digitalteach

teaching with the tools of a digital world


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Accepted to Google Teacher Academy in Sydney!

Good News! I have been accepted to attend the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Sydney, Australia! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this opportunity to work with other great educators and innovators who will be attending and already a part of the Google Certified Teacher family. This is the first international Google Teacher Academy and the first to focus on “education leaders.” (If you are interested in watching my application video you can find it here or at the bottom of this post!)

Source (www.kstf.org)

Right after the excitement sunk in I started looking for a way to get the money to attend. Luckily, I am part of another great organization; the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF). “KSTF advocates for new teachers and the teaching profession by supporting beginning high school science and mathematics teachers on the path to becoming expert instructors and teacher leaders” (www.kstf.org). KSTF has been a great motivator and builder of my teaching career; it has helped me accomplish things in a very short time that I would have expected to take many years on my own. I have been granted a leadership grant from KSTF which includes funding to attend Google Teacher Academy. The leadership grant will also help me achieve the requirements of GTA:

  • Develop a “Personal Action Plan.”
  • Lead at least three local professional development activities over the course of 12 months.
  • Successfully deploy one school on to Google Apps for Education.
  • Actively participate in the Google Certified Teacher Online Community.
  • Share the impact of their work with other Google Certified Teachers through an end-of-year reflection (http://goo.gl/nRqw).

I have made plans to provide a 2-day professional development on “Google Apps in Education” for my own district this summer as well as a 2 1/2 day professional development for a neighboring district. I will also help this neighboring district in their effort to begin implementing Google Apps for Education in to the learning in their classrooms. KSTF has provided support for travel and lodging for GTA and the summer professional development activities, along with stipends for ten teachers who attend the summer events. I’m excited about these opportunities and chances to grow as an education leader in my district and state. I hope to continue to add to these opportunities in the future!


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The Search for Student Feedback in a Paperless Classroom

My second post about using technology to increase and enhance student engagement is about providing prompt and regular feedback. I have struggled for a few months on how to provide meaningful feedback to students. Since going paperless I have lost the “normal” mode of feedback; writing a few notes on a paper or test and handing it back with my fingers crossed that it meets their eyes before the bottom of the recycling bin.

Without this standard medium I have tried and failed at a few of my first ideas. I tried sending emails to each student, but this quickly became laborious and tiresome. I tried using my Dragon Dictation iPhone app to transcribe and the email feedback, but that was barely more effective than email.I tried using my voice recorder and emailing it to students, but that wasn’t a good fit either. I considered a Google Doc for each student, but decided most students wouldn’t remember or take the time to visit the doc. After sitting on the idea, I decided that I have worked hard to get students to regularly check and read their emails and I didn’t want to add a different mode of delivery that would detract from this. I finally settled on Google Wave.

At first, I was reluctant to pick up and use a tool that already has its end in sight and only the promise that it “will continue into 2011.” Yet, I decided to jump in and give it a shot. I set up a Wave between each student and myself and have used this each time I grade an assignment or need to provide a student with feedback. I spent part of a day to introduce my students to Wave and ensure that they had email reports enabled.

Now, for the reasons I am sticking with Wave for student feedback for the time being.

  1. It provides a very streamlined interface – I can quickly search and find the wave for the student I am looking for and send their feedback with a minimum amount of clicks and typing.
  2. Wave provides a simple record of feedback – Students or myself can quickly and easily review prior feedback and comments between myself and other students.
  3. Its connection with email – As mentioned before my students have their new Wave reports forwarded to their emails, but Wave also keeps my inbox less cluttered. I can choose to have a report of all Wave updates hourly or daily which keeps unnecessary traffic at a minimum, especially when students are usually just recognizing that they have received feedback.
  4. Allows for quick review of student comments and questions – All new updates by students are easily reviewed as new comments and questions are posted with the option to transition between new Wave updates.

I will continue to evaluate Wave as a method for providing effective student feedback. If you have questions or suggestions please leave them here.