Monday, October 30, 2017

The Google Certified Innovator Experience Part 2: Getting to Sydney Google HQ

After ISTE 2017 in San Antonio, the Sydney Google Innovator cohort was the last thing on my mind. I didn't want to get my hopes up. Despite trying really hard not to think about it, small, subliminal messages about Australia would pop up at the most random times. Each time, I told myself my mind was playing tricks on me. I didn't really begin to think about Sydney until announcement day. I pensively checked my email every few minutes just hoping get the rejection message so I could get on with life. A few days passed, but there still was no announcement. I tweeted a few times to see if anyone had gotten word. A few applicants had done the same, but still no announcement.

One Saturday in early July, I was about to head out for the evening when I got to my car and realized I left my phone inside. I ran inside to get it. Upon finding my phone, I instinctively checked my email and there it was. I had been accepted. I joined the Hangout and began replying to instant messages, emails and filled out acceptance forms. I was on cloud nine. 

After the shock of acceptance wore off, reality set in. How would I pay for the trip? Would my district allow me to miss the first week of school for this? I contacted my union president and principal who both gave me their blessing. After some deliberations over my contractual duties, the district approved it. I started a GoFundMe campaign and raised enough money to upgrade my suitcase, renew passport, purchase a VISA and get some Australian outlet adapters.

A week before the 15 hour flight to Sydney, I had the opportunity to present for EdTechTeam in Mountain View. At the Summit, I was fortunate to connect with Sydney coach, and Aussie, Kimberley Hall. She gave me some great advice for how to deal with the 15 hour flight. She said treat it as the longest night of your life. 

Kimberley was spot on. I slept 4-5 hours tops. I can't sleep on planes and I was too excited. Upon arrival, I saw a familiar face. It was Ronald McDonald. As a rule, when traveling, I don't eat things that I can get at home. Australian McDonald's had many things I'd never seen before so I indulged. I'm totally digging the chicken Big Mac. 

After a day of exploring the Pyrmont with some cohort mates, the Innovator experience kicked off. Our first activity was the Amazing Race. My soulmate, #TOR16 Innovator Katherine Goyette, who made the trip with me, joined in. We were paired with the New Zealand's most entertaining Kiwi Stuart Kelly. 

The three of us pounded the pavement across Darling Harbor with vigor. We were sure we would emerge victorious. With less than hour before having to report to Google Headquarters, we grabbed a quick lunch at McDonald's. Starving and tired, I scarfed down a chicken Big Mac and we hustled back across Darling Harbor. Upon arrival at Google HQ, the day took a turn for the worse. I reached in my pocket to check my phone and it wasn't there. 

My phone doubles as my wallet. My ID, credit cards, bank cards and other vital things were in the wallet phone case. Using the Google find my phone feature, it was determined it was still at McDonald's. Thankfully, Katherine was lovely enough to run back to McDonald's to retrieve it. As the cohort commenced, I sat nervously wondering about my wallet/phone. An hour in, cohort member Becky Shorey shows me a Hangouts IM saying Katherine had found it. Phew! Talk about a stressful way to begin a Google Certified Innovator Academy.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

The Google Certified Innovator Experience Part 1: The Road to Sydney

What a year I had. Actually, in less than a year, I became Google Certified Educator Level 2, Google Certified Trainer, Google Certified Innovator, presented for first time outside my district, presented at CUE & ISTE and more than quadrupled PLN on Twitter. By no means am I bragging, but damn I was busy. Oh, I forgot to mention, in that same time I also co-founded a regional edtech/pedagogy hashtag and Twitter chat that has grown beyond my region across the nation and world. 

Of all the things I have accomplished in the last year, earning the honor of Google Certified Innovator is what stands out the most. There are less than 1,500 Innovators in the world and I am so blessed to be part of such an exclusive, amazing group of educators. Traveling across the world to Sydney, Australia was unforgettable and highlight in my life.  The feedback I received on my project, learning about design thinking and absorbing the Google vibe were, by far, the best professional learning experience of my career to date. 

My journey to Sydney began on a whim some time during the Spring of 2016. One morning while I was checking emails, an idea popped into my head. As a tech coach, what if I could pull students, who need a challenge, out of class for enrichment to aid teachers in reteaching standards to students who've yet to master them? I asked permission from the principal and got the green light. My first pull out lesson was with middle school science. A group of four students came to the first iteration of what became the Cardinal Innovation Center. They screencasted, blogged and created websites for biomes. When they finished, the teacher was impressed with their work and display of their learning.

