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. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Google Certified and Growing

Good morning:
I am excited. Many things have happened since I last blogged. I opened a Twitter account, relaxed a bit about the Google Directory and Eduapp, was accepted as a presenter for the VA Google Summit by EdTech in Charlottesville and attended two stellar conferences in two states, in one week. Wow.

Where to start...? Let's talk Google Directory & the Google Summit today.

The Google Directory and EduApp ended up being just a matter of time and patience, which can be a challenge for me. But, I did the dance when I saw my picture and bio in the directory.

I am currently one of a few Google Certified Trainers in Southwest VA. Since I have become a GCT, I have recommended to a few people to go for GCT as well. I realized very quickly that there are many people out there that have more knowledge, patience, innovation, and skill than I. I hope they take advantage and complete the application process. Education is a better place with all theses people connecting. Relationships are key. I have connected with so many people lately. I feel this has helped my growth as an educator and a person tremendously.

This brings me to the Google Summit. Soon after I was accepted as a GCT, a friend of mine suggested I present at the next local Google Summit. I was (and still am currently) nervous about presenting at such a prestigious conference. I went with what I know best, Google Classroom. I was accepted and as you can see, I did the dance soon after I found out.

I also reached out to several Google educators to see who was attending. And, now I have a partner in crime for my session as well - Shout out to Kirsten Radford (@mrskradford). I will also be the magician's assistant for another talented educator during her Digital BreakOutEdu - (@jenny_conradj). Loving it. Collaboration is the key. A good friend of mine said that lyrics are the soul of music. It really has stuck with me. I've been trying to look for analogies of that statement in education. Is collaboration the soul of professional development? Sounds goofy, but I will be searching for the soul of education for awhile. Maybe there isn't one, but the point is that thinking about it creates growth.

If you are going to the Google Summit in Charlottesville VA March 11-12, I would love to connect @TechFrye. I'll let you know how it went in another blog.