Believing in the Possible with Jennifer Holm

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Many of you know that our motto in the library is “Expect the Miraculous” based on the book Flora & Ulysses.  When I saw the cover for Jennifer Holm’s The Fourteenth Goldfish for the first time I was immediately drawn into the tagline “Believe in the  impossible possible.”  Before I even read the book, I felt a connection.  I was lucky enough to score an advanced reader’s copy of the book at the Texas Library Association Conference back in April and I was hooked from the opening chapter.  In fact, you can read the opening chapter here.

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During the summer, I was contacted by the wonderful people at Avid Bookshop about a potential author visit with Jennifer Holm.  She was planning to be at the Decatur Book Festival on Labor Day weekend and was spending some time visiting bookstores and schools ahead of the festival.  It was fate.  The author of a book that I absolutely loved that connected with our philosophy of the library was available to visit our school.  I immediately said yes and the planning began.

Pulling off an author visit in the first two weeks of school is tricky.  When an author visits, I love to have time to preview their books with kids, have classes sharing the books as a read aloud, and allowing students to create decorations to welcome the author to our school.  There’s also the presales of books.  Forms must be sent home, collected, organized, and books ordered for autographing.  Two weeks is hard, but we expect the miraculous.

Here’s what happened ahead of the event.

  • Every single Holm book was checked out by either teachers or students.  In fact, I didn’t have any library books available for her to autograph at the visit!
  • Announcements were made on BTV advertising the visit
  • Three teachers received advanced reader copies of The Fourteenth Goldfish and began reading it aloud.
  • The entire school was invited to make book birthday cards since the book came out 2 days before Jenni’s visit.

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  • Several people helped make decorations for the event including jellyfish and goldfish balloons to hang from the ceiling as well as some posters.

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  • Preorders went home on the 1st day of school and were due 4 days later.
  • Classes watched the book trailer for The Fourteenth Goldfish.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91FeXVF-56E

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Today’s visit was incredible.  Every 3rd-5th grade class came which was a little more than 200 students.  We shifted back the library shelves to make room for everyone.  Jennifer kicked off the visit by sharing with students the story of how The Fourteenth Goldfish came to be.  She shared the stories of famous scientists and what it means to be an true observer.  She shared family stories of scientists in her family and built up to the science behind the main idea of the book which revolves around a fountain of youth found within a jellyfish.  She held up an apple and invited students to think about whether or not it was alive or if it held new life within it.

Then, she spent some time having students ponder what it would be like to be old and suddenly be transformed back into a teenager.  What problems might people face if they changed ages?  What success would they have?  She turned this into a game by having kids come up to the board in teams and write everything good about being old and everything good about being young.  Then she tallied up the number of reasons to see which was better.  She did the same thing with new groups of students but switched to everything bad about each age.  While students were racing against time to make their lists, she took questions from students about her books and the writing process.  She also shared the secret Babymouse signal and had students do it (which was really a clever way to keep the audience focused and settle down).

I loved how she pushed students to think deeply about whether they would ever want to go back to being young if it was possible.  I also loved how she shared the idea of believing in the possible by connecting the story to an actual jellyfish that can revert back to a younger version of itself.  If it’s possible for a jellyfish, could it be possible for us?

I hope many students will take time to read this book, and I have a feeling after this visit that many will.  I know several teacher who are considering it as their next read aloud.  With tie-ins to science and the belief in the possible, it has so many implications for what it means to be a dreamer, a tinkerer, and a maker.

We ended our time by sing happy birthday to The Fourteenth Goldfish.

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Following her talk, she spent time connecting with students and signing books.  We found out that she had not signed a copy of The Fourteenth Goldfish yet, so Hannah was the lucky student who has the 1st signed copy of the released book.

We are so fortunate to have Avid Bookshop in our community making connections between the community, authors, and our students in schools.  Thank you Jennifer Holm for taking time to visit our school and share your wisdom with us.  Thank you Avid and thank you Random House for this wonderful experience.  Our students will never forget it.

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Library Orientation: Starting the Year with Failure

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Last year, I decided to try something new for my library orientation.  Rather than have students sit and listen to me go on and on about how the library works, I let them explore the library with QR codes.  I loved this change so much that I decided to try this again this year and add some new twists.

First, I thought about all of the main questions that pop up during the year about using the library and made a list.  Then, I took this list and tried to make videos that were concise and addressed one task rather than weaving in multiple topics into one video.  This included topics such as how to search in Destiny, how to check out with and without a student id, how to check in, how to use a shelf marker, how to place a hold, and where supplies are located.  I also had some pieces of the library that I wanted students to know about such as areas where participatory opportunities would be displayed and what was new in our makerspace.

I took each video, improved the sound quality in iMovie, and uploaded to Youtube.  Using Kaywa QR Code generator, I made a QR code to each video, labeled it, printed it, and put it in a sleeve to hang in the library.

When 2nd-5th grade came to the library, they entered to a rolling slideshow of our 4 library goals.

1dream

2global

3empower

4reading

I wanted our first focus to be what we hope our library is about this year.  The procedures are important because they affect the flow of the year, but the goals are what drive us every day.

After talking about the 4 goals, I showed students how the orientation would work.  Each student would have an iPad with headphones.  Using the Layar app, students would scan each QR code and tap on the video to begin listening.  There were 4 videos that I wanted every student to review:  how to check out, how to check in, how to use Destiny, and a tour of the library sections.  I placed these 4 codes on 4 tables so that students could easily keep track of which videos they needed to watch first.  Following the 4 videos, students could scan a QR code on the project board that took them to a playlist so that they could choose any of the other videos to watch.

QR orientation (5)QR orientation (8)Once students scanned a video, I encouraged them to carry their iPad and go to that section of the library so that they could physically see the things that I was talking about in the video.  Once again, this was a wonderful experience because it allowed students to move, replay videos if needed, and actually see the library spaces rather than sit and listen.

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This worked beautifully some of the time, but here’s where the failure comes in.  On the 2nd week of school, our district implemented a new filter.  Filters can be wonderful things to protect our students, but anytime something new is implemented the bugs have to be worked out.  On day 1, every Youtube video was blocked on the iPads.  As soon as students started scanning, they got the no access screen.  Luckily, I could still access Youtube on my own computer so I decided we could just watch some of the videos on the projector.  Then, the internet speed became so slow that no videos would work.  Finally, we just got in a line and did an old-fashioned tour around the library.  The coolness of the QR codes was gone, but we still accomplished learning about the library.

While this experience was very frustrating, it allowed me to model what it means to not give up, to persevere through failures, and to expect that great things will happen even when things don’t work.  Rather than bottle all of my thinking in my head, I began to share it with the kids.  I said things like, “This was an epic failure, so let me back up and rethink this” and “Why don’t we try…”.  In future lessons, I built this conversation into our mini-lesson.  I prepped the kids by sharing the failures we had already encountered and how we worked through them together.  What I started to see was kids who were being more patient and were trying different strategies when the internet was slow or a code didn’t scan rather than kids who were giving up or kids who were yelling out about something not working and asking for an adult’s help.  I was reminded of the importance of sharing that it’s ok to fail as long as you use that failure to learn what you might do differently.

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In Kindergarten and 1st grade, we used the book Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall.  I chose this book because Dawson is a “maker”.  I felt like he embodied what I hoped that all of us would consider ourselves across the course of the year.  During our reading of this book, we paused to notice how Dawson never gave up.  We pointed out his epic failures along the way and how he took those failures, backed up, and tried something new.  He never lost his cool.  Instead, he took a different path or split a huge invention into 3 smaller ones.  As we made these noticings, we made connections to our own learning and the goals that we had for this year in the library.

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Following our read aloud and/or QR code tour, we used Kahoot to review a few of the library procedures.  I chose Kahoot for a few reasons.  One was to put it in front of teachers at the very beginning of the year as an engaging tool to use with students to check for understanding.  Several teachers were eager to try it in their classrooms.  Another reason was to make the really boring topic of library procedures fun and get us all on the same page.  It worked.  Even another reason was to throw a tool at students that was new to just about all of them and once again practice our acceptance of failure.  Several students couldn’t login.  Others had games that didn’t load as fast as other i Pads.  Still others got kicked out in the middle of the game and had to log back in.  Did any of these failures stop of us from learning? No.  We used each and every barrier, glitch, and student error as a learning tool for how we will work together this year.

Now that our orientations are over. We are ready for a year of miraculous projects.  The QR codes are now hanging all over the library for students to continue to reference throughout the year as they forget how to check out or place a hold.  The videos are also being sent to all of the library volunteers so that they can also review the different ways the library works before assisting students and shelving books.

I’m sure I will make even more changes to next year’s orientation, but I love how this one set the stage for our year.

 

 

Developing Library Goals to Carry Into Every Collaborative Meeting

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Last year, a book impacted my life, my library program, and found its way into so many conversations with students, teachers, and librarians.  “Expect the Miraculous” came to be our mantra in the Barrow Media Center thanks to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo.  It was all thanks to p. 130-131.

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This summer, as I sat down to develop our library program goals for the 2014-2015 school year, that mantra of expecting the miraculous everyday was still a big part of my thinking.  However, this summer I carried so much more with me as I reflected on goals.

I had my experiences and conversations with the #Wandoo5 at Evanced Games in Indianapolis.

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I had the moonshot thinking and action plan of the Google Teacher Academy and becoming a Google Certified Teacher.

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I had the Invent to Learn Workshop with Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager.

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I had numerous experiences at the ISTE 2014 conference including a zombie fighting keynote from Jennifer LaGarde, empowering talks from George Couros and Todd Nesloney, and inspiring keynotes from Ashley Judd and Kevin Carroll about the importance of each child’s story and the importance of play.