The next step was to develop a way for students to display their work to a larger audience. It was then I began developing a website to display student blogs, booksnaps, memes, sketchnotes, videos and more. As the Cardinal Innovation Center evolved, being a Google Innovator was not on my radar. At the time, I was a Google Certified Educator Level 1 and I was fine with that. 

As the 2016 school year would down, I dealt with some serious difficulties in my personal life.  To get my mind of those difficulties, I "took the plunge" and began applying to present at as many conferences and summits as I could find. Slowly but surely, I started to get accepted. It was at these conferences where I connected with Google Certified Educators, Trainers and Innovators. These people, one in particular, encouraged me to continue presenting and further develop my Cardinal Innovation Center idea. 

As 2016 wore on and 2017 kicked off, my personal life had turned around and my Cardinal Innovation Center idea was becoming a real thing. It received a tremendous shot in the arm when, for the idea, I was recognized as a CUE Leroy Finkel Fellowship finalist. It was after this when I took the initiative to become a Google Certified Trainer and apply to become a Certified Innovator. 

My first attempt at Google Certified Innovator, London, did not pan out. I have to admit, I was a little bummed, but I knew more opportunities were on the horizon. I tweaked a few things in my application and submitted for Sydney. I planned to submit for Washington, DC, but mistakenly missed the deadline. 

At ISTE 2017, I connected with countless more incredible educators who had applied for Google Certified Innovator and had yet to be accepted. At first, I felt better about my initial rejection, but then the whole process seemed more daunting than I previously thought. At ISTE, I crossed paths with PLN member, a future Sydney cohort member, Judy Blakeney. We talked about applying to Sydney and joked about sharing a flight if we were "lucky" enough to get accepted. Little did we realize that our little joke was about to come true.

Stay tuned for Part 2. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Academic Conversations, Hashtags and Ant Man

Jeff Zwiers, author of Academic Conversations: Classroom Talk that Fosters Critical Thinking and Content Understandings, recently conducted a professional learning seminar in my district. Before the seminar, many colleagues and I were under the impression the district expected our academic conversations to look similar the academic discourse between student and professor you'd see in an upper division college course.

Many of the examples Zwiers shared with us were nothing like we previously thought. The one I took to heart most was the "Your Turn" activity. As Zwiers demonstrated the strategy, with cue cards and all, I immediately harkened back to some of the design thinking strategies I learned in Sydney at the Google Innovator Academy.

Learning about design thinking, we were tasked with building a chair out of aluminum foil. From there we had to pair up and explain our chair and decide who's was better. This fostered a conversation of our thinking, design and more. The next step was to "defend" our chair to another pair and repeat the process. This continued until the group was divided in half, each "defending" a chair design. In the end, Geoff Derry's "Volcano Chair" won.
As Zwiers went on about the "Your Turn" activity, I couldn't help but see countless similarities with the aluminum chair design thinking activity. The conversations I had with my cohort mates were the exact type of conversations I want my students to have. Upon further reflection, I had an idea to incorporate the "aluminum chair", "Your Turn" and hashtags.

I have spent a great deal of time this year using hashtags to help students create content to real-life connections. Slowly but surely, they are starting to get it and beginning to see themes and patterns between World History and their personal lives. This idea smash begins like so. Students review notes and the hashtags they wrote on a specific concept. They write their hashtag on a note card and add a few bullets to help them explain it. They then pair up and "battle" a classmate 1 on 1 sharing their hashtag and explanation. After each shares, as a pair, they decide together which hashtag and explanation best encapsulates the main idea and theme of the concept. 

From there, the pairs find another pair and repeat the process. At the end of this step, they become groups of four and repeat the process. This repeats until there is one final showdown between two halves of the class battling it out.

Today was my first attempt at this activity. Student engagement was high and I heard many students who don't like to talk actually taking part in academic conversations. It was refreshing to hear the "quiet kids" talking about their favorite movies and music and explaining the similarities to the history content. 

