Tag Archives: Google Apps for Education

Nevada ACTE 2012 Presentations

One of the conferences that I attend every year is the Nevada ACTE conference in Lake Tahoe. I like this conference because it is small enough that you can have face-to-face conversations with peers from around the state, but large enough to provide excellent choices for presentations to attend.

This year, I presented three different topics. During the Administration Division meeting, I presented “Get Your Head and School into the Cloud.” The primary focus of this presentation was on how Google Apps for Education can improve communication, organization, and productivity for school administrators. This was one the more difficult presentations that I have had to put together because I am not an administrator. I help my school’s administrators get the most out of Google Apps, but I cannot speak on the day-to-day use as an administrator. The session went well as most of the questions focused on what the school as a whole does and not specific administrative duties.

My second presentation was for the Information and Media Technology division, titled “Every Thing in Evernote.” I was asked by the IMT division vice-president to talk about Evernote because every time I do a presentation, I mention it multiple times. This presentation was shorter in terms of time, but not much easier. It was difficult to set up and get ready to do back-to-back presentations in two different rooms on two different topics. This presentation went well because I was able to show examples of how I organize my classroom, curriculum, and other tasks using Evernote. It is hard to touch on everything that Evernote can do for a teacher in 30 minutes, but hopefully some of the teachers will be able to start using Evernote for their classrooms.

My final presentation was for the general sessions on the second day of the conference, titled “iPad Apps for Classroom Management.” This was my easiest presentation because I had done it before for an individual school in the spring. These are all apps on my iPad that I use to help manage my classroom. I do use additional apps, but these are the main iPad apps that are most helpful to me.

As far as sessions that I attended, Adobe did a hands-on session using some of the new tools is CS6. While I don’t have CS6 in my classroom, it was great to see what is new and I can’t wait to get the software in my classroom. Jayme Rawson from East Career and Technical Academy did a great presentation title “Common Core State Standards – Putting it ALL Together” (PowerPoint file). She did a great job explaining that we did not need to know every aspect of the Common Core State Standards as CTE teachers, but how we can help English and Math teachers accomplish their goals.

I was the moderator/assistant for the other two sessions that I attended. Steve New, also from East Career and Technical Academy, did an excellent presentation on screen-casting titled “Maximizing your time while minimizing your effort through Screen-casting“. He did a good job explaining the options for screen-casting (PC and Mac), the benefits of screen-casts, and tips for beginners. The final general session that I observed was “Math, the Brain, and CTE” by Laura Reed. This presentation focused on providing hands-on math activities for CTE students since they tend to be kinesthetic learners.

Overall, it was a great conference that was informative and gave me some things to think about as the start of the school year approaches.

Demo vs. Presentation

Tomorrow is the first official day back for teachers in Clark County. I say official because I (and several other teachers) have been back to work for the last couple of weeks. The first day back is typically filled with staff development and tomorrow is no exception. The teachers on our campus can choose four sessions attend from ten potential options. I am responsible for presenting during three of the four sessions and assisting another teacher in the fourth session.

I am presenting a variation of my NACTE presentation on using the iPad and Google Apps. The focus of my presentation is on creating forms in Google Docs and use the forms on an iPad for student assessment. I have created a Prezi presentation that shows the step-by-step process of setting up the forms and the iPad. My concern is that I will not have enough time, about 45 minutes, to have each teacher work through each step.

What I have decided is to do a live demonstration from beginning to end on the entire process. If there is time at the end of each session, teachers can start to create any forms. I am usually not a fan of doing live demos because since so much can go wrong when using Internet-based technologies, but at least I have the Prezi downloaded in case something goes wrong.

Adventures in Google Apps for Education

A friend of mine recently asked me via Twitter if I would write a blog post about becoming a Google Apps school. I was not involved in the initial setup of the Google Apps for our school. Another teacher had signed the school up and started the initial process of the Google Apps at our school. What I am going to describe is our school’s evolution with Google Apps over the couse of the 2010-11 school year.

The initial purpose behind using Google Apps was to allow each teacher to create Google calendars for each class and insert his/her lesson plans in the calendar. In the first year that our school was open (2009-10), every teacher had posted lessons online either through personal Google accounts, Moodle, or uploaded PDF files via Dreamweaver. The lack of consistency in posting lessons and methods of posting lessons was troublesome to our administration and they had decided to have the staff use Google calendars. On the very first day back to work last year, I did a presentation on and helped every teacher sign-in to their accounts, create the calendars, enter events, and embed the calendars onto their class website.

The teacher who initially set up the Google Apps also set up accounts for the students in his program areas and my program areas which is about 180 students on a campus of just over 1000 students. I can only explain my (and a third teacher across the hall) progression through Google Apps. I started off small. I had every student login to their calendar and subscribe to the calendars of his/her other teachers. This allowed every student to see what was happening in all of their classes in one location. Since our school was also piloting a 1 to 1 program with the iPod Touch, my juniors also made sure they had access to their calendars on the iPod.

