Thursday, June 8, 2017

First Google Level 1 Boot camp as an instructor

This summer, my school district is moving toward 1:1 Chromebook classrooms. Therefore, it is asking teachers to get Google Level 1 certified within the next school year. To kickoff the summer, +Kathy Brisentine, +Lisa T Elliott, Kerrie Sarvey, and I held two 1-day Google Level 1 certification boot camps for "go-getters" who wanted help. Both days were very productive and intense. All people learned a lot! 

We created a brisk pace and rotated through leading different parts of the session. We split the session into:
  1. Gmail & Groups
  2. Drive/Docs/Slides
  3. Calendar/Tasks
  4. Forms/ Sheets
  5. Classroom
  6. Sites
  7. Hangouts
  8. Youtube
  9. Digital literacy overview 
  10. Q & A
I just want to acknowledge the great trainers including: Donna Teuber, Simone Gessler, Eric Curts, Anna Baldwin, Stewart Lee, Nancy Minicozzi, Misty Wilson, Kelly Fitzgerald, Jeffrey Welch, Kasey Bell, and Katie Christie. I collected and used (borrowed/stole) most of my materials from them. Thank you!

My Takeaways:
  1. I believe precise scheduling helped us cover everything we believed was important to pass the exam. Therefore, have a clear schedule, disseminate that info, and stick as close to that schedule as possible in order to cover the material (Exception --> see #2 & #6). 
  2. Remember to schedule (buffer) time for Q & A during each mini-session. This helped! 
  3. Less sit-and-get Slideshows and more "task oriented" activities that simulate the exam. 
  4. Have a volunteer or someone on-site that has taken the test recently to interject and help. (The test changes - such as New Sites, Google Keep, etc). 
  5. Make it clear that you highly recommend completing the Google Unit tutorials before taking the test - even though they attended the boot camp. 
  6. Have time at the end of the day for individual tutoring or Q & A - we included this time as an actual mini-session at the end of the day to allow for personalization and the people who were more comfortable could leave. 
  7.  We also tried Padlet as a backchannel. I have mixed feelings about using that. I would recommend it ONLY if your group is pretty computer competent/savvy. We had a wide variety of levels and it didn't really add to the session. 
  8. Give your "students" confidence. I find that many teachers understood the concepts, but have not used them in real-time situations. We are coaches. We are there to encourage. 
Always looking to improve my craft. Any feedback, comments, or questions always welcome! Have a great day.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Speed Dating with Google

I have to start by saying that +Kathy Brisentine is the mastermind behind this activity - so I just needed a SHOUT OUT! With that said, I learned a lot and had a blast being part of the first ever Jefferson Forest High School Speed Dating with Google professional development last week.

As a part of introducing a 1:1 Chromebook program, Kathy decided to have a "get-to-know-your-app" session. The speed dating was inside a larger half day session mixed with the SAMR model, 1:1 rollout of Chromebooks, and Google Certified Educator Level 1 requirements. So, there was a lot to soak up.

With the help of other instructional technology specialists, such as myself, she divided up the participants into four groups, based on the amount of tech help we had, and established stations with "G Suite dates." Each station focused on one item or set of items:

  • Slides/Docs/Sheets
  • Calendar
  • Groups/Gmail
  • Classroom
  • Forms
  • Extensions/Apps.  

Very Important Tip:
  • Be very clear to the teachers: This is not a training session. No one expects the teacher to understand and use the product upon leaving the "date". (This may help lower some stress levels of novice Google users/teachers.) 

Contestant #1...

  • The teachers were told their first "date" table and had 10 minutes to introduce themselves while the technology specialist provided some cool tips on how to use the G Suite product in the classroom. After 10 minutes they rotated clockwise until all G Suite products were introduced. 

Docs, Sheets, slides, Etc.
Google Forms
Extensions and Apps

Modify as needed!

  • Mix and match to fit your teacher needs or modify depending on how many technology specialists you have. We had 4 - so we had 4 stations. Either way, it creates ideas mixed with curiosity. If done right (which I think we did), the teachers have a few take-aways and ideas.

Where to go after Speed Dating?

  • I think most importantly, we listen to teacher needs. After the session, Kathy sent out a survey to see how it went and thoughts on interest level on the G Suite products we introduced. This feedback will be used to assess ourselves and plan more personalized pd for Jefferson Forest staff in the future. Don't forget to reflect!