Overall, I was very pleased with our first iteration of the Hashtag Battle. Today's concept was urbanization during the Industrial Revolution and its many problems. In the final battle, the hashtag #AntMan took the honors. The winning team's explanation dealt with the dangers of child labor in factories and mines. They said children were hired not just because they could be paid less, but their small size, like Ant Man, made them perfect for tight spaces in mines and for fixing factory machines where grown men couldn't fit their hands.

A place of growth I need to address is as the groups get larger, more students feel as if they can hide in the shadows and not participate. It can easily be dominated by a few students. Moving forward, I am planning students to generate sketchnotes of their learning, but at the same time, I am open to suggestions of other ways to build upon this attempt at academic conversations.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Memes, Napoleon Blogs, Screencasting and Hyperdocs

A day after learning the basics of Napoleonic France, I wanted my history students to create something with their notes and what they learned. We've done the whole traditional essay thing and slides presentations, but I wanted to give them some options.  Enter the hyperdoc.

I created a hyperdoc with 5 options for which students could choose to demonstrate their learning. Each option was filled with links to how to videos and resources to add information to their project. The first option, which only allows them to earn a passing grade, "C", was to create a Google Slides presentation explaining the pros and cons of Napoleon's rule in France.

To get an "A" or a "B", students could take those slides and screencast their understanding of pros and cons of Napoleonic France. Students could also create a Memes Slideshow by creating a meme (with explanation) for each of the seven slides from which they took notes earlier in the week. Another option for an "A" or a "B" grade would be to create a website for Napoleon's government that includes his reforms, timeline and bio of Napoleon. A fourth "A" or a "B" option is to start a blog on Blogger chronicling the life, rise and fall of Napoleon from his point of view. It would be a "diary blog."

Students were given 5-7 minutes to review the hyperdoc and choose their "learning demonstration" project. They were given the entire class period to get started and iterate. The project is due in 10 days, but I made it clear they need to be in constant contact with me to receive feedback.

Cesar works on his first blog post

As expected, the "C" option was chosen by 1/3 of the class and another 1/3 chose screencasting. Those who chose the Memes Slideshow got off to a good start. Only one student choose to blog, but his first blog post was encouraging.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: #360History, Napoleon and Hashtags

Watching my good friend Ed Campos (@edcamposjr) implement 360 Math immediately made me want to synthesize and adapt it to History. Now that I'm back teaching part time, I have that opportunity. The whiteboard walls of the Cardinal Innovation Center make teaching 360 History very easy. From 360 Math, I gleaned the importance of making thinking visual and looking for patterns and connections. This thinking and search for patterns/connections fits right in with my ideas for using hashtags in history class.

Today marked our first look at Napoleonic France. I pre-recorded the lesson which was a 15 minute survey of Napoleon's time as ruler. Students watched the lesson video on Chromebooks with headphones. They were given three options for note taking. They could take Cornell Notes in their notebooks, type notes in Google Docs or Keep, or write notes on desk and take pictures to be stored in Google Drive.

At first glance, this activity appears to be very student-centered, but with no interaction with the teacher. Oh contraire. In the beginning of the lesson video, first slide, I wrote a jumbled list of hashtags that are applicable to each slide. I gave brief description of each. Students were required, after each slide, to pause and reflect on the notes they took. In their reflection, they needed to determine and write down in notes which of my hashtags best fits the notes for that slide.

Once they connected my hashtags to their notes, they were required to generate their own hashtag that connects the content to their real life experience. They were to write their hashtags in their notes as well as on the whiteboard walls. There were seven slides in the lesson video and they were required to write a hashtag in notes and on wall for each. Once they wrote mine and their hashtags in their notes, they had to look around the room and "steal" a hashtag from someone else to put in their notes. At the end of each slide, they had at least three hashtags. One from me, their own and from a peer.

Kai's Hashtags are movie references

As they are writing their hashtags on the walls, I am circulating and constantly asking questions. I ask them to explain to me what the connection is. If they can give me a valid explanation, it counts. Some students checked with me first before writing on the wall. Long story short, I was able to give instant feedback in a variety of ways.

Many students, at first, struggled generating hashtags. Seeing their struggle, I had everyone pause and I told the class to think of movies, TV and music. I told them to find connections from the content to those things. Almost immediately, the wheels started turning and the creative juices were flowing. The walls quickly began to fill up with hashtags.