The more I reflected on my summer professional learning experiences the more I realized that I wanted this year’s goals to be different.  In the past, I’ve made big goals about developing the participatory culture in our library, but I’ve also made specific goals about the collection.  While the collection is important, it is not my primary focus for the library program.  I was reminded of a question in Jennifer LaGarde’s keynote about the Dewey decimal system and her answer of “who cares”.  Who cares if I have specific goals about the library collection?  What cares if the 300’s have the recommended number of books?  Who cares what the average age of the biographies is?  The heart of the program isn’t the physical collection.  The heart of the program is the students, the teachers, the families, and the community.  The heart of the program is the opportunities that they have through the library.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m abandoning the collection or that I don’t have goals about the collection.  It’s just that my primary goals of the library aren’t about the collection.

I want goals that I can carry with me into every collaborative meeting that I attend.  I want goals that I can put up on the walls of the library and add tangible evidence throughout the year of how they are impacting the students, teachers, and families in our school.  I want goals that support our school and district goals as well as reflect what is being talked about on a global level.

This week, I will share these goals with our faculty during pre-planning, but they’ve already faced their first test.  During our first day of pre-planning our principal set the stage for our year.  I must say that it was one of the most inspiring opening days that I’ve ever been a part of because it wasn’t filled with duties and responsibilities, mandates, and daunting changes.  Of course, all of those things  will be present this year, but our principal chose to focus on how we can value each child’s story, how we can add to and enhance that story by what we offer at school, and how we can develop a vision and mission for our school that represents what we truly believe in education.  As I listened and as I talked with other teachers, I was already carrying my goals with me, and I must say that I felt really good about the 4 goals that I’ve chosen.

These are the goals that are based on the themes that consistently surfaced in all of my reading, professional learning, conversations, and reflections.

Goal 1:  To provide students, teachers, and families opportunities to dream, tinker, create, and share

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I chose these verbs carefully because I think that the order matters.  So often, we feel the time crunch in education and I think we often jump to having students make something with so many detailed requirements that they don’t have time to dream about what they hope they could make or have time to mess around, fail, and learn from those failures.  As I plan projects with teachers this year, I want to intentionally plan spaces for students to pause and wonder and have time to explore before they actually create a final product that is shared with an authentic audience.  I want us to think carefully about how we “show our work” just as Austin Kleon outlines in his books.  He says, “If your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.”  I’ll be thinking carefully about how we give students opportunities to create and also how they share their process as well as their final product.

Within this goal, I have subgoals about the number of large-scale projects I will do with each grade level, the development of our library makerspace, the collaborative relationships with our community makerspace and tech startup, and embedded digital citizenship.

Goal 2:  To engage in global thinking and global collaboration

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I can’t even count the number of times that global thinking and collaboration came up this summer.  I feel like so many people around the world are primed and ready for this endeavor during the upcoming year.  Last year, our library was more connected than it has ever been through authors, guest speakers, reading events, and peer feedback through Skype and Google Hangouts.  Even though we felt connected, most of our work was projects or single connections.  I would love to see global thinking and collaboration become more evident in what we do through long-term collaborative relationships around the globe and authentic questions and projects that matter to the world.  Within this goal are the many networks that I will be a part of this year including GlobalTL, Connected Classroom, Skype in the Classroom, and my Twitter PLN.  I’m inspired by the work of Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano and will look at her work as we plan this year.

As teachers and I plan this year, we will ask ourselves how we are being global thinkers and how we are connecting our students beyond the walls of our school.

Goal 3:  To empower student voice

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When I thought about this goal, I was reminded of many stories shared by George Couros at ISTE including the story of a little boy who made a video where he overjoyed by getting one “like” on a social media post.  I was reminded of Todd Nesloney sharing about his math fair and how he asked students to “wow” him by showing their math knowledge.  Students did more that “wow” him.  They shared their passions in life, involved their families, and were empowered.  I was reminded of how we all want to be heard and feel like we’ve made a difference.  As I plan with teachers this year, I want to ask how we are empowering each student by allowing them to share their passions and feel that their voice is heard.  In the library, I will continue to explore this as well by giving students opportunity to document our year, make decisions about library resources, share their passions through contests and displays, pass on their expertise through co-teaching experiences, and listening closely for opportunities I don’t even know about.

Goal 4:  To support the reading habits and curiosities of students, teachers, and families

It’s no secret that the more you read the better reader you become.  You of course need to have the skills and strategies to accompany that time commitment.  You also need access to reading that matters to you.  This year I want to be more intentional about supporting reading curiosities to match students, teachers, and families to the kinds of stories and information they are looking for.  I also want to be more intentional about documenting that commitment to reading.  Our library is not the only source of reading materials, so I want to continue to build a collaborative relationship with the public library, local bookstores, and other community resources to all work together toward a common goal.

This year, we will explore an Evanced tool called Wandoo Reader.  This tool will give students a portal for documenting their reading lives through tracking book titles and minutes read.  Along the way, there will be challenges issued to students, and within Wandoo Reader, they will earn pieces to a robot that they will customize.  I hope that this tool will offer a level of engagement for tracking reading as well as encourage students to spend more time reading in multiple ways from multiple locations.

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Our planning will begin this week and I look forward to carrying these goals with me, trying them out, and see what miraculous things happen this school year.

What are YOUR library goals?  I invite you to think about them in new ways and share.

 

 

Coders, Innovators, Makers…Please donate to our Donors Choose Project to build our library makerspace

FireShot Screen Capture #019 - 'Coders, Innovators, Makers_ Creating a Library Makerspace' - www_donorschoose_org_project_coders-innovators-makers-creating-a-l_1253089__rf=link-siteshare-2014-07-teacher_accoun

Update:  This project was fully funded in less than 24 hours.  Thank you to all who contributed and shared!

View our project here!

(Don’t forget to use the code “INSPIRE” at checkout!)

Here are the details of where this project is coming from:

Our library has always been a space where we value creating and sharing just as much as consuming information.  Last year because of a Donors Choose project, our library received a 3D printer and it allowed our students to create things that they had never even thought of.  The makerspace culture is alive and well in our library, but we have  a long way to go to exploring makerspaces and how the culture of a makerspace supports students, teachers, and families.

Over the summer, I had an article published in Teacher Librarian about the culture of creation that we are developing in our library and school.  In that article, I talk about the culture, but at some point you have to get some “stuff” to create with.

“Building a Culture of Creation” in the June 2014 issue of Teacher Librarian

This year, one of our library goals is to give students, teachers, and families opportunities to dream, tinker, create, and share.  A part of this is developing the tools that are available for creating in our library.  Our space which we thought was going to be a studio is now going to be a makerspace within our library.  A portion of our library funding this year will be dedicated to developing our makerspace.  After attending an Invent to Learn workshop and focusing on makerspaces at ISTE this summer, I have chosen some next steps for our makerspace.

Our library budget this year will fund:

A littleBits workshop set:

 

A litteBits Space kit:

 

4 MaKey MaKey kits:

 

A Hummingbird robotics kit:

 

This Donors Choose project will extend our budget and give students even more access to maker materials by adding.

littleBits Cloud:

4 additional MaKey MaKey kits:

Sphero:

 

I hope that you will consider supporting our project.  It will impact numerous students, teachers, and families within our school through projects, alternative recess activities, enrichment clusters, and afterschool workshops. Even if you can’t contribute financially, please consider sharing this project within your own networks. I will be sure to blog about our explorations throughout the year.  Thank you in advance!

Reflections on Google Teacher Academy #GTAATL

 

google-certified-teacherOn June 25 and 26, 2014 I had the honor of attending the Google Teacher Academy in Atlanta.  It was a long road to get to GTA.  The application process is a test in how well you can boil down your practice into the most concise wording and video that represents your innovation and reach.  The application is short with only a handful of questions that limit your response to 800 characters.  One of the most challenging parts of the application process is the video.  In one minute, you have to introduce yourself and show how you foster innovation in education as well as how you have a global impact.  I don’t even know how many hours it took me to craft a one-minute video, but I do know that the process forced me to really think about my practice.  I made multiple versions of the video and got feedback from multiple including Cat Flippen, #GTACHI.  Here’s how it turned out:

The wait to find out if I got into GTA was agonizing.  I won’t lie about that.  Even though I had IFTTT recipes setup to notify when the email came, I still stayed glued to my phone and computer because I was in a professional learning session on announcement day. Once the email came, things started happening fast.  The 35 were invited to a Google Plus community where we could begin connecting.  It didn’t take long for the collaboration to begin.  Here are just a few things that happened:

  • Jennifer Armstrong began making a Youtube playlist of our GTA videos

  • Jerry Swiatek made a Twitter list
  • I created a Google doc where we could begin crafting a shared blog post that we each could share in our own networks to introduce the 35 #GTAATL participants
  • Linda Humes and Corey Holmer started designing a t-shirt for us.  Corey’s design was ultimately chosen, but many people in the group contributed ideas.  Frank LaBanca ordered our shirts and had them all shipped to me in GA so that I could easily drive them to GTA rather than someone having to bring them on the plane

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  • Renee Nolan organized a meetup for most of us on the night before GTA began to get to hangout together before GTA consumed our brains
  • Janna Gibson made a guide to Atlanta to introduce everyone to the food and sights to check out in Atlanta
  • And the list goes on

I loved this because it brought out one of the things that inspires me about collaborating.  We all have talents and expertise, and so many people stepped up to share their talents and passions with the group.

Finally meeting everyone face to face was so much fun.  We only knew one another from our profile pics, social media posts, and blog stories.  We all met at Marlow’s for dinner the night before GTA and spent time just having conversation and sharing the anticipation of what the next two days would bring.