I can't wait to do it again!!

Thanks again, @Kbristeach!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What if you had classes where no one gave a sheet?

What if you had classes where no one gave a sheet? A challenge to my readership: 

Going paperless is great if there is a reason behind it. Substituting paper for a computer is just the start. It saves on paper, but does it improve learning? 

Next year, my school district will roll out the SAMR model concurrently, while rolling out a 1:1 Chromebook program in several schools. 

What is SAMR and how does learning this help with the Chromebook program?

According to Kathy Schrock, "SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Popularized by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, the model supports and enables teachers to design, develop, and infuse digital learning experiences that utilize technology." 

My biggest challenge is two-fold and this is where I need your help! 

  1. How do I get teachers to become confident enough to stretch their learning; to feel comfortable to move across the SAMR model beyond substitution?
  2. How do I teach teachers to troubleshoot when things don't go as planned?
I have found that those are the two biggest hurdles to enriching a learning environment when introducing devices to the classroom. Any and all advice is welcome. Please comment on this page or use this link to complete the form. Have a great day. Looking forward to hearing your advice, web links, and thanks again for being my PLN. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A thank you letter to my #PLN on Twitter.

Dear @Twitter #PLN:

I just want to say thanks to a great start to 2017.

My account just hit 1000 followers this weekend. I follow about the same amount and I am humbled that somebody would follow me back. In reality, it's an arbitrary number that doesn't mean much, but it gets me thinking about why I joined Twitter.

When I started in late January 2017, I never thought Twitter would be my go-to for learning or have such an effect on my view of education. I created a Twitter account as a way to grow my personal learning network (#PLN) and to learn from those already established on Twitter (See blog). I have to say, I learned a lot from you (my Twitter family). George Couros, Alice Keeler, Eric Curts, Casey Bell, all need to be thanked by name because I basically re-tweet everything they do.

After I became a Google trainer, I joined Twitter but didn't really become fascinated with it as a learning tool until I went to the #MACPL17 conference in Baltimore and met George Couros. I'm a Google guy and my PLN was primarily with Google+ and my district. So, I followed people from Google+. Fortunately, my world has become a bit bigger with Twitter.

In the four months I've been on Twitter, I have learned about tools that I may have missed otherwise: Jennifer Lagarde introduced me to Flipgrid, Google slides stop motion by Eric Curts, AnyoneCanView extension by Alice Keeler, Autocrat from Jenny Conrad, are just a few. The list is quite extensive. Also, a big thanks to Jeffrey Heil, Molly Bennett, Tracy Purdy, and the whole EdTech team for the support they gave when I first presented and live-tweeted at a Google summit.

Here's my novice advice for enjoying your time on Twitter:

1. Join a live chat. thought-provoking, lots of learning & networking! EdChat calendar
2. retweet, retweet, retweet.
3. Ask questions.
4. Enjoy the connections.

My views on following on Twitter:
1. I tend to follow people, not things or companies. Exception (@Buncee & @Flipgrid)
4. I also tend to follow people who tell me a little bit more about themselves in their profile. I like to see who I'm learning from.
5. I also tend to follow tweets that have pictures. I love infographics. And cheesy as it is, I love quotes that are in Canva style picture format.
6. I like to follow hashtags that help my job as a tech educator. #edtech #personalizedPD #gafesummit
7. Weirdly enough, I don't follow @Twitter...maybe I should.

Power is gained by sharing knowledge. See you on Twitter @TechFrye.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stop Motion Animation w Google Slides

This past week I was tasked with coming up with a way for students to create a short 30-second video project for reviewing some math concepts for end-of-year testing. We previously completed projects using Flipgrid, ReCap, Screencastify and Google Slide in a traditional presentation mode. I decided that stop-motion may be a fun alternative presentation project. I played around a bit with a stop-motion animation app on the Chromebook and then remembered +Eric Curts presentation about Google Slides being used as Stop-Motion.

I made a tutorial for the students by focusing on basic transportation, thinking the movement of transportation would be good to show the students. I started with a storyboard concept and duplicated the background in all the slides 30 times first. I picked thirty slides knowing that my default will be one second per slide when I publish.
UPDATE: May 22, 2017 - After speaking with several colleagues, I have been told that copying one slide at a time (instead of my 30 on the video) is much better. So, try it!

