Google Expeditions Pioneer visit

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On Thursday, March 24th Google sent Fitzsimon “Simon” Ogbo to the Groton Dunstable Regional Middle School to take 20 classes on Google Expedition Pioneer virtual reality tours ranging from the Great Wall of China to the Globe theater and beyond.  Simon came equipped with 2 sets of 30 virtual reality viewers (a combination of a google cardboard viewer and a smartphone running the Google Expeditions App).  The viewers are modern-day View Masters, but the experience has moved from 2d imagery to 3d 360 degree views of the locations that were visited.

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The school had to apply for the opportunity to participate in the program.  Students from grades 5 – 8 visited the library and computer lab to be immerse in a tour lead by their teacher.  Students were “wowed” by the expeditions and remarked about how real the expeditions felt.  The expeditions were easily weaved into the curriculum being taught currently in the classrooms.

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Currently the software is available in beta version for Android devices only, and students were told that they were beta testers for the app.  They were encouraged to suggest improvements to the software and tour choices.  In the near future, the app will be available for free on both Android and ios devices.  Viewers are already available from amazon or google.com ranging from $5 – $25.

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Summer 2014 Professional Development opportunities

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  • Get familiar with the many podcasts and resources on EdReach.  I absolutely love Te@cher Tech T@lkGoogle Educast and Mobile Reach, but there are many other podcasts targeted for Art Teachers, Administrators, Mac users, etc.  Click on Channels or New Channels at the top of the Edreach homepage to find the podcast you want to view/listen to!
  • Receive CE certificates for participating in Edweb.com Webinars You also have access to prior webinars available on many interesting topics.
  • Coursera–  verified certificates for certain courses
  • EdmodoCon– 11-hour virtual event on Wednesday, August 6, 2014.
  • YALSA Academy– Young Adult Library Services Association’s online educational video initiative

I am back with the PLN challenge!

Well, wellit has been too long since I posted anything on my professional blog.  I have been busy as the new Middle School Technology Integration Specialist in my hometown school district of GDRSD (Groton Dunstable Regional School District).  I have been a periodic blogger on our district technology blog.  Our tech department has been busy deploying tons of teacher laptops, even more student chromebooks, GAFE and such… I have been happy, but I digress!

A principal in my districtLiz Garden just tagged me in the PLN challenge in a recent blogpost. .  OK LizI accept!  This challenge asks me to do a few things:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger (done!)
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  (You can’t nominate the blogger who nominated you. So, here goes!

11 random Julie facts

1. I am one of six kids,  5 girls and 1 boy.  I am a typical type A, oldest child, virgo, perfectionist.  I love my family and I love my siblings.  I am a happily married woman with one delightful daughter who is a freshman at Virginia Tech (hey Lizthis is the first of many connections we have).

2. I am a career changer.  I worked for many years in the software industry in customer support, management and quality assurance.  This helped me immensely when I jumped ship, enjoyed a few years of blissful unemployment and decided to get my masters to become a Technology Teacher.

3. Although I did not think it at the time, my daughter Shannon ended up being a miracle baby.  I lost 3 pregnanciesone before Shannon and two after.  There are many things I purchase in threes to help me work through these losses3 weeping trees, 3 angel charms.  You get the picture.  (Lizanother connection)

4. I am an avid gardener.  I grew up in a city (Peabody, MA) and knew little of plants, but I somehow married a guy who convinced me to move to the country (Dunstable,MA) and taught me how to sow a seed.  Magic.  I love to design gardens.  I use country antiques to make my garden space unique.  I am addicted to the Country Living magazine and to Pinterest gardening and country living boards.

5. I am not much of a world traveler, but I am lucky enough to have traveled across country with my family when I was 13 in a Winnebago for 6 weeks.  More recently I  traveled up the California coast with my family and sister’s family a few summers ago for 3 weeks.  Surprise… I blogged about it! (Liz, if you are interested, there is a picture of my sister and me at the Jelly Belly factoryanother connection!?)

6. I believe that technology is just a tool that should seamlessly improve educationbut Google Glass is frigin‘ coolin this one case it is just about the tool 🙂

7. I did not grow up an animal lover, but somehow my husband made me one.  It started with a stray cat, Barnadette, who needed a home.  She was not supposed to be a house cat, she was a barn cat (hense the name).. but then a run-in with a nasty outdoor creature resulted in the loss of part of her tail.  She quickly became an indoor cat.  Then came a beautiful golden retriever Cooper.   Then another golden, Cooper’s nephew Cody.   Then Tom and Jerry (cat brothers).  Then Rusty (our only mutt dog… big mistake).  Then Tex the cat.  Then Zack the golden retriever. We are pretty much crazy pet people, but are sadly due to old age, cancer, sudden death and car accidents we down to one…. Tex.

8.I love to paint.  I paint decorative furniture.  I paint pictures.  I paint walls.  I just love to paint.

9. I eat to live.  My husband lives to eat.  He is our family chef.  This opposite dichotomy leads to stressful dinner times.  Enough said.  Anyone have a good idea for dinner?  Argh!

10. I love my job!  I have liked my job for a long time, but right now I love my job.  I love knowing many people on the staff before I even started, I love working in my community. I love that in 4 months we are already putting GD on the technology map.

11. I obsessive-compulsively arrange my clothes and jewelry in order by color.  I love clothes, I love accessories, and I love matching the two together.

Liz’s questions for me to answer…
1. What is the best book you read in 2013? I love biographies.  While I did not quite finish this in 2013, I’d say my favorite book was Diane Keaton’s Then Again.  People are fascinating!

2. Do you have a favorite twitter chat?  If so, what is it?  If you don’t have a favorite, what chat would you want to create and moderate?  I do not have one, but admittedly anything I would want (like collaboration between tech integratorsalready exists… I am just too tired to participate at present.

3. How has your PLN impacted you? It inspires and rejuvenates me.  I listen to podcasts religiously (most are on Edreachcheck them out they are amazing), read informative blogs sometimes and participate in twitter.

4. If you weren’t in education, what would you be doing instead?  Design, design, design… I would design gardens, homes or furniture.

5. What is your favorite children’s book of all time?  Auntie Claus….I have created animated voices for each character and have been a perennial favorite guest reader at Onos family holiday parties!

6. What is one app or resource you have learned about on twitter that has been a game changer for you at work? Kidblog.  It was my homebase for publishing student reflection and projects when I taught middle school and is the tool I suggest most when teachers ask me how to showcase work their students have created.  Blogging is old school, not very sexy, but blogs are still a cornerstone tool in my opinion.

7. If someone made a movie about you, which star would be cast to play you? Natasha Richardson, only she is dead.  😦  The movie will never be made anyway….

8. Are you a Mac or a PC person? No questionmac, although I am warming up to my nexus 7 tablet

9. Who is your education rockstar and why? Chad Kafka.  He hosts my favorite podcast “Teacher Tech Talk“.  And he is a GCT and Apple Distinguished Educator.  And he presents at ISTE and such.  And he is cute. I did mention that I am happily married right?

10.  If you could pack a suitcase and go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why? I cannot chose 1 place.  I would want to go to Hawaii with my hubby Dave.  I went there when I was single.  It looks, smells, sounds and feels intoxicating.   Dave and I need a cool vacationwe have been married almost 25 years, bring it!  Or maybe we could go to Greece for many of the same reasons except I have never been there.  Or I will always be happy going to Lake Winnipesaukee which is my favorite summer location.  If I win the lottery I will have a house on Winni.

11. What’s your favorite 80’s movie? The Breakfast Club (classic representation of the cliques in high school) and When Harry Met Sally.  I watch Harry/Sally everytime I find it on TVwhich is a lot.  Oh, the eye rolling that happens when my husband catches me watching that movieagain.

Julie’s List of 11 bloggers that deserve some recognition and a little blogging love

  1. Jenny Leung
  2. Jen Maio
  3. Cindy Engvall
  4. Audra Kaplan
  5. Julie Leach
  6. Nicole Tomaselli 
  7. Mary Marotta
  8. Susan Wright
  9. Ellen Brandt
  10. Kelly McManus
  11. Joanne Najarian

Now for the questions for my nominated bloggers :

  1. If you won 1 Million dollars, how would you spend the money?
  2. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
  3. What drew you to a job in education?
  4. What are some things that make you really happy?
  5. What sound do you love?
  6. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
  7. Who in your life has influenced you the most? How did they do it?
  8. What tech tool could you not live without?
  9. Who is your education rock star and why?
  10. Where do you hope to be professionally in 6-10 years?
  11. What superlative would you give yourself and why?