Once I got the calendars squared away, I moved into Google Docs. I started small here as well. My students initially typed assignments in Google Docs and when they finished they shared the document with me. I would provide feedback to the students in the document and allow them to make any changes if necessary. The students moved on to sharing documents with other students in the class. This was mostly creating group contracts and small presentations, but the students quickly learned that they could be more productive if four of them were working on a document simultaneously instead of watching one person type the entire document. In addition, I started making my deadlines due earlier to force simultaneous work and avoid having one person do all the work. Small group contract assignments eventually grew into large scale documents when my students created complex documents like a user guide for Maya and a game design document for their senior capstone project.

At first, I was content with just using the calendar and documents, but curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see what else I could do. I moved to creating groups by graduation year. I mainly did this because I didn’t want to recreate groups this year and the graduation year of my students isn’t going to change. I started creating discussion questions that students would reply to at the beginning of class. Some of these posts were simple recall questions about the previous lectures, some were to provoke a debate, and some of the posts were designed to have my students write multiple choice questions about the material covered in class (some of which I used on tests).

The last big step in our school’s use of Google Apps came in a meeting about student portfolios. Our school is going to require that each student will complete a digital portfolio by the end of his/her senior year. We discussed several options and decided that using Google Sites was going to be our best option. This decision was made because using the school’s Google Apps account, we can control outside access to the portfolios and believed that every student, regardless of technical skills, would be able to complete a professional-looking portfolio.

At this time, only 10% of our student population had a Google Apps account. I was able to import the remainder of the student body using an Excel spreadsheet. The teacher across the hall and I taught the web design juniors how to create and modify a Google site and had them create some basic templates for other students to use. Once the web design juniors were proficient, we invited the other 10 program area juniors into our classrooms for a 30 minute lesson on setting up a portfolio. The other program area students logged into their accounts for the first time, selected a portfolio template, and had one-on-one time with another student to learn how to modify a Google site. While the juniors were getting lessons on the portfolios from their peers, the freshman were learning how to use Google Sites in their computer-based projects class. The only grade level that did not receive training last year was the sophomore class. This was mainly due to time constraints and that grade level will be trained at the beginning of this school year.

I realize that I have covered a lot in this post and I’m not positive that I got everything. One feature that we do not use is Gmail because the district has it’s own email system for students. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them to this post, email me, or send me a message via Twitter.

iPad and Google Apps to Manage a Classroom (Pt. 2)

This is part two of three about my presentation at NACTE 2011 on managing a classroom using the iPad and Google Apps. In part one, I focused on the reasons why a teacher would want to use these tools, the Google calendar, and Google Docs. In this part, I am going to focus grading using the iPad and Google forms. In terms of managing my classroom, this has had the biggest impact because it saves me time and I can give students instant feedback.

The first step in the process is to create a form in Google Docs using my desktop computer. I create a form for each class period that I teach and I enter the student’s names so they will appear as a drop-down list on my iPad. I only have to create this form once for each class period because I reuse the form for each assignment I grade.

Once the form is created, I email the form to myself. I open the link to the form on my iPad in Safari. In Safari, I can create a bookmark to be placed on my home screen. I complete this process for each class period’s form. In addition, I created a “Work Ethic” and “Presentation” grading forms. I use the Work Ethic form to log off-task behavior. At my school, our students complete several presentations a year and I use the Presentation form and my Brookstone keyboard for the iPad to provide feedback on those presentations.

In a typical day in my classroom, I will give notes during the first 20 minutes of class and give the students the remaining 60 minutes to complete the day’s assignment or work on the current project. While the students are working on the current day’s assignment, I am walking around to each student grading the previous assignment. I am entering the grade into the iPad for the student, submitting the form, and returning back to the form so I can grade the next student.

The great thing about grading this way is that the student receives instant feedback about the assignment and knows his or her grade before I move on to the next student. If a student completed the assignment incorrectly, I can explain what the student did wrong and have the student redo the assignment for a better grade. In addition, the student can also ask me questions about the current day assignment to make sure he or she is doing it correctly.

I am usually able to get through the entire class in the 60 minutes that they are working on assignments or projects. Once I have graded the entire class, I can open the form in Google Docs on my desktop computer. In the form (which is now a spreadsheet), I can sort by student name, highlight all of the scores, and copy and paste the scores into my gradebook. If the scores/feedback that are in the spreadsheet are scores that I want to keep, I make a copy of the form and name it after the assignment. If I don’t want to keep the scores, I just delete the rows of data in the spreadsheet and my form is ready to go for our next class meeting.

Here’s a quick tip on copying and pasting scores into the gradebook. If you have students that are absent on the day you are grading, you must enter a grade for them into the form. If you don’t do this step, the copy and paste from the spreadsheet will not match up.

In part three, I will be discussing the last portion of my presentation, which is on other apps that I use in managing my classroom.