Going forward, students will take a look at their notes and be required to reflect. They will look at the hashtags written in their notes and highlight the parts of their notes that correspond to the hashtags. They will use their notes and reflection to begin their next learning demonstration. Their next learning demonstration will give them the option of screencasting a presentation discussing pros and cons of Napoleon, creating a website for Napoleonic government or making a meme slideshow (with rationale) of the major events of Napoleonic France.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center: #FailForward with "Teched Up" DBQ and DocHub Update

I have dreamt of a "teched up" DBQ for years and over the past two days I have begun to implement it. My first iteration of a "teched up" DBQ uses an appsmash of Google Classroom (to distribute), Google Forms (to collect responses) and DocHub (to mark text and analyze documents). After a few hiccups, students began to embrace the process. Although a few pined for a paper packet, the vast majority dove right in with vigor.

One of the hiccups we encountered was due to a new update to DocHub. Over the years, I have been a big cheerleader for DocHub. I have always wished for better integration with Google Classroom. Well my wish came true. They changed the menu options from one menu to three. One of the menus allows you to attach your marked PDF file straight to an assignment in Google Classroom. SCORE! Instead of saving to Drive and then adding to the assignment to turn in, students can submit marked text/PDF directly.

An update that caught us off guard was that DocHub does not seem to auto save your edits anymore. One student logged out to go to restroom and when they logged back in and tried to reopen with DocHub, all edits were gone. It appears students, who want to finish later or can't finish in one sitting, will have to save to Drive to keep their edits and reopen it from Drive later to continue where they left off. Oh well, we're just going to have to #failforward on that. This also means I am going to have to create some new "how-to" screencasts on the ins and outs of DocHub.

Going forward, my next iteration of the "teched up" DBQ will involve a hyperdoc. A member of my PLN from Texas tweeted me asking about making a hyperdoc to show her how to tech up DBQs. It dawned on me that a hyperdoc may be just what I need to streamline this process. At this point, it's a bit convoluted. I posted two Forms as announcements in Google Classroom for students to submit answers. One of Forms contained a link to the primary source document to be analyzed as well as text marking suggestions. Looking back, putting all of these steps, resources and instructions in one organized hyperdoc distributed via Google Classroom may just be the ticket.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: "Teching Up" the DBQ and Podcasting

On two occasions in the last six months or so, I have had the privilege of being a guest on podcasts produced by fellow Google Certified Innovators Nancy Minicozzi (@coffenancy)  and Tom Mullaney (@tomemullaney). In both of my guest appearances, I took time to talk about "teching up" the DBQ.

TLC Ninja - Episode 23

For those of you not familiar with DBQ, it stands for Document Based Questions. In a history class, it gives students primary and secondary source documents to analyze and questions that require text/document based evidence to answer. I first started using DBQs years ago and it pained me to spend hours making 10-12 page packets at the copy machine. I hated wasting so much time with all this paper that will eventually end in the trash. Students would see the packets and let out a collective groan.

Don't get me wrong, I love the DBQs and the historical thinking they foster. But at the same time, I have sought ways to make it more engaging for students and efficient for teachers. The first step in "teching up" the DBQ was to convert the packets to PDF form. This allows teachers to avoid the copier and distribute electronically via Google Classroom. Students can now mark the text digitally using DocHub.

A snag I ran into was how students will answer the questions. If students typed answers using DocHub, I really wasn't changing the DBQ much. It wouldn't be much different than reading those answers in stacks of papers. I decided to make the text marking a credit/no credit task. I wanted the text marking to be a resource for students when attempting to answer the analysis questions. Instead of having them type their answers on the documents, I put the questions on Google Forms. This allowed me to have a one-stop shop for reviewing student answers and allowed me to add links and videos to supplement and enhance the DBQs. Not only could they refer to their text marking, students had teacher curated resources simply a click away.

Another issue with the DBQ as a whole is incorporating checking for understanding and teacher-to-student feedback. Since I'm "teching up" the DBQ, Google Hangouts was a natural choice. Students receive participation points for asking a certain amount of questions while they mark text and analyze documents. As I circulate the room, I can look over shoulders to see work and instant message students CFU. On the flip side, students can instant message me their questions.

