Google Workshop for Educators at The Dalles, OR

There are still seats in this Google Workshop for Educators in The Dalles, Oregon. The workshop is sponsored by Google, so registration is free with CUE membership (which runs $40 for an annual membership if you’re not already a member – making this regularly $250 workshop only $40). Naturally, CUE and Google are hoping for a packed house. Here are the details and a link to the registration site:

Google Workshop for Educators at The Dalles, OR

August 24, 2009
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM (w/90 Minutes for Lunch*)
North Wasco Professional/Technical Training Center
3601 W. 10th Street
The Dalles, Oregon 97058
Cost: FREE with CUE Membership (CUE Membership costs $40 per year)
* NOTE: Lunch will tentatively be hosted at the Google data center in The Dalles.

Search, learn, share! Brought to you by the producers of the Google Teacher Academy, the Google Workshop for Educators (GWE) introduces participants to innovative ways Google tools can be used in education. A full day of fast-paced presentations and hands-on activities includes experience with advanced search techniques, collaborative web-based applications, and inspirational instructional strategies. Google Certified Teachers share ways they’ve implemented tools such as Google Search, Google Docs, Google Maps, and… even more. Participants who complete the event are given access to the Google Workshop for Educators Network, an online community focused on supporting educators as they learn more about the power of Google to drive student learning.

Cost: FREE with CUE Membership (CUE Membership costs $40 per year)

Note: The usual price of $250 (or $210 for CUE members) has been reduced through a subsidy provided by Google for the residents of The Dalles, OR and surrounding areas.

Lead Learner(s): Jim Sill, Google Certified Teacher

Register Now

I hope some of you in the area might be able to make it. Let me know in the comments (or via email) if you have any questions about the event.

Using Technology to Support Your PLC

This July I’ll be leading a technology strand at the CLMS/CLHS Summer Institute featuring Richard and Rebecca DuFour. Following the DuFours on Sunday I’ll be speaking to the general session on the topic of “Using Technology to Support Your PLC.” Then, I’ll be following that up with five hands-on bring your own laptop (BYOL) sessions the next day (and we should have 20 laptops on hand for those who need them). I’m excited about the opportunity to speak to a large group of educators who may never attend an educational technology conference, and to actually help some of them get started using the tools I’ll introduce. I’m sharing this here because I suspect others might be interested in this topic, and these descriptions might be helpful in your own planning. It might also spark conversation in the comments below… and of course, if you’re interested in bringing me to your school, district, or event to speak (or lead workshops) on these same topics, I’d be thrilled:


Using Technology to Support Your PLC: An Overview

Take your professional learning community to the next level by using powerfully simple online tools for collaborating with colleagues. Learn how new technologies can help your professional learning community access information, capture the conversation, and focus communication. Extend the conversation online with powerful two-way communication tools, and discover the power of reaching outside the PLC for new innovations by building an online personal learning network (PLN). This session includes an overview of powerful search techniques, document sharing tools, data collection (and analysis) software, social networking services, and much more that you can share with your entire staff when you return to your site. Best of all, everything you’ll learn about is free.


Technology And Your PLC: Collaboration With Google Docs

Google Docs is an online office suite that allows you to create, edit, share, and publish documents, including spreadsheets and presentations. Because everything is stored and even modified on the web, Google Docs makes it easy to collaborate with colleagues – and even to edit the same document from multiple computers simultaneously. This session will focus on the use of Google Docs to promote and support collaboration within a PLC, including strategies for creating common assessments, sharing best practices, and capturing the conversation – even between meetings. This one tool can revolutionize the way your PLC collaborates. And it’s free.

Technology and PLCs: Data Collection with Google Forms

Google Forms allow users to quickly and easily create an online form that feeds collected data directly into a shared spreadsheet. This is a powerful way for members of a PLC to collect the data needed to make informed decisions about instruction, best practice, and other matters related to the school or community. Forms can be used for polls, surveys, and evaluations – or for collecting event registration data, WASC evidence, and best practices. A Google Form can even be used to create online common assessments that, with a little ingenuity, can also be self-grading. Unlike many similar services, Google Forms is free – a feature of the Google Docs online office suite.