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We arrived at the Google office and waited until the exact time to enter.  After checking in, we were immediately launched into the Google culture, which of course started with food.  We had a great breakfast before moving into our agenda.

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I won’t detail the entire agenda, but share some of the things that stood out to me along the way.

First, the planning team revamped the entire agenda, and we were the first GTA cohort to try out this new agenda.  This was exciting but also a little risky since it meant that we might not experience what we thought we were going to experience.  What I saw was that the agenda focused a lot more  on philosophy than on specific tools.  The idea behind this is that tools come and go and tools change, but if you have an innovative, risk-taking philosophy of teaching, then you adapt to new tools and environments as well as create entirely new environments for you and your students.

We watched the Moonshot Thinking video, which I had seen at a GAFE Summit.  It is always powerful no matter how many times I watch it.

I loved how this framed our entire GTA experience because it set the tone that we as innovators in education we need to be trying things that have never been tried and creating new tools and experiences for our students that stretch far beyond a “next step”.  I loved how this moonshot thinking and “solving for x” brought us into our first experience at GTA.

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This was probably my favorite “activity” that we did over the 2 days.  Prior to GTA, each of us submitted what we felt were our biggest challenges in education.  Those challenges were compiled into themes.  At our tables, we were randomly assigned one of the challenges.  Then, one of our team members had to spin a wheel filled with tech tools.  Our goal was to use this tech tool to address the specified challenge, and to make things interesting, we only had 5 minutes to make a decision.

Problems of Practice  PoP    Google Teacher Academy Resources

My group ended up with “lack of teacher training” paired with “Panoramio“.  Most of us in the group had never used Panoramio, which was perfect!  I felt like it put us in the shoes of our teachers who feel insecure when facing a new technology tool.  I was reminded of teachers who feel frozen when they face the unknown and want someone to just tell them exactly how a tool works before they will try it.  With the clock ticking, we didn’t have that luxury.  Instead, those of us that had used the tool began brainstorming how Panoramio could address teacher training.  Others, like me, frantically researched the tool to see what it was capable of.  At a glance, Panoramio is a collection of photographs uploaded by the community of users and embedded onto Google Maps by location.  You can browse the photographs by location or you can specifically search for topics of pictures.  For me, I was trying to figure out if you could tag images and search by tag.  From my own experience, I’ve seen the lightbulb go on so many times for a teacher when they see something put into practice in a classroom.  Sometimes all it takes to help a teacher feel “trained” enough to try something is just seeing what it looks like in a classroom.  I thought that if we could create a massive social media campaign for educators to upload images of their classrooms into Panormaio and tag those images by the topics that they showcased, then we could support teachers in “seeing” what that specific topic looked like in a classroom.  If we needed specific kinds of pictures uploaded to Panoramio, then we could be specific like pictures of students using social media in the classroom.  I added this thinking to my group, but I loved that others in my group had completely different ideas for how this tool could be used.  This exercise also reminded me that our focus can’t be on the tools.  Our focus should be on our students, teacher, families, and community along with the needs that they have.  There’s a whole range of tools that can support those needs.  If we push our thinking and try something radical, sometimes a tool that seemed like the most absurd idea for solving the challenge actually leads to something innovative.

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Our day was of course surrounded by snacks.  We had official breaks, but drinks and snacks were always within reach.

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Even breaks to the bathroom kept you learning and surrounded by Google culture.

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Throughout the 2 days of GTA, there was time for “inspiring ideas”.  These were short presentations from various members of GTAATL.  We submitted ideas before GTA and were selected by the planning committee to present.  I was the very first one to share, which was a bit intimidating.  I shared various ways that I empower student voice through Google forms as well as how Google forms can help you crowdsource information.

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Other rockstars included Chris Aviles, who shared how he gamifies his classroom.  He has created an entire story line that plays out with his students which even includes getting phone calls from game characters using Google Voice.  Amy Burvall shared how she used Google Plus to give her students a space to contribute to the classroom and crowdsource information.  She also uses this tool to connect people in her professional development sessions.  By doing this, people aren’t sitting passively in her sessions, but are instead, actively contributing during her session and beyond.  Genius!  Hearing from all of these amazing educators during this session was an energy boost during an exhausting day.  I was proud to be a part of this group.

One of the things that I hoped would happen was a preview of Google Classroom.  We heard about the process it took to develop Google Classroom.  I loved seeing a picture from an elementary teacher’s classroom where she had posted about 7 or 8 steps it took to turn in an assignment to the teacher.  This was one of the inspirations for Google Classrooms.  We had a chance to try out the interface and were all excited and blown away by the usefulness and simplicity.  With 35 innovative educators in one room, it didn’t take long for a range of questions to surface.  We definitely surfaced some barriers that people may face in using Classroom, but overall the buzz was one of excitement and eagerness to get this tool in our teachers’ hands.

Our lead learners

Our lead learners

The rest of GTA involved 4 rounds of explorations of various Google tools and themes.  We grouped ourselves into these rounds by common interests in the kinds of challenges we wanted to tackle in our action plans.

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We saw a lot of tools, but didn’t have time to use them very much.  Now that I’m away from GTA, I’m starting to look at what I saw and consider how these tools fit into what I may try in the library this year.  I’m already thinking about how Google Draw can be used as we connect with other schools via Skype and Google Hangout.  I wish that we had spent more time with the various map tools from Google because I think there is a lot of potential with those as well for global collaborations.  I’ll have to take time to do this for myself.

At the end of day one, we all became Google Certified Teachers.  We had a pinning ceremony and a celebration dinner.  It was a great sense of accomplishment, but it was only the beginning of the work and opportunities ahead.

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Day two was time for us to explore our own interests through an unconference as well as work on our action plans.  After GTA, it is an expectation that you create an action plan to facilitate change in education during the coming school year.  My focus is on global collaboration.  Seeing what students gain from connecting with authors, experts, libraries, and classrooms beyond our walls has convinced me that I need to develop even more opportunities for students to have these connections.  This year, I want connecting to be more than a one time thing.  I want to create content with students in other states and countries.  I want students to offer one another feedback and ask one another questions.  I want students to have an opportunity to create projects that matter to them and share those with a global audience.

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Amy Burvall inspired many conversations about hashtags and “showing your work”.

I had many important conversations during GTA about this project.  Amy Burvall and I talked a lot about hashtags and how tags are the “soul of the Internet”.  She helped me to think about how we track our work so that it continues to inform our next work.  We talked about the importance of sharing the whole process of a project and not just the final project.  This is the kind of thing that GTA does.  You may not get to know every single person at GTA, but you make connections with people that you know are going to continue to push your thinking well beyond the 2 days that you spend together.

Global TL logo

Now my attention turns to GlobalTL, a Google Plus community that was started by Joyce Valenza.  Now, I’m working along with Joyce and many other librarians to develop this community that will facilitate global connections.  I know that by connecting and collaborating with librarians, I am connecting my students and teachers with students and teachers around the world.  Librarians work with every student, teacher, and family member in the school.  I think it makes sense to think about how to create a community that connects people.  We don’t know exactly what will happen in the group, but we are going to shoot for the moon to foster global collaboration.

Google Teacher Academy has connected me with 34 other amazing educators, and I know I can call on them for any questions or roadblocks I face.  I’m also now connected to a global community of Google Certified Teachers who are actively supporting one another in their educational spaces.  I’m sure that GTA is only the beginning of a long collaborative relationship with some amazing global educators.

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Photo Credits: Danny Silva (@iteachag)

Reflections on the #Wandoo5: A Visit to Evanced

photo 4 (2)This has been a whirlwind summer.  Across 9 days from June 22-July1, I visited Evanced in Indianapolis, became a Google Certified Teacher at the Google Teacher Academy in Atlanta, and experienced the awesomeness of ISTE in Atlanta.  My brain was so exhausted that it has been hard to pull out the strands of what I actually learned.  However, I’m going to slowly start letting the learning soak in and write about each of those experiences here beginning with the #Wandoo5

lindsey

During the past school year, a small group of 5th graders began beta testing a tool called Wandoo Planet.  Wandoo Planet is an interest genome project like Pandora or Netflix where students share their interests in a game-like environment.  In return, Wandoo Planet offers book, movie, and game recommendations to them based on those interests.  We loved this tool so much that we used it to kickoff our summer reading at the end of the year.  Lindsey Hill at Evanced Skyped with every class in 2nd-5th grade and families, UGA students, and Barrow student ambassadors assisted me in getting every student signed up for an account.

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Other schools were also exploring Wandoo Planet and hosting the Banishing Boredom Tour at their schools.  Thanks to some informal conversation between Sherry Gick and Rob Cullin, President of Evanced, and making our work public, 5 library leaders were chosen to visit Evanced Solutions, a DEMCO company, in Indianapolis for a Think Tank.  The details of the Think Tank were really not specific, but when you have an opportunity to get together with Matthew Winner from Maryland, Sherry Gick from Indiana, Shannon Miller from Iowa, and Shawna Ford from Texas, you don’t say no and you expect nothing less than awesome!

Before we even arrived, a name had been created, the Wandoo 5 (#Wandoo5).  It felt like a giant signal had been activated in the sky and we were climbing aboard our planes to assemble at headquarters for a secret mission.

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We all arrived in the afternoon on June 22 and had a chance to hangout, have informal conversations, and enjoy downtown Indianapolis.  Lindsey Hill (@thelindseyhill), Reading Engagement Innovator at Evanced, made us feel right at home from the moment our planes landed and she didn’t stop even when our planes were returning us home.  You can tell that the people at Evanced truly care about libraries, librarians, and especially readers.

