Monday, April 9, 2012

Google Teacher Academy

Wow.  Where to start?  I have no idea where to even begin this blog post...and not for a bad reason, but for the sole fact that I have a bazillion amazing stories, ideas, and resources that I want to talk about and share, and just don't know where to start!  Usually I blog about the happenings in my classroom, but for this post I decided to use it as a reflection piece for my experiences at the Google Teacher Academy (GTAUK) in London, England on April 4th, 2012.

Prior to attending GTAUK, I had only ever dreamed of becoming a Google Certified Teacher (GCT).  It was something that I really wanted to do, but never expected to actually be selected to attend.  When I completed my application back in February, I capped it with submitting the video below I created around classroom innovation.

After I had submitted my application, I had gone through YouTube looking at the other videos submitted by others who applied to GTA, I became a bit disheartened about my chances because every video I looked at seemed to blow mine out of the water.  I told myself it wasn't a big deal if I didn't get it--there were probably thousands of people applying, and this was my first time applying, so I could always apply to the next Academy.  However, all of my worrying was for nothing.  When I was notified a couple weeks later that I had been selected to attend, I was in disbelief; I could not believe that I was actually chosen!  And, to cap off my excitement, the Academy was being held in London, England--where I use to teach!  I was on cloud nine.

Once my excitement subsided a bit (not too much though), I had a lot to do before jetting off to London for GTAUK.  Less than 48 hours after I was notified I hopped on a bus with 75 middle schoolers to go down to Dauphin Island, Alabama for our 8th grade expedition.  Once I returned from that amazing expedition, I then set my sights on GTA.

The night before GTA I was so excited I could hardly sleep; I felt like I was 8 years old again and eager with anticipation of Santa's arrival.  I had just had an awesome informal meet-and-greet with a majority of the GTA participants at a local London eatery, so it was great to meet some of the people I'd been talking to on twitter and google+ the past several weeks.  The day finally came, and I made sure I got to Google a little bit early just in case there were any problems on the Tube.

At Google we were placed in teams, which was a genius idea.  It gave us a chance (pre-GTA) to meet our group and chat with them prior to the start of the Academy.  I was on Team Lumiére, which was led by the amazing Jim Sill.  Wow, what an awesome guy with a wealth of information and a passion for education and technology.  I felt so fortunate I got to be on his team.  We remained with our team throughout the day, but it was simply for ease of movement of people for different sessions.  I tried to branch out and meet and chat with as many people as I could, on my team or now.

Team Lumiére

Many people have asked me about what I actually did at GTA.  To someone who hasn't experienced it, or doesn't have a knack for Google or EdTech stuff, it is a bit difficult to describe because there was so much going on!  However, in a nutshell it was a complete day filled with everything Google: Google Docs, Maps, Gmail, Google Chrome, YouTube, Groups, Google+, and so much more!  But it wasn't simply "hey, here's a bunch of awesome things Google offers!" but more so it was all of these cool Google resources and how they can be implemented and used effectively in the classroom.  I got so many new ideas from this day my Evernote doc was bursting with new resources, ideas, and how I can use them in my classroom.  I know you're probably reading this and thinking, "Hey!  I want to know what these are!"  So here are a few of my favorites from the day (and I just say "favorites," because my list is substantial and could go on for quite a while!  If you want to chat more about my ideas, resources, or GTA experience, shoot me a tweet or an email)

Favorite New Ideas:
  • Have students create their own personal "Google Map" to outline/timeline events in history, or events in their own lives (can add pictures, links, etc... to each location! how awesome!)--this was a great idea I got from Tom Barrett)
  • Use Google Moderator as a "discussion board" (or "question board") platform in the classroom--quick and easy way to get students interacting in the classroom
  • Google Sites for student portfolios or student websites--have students create a website and have them store their work, documents, notes, etc... in it throughout the year.  They can embed pictures, blogs, discussions, docs, and so much more!  Plus, it's in the cloud!

Looking back, the day feels like a blur; it flew by so fast I think I am still processing all of the amazing information, connections, resources, and ideas I accumulated.  It still feels surreal to me that I was actually chosen to attend, and even more surreal that I am now a Google Certified Teacher.

I cannot tell you how honored I am to now be a part of this amazing community of teachers who are passionate about education and technology.  I feel so fortunate and blessed to be in this group now, and am determined to put my GCT-status to good use.  I feel like I have a wealth of information that I have gained and built upon thanks to the Google Teacher Academy, and I am determined to share what I've learned with others in my district, community, and beyond.  I know the Academy has opened the doors to a wealth of opportunities, resources, ideas, and connections, and I WILL take complete advantage of this.

I want to thank everyone--especially Maplewood-Richmond Heights--for allowing me to attend this amazing Academy and for the wealth of resources, knowledge, ideas, networks, and information I've taken away.  I cannot express my gratitude enough, and I hope my continued passion for learning, technology, and education shine bright in my future as both an educator and a Google Certified Teacher.

1 comment:

  1. "Looking back, the day feels like a blur" - I second that! So many ideas crammed into my teeny little head.


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