Technology and PLCs: Search, Learn, and Share with Even More Google

Google produces a number of free tools that can help members of a PLC access information, collaborate remotely, and be more productive as a team. Specialized search and custom search help a PLC locate and share timely research. Google Reader and the iGoogle homepage help aggregate and process more information quickly and easily. Google Calendar and Google Groups help with organization and creating a sense of community online. Google Talk connects distant classrooms or buildings, and mobile applications  teachers and administrators take all of this on the go… as they walk the halls or chaperone field trips. This fast-paced session explores many of these tools and helps participants know how to get started with the tools they most want to use with their own PLC.

Technology and PLCs: Building Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

Personal learning is one of the foundations of a successful PLC – and an element of any successful organizational change effort. This session focuses on tools that can be used by any member of a PLC to build their own Personal Learning Network (PLN), which can not only support their own professional development but can also be an efficient means of diffusing innovation within the PLC. Learn to connect with a community of like minded professionals, make contributions, have conversations, and make requests in your times of need. Powerful free tools such as Twitter and Ning make this possible.

The League Learning Network

Join us during this final session and see how to extend your summer institute experience online when you leave! CLMS and CLHS have set up an online social network for educators. Learn how to join and how you can collaborate with a statewide community. Discover and share blog posts, pictures, videos, and more. Participate in groups and discussion forums – and keep informed about the latest news and events. Best of all, meet and converse with like minded colleagues – all in the new League Learning Network.

I’d also love to hear from anyone who thinks I’ve missed something, misrepresented anything, or otherwise failed to make the most of this opportunity to speak to middle and high school teachers who might not ever attend a technology conference. So let me know if you have questions or suggestions related to these descriptions – I’d happily credit any contributions (or challenges to my own views) when I share this material.

And if you’d like to actually register for the summer institute in Indian Wells, Ca to participate in these sessions, please do. I’d love to see some of you there.

If you do register for the summer institute, you’ll also be eligible to register for a free webinar I’ll be hosting on July 15 (focused on using Google Docs with a PLC).

Finally, if you’re a middle or high school English teacher, you can join the League Learning Network for FREE regardless of whether or not you are attending the summer institute. I hope to see you online!

The Google Teacher Academy @ Boulder, CO

I’m thrilled to share that in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day yesterday, Google announced the next Google Teacher Academy last night. I hope many of you will apply. Here are the details:

In support of National Teacher Day, we’d like to announce that applications are open for our next Google Teacher Academy, which will take place in our Boulder, Colorado office on Wednesday, August 5th. The Google Teacher Academy is a free professional development experience designed to help K-12 educators get the most from innovative technologies. Each academy is an intensive, one-day event where participants get hands-on experience with Google’s free products, which will help you bring communication, collaboration and fun into your classrooms. Teachers will also learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and immerse themselves in an innovative corporate environment. Upon completion, participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other K-12 educators in their local region. Applications are due Friday, July 3rd.

I’m doubly thrilled that CUE will once again be producing the event and that in my role as professional development coordinator, I’ll be leading the project. I’m most thankful, though, to be a part of the Google Certified Teacher community, which is the most active and generous online community I’ve ever been a part of… and I hope that many of you will apply to join us in Boulder and in the online community. Good luck if you decide to apply!

And of course, please leave questions or comments about the event below. :)

Lead Learning 2009: Colleague Referral Discount

I just posted this over at and I want to share it here too – for my colleagues around the nation and the world. I hope some of you will be able to join us… and bring along others (both edtech folks and non-edtech professional developers) that you know will benefit from our time together in Ojai. Here’s the deal:

The Colleague Referral Discount provides anyone registered for the Lead Learning 2009 Summer Institute for Professional Developers with a $50 refund on their registration for each colleague of of theirs that registers as well – with no limit on the number of colleagues that can be referred. This is a great way to make the institute even more affordable in this challenging economic climate. This is also a way to share this experience with other professional developers who will benefit from the program. We know the intensive experience will be even more powerful when shared with team members or peers.

Please fill out the Colleague Referral Discount Form once for each colleague that you refer to the institute.

