Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Google for Education Orange County Summit Rocked!

I spent the last weekend (August 1 and 2) at the EdTechTeam Google for Education Summit in Orange County. What an empowering weekend it was! The EdtechTeam has done an amazing job of bringing together presenters and attendees who are passionate about students and education and want to learn from each other.

My experience started some weeks before the summit when I was invited to submit proposals to present and then received the go ahead to do the two sessions I proposed, one on "Google Forms: You Can't Live Without Them!" and the other on "Become a Google Images Ninja." I don't know why I thought putting these two sessions together would be easy, since preparing for a presentation never is for me. Instead - and I really should know this by now - preparing a session for me means taking a topic or skill I feel savvy about, throwing me back to feeling like a complete beginner, and then, after a considerable amount of hard work and pretty big dose of stress, finally getting ready. Here's a Google Drawing I just made of how the timelines works for me:

Here's a link to a larger version you can more easily read, since I can see that fitting it in here makes the type too small. By the way, Google Drawings is one of the cool tools I shared during the Images session.

I am not sure whether my experience as a presenter is typical or not; I do know that it's the norm for me. The good news is that I always learn so much from the process, and I feel like it was all worthwhile once I'm done.

My Sessions

Here's a short summary of my own two sessions:

The Google Forms session was intended to bring people brand new up to speed on Forms and to inspire everyone - new or not so new - with new ideas of how to take advantage of them. By me, Forms, along with Google Docs, are the cornerstone of a paperless classroom. I shared examples of how they can capture and share any type of information, crowd-source ideas, and be used for voting, flipped instruction, differentiated instruction with the "go to page based on answer" option, quizzes and assessments, validating answers, grading rubrics, exporting data to Google maps, and more.

And, did you know that you can send notifications, not just to yourself, but to the form submitters when they submit a form, using the Form Notifications add-on? Did you know you can automatically create a document that uses the input data and is shared with the form submitter? (Use the Form Publisher add-on.) And, you can even use the Flubaroo spreadsheet add-on to automatically grade quizzes. I really love Forms! The slides weren't intended to be self-explanatory, so please contact me with any questions about my slides or Forms in general.

My Forms slides:

For my "Become a Google Images Ninja!" session, I pulled together all the different ways you can find, enhance, and create images using Google tools. I also included a short "101" on copyright, fair use, public domain, and Creative Commons. I am a huge fan and supporter of Creative Commons to build a more creative world, and I welcomed the opportunity to share this message and the importance both of sharing and respecting intellectual property with my colleagues attending the session. Here I am in the Creative Commons T-shirt:

Here are the slides from that session. Be sure to contact me for more information about these as well:

I also did a quick Slam session on why I love for creating URL shortcuts to share:


There were way too many great takeaways to list here, and they include the wonderful people I met and new and renewed connections I made as much as any of the session content. I still have a lot of processing to do, and will also be going through the materials from some of the sessions I wasn't able to attend.

Here are just a handful of the ideas and new knowledge from sessions I can now share with my colleagues at my school:

Google Classroom

I attended two sessions that focused on Google Classroom. One was by Laura White, (@thinkteachtech) all the way from Bramley, England who shared wonderful templates she uses for student project based learning at her school. The templates take students through the entire cycle from establishing their mission, timelines, research, presentations, to end-of-cycle self-reflections. Thanks to this virtual environment, her students, who frequently travel during school breaks, can work on their group projects and get feedback from anywhere without having to meet live. She also suggested setting up small sub-Classrooms for each group to give them a more comfortable environment for sharing with each other. I can definitely take these templates and ideas back to my own teachers.

The second Classroom session I attended was with Katie Stephens. Katie brought us up to speed on all the new enhancements to Classroom since its launch last year. I got lots of practical tips on adding additional teachers to classes, drafting assignments for later publishing, archiving classes, and more. Like Laura, Katie suggested creating small Classroom subgroups for group work and differentiated instruction. I really liked her idea of creating a Classroom for the teachers at the school to use for collaboration.

Group Challenges 

James Sanders was the opening keynote speaker and his topic was "Resume of Failure." He challenged us to try new ideas, not be afraid of failure, and persevere from failure to ultimate success. This is a message we need to remember both for ourselves and our students. I was inspired by his stories and enthusiasm.

It is always difficult to decide between concurrent sessions to attend at a summit or conference like this, but I kept being drawn to James' sessions. The first one introduced me to BreakoutEdu, a learning game tool he has developed that is now in beta testing. It is designed for about 12 participants. Our group was presented with a story, a box with four locks on it, and a classroom in which clues were hidden around the room. Our mission was to work together and find and use the clues to open the box. The game could be adapted to both student groups and professional development to hone problem-solving and team-building skills. Our group worked well together, and we accomplished our mission in the allotted time! We were very proud. :-)
A video posted by Natalie Priester (@npriester) on
Thanks for the video, Natalie!

I would like to get one of the kits for my school and try it out with clubs, small class groups, and teachers, then challenge them to become the creators of adventures for others.

Leveling up Chrome

Dan Bennett is an amazing guru on all things Google tools. I was able to attend one of his sessions on "Google Toolbox: Level up Your Chrome" and was sorry that I couldn't get to more. I came away with all sorts of tips to help me be more efficient using Chrome, both for myself and for what I share with students and teachers. Thank you, Dan!

More Inspiration

The keynotes on Saturday were also inspirational. Molly Schroeder started the day with the upbeat message to "live in beta," try something new and then iterate, and to go for the moonshot. And Tracy Purdy sent us away with a challenge to take advantage of the tools available today to go beyond the four walls of our classrooms, giving our students access to instant knowledge, global connectivity, and experiential adventures that will help them better understand the world and make a difference in it.

I think it's safe to say that we all left motivated to take up those challenges. We also left wanting to return for another summit of inspiration. I know I'll be back to another one soon! And, yes, I will fret and stress while I prepare my own presentations, but afterwards I'll be so glad I did. :-)

Meeting up with some teacher librarian friends at the summit:

(Those of you who know me know that I am a big Twitter fan. I included Twitter links for the people I mentioned above. They are all great people to follow if you aren't already.)


  1. I really enjoyed your post! Thank you very much for your great feedback!

  2. Google + Pages for organizations, associations and different substances empower you to interface with every one of the things you think about.

  3. Here is great list of all new google docs features for education

  4. This is really good for students and education and want to learn from each other.