So thanks to Twitter (post topic for another day), I learned about these:
In my research a few months ago, I found out a few were coming to my state and I started dropping hints. I didn’t “beg” exactly, but I continued to mention it. My love for Google is well known among my colleagues (I know. Why am I not using Blogger?). My wonderful and amazing technology administrator (If you are reading this, does that earn me some iPads?) said absolutely (and then we checked to make sure there was money).
I will admit to being a bundle of nerves this morning since I had to: a. Drive the school car (oil light on and all) b. Drive to Buffalo alone and c. Attend the conference alone (Nothing like the old- Where to sit in the cafeteria?)
After the amazing day I have had today, it was all well worth it.
Our opening keynote by Chris Betcher (@chrisbetcher is worth a follow) was informative and inspiring. It still blows my mind how fast technology has changed/is changing. All of the students we are currently teaching have never lived WITHOUT the internet. I took from his whole talk that technology is important. But WHAT technology you use does not matter as much as how it is used and for what purpose. Teachers are NOT needed for students to learn individual skills (go search for what you need to learn on YouTube), but we as teachers are there for the “verbs”. We teach kids to explore, to explain, to create, etc. It was inspiring to hear that we still do and will have a purpose, but we have to stay in the mindset to keep moving forward. I have never heard a bad conference keynote (Yet…don’t take that as a challenge), I just always wish all my colleagues could hear it too.
Jim Sill (@mistersill also worth a follow) taught me all about YouTube. I didn’t realize how much my YouTube account had in common with a new puppy:
- You can train it with positive feedback. On your main page it suggests videos like a little puppy trying to please you. You can accept these or tell it NO! This will help you get more content suggested that you will actually like.
- You can feed it (Well information and videos, not kibble). You can easily upload your own content or create it something quick using your device camera. In love with the idea of recording your own quick intro to the playlist in case a substitute is in!
- You can make playlists. OK, I have lost the puppy analogy already (unless you know something I don’t about puppies). You can create specific playlists on many topics and share these with students. The videos can be put in any order and you can embed your playlist, share the url, and more! Later in the day I also learned about a Chrome Extension to make QR codes quickly, so check out this playlist for teachers who love all things tech. (https://goo.gl/nOY3AB)
Back to Chris Betcher for “Scripts and Add-Ons for Google Apps” and more mind being blown. I am amazed at all the “extras” available for Docs, Sheets, and Forms. I am also amazed that I am not up right now finding more add-ons. It could be a bottomless, spiral of technology if I begin. I am excited to try so many of them, but let me narrow it down for you.
My favorite Google Doc add-on (Make a new Doc and along the top you have the option for “Add-Ons” and then “Get Add-ons…”) is Speech Recognition. It is more accurate that Dragon Dictation and totally free! Use your voice, or your student’s voice to type right in a Doc! I can’t wait to see how accurate it is with a kid voice doing the talking.
Number one sheet add-on would have to be QR Code Generator (same as before, but make sure you are in a Google Sheet). This would be an amazing way to create a batch of QR codes quickly and easily! Keeping this one in my mind for my workshop in a few weeks!
The other two sessions weren’t mind-blowing, but had a couple good tips:
- goo.gl URL shortener for Chrome- Also creates a QR code quickly for the URL you are currently on. Fancy feature also tracks the history of your code and how many people used it.
- Chrome settings- Students can set for pages to be read to them (a bit robotic, but gets the job done) and can make the screen better for them visually.
The Demo Slam at the end was fun and I didn’t cry too hard that I didn’t win a Chromecast or Chromebook. Panera for breakfast and lunch left me a bit spoiled for all future conference food. I loved meeting new people, learning things from them, and sometimes getting to be the expert in a conversation. My confidence grew throughout the day and will continue to grow as I use these new tools more and more. I will just keep reminding myself: