy and Ann in my Personal Learning Network, who are willing to share their teaching experiences and inspire a group of teachers about to start implementing some of these new technologies in their classrooms.
I wrapped up the session by connecting everyone in a Google hangout so we could stay connected during the week. I encouraged everyone to use Twitter and join Tuesday's #edchat conversation this week.
We all plan on attending icon2013, nearby conference in Burlington on Saturday, March 23rd. I am hoping this experience will give participants and opportunity to see how educators across the state are transforming their classrooms by introducing mobile computing with students in a variety of ways.
I am looking forward to connecting with everyone online over the next few weeks and, learning with everyone at the icon2013 conference this month.