Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reflection on the Indiana GAFE Summit 2015

I’m not quite caught up for this busy week because I spent last weekend working and learning at the GAFE Summit in Franklin, Indiana. I love all things Google, and my first summit didn’t disappoint!

The event organizers did a wonderful job, and Franklin Community High School was an amazing place with friendly hosts. Even though more than 500 educators attended the conference, most with 2+ devices, our wireless connections were wonderfully fast and reliable. The building is equipped with amazing furniture which allowed for easy movement and plenty of comfort; the school even has charging areas with student-designed furniture! In addition to the expected adults in charge, Franklin had a team of students who gave up the weekend to serve as guides and resources for the event. Students even attended sessions to learn more about Google, and having a student join in a session about the new Hoosier Student Digital Leaders program sponsored by the Indiana Department of Education was an amazing opportunity. The young man was a perfect ambassador for the program, interested, attentive, eager to learn, and ready to add his voice to the conversation.  I can’t wait to get a student technology team in place at our school to offer our own students such opportunities for leadership!

The keynote speakers were dynamic and inspiring, as expected! Google Evangelist Jaime Casap stressed the importance of creating and collaborating--not “group work,” but true collaboration where students contribute equally to solve a problem. To stay relevant, Google is always trying to improve and building on its success, and we need to ask the same of our students. If they have mastered something yet, its our job as educators to offer them more opportunities to improve, show growth, and reach mastery.  If mastery is achieved, we need to push our students beyond that boundary and get them innovating. In that same vein, Jaime, touched on digital citizenship by explaining that digital citizenship is the minimum requirement in today’s world and the future. To keep improving, we need to teach our students to be digital leaders! Finally, he reminded us that we’re educating students for a future that doesn’t yet exist. By recalling his own journey with technology in education, he showed that the tech we are so fanatical about today will be our own children’s or student’s Commodore 64. They are using the worst technology right now that they will encounter.

I learned some new tips and tricks for GAFE, and I even had time to create two new class activities for this week during the training. Michelle Green’s presentation on Amazing Race and Iron Chef inspired activities led me to create one of each for my students, and Adam Seipel’s Google Drawings session helped me create a  beautiful, digital graphic organizer to help my students prepare for Socratic seminars at the end of our reading. Thanks to the Google Drawings session, I’ve also decided which GAFE feature I will spotlight in my Google Trainer application!

Some of my favorite ideas came from collaborating with the other attendees about the presentations; the presentations simply inspired the conversations we shared! In Matt Miller’s awesome presentation on Google Hangouts, one teacher shared the brilliant idea of using Google Hangouts on Air to broadcast and record morning announcements in the school. I love this idea; a leaky roof several years ago ruined our broadcast room, so a secretary has been reading announcements in the morning. This solution will offer a cost effective solution to engaging students in creating announcements, and an easy way to distribute and archive them for our school!

Most of all, I was impressed by the number of Indiana educators willing and able to give up an entire weekend to develop their Google skills and integrate technology into their classrooms! We are modeling the digital leadership for our profession and our students! I can't wait to try even more tricks I learned, and share them to make learning more relevant and engaging for my students! How will you inspire digital leadership today?