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On Monday June 23, the Think Tank began.  I was amazed by how we started because we didn’t start with the products that Evanced offers.  The very first question asked of us was to describe the landscape of school libraries and librarianship and to think about what some of our biggest challenges are.  Where would we start?  Our attention immediately turned to our students and access to information.  This particular strand of the conversation went from access to quality devices to access to Internet outside of school.  Our attention turned to the teachers within our buildings and the wide range of experiences and comfort levels with using and taking risks with technology.  Finally our attention turned to our colleagues around the world and how we support one another.

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Some Takeaways from Think Tank Part 1:

  • As we take risks as teacher librarians, it is more important than ever to show our work in a public way.  It isn’t about always showing the polished product at the end.  It’s about showing the process that it took to get there, even if it wasn’t successful.  We never know who we are mentoring along the way by showing our work.
  • It is more important than ever to build your own Professional Learning Network (PLN).  We all come from a range of support systems.  Some of us are fortunate enough to work in districts that are supportive of our work and have administrators that respect and value what happens in the libraries.  Others don’t have that support system.  Regardless of where we are, there is a vast network of librarians ready to support us.  From following #tlchat on Twitter to watching the TL Virtual Cafe webinars to tuning in to TL News Night to building your own network of librarian colleagues on Twitter or Google Plus Communities, it is more possible than ever to build your own support system that pushes your thinking and enriches your work rather than feeling like you are living on a deserted island in your school.
  • Evanced listens!  To sit there and share the landscape of libraries and the challenges we face was overwhelming, but it was nice to know that there is a company that has the word “solutions” in their title on our side.  They may not be able to solve all of the challenges we face, but we at least had a voice and impact into future solutions that they may explore in the landscape of libraries and librarianship.

The next part of our day was looking at the landscape of Evanced.  Matt Sheley, Vice President of Evanced, shared the journey that the company took in arriving at Wandoo Planet and Wandoo Reader as solutions to a challenge.  The company looked at reading data that showed a population of students who weren’t reading beyond elementary grades.  They wanted to develop a tool that connected learners with materials that resonated with their interests in the hopes that it would grow them into lifelong learners and readers.  It was truly amazing to see the process from notes in a journal to the tool that we are using today.

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During lunch, we got to view Wandoo Reader, which is primarily focused on public libraries for now, but we had the opportunity to brainstorm what this tool might look like within a school.

 

 

To me, one of the most interesting conversations centered on collaboration between school and public libraries.  While we acknowledged the importance of data confidentiality, we also considered how powerful it would be if school and public libraries could share data.  Since students mostly read based on their interests during the summer, being able to see that data as a school librarians would help us improve our collections to match reader interests as well as advise our library members on next reads.

We also got a chance to walk around the Evanced office.  Some parts were very quiet with coders at work.  We also saw some of the displays that were taken to schools and conferences.

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Some Takeaways from Think Tank Part 2:

  • In our libraries and in our schools, we should take time to identify the major challenges that we face.  Rather than try to “fix” them all at once, we should select the one(s) we want to focus on and think beyond just the next steps or even the “research-based” strategies that we always turn to.  While these are certainly things to consider, we should also give ourselves permission to dream and create something entirely new that we build together as we go.  It should be a solution that truly matches the needs of the learners involved and pierces to the root of the challenge.
  • We should never feel done.  I could tell that Evanced is the kind of company that doesn’t put out a product and say “This is it. Take it or leave it.”  They constantly listen, fine tune, and add new features that respond to the needs of the users.  Isn’t that what we should be doing in our libraries and schools?  We are never done.

Our day ended with “Our Whys”.  We each took time to reflect on why we do the work that we do in school libraries.  It was a mixture of the #whylib conversations that took Twitter by storm in April and a series of short TED Talks.   It was very intimidating to me to go last during this sharing because I was blown away by the whys that my colleagues shared.  Our whys included keeping students at the heart of what we do, empowering student voices in the global community, creating a participatory culture that gives all students an opportunity to contribute, and listening to each student that enters our doors and allowing the library to be a home within our buildings.  If these statements had been recorded, I think I would listen to them every day on the way to work to frame my day.

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Some Takeaways from Think Tank Part 3:

  • We each need to be able to share our “why”.  It reminds us why we come to work every day.  It focuses the hundreds of decisions that we make on a daily basis.
  • Again, we need to share the work that we do within our libraries and within that sharing we need to embed our why.  It needs to shine through in the successes and the failures that we share.  When it does, it becomes one of our greatest advocacy tools.

I went to Indiana thinking that I was just going to give a company feedback to improve a tool that they had created and get to hangout with some of my closest professional learning network.  However, I realized that this was much more.  This was about thinking big, dreaming big, and (since I’m Googlified) solving for X through moonshot thinking.

The people at Evanced are listening.  They are dreaming.  They are searching for solutions to some of our biggest challenges.  This was such a rewarding experience, and I’m thankful to all of the people at Evanced for this opportunity.  I look forward to many more conversations in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Allow us to introduce ourselves: The Google Applantans of Google Teacher Academy #GTAATL

On June 25-26, 2014, I will travel to Atlanta to be a part of the Google Teacher Academy with 34 other amazing educators.  These individuals come from all over the globe to be a part of this highly competitive 2-day professional learning.

From the Google Teacher Academy site:

The Google Teacher Academy (GTA) is a free professional development experience designed to help primary and secondary educators from around the globe get the most from innovative technologies. Each GTA is an intensive, two-day event during which participants get hands-on experience with Google tools, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and immerse themselves in a supportive community of educators making impact.

We would all like to take a moment to introduce ourselves before we arrive in Atlanta. After the two days, I’ll be sure to do a post about my learning as well as begin sharing my personal action plan.

Here are the 35 Google Applantans!  I invite you to read about us, watch our application videos, and begin following us on social media as we begin our journey to becoming Google Certified Teachers.

Adam Seipel

adam siepel

Social Media Presence:

Google+

Website:

Mr. Seipel’s Site- somewhat defunct since my recent career transition

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am originally from Ohio and moved to North Carolina after graduating from Ohio University. Throughout college, I worked at a summer camp and in this isolated setting, I first used Google Docs way back in 2008. My first doc was the parent letter for my initial class. I arrived in NC and started in a rural high school English classroom, but I quickly began assisting my peers with using technology in their instruction. I met my wife at church in 2009, we got married in 2010 and had our son in 2012. We announced that she was pregnant with this photo and picked his name this way. Just a few months ago, I migrated from the classroom into my new role as an Instructional Technologist where I am able to work with our district’s 4,000 teachers and 55,000 students.

Interesting fact:

I was on America’s Funniest Home Videos as a child; I lost.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I look forward to get Googly with this team. I am in a district that does not use GAFE — although I have helped lead several districts to its adoption — so I want to experience applications of this suite and Google’s other tools — cough Classroom cough — in the hopes of convincing the powers that be to make the transition to GAFE.

 

Amy Burvall

Amy Burvall

Social Media Presence:

Web sites:

GTA Video:

and you can read about my process here: http://amysmooc.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/the-royal-google-making-my-google-teacher-academy-video/

Introduction:

I’ve been a Hawaii private school teacher for over 20 years and currently teach Theory of Knowledge in the International Baccalaureate Programme at Le Jardin Academy on the island of O’ahu. My involvement in the History for Music Lovers project on YouTube has led to my fascination with remix culture and social media, particularly in respect to education. I speak and run workshops internationally on new literacies, remix, transparency and creativity among other things.

Interesting facts:

I am blessed to be a breast cancer “survivor” (always hesitant to use that phrase), I live on a beautiful island but rarely go to the beach, I secretly want to be an OS system or cyborg, my signature colours are hot pink and black and I only wear black clothing, and I eat a cookie every morning for breakfast to start the day off sweetly. Oh, and a Philadelphian drag queen revue has covered my song in a live performance.

What I hope to get out of GTA:

camaraderie, connections, creative inspiration – and maybe a collaboration for a project involving GAFE.

 

Andy Plemmons

Andy Plemmons

 

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://barrowmediacenter.com/

GTA Video:

Introduction:

I am the school library media specialist at David C. Barrow Elementary in Athens, Georgia where we expect the miraculous every day.  I serve approximately 535 students in Pre-K through 5th grade.  My library program is grounded in transliteracy, participatory culture, and students as creators of content shared with the global community. I make my own work and the work of my student public through my blog, social media, and connecting with libraries, authors, experts, classrooms, and developers via Skype and Google Hangout.

Interesting Fact:

I’m a huge Mariah Carey fan, and I may or may not have been gently pulled away by security when I gave Mariah a friendly hug backstage in Orlando in 2003.  I’ll also be leaving my wife at home alone with a 2 and 4 year old from June 22-July 1 to visit Evanced Games and attend GTA and ISTE, missing our anniversary on June 25.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

Attending GTA will allow me to connect with more leaders in education, strengthen my own use of Google’s collaborative tools, and ultimately expand the opportunities my students and teachers have to connect and collaborate with people around the world.  Collaborating between multiple locations and school cultures is complicated, and GTA will help me think about how to better facilitate this process for classrooms and libraries worldwide.

 

Bob Deneau

Bob Deneau

(Taken on a past trip to Atlanta at the CNN Center…I was younger and thinner back then)

 

Social Media Presence:

Website:

Technology That Actually Works Blog

GTA video:

Introduction:

After teaching 4th grade for 8 years and being a part of opening up a new school, I became an Instructional Technology Specialist and have served in that position for the past 7 years. This year, I moved up to support our middle schools and this was a great professional move. I love working with this age group and their teachers. I have been married to wife Michelle for 12 years and she is an elementary school librarian. Many of our non-educator friends are not sure how we can survive being home all summer together but it is great! When not exploring edtech related items, I enjoy golfing and as seen in my video, I can marginally “play” the guitar.