It's always good to pick pictures or clip art that has the universal transparency checker board (searching filename: png helps) as the background so it doesn't show up in the slideshow. I picked two planes that had somewhat side views and found a Remax balloon as well as a boat to complete my tutorial.

After I completed inserting the pictures, I copied and pasted them to new slides with a bit of movement or advancement in each slide.

Once I was happy with the movement, I published the slides to show the stop motion movement. When publishing, make sure to check one second as your default. If you would like it faster, find the 1000 mark on your address bar and reduce it. 1000 = 1 second. So, 500 will equal 1/2 second. 100 = 1/10th of a second. By playing around with the settings, you'll get the hang of timing pretty quickly.

I hope you find the attached YouTube tutorial helpful. In general, I think it went well. Hopefully, I will become more proficient at this and confident enough to produce more creative outlets like this.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Why I need to Reinvent the Wheel.

Every time I've thought about improving my craft as an educator, learner, and leader, I find myself worrying that I am "reinventing the wheel". Why do we say "reinvent the wheel"? According to, it's defined as slang 

  • "To go laboriously and unnecessarily through elementary stages in some process or enterprise; waste time on tediously obvious fundamentals" 

The inspiration for this metaphor lies in the fact that the wheel must be the archetype of human ingenuity which allows it to underlie much if not all of modern technology. As I delve further into this saying, I have found that it's good to "reinvent the wheel" depending on the reasoning, purpose, and mindset of the learner. 

Maybe we should first consider the learning mindset. When it comes to learning, by re-inventing, we learn how solutions map to problems (backward design, backward mapping) and get a deeper understanding of how those solutions work (See Coding Article). Both are encouraged when learning, regardless of where the learning is done. This is good for teachers who need guidance on how to write a lesson plan or develop a curriculum that will be used multiple times (with time for insight and reflection on how it went). 

For someone like me, it's time to learn similar or redundant programs or apps thoroughly to be able to critique the programs and teach them to my staff even though there may be other similar alternatives already available. (i.e. Formative assessment apps such as Kahoot, Peardeck, Quizzizz, Plickers,, Google Forms, and GoFormative to name just a few). 

The case where re-invention is discouraged is the pragmatic mindset, one where you want to make new, more exciting, rounder, wheels. In this case, you have a problem, and you want to solve it with minimal time/effort. Pragmatic solutions will always be a composition of re-use and invention, and the preference is certainly re-using. I see this in my work when I continually go back to the basics to find more interesting and engaging activities for students to explore content in more critical, problem-solving and growth-mindset ways. I do this by going back to Google Apps and re-working how to use Slides, Drawing, Docs, and Sheets. 

Engineers are continually improving wheels, but they are also innovators who generate new types of wheels. New engineers continually are taught the basics as a foundation for the jump to eventual pragmatism. I think "reinventing the wheel" is a positive and I look at it as more of a spectrum of learners mindset to pragmatists mindset. 

By the way, we are still re-inventing the wheel. This is the Omni-directional wheel patented to improve forklifts

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Everything I learned, I learned with Kindergarten...

This week is Spring Break for my school system. Before my thoughts get too far away from school and toward a honey-do list and fishing, I shall discuss my first true teaching experience with Kindergartners.  

As a former high school teacher for 16 years, I have no preparation for Kindergarten. But, as an instructional technology resource teacher, I am assigned several different schools including Moneta Elementary in Moneta VA about once a week, every week. And, I have to be honest, I could've avoided Kindergarten if I wanted to. Fortunately for me, I met Mrs. Haywood early in the year and we hit it off. 

Due to the willingness to have me in her classroom, Mrs. Terri Haywood and I have formed a wonderful team the one day per week I get to interact with her students. Due to her openness, I have had the pleasure of getting to know her class of Kindergartners this year like I have no other. We have created "This week with Mrs. Haywood" weekly videos of the students modeling the latest curriculum, She posts them on Facebook and the parental feedback has been phenomenal. 

During stations, we have introduced mini BreakouEdu lessons, QR codes that lead to activities, Nearpod and Quizlet. 