Infographic project…lessons learned from Piktochart and easel.ly

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The project:

I recently wrapped up a project with Ms. Ragucci, AP Statistics teacher, where the students demonstrated a concept that they learned this year using an infographic website.  Students spent time in the classroom working on a topic and gathering evidence for their Infographic.  I quickly showed them piktochart and easel.ly in the computer lab.  The students then were asked to look at both options and choose the one they wanted to use.  Our PCs are older, and our first set back was that the 2 websites did not work properly on Internet Explorer, so we installed Google Chrome and we were on our way.  Students needed to create equations for their posters, so we also installed the Chrome Extension Duam Equation Editor…thank you again Google!  We probably used three sessions in the computer lab to complete the project. When the students were done, I taught them how to grab embedded code and email it to me so I could create a central place for the Infographics to reside.  Piktochart presented yet another setback…their embedded code did not work in Wikispaces, PBworks or Kidblog.  I contacted suport and they basically said that it is not compatible.  Big disappointment.  The students sent me a url link instead and we made the best of it.  The results of their hard work can be found on their wiki.

Lessons learned:

Since lab time is scarce, the teacher reflected that next year she would probably demonstrate Infographics to her class at school, but have them create the infographic at home.  Unless the embedded code problems with Piktochart are addressed by next year, I would probably limit the scope of this project to Easel.ly next time.  I think embedding the infographics is what makes them powerful.

Summer 2013 Professional Development

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It is that time of year again….as we wind down our school year, I though I would highlight a few of the many free opportunities for Professional Development that are available online or in person this summer (and throughout the year for that matter!).  Take a look at the list this summer, choose 1 or 2 opportunities that interest you and dive in!

  • Attend an edcamp in person
  • Receive CE certificates for participating in Edweb.com Webinars You also have access to prior webinars available on many interesting topics.

Takeaways from Edcamp Boston

I recently had the good fortune to be given a ticket to attend Edcamp Boston.  When I originally heard about this PD opportunity I registered too late…it was sold out.  A techie friend of mine had an extra ticket that her colleague could not use…so I was off.

What is an Edcamp?  Well, I would define it as a group of dedicated educators who gather together with no planned agenda to teacher each other and share conversations about good teaching practice.  When I showed up, there was an empty grid on a large wall.  Then it was announced that the conference agenda could begin to be built.  Teachers who were interested in leading a session grabbed a sticky note, wrote their topic on the note and slapped it on the board…voila, an “unconference” schedule was born:

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Topics were varied and there were many time slots that contained more than one session I wished to participate in.  To give you an idea of the sessions, here is a small sample:

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There were a great deal of things I took away from EdCampBos, but the immediate action item I am pursuing now is to work with my principal to convert at least one faculty mtg into a mini ed-camp before the end of the year.  This is an idea that came from the session “What works in PD”.  Several participants shared that they tried this at their schools (one initiated by the principal, the other initiated by the Tech Director) with great success.  The reason it was successful, was because it was based on the premise of putting PD in the teachers own hands.  When this occurred,  not only did teachers have the opportunity to share with one another that day…but it lead to the formation of other group collaboration projects that the school, teachers and students benefitted from.  It showed that administration trusted their staff to use their PD time effectively and it modeled what we as teachers ask our students to do: take risk with the assurance that failure is NOT bad, it is part of learning.  It is a risky idea, but one worth advocating for.

Interested in attending an Edcamp yourself?  You should!  Check out this complete list!

Adding a 5th “C” to the 4 C’s….

For those of us educators who are fully emerged in the wonderful world of Education Technology,  we are very familiar with the 4Cs: (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity).  I do not want to spend too much time speaking to the importance of these 4 values, as the volume of information available on the web regarding this topic is both vast and valuable.  I watched a TED talk today, however, that got me thinking that we should add one more C to the list…contemplation.  The video that got me thinking about this twist was a TED talk by Susan Cain titled “The Power of Introverts”.  In Susan’s presentation, she outlined the history of the de-valuation of the qualities of introverted individuals and suggests ideas to re-think education and the workplace to extract the value that is gained NOT by collaboration or group work, but rather on individual brainstorming and quiet contemplation.  Do you think we need a 5th C?