Interesting fact:

Although I have lived in the St. Louis, Missouri area my entire life, I have never been up in the St. Louis Arch (our #1 tourist attraction). This is probably because of my fear of heights and listening to the stories of my sister getting stuck at the top with our very interesting grandfather. One other interesting fact would be that I helped move a port a potty out of the way at the 2008 presidential inauguration so my group of 10 high school students could get into the DC mall area to see the speech. Being in charge of 10 students in a crowd of millions was one of the scariest things I have experienced.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

For me, GTA is all about making connections and learning with other Google enthusiasts. In my area, I have been able to collaborate with a number of Google Certified Teachers and I have seen how this program made them better educators. I want to experience this and grow as a professional. My newly acquired knowledge and skills can then be shared with my fellow Instructional Technology Specialists, 1400+ teachers, and 22,000 students as we enter our second year in using Google Apps for Education. Selfishly…I hope we get to look at Google Classroom too!

 

Cameron McKinley

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://cameronmckinley.weebly.com/

GTA video:

Introduction:

I currently serve as a Technology Integration Coach for Hoover City Schools in Hoover, Alabama. I’ve been in education for 17 years after working in business and for the military for 10 years. I’ve served elementary, middle, and high school students and teachers over the years. My husband is a math coach/tutor and we have 3 children ages 16, 14, and 11. We are a close family who love learning and playing together!

Interesting fact:

I have lots of interests. I have a pilot’s license but don’t really use it now. I’ve run 9 marathons and actually won two of them. I wish I could keep running but injuries prevent it. I coach Cross Country and Track and also Lego Robotics. I love theater and though I am better watching it than participating I give it a try sometimes – or at least for my Google Application video! :)

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I look forward to the collaboration and sharing and to all that I will learn from others. I also hope to find more efficient ways to share through my online presence which is a bit outdated at the moment. I can’t wait to see what others are doing and bring back new ideas to my district and state!

 

Cathy Jo Nelson

Cathy Jo Nelson

Social Media Presence:

Website:

Cathy Jo Nelson’s Professional Thoughts

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am a High School Librarian serving a student population of 2600+ students in the upstate of SC. I am active in the American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, South Carolina Association of School Librarians, and South Carolina Association of Educational Technology. My PLN spans many face to face and virtual avenues. I will begin my 29th year of teaching in the fall. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Library/Media.

Interesting fact:

I’m an avid University of South Carolina Gamecock fan, and my husband seriously questioned my devotion when I said I was coming to GTA instead of the College World Series June 25.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

New connections, broadened understanding of technology integration, and great ideas to bring back to my teaching context.

 

 

Chelsey Eminger

Chelsey Eminger

Social Media Presence:

Website:

GTA video:

Introduction:

My name is Chelsey Eminger.  This was my first year as an Instructional/ Technology coach in Mentor, Ohio.  Prior to that I was a first grade teacher for four years, a job that was very difficult to leave!  Now I have the chance to work with risk-taking teachers every day while learning new things!  I’m always ready to learn new, interesting things, especially when it comes to educational technology.

Interesting fact:

While hanging in Atlanta for GTA and ISTE, I’ll be leaving my husband alone with the dog for our anniversary!

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I am excited to spend time with others that learn and work the way that I do.  I’m hoping for amazing conversations that spark ideas to take back to my district, that hopefully lead to conversations with my PLN online!

 

Chris Aviles

Chris Aviles

Social Media Presence:

Website:

www.techedupteacher.com

GTA video:

Introduction:

My name is Chris Aviles. I teach English at Barnegat high school in Barnegat, NJ. My class features advanced Gamification (including what might be the world’s first yearlong Alternate Reality Game), self-paced mastery, flipped learning, BYOD, and much more!

Interesting fact:

I survived Hurricane Sandy. We were without power for nearly two weeks. We ran out of food, water, fuel, and firewood quickly. Imagine Beyond Thunderdome set on the beach. It was like that… kind of.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

New friends, new ideas, and new practices to bring back to my classroom.

 

Corey Holmer

Corey Holmer

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://edtech-channel.com/

GTA Video:

Introduction:

Educational technologist, movie fanatic, and all-around geek. Previously a 1:1 iPad teacher, my goal is to support both students and teachers on how to integrate technology into learning as a seamless part of instruction. As a Technology Integration Facilitator is to make sure teachers, students, parents, and are the community are properly prepared on the use of technology for classroom and personal use. My end goal is to empower anyone with the willingness learn on the use of educational technologies to connect, create, and collaborate in the 21st century classroom.

Interesting fact:

Recently finished my first Half-Ironman and Ragnar Relay (10 person team, 200 miles). On a side note, I hate the feel of styrofoam and chalk boards.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

Looking forward to connecting with like-minded individuals and broadening my knowledge of education, while also contributing to this ever growing Googly community. I want to build capacity of the educators I work with, helping them to take  best instructional practices to another level in any way possible.

 

Dale Van Keuren

Dale Van Keuren

Social Media Presence:

Website:

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am an Instructional Technology Coach at Waukesha North High School in Waukesha Wisconsin.  After spending 12 years in the classroom as a Social Studies teacher, I made the move to a tech coach role last year to help improve teaching and learning at a systemic level.  During my first year as a tech coach it was our first full year as a Google Apps school.  Collaboration, creation, and communication skyrocketed amongst teachers and students.  This past year was our first year as a 1:1 iPad school.  Google Apps has been the bedrock of how we are trying to transform teaching and learning.

Interesting fact:

I have nothing interesting about me :)  Seriously though, the most interesting thing about me is the life I lead with my 3 kids and lovely wife.  We go to Packer and Brewer games, go to Walt Disney World every year for Spring Break, and spend boatloads of time together.  I am a super hero freak (check out my GTA Video) and tech nerd at heart.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

Honestly, most of us can learn tech pretty easy, but the ability to connect with like minded people is one of the biggest reasons I applied to GTA.  Our Atlanta group, as well as the other GCT’s, are leaders in education, and the ability to network and develop leadership skills is very important to me and my development as a leader.  But…from a nerd point of view I do hope we get access to Classroom early :)

 

Danielle Forst

Danielle Forst

Social Media Presence

Twitter @danielleforst

Google+ Danielle Forst

LinkedIn Danielle Forst

Website

https://sites.google.com/site/daniellereneeforst/

GTA Video

Introduction

I work as a Professional Learning Program Specialist for CUE where I organize and present at professional learning events around the country. Prior to accepting this fantastic job, I was the Lead Teacher for a K-8 Independent Study Program where I used GAFE and multigrade workshops to build community. I am involved in many different projects surrounding Educational Technology. I love to learn!

Interesting Fact

Along with some of my sixth grade students, I shaved my head for a St. Baldrick’s school event. In just 48 hours, I exceeded my goal of raising $1500 for childrens’ cancer research.

What I hope to gain at GTA

I want to build my Personal Learning Network, sharing with and learning from others. As a Professional Learning Leader, I hope to connect with others and discuss how educators can use Google to positively impact student engagement, collaboration, productivity, and achievement. I also hope to play around with and learn more about Google Classroom.

 

Danny Wysong

Danny Wysong

Social Media Presence:

GTA Video:

Introduction:

I am a Digital Integration Specialist with Horry County Schools in Conway/Myrtle Beach, SC where I get to help teachers learn how to effectively utilize and integrate technology into their classes and curricula. Prior to this position, I was a middle school English/Language Arts teacher for 8 years and in the final two I was able to pilot a 1:1 iPad environment. Currently my district is rolling a 1:1 personal device (iPads and Dell Venues – don’t ask about the choice of the Venues) initiative which will give all teachers and students from grades 3-12 a personal device. Though I miss interacting with students, I incredibly enjoy working with teachers and helping them learn how to use effective technology and web tools to heighten their classroom environment and inspire innovation and creativity within their students. In those sessions and in this movement to a 1:1 environment and digital learning, GAFE has been an incredible tool and in many ways the motivation and foundation of moving forward. I am also currently at the dissertation stage of my PhD in Education with a specialization in Educational Technology through Walden University, hoping to be completely finished by the Fall of 2015!

Interesting fact:

I played college football at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and won a SEC West Championship in 2003 (technically we were co-champs with LSU that year) but it still count and I still got a really big, really nice, championship ring which I wear all the time much to the chagrin of my wife. ;) More interesting facts: Speaking of my wife, I proposed to her in Disneyworld, in front of Cinderella’s castle, right before the evening parade, so she was completely surprised and everyone waiting for the parade gave us a very loud and excited round of applause (plus Disney gave us “Engaged” pins and Mickey and Minnie Wedding Mouse Ear hats!). Also, our wedding was outside at a beach resort and we danced down the aisle, with our wedding party, to Chris Brown’s “Forever” (video on Youtube if interested) which completely shocked all of our guests.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I am excited to meet and work with fellow educators who are motivated by educational technology and aware of the exponential benefits of incorporating effective technology into our schools. The ability to connect with such motivated, creative, and innovative educators is truly an exciting opportunity, especially under the leadership and of fellow Google Certified Teachers. Also, I am looking forward to expanding my PLN and my knowledge of the educational tools Google offers so I may bring back to my colleagues and teachers more ways to innovate and educate our students in a 1:1 digital environment. Speaking of which…maybe we can get an early look in Google Classroom, or if anyone has Google Glass, I am extremely interested and intrigued in the educational applications this type of technology offers.

