Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Buffering: A Recap of the Weekend Google Summit

Over this past weekend of January 28-29, I attended the EdTechTeam's Las Vegas Google Summit. This was the third consecutive year that I have attended the summit, and overall, the sixth EdTechTeam event.  Every time I attend one of these events, I am amazed at the number of people that take time out of their weekend to learn and grow, the knowledge of the presenters sharing the great tools that they use in their classrooms, and at this point, seeing people that I consider friends, even though they live sometimes thousands of miles away and the only time we see one another is during one of these events.   Not only was I able to attend and learn about some fabulous edtech tools, but I was able to share my expertise in two separate presentations.  It has taken me a couple of days to decompress, but here are some of my favorite moments and new discoveries from this past weekend.  

Me when I realized that my presentation was in danger!
The summits always start with a rousing keynote, and this was no different. Donnie Piercey got everybody fired up and motivated by emphasizing how teachers should have fun with the students and classes.  My first session after the keynote was focused on hyperdocs.  The instructor provided some fine examples of hyperdocs, but unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the entire session.  Partway through, I realized that my new Chromebook has a micro-HDMI input, not the HDMI input that my old Chromebook had.  Since I was presenting not long after the session, I had to find an adapter for my VGA to HDMI dongle.  A quick run to Best Buy down the street from the school got me my adapter and crisis was averted.  I was able to save the presentation materials so I can go back to look at them and start playing around with hyperdocs more.  

I am very active with my blog, but I am always looking for more ideas on how to help teachers incorporate blogging into their classes with their students.  The presenter for the blogging session was Charity Helman, a wonderful teacher from Calgary, AB.  She showed some great examples of students' blogs from her classroom and shared ideas on how teachers could incorporate blogging further.  There was also time for teachers that did not have a blog to set one up to dive into with their classes on Monday.  Charity also shared her blog, one that she said she hopes to contribute to more often.  

If I only inspired one kid in my career, it's
moments like this that make it worth it!
My first presentation of the summit was on screenshot and screencasting programs.  My session was quite packed with lots of eager educators with plenty of questions and insights on how they use screenshots and screencasts.  However, my absolute favorite moment of the entire weekend came just before I was about to get my session started.  As I was greeting people and assisting them with logging into my presentation on Pear Deck, one woman that had sat down looked very familiar, so I asked her if we had met before.  Her response was along the lines of "Yes, I can definitely say we have".  It turns out that this woman, Tiffany Orton, was a student of mine 9 years ago and had me for US Government.  She is now married so the last name threw me off, but as soon as she told me who she was, I remembered her.  In my defense, I had her in the 2007-2008 school year, so it had been a long time since I had seen her.  I was excited to see a former student, now a teacher, coming to learn from me once again.  On top of that, she sent me a very nice direct message on Twitter, thanking me for the session and everything that I had done to inspire her many years before.  And speaking of Twitter, she needs more educational followers; take a moment to follow Tiffany and share your expertise with her!  

My second favorite part of the weekend came learning about Soundtrap.  The presenter, Meredith Allen, described the product as "the result of Garage Band and Google Docs having a child".  Garage Band is an amazing music and recording program, but it is limited to Apple products.  You don't have that issue with Soundtrap, as it is available across all platforms as a web-based program.  You can also download apps for Android and iOS.  Once you have created your account, you can share a song or a recording for editing purposes with others, much like you would a Google Doc, Slides, Sheets, or other.  I received an email in the days leading up to the summit that explained what Soundtrap was and that they would be at the summit as a vendor and presenter.  I created an account and toyed around with it a bit before Saturday, but I was definitely looking forward to the presentation.  I enjoyed the presentation and the potential for the program with students so much that I went to the same presentation again on Sunday to make sure that I didn't miss anything and to play around with it as well.  During the sessions, in the course of about 10 minutes, I was able to create a sample jingle for a podcast, which you check out here.  To top it off, I won a 6-month account for me and up to 50 students, which normally would cost $250/year!  I will be using the program to record and produce a podcast that a couple of teachers at my school are planning.  Stay tuned for the Ridge Life Podcast!

My presentation on Sunday morning was on a topic and in a format that I had never done before.  I organized my presentation as a roundtable discussion amongst teacher leaders and administrators on how to bring tech-newbies and tech-resisters into the fold at our schools and districts.  I created a document that allowed for attendees to add ideas of things that has worked for them and things that could potentially work.  It was a shame that the session was only an hour; we had to cut off in the middle of a great conversation.  There are a lot of great things going on in schools throughout my district and in the districts that were represented by attendees.  You can check out some of their ideas on the shared document from the session.

I've proved that I know the tools, my
video needs to better demonstrate it!
The last session that I attended was on the various Google certification program.  While the session was geared more for people that were interested in becoming Level 1 certified, I was interested in learning more about the Trainer, Innovator, and Administrator program, as I already have my Level 1 & 2 certifications.  I had applied for the Google Certified Trainer program, but learned last week that I had been rejected (which very closely relates to Charity's closing keynote speech on failure).  From information provided by Michelle Armstrong, I have a good idea of what I need to do to tweak my trainer video and be accepted.  I also have a good idea of something that I would like to do for the Google Certified Innovator program, but there is going to be a great deal of groundwork to do before I submit an application.  The session ended before information on the Google Certified Administrator program could be shared, but I have looked at some of the modules and have an idea of what is needed.  If you are interested in any of the Google certification programs, take a look at the Google for Education Training Center.

The closing for the event was a keynote from Charity Helman (her first, I believe!) on failure.  She highlighted how throughout her life, she has endured what most people would refer to as failures, only to rise to where she is today as a wife, a mother, an educator, Google Certified Educator Level 1 & 2, Google Certified Trainer, and a presenter for EdTechTeam Summits.  She emphasized that if you allow a failure to dictate, then you will indeed be a failure.  But if you can analyze the failure, learn from it, and make changes, you too can do amazing things.

It was so great to learn from great people, see good friends that I don't get to see often enough and make plans to see each other again.  I am going to apologize now if I miss a name, but some of those great people are Jeff Heil, Emily Fitzpatrick, Joanne Schmutz, Craig Statucki, Tina Statucki, Snehal Bhakta, Lucas Leavitt, Nick Park, Dennis Jarrell, Donnie, Michelle, Charity, Pear Deck, Soundtrap, and the EdTechTeam.  I look forward to the next time we meet!

Until next time...

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