Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inside Google

Much of our day was spent reviewing or learning all of the amazing applications Google has available for our use: Search, Reader, Docs, Sites, Blogger, iGoogle, Earth, Sketch Up and Maps. Most of these I will be blogging about on my own blog when I deliver professional development. But I want to share with you my favorite fun thing I do with my Google account = iGoogle. Check it out.

Google being Google, they made sure to add some fun tour time in our day. As we walked (we weren't allowed to use scooters due to insurance reasons) the city block length of the fourth floor of Google we walked past several micro-kitchens. They are spaced out about every 150 feet with many yummy snacks to keep your tummy happy and on task while you're at work.

Walking down the hall it's impossible not to notice the white boards on every wall and the write on glass of the offices. These all look like mind maps with ideas, doodles and random jots.
Isn't that fun? I really wanted to write on one but this security guy followed us around all day, so I was afraid to tempt it. :) Here's a video to show you a little more in real time.

We ended our amazing day with a wonderful dinner of crab cakes and filet mignon. And we all officially earned the title of Google Certified Teacher. I hope you'll follow me as I continue on this journey and as I explore all the wealth of resources I now have to go through. I'll share it all with you soon.

10 Things that Google has Found to be True

In our opening overview session, Mark talked about how the 10 things Google has found to be true relate just as well to the classroom.   

1.  Focus on the student and all else will follow.  
We can plan amazing things to do with our class, but if they're not engaged...does it matter?  They have to be engaged in what we are doing, not passive.
2.  It's best to teach a few things really, really well.  
The content we must cover grows daily.  It's rare that a teacher says they have covered everything they wanted to in a year.  We're going to have to be masters of integration and choosing what to do really well instead of doing it all.  
3.  Fast is better than slow.
I really don't need to say much about this do I?  We've all sat in trainings where we were bored because it was going so slow, it could have been summarized.  Get through the lesson and work with the kids that need more of your time.  Kids will tune out, just like you will!
4.  Democracy in the classroom works.
Give kids choices about what they will do, they'll do better if they buy in.
5.  You don't need to be at school to need an answer.
Learning happens 24/7, so questions will come up that kids need to know HOW to find the answer to.  Self directed learning is what you are preparing them for.  Think of the last few things you learned how to do.  Did someone show you or were you self-taught?  How did you find out the answers to your questions?  Prepare you students for this.  
6.  You can teach without doing evil. 
(Google's version of this is:  you can make money without doing evil)  I'll let you draw the parallels here.
7.  There's always more information out there.
There is always more to know, there is always someone new to learn from...never stop learning.
8.  The need for information crosses all borders.
The world is no longer round, it's flat - we're all connected.  Reach out and collaborate, connect and share with others around the world.
9.  You can be serious without a suit.  
Not to be slovenly, but it's what you know not how you look.
10.  Great just isn't good enough.
Keep pushing, trying, learning....the best is yet to come.

Which ones do you find to be true?

Racing into Google Teacher Academy

We've been promised a wild ride here at the Academy with blinding fast information.  

Mark Wagner referred to the book Speed Secrets and the life of a race car driver paralleling with that of an educator.  (This will sound familiar to my Chets Creek friends.)  Don't look at where you are or where you are going, but where you WANT to be. That is what the racers do and that is what we need to do as educators and learners.  

Even though this is not new to me, it still resonates.  I get as excited as the next person about what new thing I want to try in the classroom on Monday...but I need to keep the big picture in mind...what will my teaching look like in a few years?  Am I doing the right things now to get me there?  

Back to my fast paced learning going on today...

Arriving .....Finally, in New York

Any of you who know me well, know that I wake up WAY early to prepare for my day. Part of the reason is that my naturally curly hair doesn't like being straightened and part of the reason is I don't like going anywhere without makeup.

So, I set my alarm for 4:30 am to get to my 7:15 am flight. Imagine my surprise when I peeked open one eye to see what time it was and it was 6:15 am!!!!!! You have never seen such a flurry of getting dressed as I'm screaming at my husband, "I don't know what happened!" (The electricity went off.) He jumped in his car and drove me at a speed that was quite over the speed limit. I arrived at the Jacksonville International Airport with no makeup, yesterday's hair-do in a scrunchy and ran up to the check out desk at exactly 6:47. There I was informed that if you don't have your bags checked 30 minutes ahead of time you can't take that plane. Yes, really. The next open flight out was 2 pm. My husband, who thought we made it on time, was already gone and I hated to call him back...so I had my morning getting ready routine in the public restroom. I only got a few strange looks at the hairdryer, curling iron and makeup spread out everywhere. Thank goodness for wireless internet or I would have lost my mind trying to pass the time!

I finally arrived in New York just before sunset, so the only real look I got at the city was driving through in my cab. A meet up had been planned by a few of the members from the Google Teacher Academy. Many of these people I know from twitter, but have never met face to face. It was fun to get to
meet them and share a meal!

I'm looking forward to attending the GTA today. Google has asked us not to bring cameras and they made us sign a non-disclosure notice, so I'm not sure what my post will be tonight...but I will have something for you!

Picture (left to right): Bill Bauer, me, Jen Dorman, Juliette LaMontagne, John Calvert, Kevin Glass, Andrew Bendelow, Catherine McNulty, Michelle Krill and Dori Eilon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keep an Eye Out!

Keep a sharp eye on your Google Reader or blog subscriptions, because LIVE from the Creek members are on the road again in the next several days.

Toni Chant is headed to Houston, TX to present and attend at the National Council for the Social Studies. And Melanie Holtsman is headed to New York City to Attend Google Teacher Academy. Watch the sneak preview below for a peek into where the academy will be held at Google headquarters!

We can't wait to hear from you!