 

David Deeds (aka Deed Davids)

David Deeds

Social Media Presence:

Website

http://www.scoop.it/t/3d-virtual-worlds-educational-technology

GTA Video

Second Life Cybercampus SLURL

Most Recent Presentation (for Second Life MOOC 14)

Introduction:

I was a higher ed professor for eight years, teaching computers, business and English, in the USA and South Korea. It was in the ROK that I started using virtual worlds, or immersive learning environments, in order to provide a truly hands-on (well, cyberhands, anyway) educational experience for my students. I´ve maintained a Second Life cybercampus since 2006, plus OpenSimulator since 2009, when I switched to international K-12 schools. As of this fall, I´ll be the Technology Integration Coach for the American School of Guatemala, where, after 13 years of teaching, I´ll step out of the classroom to train teachers full-time.

Interesting Fact:

When the Tech Bubble burst in 2001, I was a systems analyst for an international  software/consulting company, earning darn near six figures a year. The layoffs hit but I was unemployed for exactly one day. I got a gig teaching software engineering courses and realized I had missed my true calling in life. I met folks involved with teacher exchange programs and decided to change location as well as vocation. In addition to South Korea, I´ve also lived in Georgia and China, and now Mexico.

What I Hope to Gain at GTA:

My next school is one part of an organization that includes another K-12 institution and three universities! That´s right, a whole lotta Googlers! I´d like to get some tips on how to implement GAFE on such a large scale. Plus I just want to join a network of Google Gurus so I can stay on top of developments and swap ideas, tips, etc.

 

Frank LaBanca

Frank LaBanca

Social Media Presence:

  • YouTube: franklabanca
  • Google+: +franklabanca
  • Instagram: franklabanca
  • Twitter: @franklabanca
  • LinkedIn: Frank LaBanca
  • Pinterest: franklabanca

Website:

GTA video:

TEDxLitchfieldEd video:

Introduction:

Dr. Frank LaBanca is a teacher, educational researcher, and change agent. He is the founding principal of Danbury’s Westside Middle School Academy magnet.  Prior, he was the Director of the Center for 21st Century Skills at EDUCATION CONNECTION, he directed and managed the implementation of innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs in 50+ middle and high schools across Connecticut. During his 16-year career in the classroom, Frank taught Biology and Applied Science Research at Stamford, Newtown, and Oxford High Schools. He has been recognized as a National Education Association Innovation Teacher; a GTE GIFT (Growth Initiatives For Teachers) Fellow; a RadioShack National Teacher for Excellence in Science, Math, and Technology; and the Teachers’ Insurance Plan Teacher of the Year. He was also recognized by Discovery as the National Outstanding Classroom Blogger for his blog Applied Science Research and was a global finalist in the best teacher blog category of the 2011 Edublog Awards. Frank adjuncts at Western Connecticut State University and the University of Bridgeport teaching Science Methods, Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis for Educational Research, and supervises dissertation research.  Frank holds a BS in Biology, an MS in Science Education, and an EdD in Instructional Leadership.

Interesting fact:  

Founding Principal of a new Magnet Middle School scheduled to open in September.  Will be the first school in Danbury to operate 1:1, facilitated by using BYOD.

What I hope to gain at GTA:  

Hoping to learn how to bring 1:1 to scale effectively using web-based strategies to make students better producers.

 

 

Greg Pitzer

Greg Pitzer

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://www.gregpitzer.com

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am the instructional technology coordinator for the Cupertino Union School District in Cupertino, CA – Yes – the home of Apple. How I got here is a circuitous route – I was part of Tech for America in 1993 and started teaching middle school science in Oakland, CA.  I got my masters in biochemistry from the University of Texas (Go Horns!). I taught for 5 years in Austin, met my wife, Cristina.  I then worked for NASA as an education specialist in MN and WI, then CA for 5 years before returning to public education.  I worked at the county office for 3 year as an education technologist before moving down to the district level where I’m having a great time!

Interesting fact:

I’ve been fortunate to travel a fair amount – lived in Germany for 4 years, seen most of Europe, saw southest Asia, the middle East, South Africa for the World Cup (I’ll be streaming games during any free time :)  I’ve been to 49 states, but am still missing the best one yet – Hawaii

What I hope to gain at GTA:

This is always a tough question -but I would say that it has already started – getting to know all of you and hearing your ideas, thoughts, brainstorming new ideas and knowing that I have a whole new group of educators to bounce ideas off.  I’m never one to set certain expectations for a new adventure, but rather see what presents itself.  I think the best will just be trading ideas, debating thoughts- of course I’d love a sneak peak of Classroom, but I’d also be curious to brainstorm ideas of what Google Glasses might bring down the road – what are some of the social issues it presents.  And of course coming from Cupertino – finally I won’t be laughed at for having an Android phone :)

 

Janet O’Hara

Janet O’Hara

Social Media Presence:

  • Twitter:  @ndrrvec
  • Google+:  +JanetOhara

Website:

RRVEC

GTA video:  

Introduction:

Hello new #GTAATL friends!   I am a technology coordinator for the Red River Valley Education Cooperative. I also am a part-time adjunct instructor at the University of North Dakota.  I have worked in education for the past 17 years as a teacher, technology specialist, and coordinator in both Minnesota and North Dakota.  This month I also became an Authorized Google Education Trainer.  I am originally from Cavalier, ND a small town in NE North Dakota with a population of just under 1500 people.  I currently live in Grand Forks, ND.

Interesting fact:

I am a terrible driver.  I am allergic to beer.  I have a twin sister that I think I look nothing like, but everyone mixes us up.  I once used my only personal day of the school year to stand in line and buy George Strait tickets.

What I hope to gain at GTA:  

I am excited to create a cohort of educators that share of a love of technology and learning. I also want to meet other Glass in Education Explorers to share and collaborate potential Glass projects.

 

Janna Gibson

      Janna Gibson    Social Media Presence

Website:  

www.jannagibson.com

GTA video:   

Introduction:

After years of avoiding the inevitable of following in my mother’s footsteps, I left my cubicle and returned to school to eagerly earn a degree in Education. With a natural wanderlust, I moved to South Korea to experience, not just visiting, but living abroad. Within my first year, I was approached and offered a job in my field of study, Birth through Five years old. I jumped in with both feet and in a short three years, I fell in love with living and teaching abroad. For the 2014 – 2015 school year, I am thrilled to announce I will be teaching in the Early Years Centre at Vientiane International School, an I.B. World school in Laos.

When I’m not teaching, I focus my energy (in no particular order) on photography, volunteering, traveling, cooking vegetarian meals, good coffee or tea, listening to NPR, discovering new music, watching documentaries, blogging, connecting with new people, practicing yoga, and keeping in touch with family and friends.

Interesting fact/s:

In 2008 and 2009, I worked for the NBA Atlanta Hawks as a Spirit Squad member (aka T-Shirt cannon pro).  Once, Spirit the Hawk, the mascot from Zoo Atlanta, swarmed the arena during the pre-game hype during playoffs. I’ll never forget the players scrambling and hiding behind each other, afraid to start the game, in fear of the hawk! Another time, a massive tornado hit the arena and most of downtown Atlanta.  Parts of the rafters were dangling, yet no one budged — we had no idea what had happened. It was business as usual.  The timer buzzed and we hit the court and threw our shirts! We were in for quite the apocoyptic scene as we exited that game! I have worked many jobs to survive my long journey through school, but this was definetly most memorable. Oh, and just a couple more things: 1) I don’t like shopping, ice cream, or chocolate. However, if the mood strikes (about once a year), I will buy chocolate ice cream. 2) Last Summer, I volunteered on an organic green tea farm in the middle of nowhere, Japan. I will never take another sip of tea for granted in my lifetime. 3) Brevity has never been my forte.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

My enthusiasm for Google Apps for Education (GAFE) grew from my attendance at the 2013 Google in Education Summit – South Korea.  Esoteric by nature, the Early Years age group did not receive much attention at the Summit. However, a conversation with one of the Keynote Speakers left me encouraged and activated. With her specific advice, I returned to my classroom and began using even more Google. The result was so positive that I later presented my successful experience at the KORCOS Conference in 2014. My exuberance multiplied when I saw fellow educators’ faces in the crowd for I was not the only one eager to learn more about bringing this technology to our classrooms.  What I learned this year has only scratched the surface. There is much more than needs to be shared on Google use in the Early Years setting, I just don’t know what it is. It is my hope that the Google Teacher Academy will teach me. In short, I’m ecstatic to be a sponge and am ready to learn anything and everything google-y there is to learn about Google in Education!

 

Jennifer Armstrong

Jennifer Armstrong

Social Media Presence

GTA video:

Introduction:

Since December I have been the Manager of the Instructional Resource Center at Georgia Regents University. In this position I work with both faculty and students who are studying to become teachers. I am blessed that I get to work with individuals as they begin their career in education. My hope is to expose our students to technology tools that will further enhance their teacher education program so they are truly ready to enter the classroom in this digital age.

Prior to the move to higher education I served as a Technology Consultant for CSRA RESA (Central Savannah River Area Regional Education Service Agency) and the National Science Center ETC (Educational Technology Center). While working as a  technology consultant I served 12 local schools systems conducting professional learning with teachers and administrators at various schools. I began my education career as a middle school math teacher. My passion is sharing with teachers new technology ideas that will bring both sizzle and substance to the classroom.

Interesting fact:

At our house we celebrate a special holiday on October 31st each year.  While most people celebrate Halloween we celebrate Hallowring.  The tradition goes back to when my husband David and I were dating.  As a joke during a halloween party David got down on one knee and gave me a ring pop I put it on my finger we all laughed took pictures and I ate the ring pop. The whole drive home I was so worried that someone would post one of those pictures on social media and I would have lots of questions asked at church the next day. David just smiled and continued driving me home. When he got out of the car he opened my door and in his hand was a real ring and he proposed. Since the first Hallowring we continue the tradition of dressing in costume and pass out ring pops. Last Hallowring David and I dressed as Google Maps. Check out our costume. Picture Link

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I have two main goals for attending the Google Teacher Academy.

