Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gettin' Googley at GTA

It has already been nearly two weeks since we finished up at Google Teacher Academy at the GooglePlex in Mountain View, California. I was honored to have been selected as one of the 60 or so innovative Googley educators from around the world. The applicant pool was very talented and those selected came with impressive experience, lots of creativity, energy and passion. We all had to make a one minute video as part of the application process to illustrate why we would each make a great Google Certified Teacher (GCT).

Before attending GTA I talked to many GCTs about their experience. They all raved about it and the most common advice was 'get ready and hold on'. They warned that it is information overload packed into just two short (but LONG) days collaborating with some of the most creative educators you will ever been in the same room with. They were so right. It was like drinking from a firehose. There was no possible way to take it all in, but I tried!

Team Edison
I was on the fantastic #TeamEdison which included Kyle Brumbaugh as our Lead Learner, Liz Castillo (HI), Aaron Johnson (CT), Sue Bedard (FL), Erin Schiller (MN), Scott Smith (CA), and Kate Petty (CA).

One of the most impressive stats of our GTA cohort is that we have a direct impact on 47,000 students and 43,000 teachers in the work that we do. There were classroom teachers, ed tech specialists, librarians, consultants, and program coordinators. We are all leaders at our schools and many are regular conference presenters, webcast/podcast hosts and guests and workshop leaders. The reach of this group is impressive. It is now part of our directive to take what we know and love about Google and share it with our audience.

I have been trying to digest my experience down into something that can be easily communicated -- and that's hard to do, but here goes:

My learning is enriched by the connections I make.
Simply being in the room with such talented people immediately helped me to lift my game. Side conversations and quick comments were stimulating. Watching the Twitter stream fly by added even more to the conversation.

Google tools should be central to the contemporary classroom.
We talk about creativity, collaboration, communication, and other tritely branded 21st century skills. What I firmly believe is that the Google family of tools and products help us to build these skills within our students.

I still have a lot to learn.
Although I have a lot of experience in tech integration my mind was expanded and seeds were planted in how and what I can bring back to my school. GTA exposed us to some tools we had not used that much before and I am excited to a chance to implement these with teachers and students.

Heather Dowd & me at the GooglePlex
Google tool with most potential educational impact...
Far and away the tool I got most excited about in education was Google+. I think it offers several features that make it attractive and powerful:

  • It connects people
  • Provides an online space that students are familiar with
  • Hangouts bring communication and collaboration to a new level
  • The new Communities feature provided protected spaces in which groups can communicate, share and collaborate.
We are considering how to roll this out to our high school students over the next semester. I'm excited by the possibilities.

Attending GTA was one of the most rewarding professional learning experiences. It was the right combination of fantastic minds, great location, powerful tools, and positive energy. I really look forward to working more with Googley things and continuing to help our students and teachers learn and grow.

The GTAMTV 2012 crew