Our latest endeavor included making Flipgrid videos of Word families. Each student created a grid of one word family. We then played the list of 20+ videos during snack time. The children responded to each others Flipgrid with applause. I have never experienced anything quite like it. I'm not saying I'm going out to get my elementary certification - Are you crazy?! But, I am feeling pretty proud. It confirms that I am in the right field and that children - no matter what age - are the reason I'm still in it. Thanks, Mrs. Haywood and all kindergarten teachers out there willing to infuse & introduce technology to our future! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Flipped BreakoutEdu

Good day: 
This week I will discuss BreakoutEdu student innovators and experimentation with Flipgrid. Two 8th grade students at my middle school tackled making a Breakoutedu game for their peers and we introduced Flipgrid afterward to reflect on the experience. 

Several weeks ago, I introduced a Breakoutedu to several 8th-grade students in an exploratory science class. Two of these students convinced Mrs. Blake, their English 8 teacher, to allow them to work on a breakout activity with me in their extra time. The boys worked diligently for two weeks whenever they got the opportunity. Lots of work went into the 8th grade English VA SOL review Breakout. Mrs. Blake, the two boys, and I contributed and we are all very proud of the outcome. 

We came out with a nine-question SOL review game with locks embedded every couple questions. We used all 3 English classes to play throughout the day. We set up 4 duplicate boxes and ran 4 groups simultaneously. The boys came up with what locks to use and in what order we wanted the locks to be opened. Mrs. Blake provided the SOL questions, ideas for a cryptix (styrofoam cups), and I was there to guide them through the brainstorming process and set up the materials. See my YouTube for Homemade Cryptix. 

It was a blast. Mrs. Blake and I are SO proud of the boys.  I think they learned from the experience so much more than we could offer with a standard curriculum. They helped the students through the process by adding hints and monitoring the game as they played. They hovered like proud parents. They expressed being exhausted at the end of each session because of the guidance and teaching process they experienced. Welcome to teaching! 

For the BreakoutEdu reflection, I introduced the students to Flipgrid to record their experience. I asked them to answer these 3 questions:

1. Describe something you did well as a group. 
2. Describe something you could have done differently or better as a group. 
3. Shout Out! - Tell me something someone in your group did well. 

The students did their best with the limited amount of time we had at the end of the period and the limited amount of quiet space available. I learned that in order for Flipgrid to work well, students need a bit of privacy and/or quiet space. Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope to continue the flipped, student-centered experience. Any suggestions are always welcome! 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

BreakoutEdu Digital Craziness

Good day: 
This week I will discuss how two weeks of Breakoutedu Digital has changed project-based learning/gaming in our school. 

So today... BreakoutEdu Digital craziness.

In April 2015, +John Larmer  wrote an article, Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements. In it, he discussed what he considered the gold standard for productive, essential project-based learning. This model is used to  "help teachers, schools, and organizations to measure, calibrate, and improve their practice." He outlined why teachers should use PBL to improve student learning of content, concepts, and depth of understanding. According to Mr. Larmer, Students need a challenging problem/question, with sustained ininquiry, authenticity (real-world learning), student voice/choice, reflection time, critique & revision time, and publicity. I agree.

Project-based learning is neither new or controversial. Many great academics have proven its usefulness. But, project-based gaming is a new niche. Gamification (i.e Minecraft) has proven popular for students but core teachers have had reservations on how to implement these Edu games into the 1:1 classroom. You can and should! A great source for gamification can be found with +Lucas Gillispie at He is a fantastic resource!

What's interesting is that schools are more often gearing up to give students devices without a clear plan on what students can create with them. They are gearing up with the idea that the information will be transferred through the device to the student. So, unfortunately, districts end up on the substitution end of the SAMR model for longer than needed. 

Several weeks ago two of my middle school teachers and I attended a Google Summit conference in Charlottesville, Va. All three of us attended Breakoutedu Digital sessions. We came back with a new enthusiasm for creating projects for students to use on their Chromebooks. I have found in just the last two weeks, our school's use of gaming has created a fantastic glimpse into student-led, inquiry-based, problem-solving activities. The digital breakoutedu enthusiasm is contagious. Several other teachers are now using these new skills to personalize learning and create student choice during end-of-course review sessions. 

As a by-product of this, students are now creating digital breakouts that are curriculum centered, inquiry-based, with student-led designs integrating YouTube, Google Forms, ciphers, and encryptions. 

Thanks to +Justin Birckbichler+Jenny Conrad
and +AlexMichelleCase for presenting BreakoutEdu Digital at the Google Summit. 

So, in the words of Life cereal: Try it, you'll like it (Breakout digital). 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Google Summit Edtech Takeaways

I presented at my first EdTech Google Summit on March 11th and 12th and this is what I learned from it.

So, I found out 3 days prior to the conference that I was bumped from Day 2, Session 7 to Day 1, Session 1 due to a presenter's unfortunate ill-timed relationship with a stomach virus. Holy crap! (no pun intended) ~

I would be the first presenter that many people would see. I am the introduction of what this conference means for people. I was the WalMart greeter of the Google Summit and I was super pumped and nervous. I remember when I went to my first summit and the feeling of the unknown. I practically worshiped those presenters/ rock stars. Ok, so I might be a closet groupie. The idea behind it is, I want to provide a high-quality experience to those who are new.

 I hold Google Summits to a high standard and I want to live up to that standard.

After a fantastic keynote by +Molly Schroeder Bennett (@followmolly), everyone was dismissed to Session 1. The room was packed and the people were ready. I played music too loud and started too early out of nerves. And, I didn't take many pictures. See my one tweet.

But, I knew my content and enjoyed sharing the stage with my good friend & self-proclaimed magician's assistant +Kirsten Radford (@kfayecreate). The feedback was positive as people came up to me after and said they learned a lot. I was relieved and grateful. I'm going to do it again and I think I will add another session.

  1. I learned that I am a good presenter. But, I will improve only with practice.
  2. I learned that Edtech summit participants deservedly need immediately usable information, not just knowledge.
  3. I learned that relationship-building is as important as the information gained at conferences.
  4. I met many people whom I now will call on to help my growth as a teacher. 

Here's a short video of a 4th grader who ski-jumped a 40m for the first time. I completely empathize with her. It's exactly what I went through.  The actual jump is secondary... Listen to her at the end... its a gem.
Thank you to all the wonderful presenters I was honored to interact with this weekend.

Jazzy Hands.

(try to find me. It's not that easy). 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Twitter and Conferences

Good morning:
This week I will discuss how I opened a Twitter account and attended two stellar conferences in two states, in one week. I did present at my first Google Summit this past weekend, but I need to catch my breath and digest how awesome it was. So, next week I will debrief on that experience.

So today... Why Twitter and what conferences?

So, as you may know, I recently became a Google Certified Trainer (GCT). As part of the orientation process and to become a more effective GCT, I was told to create or expand my personal learning network or PLN. It was up to me to decide how that would look. I was already on Google+ but I wasn't seriously connecting with anyone. I posted once in while, I took suggestions, but I wasn't "active". To get connected with people, I needed to create a digital footprint. I didn't even know who George Couros (@gcouroswas, let alone understood that I was trying to model my online presence after his idea of a growth mindset until I met him (see conferences).

One of the many suggestions of the GCT group was to tweet. I joined in late January 2017. And, immediately was self-congratulatory in total Twitter style. Here's my first tweet. I think the next few were the obligatory "re-tweets". I found myself overwhelmed with the fact that all I knew about Google and education was already out there being tweeted by people far more polished and interesting than me (Alice Keeler, Kasey Bell). At that moment, I realized what Twitter was going to be for me. I am going to learn from these people and embrace them as colleagues who seem to just want the same thing as me: to improve the lives of students and teachers. So, everything that I tweet has a litmus test:

  1. Does this start a discussion to improve education?
  2. Does this help students?
  3. Does this help teachers? 
  4. Does it help connect people?
  5. Does this inspire others?
I probably have tweeted out lines that don't follow any of those 5 steps. But, in general, I want to keep cognizant the reason why I'm on twitter. Follow me @techfrye and I sure will follow you. 

This brings me to conferences. I attended two stellar conferences. First, I attended MACPL17 in Baltimore, MD about personalized learning. Second, I attended NCTIES17 in Raleigh, NC which focused on technology-infused education. Twitter was the conductor of learning at both conferences. I connected to so many intelligent, funny, passionate people who I now lean on to assist in my growth as an educator. I find it interesting that the subject matter was secondary to connections. Don't get me wrong, I had great takeaways (Flipgrid, autocrat, #growthmindset, #personalizedPD, etc). Too many things to list. But, I came away with the idea that I can connect or ask people to help in my time of need. I can do that via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Google Groups, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. It's a no judge zone. 

I would have to say the conferences were great, but they became personalized and interactive due to twitter and my PLN. I hope you have as much fun growing your digital footprint. Have a great day.