1. Learn as much as my brain can absorb during the 2 days of the academy. I have found through conducting technology trainings that many people don’t know what they don’t know. I am open to any learning experience.

2. Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration… The collaboration has already began through the G+ Community and on Twitter but I really hope to have some additional times of strong collaboration to build a foundation for future collaborative projects.

 

Jennifer Schlie-Reed

Jennifer Schlie-Reed

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://stocker.kusd.edu/library/index.html

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am the Library Media Teacher at Stocker Elementary School, in Kenosha, WI.  Prior to taking a position at Stocker, I taught social studies at the secondary level for four years and earned a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology.  I am dedicated to reshaping student learning experiences and providing professional learning support for teaching faculty.  In my current position, I draw on my past teaching experiences to design inquiry-based learning experiences for the 500+ elementary students at Stocker.   I am an advocate of digital citizenship and teach students the importance of their digital footprint and online safety.  I produce a weekly segment for the Stocker News called “Tech Time” to showcase innovation and student work at the elementary school.  I am also on the Kenosha Public Library Board of Trustees as the sole representative for the Kenosha Unified School District.

Interesting fact:  

First of all, I am a huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers and attend games regularly, each year hoping for a trip to the World Series, but always coming up short (I am cautiously optimistic about the Brewers this year given their great start).  I love taking road trips around the country and focus on visiting historical sites, local shops and breweries/wineries along the way.  I also enjoy road biking and walking my dogs for exercise.  This past summer, I was able to attend the Paul McCartney concert when he was in Milwaukee with my mom, both of us are huge Beatles fans, and we had great seats in the 10th row.  I also have collected Raggedy Ann items (dolls, ornaments, knickknacks, etc) since I received a doll on my first Christmas.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I am excited to collaborate with educators beyond the scope of my district as a part of the GTA program because this will translate into exciting learning opportunities in and outside of my school and district.  I look forward to meeting forward thinking individuals and making connections as a part of our GTA community and to working as a member of this learning community.

 

Jerry Swiatek

Jerry Swiatek

 

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://jerryswiatek.com

Introduction:

This coming school year will be my 10th year as an educator. I am currently a District Technology Specialist for the Citrus County School District in Citrus County, FL. I love, love, love my job. In my role, I get to travel from school to school helping teachers and students integrate technology into their classrooms. I am the founder and organizer of EdCamp Citrus. I’m proud that EdCamp Citrus was the 5th EdCamp to ever take place back in 2010. This year’s edition will be the 5th annual. I am a member of the #edchat team. I’ve been archiving the #edchat discussions for 5 years now. All of those archives can be found at http://edchat.pbworks.com. I recently became a Google Apps Certified Administrator and am thrilled to become a Google Certified Teacher. I’ve been married to my wife, Kari, for almost 16 years and two amazing, sometimes pain in the rear end, kids, Madison, 12 and Kalen, 9. I’ve also realized that I need a new headshot. :)

Interesting Fact:

I LOVE baking. I can bake anything, cookies, breads, cakes, cupcakes. I’ve made birthday cakes and loaves of bread for many of my friends. I’m not great at decorating (yet) but my baked goods taste fantastic. :)

What I hope to gain at GTA:

For me, events like GTA, education conferences like ISTE, FETC are all about the connections. I will occasionally learn something new but the best part of these events is meeting amazing people, people who will challenge me and my thinking to help make me better at what I do. It’s always great to meet people, whom I’ve been connected with online for so many years, face to face. for the first time.

 

Jessica Brogley

Jessica Brogley

Social Media Presence:

It’s way easier to give you this link: http://about.me/Jbrogley

Website:

http://mrsbrogley.com/blog/

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am starting a new position with the University of Wisconsin – Platteville in their school of education. I’ll be teaching a course in educational media applications and language/social studies methods class. Sounds awesome, right? Before this change, I taught Communications courses for Southwest Tech. In the past, I taught English Language Arts 8-12th grade for 11 years, and I enjoyed a short stint as a District Technology Coordinator. I’m also a certified Verbal Defense and Influence instructor. My areas of preferred studies would be Communication and Educational Technology.

Interesting fact:

I have two horses that I adore!

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I want to learn the finer points of Google Apps, the Chrome browser, and Chromebooks. I use Google “stuff” every day but things change every six months, it seems. I find it hard to know all of this little specifics. I’m looking to collaborate will others. After a break from serious edtech networking, I’m looking forward to connecting on a daily basis.

 

Jim Jamieson

Jim Jamieson

Social Media Presence:

Website:

GTA video:  

Introduction:

I am Digital Literacy Resource Teacher in the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) just north of Toronto, Ontario.  I have the best job in world!  I am part of a team of 8 VERY enthusiastic edtech innovators that support our 10, 000 teachers and 125, 000 students on their journey integrating technology into their work and learning.  I’ve been a teacher for 20 years and I’ve never been so excited about the possibilities!  Along with +Scott Monahan, I having been helping to spread “the Google” throughout our Board for the last couple of years including two “Google Camps” that brought out close to 1000 teachers on Saturdays to learn together.  I got to work some of my “social media mentors”  Eric Sheninger, Eric Byrne and the EdTech Team as keynotes and presenters.  My career has been diverse including years a drug counsellor in a school, a phys. ed. teacher, site administrator, AP Biology teacher and Department Head of Science.  How did a biologist end up here…..?  I never want to stop learning.  I look for opportunities to learn anywhere I can.  Chances are, I learned something from you online!

Interesting fact:

Believe it or not, that picture of me is the first “real” picture of me I’ve posted on social media.  I’ve always been seen as “Beaker” in all my networks until recently! (See the resemblance?)

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I never want to be the smartest person in the room!  I think that’s been the key to my success!  I never want to stop learning and am looking so forward to learning from everyone at #gtaalt and the network beyond that exists beyond our two day adventure!  To be in a group with so many like-minded and innovative educators, I have to come out a better person on the other side!  I try to live by one of my favourite quotes…. “It’s okay to be where you are, it’s just not okay to stay there!”

 

Joe Sisco

Joe SiscoSocial Media Presence:

 

Julie Shah

Julie Shah

Social Media Presence:

GTA video:

Introduction:

I was born and raised in Southern California, but I have spent some time in Michigan (for undergrad) and India (with family). I spend most of my time with family and working (mainly because my work does not feel like work). The best way to describe my family . . . Well, just watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That pretty much sums us up in a nutshell, minus all of the meat. My family and I are vegetarian for religious reasons—we’re Jain.

I work as a math teacher, Title I Lead, and Technology Coach for the Perris Union High School District. My colleagues are inspirational people, and we serve amazing kids and their families.

My hobbies, besides hanging out with family and working, include needlepoint, beading, and other crafts. I love Bollywood dancing and am a huge I Love Lucy fan.

Interesting fact:

I dropped out of college as an undergrad. After a few month, my dad forced me to go back and sat with me in class. Today, I have my doctorate from USC. Fight On!

What I hope to gain at GTA:

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate! I want to expand my PLN. I would love to learn how to better use social media. I feel overwhelmed right now and want to learn how others streamline their resources. A sneak peak at Google Classroom would be AWESOME. I look forward to spending two days (of many more to come) with out-of-the-box thinkers.

 

Laurie Clement

Laurie Clement

I was hosting a Mini WE Day when I found out I was accepted to the GTA-ATL.  It seemed fitting as WE Day is an opportunity to inspire and empower youth to Be The Change!  This is me with my 3 children who also worked the event.  I am so excited about the opportunity to be inspired by all of you and empowered to continue working toward being the change in my classroom, school and community.

Social Media Presence:

Website:

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am a currently teaching in a Grade 8 1:1 Chromebook classroom. Technology has transformed the way I teach and has allowed me to bring my students to levels that I never thought possible.  My goal is not to “use” technology but to seamlessly embed it into the learning process.  I am also very passionate about providing my students with opportunities to connect globally which led to the development of Global Students Global Perspectives.

Interesting fact:

I am currently working with my class to raise $10,000 to build a school in Kenya.  If we achieve this goal, I am definitely planning on going there myself to help build it.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

It is evident already that this group is very passionate about learning and the endless possibilities that technology can provide our students. I am really excited about the opportunity to be part of this learning community and to learn along with each of you!  I have a lot of staff members very excited to share in all of this knowledge as well!

 

Linda Humes

Linda Humes

Social Media Presence:

Website:

www.librarianlinda.com

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am a first-year high school librarian at Northern Burlington County Regional School Distict in Columbus, NJ.  Prior to that, I taught English at the middle school in the same district.  In the library this year, I have integrated technology that was not previously being used.  For example, I requested and received a cart of Chromebooks that are used daily, and have purchased many new databases and other electronic resources for the students. I have pretty eclectic interests (Star Wars, quilting, Billy Joel, and heavy metal…).

Interesting fact:

I am a huge fan of stand-up comedy.  My husband and I have probably seen more stand-up shows than music concerts.  Some favorites: Steven Wright, Jim Gaffigan, Jim Breuer, Anjelah Johnson

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I look forward to meeting other tech types and am excited to learn a variety of new tech tools.  It will be great to expand my PLN and support system.  I can’t wait to bring new things back to the “hungry” teachers back at school who love Google and want more!

 

Lindsey Brouillard

Lindsey Brouillard

Social Media:

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am a high school, language arts educator at Archer High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Through 8 years of experience, I have become passionate about transforming education to meet the complex needs of our 21st Century students. I encourage building a high performance culture and risk-taking within a project-based learning classroom atmosphere. In order to fine-tune my knowledge and craft, I am pursuing an Education Specialist degree in Instructional Technology and School Library Media at The University of Georgia. I love facilitating at workshops in order to help educators learn how to provide authentic learning experiences and digital literacy instruction. I enjoy being a trailblazer and jumping head first into new ways of doing things.