Long story short, like anything I do, "teching up" the DBQ "always in beta." This is merely the first iteration. Students don't let out the collective groan when we do the DBQ. The empowering and engaging effect of technology hooks students in and makes both teacher and student more efficient.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Bump and Run Lesson Planning, 360 Video and an Art Teacher

Any football fans out there? If so, you may have heard the term bump and run coverage. To the layman, its a strategy used by defensive backs to cover wide receivers. Bump and run lesson planning is somewhat similar. This occurs when you bump into a colleague in the hall and strike up a conversation about a cool idea you have for a lesson in their class.

I was very fortunate to have some bump and run lesson planning today. Walking out of another meeting with the leadership team, I bumped into one of our art teachers. Earlier this year, we collaborated on a method to use Google Hangouts and Chromebooks to help students see her demonstrations better in a large classroom. When we bumped into each other today, her first question was a technical question about how to bypass the firewall so she can access certain art websites that are blocked. Needless to say, I hooked her up with a hack.

Powerbeast 360 Camera 
Before she could leave, I showed her my new 360 Camera. I asked her what issues she still has with students being able to see her modeling and demonstrations. As expected, she talked about videos how flipped lessons via Hangouts only shows two dimensional views. I showed her a few 360 videos using one of the Cardinal Innovation Center VR headsets and she was immediately hooked. She immediately saw the potential for having her kids watch 360 video demonstrations of her modeling to give them a perspective like never before. One of her first reactions was the increase in engagement students will have when they put on the headsets.

Our first planning and recording session is this Thursday. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Hoco 2017, Social Media Posse and the Jerry Huerta Show

The Cardinal Innovation Center Social Media Posse is one of the Center's layers that has been slow to develop. The current generation of students are very adept at social media, but are apprehensive about using social media for anything school related.  Jason Markey (@jasonmmarkey) preaches the virtues building a positive school culture through the power of social media. George Couros (@gcouros) talks of developing a school's positive digital footprint. If a school doesn't take control of it's social media presence, an angry parent might

Couros and Markey's messages fuel the mission of the Social Media Posse. The Posse's mission is to empower students to take control of the school's social media presence and footprint. Doing this will help build a positive school culture.

During the first two home football games, 11th grader David Magana (@dmagana559) has taken it upon himself to live tweet the game action. Each week, David has improved. In week 1, he managed a half dozen tweets, but in week 2, he tripled it. Each week, his ability to capture the action in 140 characters improved.

Photo Credit: David Magana
This last Friday was the Orosi High School 2017 Homecoming. The Social Media Posse took the next step and added Instagram to its repertoire. David, for the night, took control of the school Instagram account while I manned the Twitter account from the press box. David patrolled the sidelines snapping action shots and posting quick videos using the hashtag #CardsCare.

The Cardinals romped to a 58-28 homecoming night victory over league rival Farmersville. Star running back Jeremiah Huerta exploded for 384 yards and 8 touchdowns. His exploits and those of the rest of the Cardinals' football team can be found on the Cardinal Innovation Center Social Media Center website. Local news outlet The Fresno Bee took notice, via Twitter, and named Jeremiah "Bee Star of the Night" for his record setting performance. Click here to read the Fresno Bee's feature on the Cardinal's Star Running Back.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: The Williams Sisters, PE, Screencasting and Voice Over

The Cardinal Innovation Center welcomed it's first PE lesson today. PE teacher Sara Vega brought in her freshmen PE students who have been learning the ins and outs of tennis. After a week learning the rules and basic techniques, it was time for students to demonstrate their understanding of the game.

A week ago, Ms. Vega and I planned a learning demonstration where students would provide commentary on a tennis match by calling out all aspects of the match in real time. To accomplish this, students were paired and given Chromebooks. A Google Doc with a list of tennis terms and links to a video of a Williams sisters match on YouTube were distributed via Google Classroom. Students either wrote a cheat sheet of terms or split their screen with Dualless Chrome Extension to have the terms available for reference.

After watching the video, when they were ready, they muted the sound and used the Screencastify Chrome Extension to screencast. As the tennis video played muted, the students called out the different aspects of tennis they recently learned in real time. Some students did it in one take while others did multiple takes. When finished, they shared their videos with Ms. Vega. Ms. Vega and I will evaluate the videos and put exemplars on a YouTube playlist to share with other classes.

Students seemed to enjoy and really engage with this activity. Ms. Vega is planning to do a similar activity with each new game/sport they learn. An activity we discussed for future classes include using 360 video to record sport specific skills for students to view in a VR headset.