GTAUK: what a difference a week makes…
…or perhaps not!
It has been just over a week since GTAUK – or Google Teacher Academy UK in case you were puzzled – and I think I just about feel ready enough to share. Where to begin?
The lead up
Prior to GTAUK, we were all arranged into teams and assigned a team leader. Randomly, my team leader turned out to be Ian Addison, who I had already met several times before. Also Simon McLoughlin, who I met at this year’s BETT Show, was in my team too – Team Rubik. However, we had a team Google Hangout as well so I felt like I had met the rest of Team Rubik before getting to GTA anyway, which was great. Simon took it upon himself to organise a pre-GTAUK dinner on the Tuesday night, which had an impressive turnout. Again, it was lovely to be able to talk to some people before GTA began on the Wednesday.
Even the sweets were Google colours.
What can I say? Day one was fast paced. Our teams moved around from session to session and I was blown away by the sheer amount of information that was thrown at me. Google Sites, Google Search, Google Apps for Education, Google Calendar, Google Art Project, Google in Education, Inspiring Ideas, Google Maps, Google Forms and Scripts, YouTube. Google+… whew. I’m sure I’ve missed something out. I made brief notes using linoit.com, which I have share below. Hopefully they make sense and there is something useful in there for others!
Old school Google.
Day two – the unconference
Day two, which was optional, had a much more relaxed pace. Attendees had been asked to use Google Moderator to suggest sessions they would like to lead or go into more detail on. People moved more freely between sessions and it was lead by the wants and needs of the group.
At the end of day one, we were asked to think of our ‘magic moments’ – those parts of the day that really stuck out for us. This was and is a near impossible task because there were just so many, but some moments that really struck a chord with me were:
- James Sanders‘ session on blended learning and flipping the classroom. James, who teaches history in the US, shared how he uses YouTube, Google Apps and a selection of other free tools, like socrative.com and todaysmeet.com, in his paperless classroom – all the children in his classes have Chomebooks. He blogs all his lessons and makes videos to accompany each one so he spends his time with the children in his classes rather than at the front, talking. I know this struck a chord with me because I was inspired to make a start on my own YouTube channel shortly after GTAUK was over. I teach in a primary setting and although we don’t have one-to-one devices, I’m interested in exploring flipped learning and the power of video further.
- During her session on Google Search, Lisa Thumann explained how Google Translate could be a useful tool in meetings with parents, who speak little or no English. You could possibly have two laptops set up, one for you and one for the parent. Now, Google Translate was not a new tool for me, but I had never made the connection between that issue and the tool. I kept wondering, how come I never thought of that?! This will definitely be something I will try in future parents meetings where language might be a barrier.
- Mark Allen really drove home in the importance of groups during his session on Google Apps for Education to ensure targeted communication. When setting up Google Apps for Education, the groups need to reflect the structure of your organisation. He likened setting up a ‘nested’ structure to a Russian doll. This really got me thinking about the structure of my school and will be the first thing I think about when I begin the process of setting it up.
- Tom Barrett offered a different perspective on Google Docs and Maps, by thinking of them as story telling tools. He used all the different types of Docs to tell the story of a day in the life of his son. Magical. He also showed us how Maps can be used as settings for stories (especially in conjunction with animaps.com) and to create maths challenges based on your school’s setting. I have created a maths map before for my school, but really want to explore it as a stimulus for story writing now too.
- Zoe Ross showed us how we could use Google Sites to jointly create a website in minutes. I am going to magpie this approach, when introducing Google Sites to a whole class because I have only worked on Google Sites with small groups so far.
Now, I could go on and on, but I’m going to leave it there because the rest of my notes are below.
Inspired on two levels
Overall, GTA was as overwhelming and inspring as I thought it would be. It inspired me on two levels: first of all there was the ‘purely tech’ level. I learned lots of tips and tricks, particularly about Google Chrome, which wowed me. If you use Chrome, you must check out my notes on the ‘Go Chrome or go home’ session. However, the other more important level for me, went beyond just the technology and actually inspired me to think more outside the box in terms of teaching approaches and gave me a renewed motivation to keep on learning and ‘dreaming out loud’, as Mark Wagner challenged us so eloquently. So my action plan needs to be finished and the real journey can begin now.
Google certified – SLAM!
Day 1: morning sessions
Day 1: afternoon sessions
Day 2: unconference sessions