When I am not focused on all things education, I explore the outdoors and play with my two dogs, Roscoe and Beamer. My husband and I love creating and working on projects together. Our most recent one involved landscaping around our Koi pond. I really enjoy a great cup of coffee, reading, Mexican cuisine, baking, singing in the car, watching National Geographic, and spending time with friends and family.

Interesting fact:

I am a rudderless ship. I get lost and turned around very easily. Although it poses a problem while driving, it has led to some amazing discoveries along the way in my daily life and career.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I am really looking forward to meeting my fellow cohort members and learning about all the amazing things each of you do. I hope to bring back ways to enhance student learning in my classroom. My ultimate goal is to walk away with the confidence and knowledge to impact and develop educators locally and globally. I hope to grow, learn, and increase my Googliness through this experience while connecting with a phenomenal group of like-minded individuals.

 

Michelle Cordy

Michelle Cordy

Social Media:

Website:

http://hacktheclassroom.ca/

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am a teacher on an urgent quest. Currently learning with my Grade 3&4 class, using 1:1 iPads. Interested in the social aspects of the internet. Wannabe maker. I am doing all that I can to join the flows to help transform education right now.

Let’s do this.

Interesting fact:

I recently took up the Ukulele and crochet. Why not? It’s always a wonderful experience to be a beginner and experience the arch and adventure of learning.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I hope to build relationships with other educators with a heart and mind for helping students learn and plan some potential projects.  I also wish to foster a closer connection and understanding of Google and the Googly vision for helping learners.

 

Renee Nolan

Renee Nolan

Social Media Presence:

Website:

Fond du Lac Tech Team PD Site

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am part of the Instructional Technology Integration Team for the Fond du Lac School District in Wisconsin.  Previously, I was a middle school science teacher for 20 years in our district.   I am always looking for new ways for students to communicate, create, collaborate and think critically using technology. In the fall of 2012 our district rolled out one the largest high school 1 to 1 initiatives with 2200 Chromebooks.  I received my Masters Degree in Educational Technology, I am a Google Education Trainer and a Haiku Learning Certified Trainer.  I have presented at several conferences including: ISTE 2013 Google Booth, Midwest Google Summits, and Google/Intel Mini-Summit.

Interesting fact:

I have been to the Googleplex and rode a Google bike across the campus!

What I hope to gain at GTA:

Growth!  I embrace lifelong learning and being inspired by new ideas. I am always looking for innovative teaching methods to use in the classroom. I want to bring new ideas back to my staff so I can share that energy and enthusiasm.   Becoming a GCT will give me the opportunity to be inspired by other educators at the academy. I look forward to making new acquaintances, friendships and further develop my professional learning network.

 

Reuben Hoffman

Reuben Hoffman

Social Media Presence:

Website:

reubenhoffman.com

GTA video:

Introduction:

I teach Geo/Tech (9th) and Sociology (12th) at West Hills HS in San Diego. When I am not in education mode, I love to spend time traveling, camping and being outdoors with my family. iPhoneography has been a hobby of mine for about a year, so if you are up for a photowalk let me know.

Interesting fact:

I was a hog farmer in “The South” for six months.  A few weeks after graduating from San Diego State, I decided I needed to mature and get out of my comfort zone.  I boarded a Greyhound bus and road 72 hours, across the US to Turbeville, South Carolina to work on my Dad’s hog farm. After saving a little money, I went to by myself to Costa Rica for three months. After the Costa Rica trip, I returned to San Diego to start my teaching credential. I have only made a few appearances as a farmer since :)

What I hope to gain at GTA:

Friendships and what will be shared, created, generated by an incredibly motivated group of educators.

 

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas

Social Media Presence:

Website:  

www.sarahjanethomas.com

GTA video:

Introduction:

I am the Technology Liaison at John Hanson French Immersion School in Prince Georges County, MD.  In addition to this, I also teach Technology Integration and English Language Arts at the middle school level.  I have served on the School Leadership Team, advising administrators and teachers on technology-related matters. My main focus for this year has been on flipping the English class, and gamifying the technology class.

Outside of my work at John Hanson, I also conduct professional development for teacher recertification hours at the county level, on topics such as Google Drive, Google Sites, and Using PowerPoint in the Teaching and Learning Process.  I have presented on various technology topics at the local, regional, and state level.

I am a doctoral candidate at George Mason University, with a major in Education.  My upcoming dissertation, Using Technology to Facilitate Language Acquisition of English Language Learners, is rooted heavily in PBL.

Much of the learning that I do, however, is not from a textbook.  It comes from inquiry and collaboration. I hope to reinforce these traits in my students, so that they can become life-long learners. My hope is that they are also able to transform passion into livelihood!

Interesting fact:

I also go by the name of DJ Sarah aka “The Ph.DJ.”

What I hope to gain at GTA:  I hope to connect with other passionate educators from around the globe, and learn everything that Google has to offer in terms of education!  I’m really interested to learn more about Google Glass, scripts, and Google Classroom.

 

Scott Monahan

Scott Monahan

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://blog.teachlearncollaborate.ca/

GTA video:

Introduction:

I’m a digital literacy resource teacher in the York Region District School Board and pursuing an M. Ed. at Nipissing University. I’m passionate about changing elements of the educational culture by working with teachers to show them how technology can make their lives easier and provide more engaging learning for them and their students, and convincing them that they need to share the great things that are happening in their classrooms to support other teachers around them.  I am also the facilities engineer, zamboni driver, and concession stand operator at my backyard rink (build, flood, shovel and provide hot chocolate).

Interesting fact:

The first time I got to see a polar bear [IN THE WILD] was when one of my grade 9 students in Arviat, NU, came up behind me on an ATV while I was walking and asked if I wanted to go see a polar bear.  Of course I said “Yes!”   Little did I know I would only be riding about 500 feet up the road!  The polar bear was dozing on the ice beside the road I was walking on.  Yikes!  I did manage to see a few more in my time in Arviat, but it turned tent camping into a whole new adventure!

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I’m looking to connect with other leaders to find more ways to engage teachers in an inspiring educational future where teachers see themselves as co-learners with their students and are less afraid to venture into new modes of learning and collaborating.

 

Teri Rossman

Teri Rossman

Social Media Presence:

Website:

GTA video:

Introduction:

I was born and raised in a small, and I live in a small town.  Oops- quoting John Cougar Mellencamp, but it’s true!  I have been teaching for about 17 years and loved every second of it.  Currently, I teach STEM at a small K-8, rural school with only about 110 students.  It is my little Utopia!  I LOVE it!  I get to be creative and create my own curriculum.  I also work for our local Regional Office of Education where I provide PD services to area educators for all thing tech and curriculum related.  I get to meet many great educators.  I’m living the dream!

Interesting fact:

In 2009, I won the Illinois Computing Educator’s Technology Administrator of the Year, and got fired the next week from my district.  I will tell you all that story! LOL

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I want to gain as much as possible to be able to fully implement google tools in my building and geographic locale.  I want to be able to show teachers and students how to work more effectively and efficiently (smarter) rather than working harder.  I also can’t wait to work with a group of like-minded individuals and develop a stronger PLN!

 

Todd Norton

Todd Norton

Social Media Presence:

Website:

toddnorton.me

GTA video:

Introduction:

I was born and raised in a small farming community in Iowa(actually, all of Iowa is a small farming community).  After college I moved to Kentucky, married a cute southern girl and live happily with our two crazy children.  I am obsessed with technology and love some #deepgeekspeak.  I am a PhD. candidate in the University of Kentucky’s School Technology Leadership program with an amazing #ukstl cohort that I am proud to call friends.  I teach Media Arts at a one-of-a-kind school that strives to teach in a collaborative manner to foster creativity.  I also co-lead #kyedchat on occassion.

Interesting fact:

I used to be a field corn inspector in Iowa.  I know more about corn than most people should ever know.  I also get bored easy and seek change often.  I earned a Journalism degree in college, but went into ministry and eventually fell into teaching.

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I look forward to connecting with people who geek out about technology as much as I do.  I want to learn more about how technology can be used to enhance student engagement and further learning.  I also look forward to skills I can bring to other educators.

 

Wendy Morales

Social Media Presence:

Website:

http://wendygmorales.blogspot.com/

https://sites.google.com/site/fabhistory/home

GTA video:

Introduction:

I have been a middle school teacher for 17 years (5 years in Newark, NJ and the last 12 in Middletown Twp.)  I currently teach 7th grade Social Studies, but have taken on the informal role of tech coach in my building during my duty and prep periods (as well as before and after school.) I earned my undergraduate degree at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. My degree is in Radio, TV & Film and my dream is to one day write a screenplay that sells!  I have a 9-year-old and 12-year-old at home who have also become Google obsessed (I am still working on the hubby!)  I will hopefully be in a more formal tech coach role next year and will be helping to roll out the 1-1 Chromebook initiative in my large district. I would also like to implement “20% time” next year with my students!

Interesting fact:

This is not that interesting, but I have a chronic disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which limits the foods I can eat (no dairy, no peanuts, and limited wheat for me), so I am going to be that annoying person that has to ask what the ingredients are in everything we eat in Atlanta! On a lighter note, I am obsessed with the Beatles and my favorite show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

What I hope to gain at GTA:

I hope to build my PLN and continue to learn ways to implement GAFE into all content areas, so I can assist teachers in my district.  I would also love to learn more about Google Classroom and Chromebook implementation, as I was already asked to do PD on this in the fall!  I look forward to being inspired by all of you, who already seem so wonderful!