To register for the event visit the CUEtoYOU Professional Development Webstore.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or other feedback about this program – or the event itself. I hope I’ll see some of you there. :)

Lead Learning 2009: A Summer Institute For Professional Developers

This event has been a long time in the making… and there are many more details to come, but registration is now open and I wanted to share it here first. It will be going out via the usual channels at CUE and elsewhere in the new year, but you saw it here first. ;)

Lead Learning 2009: A Summer Institute For Professional Developers

Check-In begins at 2 PM on Sunday July 19, 2009.
Celebration and Reflection Lunch ends at 2 PM on Wednesday July 22, 2009.

The Thacher School
5025 Thacher Road
Ojai, California 93023

Are you an educator responsible for others’ professional development? If so…

It’s Your Turn to Learn!

Lead Learning 2009 is an intensive three-day summer institute designed to help professional developers learn innovative ways technology can enhance their work. This program is ideal for BTSA coordinators, ELD coordinators, Educational Technology coordinators, Professional Development coordinators, and any administrator or teacher leader responsible for training other educators.

The Lead Learning Institute is hosted in a unique instructional environment at Thacher School in Ojai, California. The Institute Faculty uses intense immersion methodology to create a transformative hands-on learning experience for each participant. Room and board is included so all participants live, eat, and even relax on the picturesque campus. A low student to faculty ratio, small working groups, and unlimited access to wireless Internet (and other school resources) makes the institute a powerful 24/7 learning experience.

Participants will learn to use ubiquitous and free technology to gather data, to facilitate better face-to-face instruction, to enable asynchronous collaboration between meetings, and to share the results of their work with stakeholders – or the world. Workshops will explore the role of face-to-face professional development in the age of streaming video and podcasts. Techniques for keeping training relevant and for tapping into participants’ passions will be shared.

The institute will also focus on the importance of professional developers cultivating their own Personal Learning Network (PLN) online. Participants will “learn to network” so they can then “network to learn” when they return to work in the coming year.

Build a foundation for your own professional development by joining us for this memorable event on the beautiful Central California Coast. It’s your turn to learn!

Tuition: $850, Including Room and Board (Accommodations for three nights, arriving Sunday July 19th and departing Wednesday July 22nd; nine meals, beginning with dinner on Sunday and ending with Lunch on Wednesday.)

Lead Learner(s):
This event will be lead by Dr. Mark Wagner, CUE’s Professional Development Coordinator, and a cadre of experienced CUE Lead Learners, including Google Certified Teachers, Apple Distinguished Educators, and special guest speakers.

Register Today:

I’d love to hear any feedback or reactions to this program description in the comments. And as I mentioned, more information will be coming soon on a separate website dedicated to the event. :)

iPod Touch in Education Workshop

I just opened registration for an iPod in Education workshop scheduled during the OCCUE Tech Fair on January 24th. If you are in the area and are interested in a workshop that includes both the iPod Touch and over two hours of inspirational ideas for educational use, please sign up. :)

iPod Touch in Education

January 24, 2009
8:30 to 10:50 AM
St. John’s Lutheran School
Orange, Ca

Learn how the revolutionary iPod Touch is the ultimate in mobile learning. Store, organize and access media – plus browse the web! Receive a 16 GB iPod Touch. “Learn It, Take It, Use It!” (Ticketed Focus Session, 2 hrs 20 min, $399, Includes iPod Touch)

This workshop is produced through a partnership between CUE, Inc. and OCCUE.

Lead Learner(s):
Robert EM Craven
Coordinator Educational Technology
Orange County Department of Education

Register Today:

I’ll post the workshop links as soon as I have them. In the meantime, feel free to share links to your own (or your own favorite) iPod Touch in education resources in the comments. And let me know if you have any questions about this workshop – or would like to bring one to your own site, of course. :)

Workshop Resources for The CLMS/CLHS/NHSA and CUE Technology Conference

I led five workshops at the 2008 CLMS/CLHS/NHSA and CUE Technology Conference. Below are links to the resources for each event:

Please feel free to contact me for further details or related information.

Online CUEtoYOU Professional Development

I’m happy to have been a part of bringing this service to CUE, so I’m sharing the news here as well.

Through a new partnership with Global Classroom, CUE is excited to offer online courses to its members!  Global Classroom has delivered online professional development to teachers since 2004 and has a wide array of technology-focused courses.  This great benefit is now available to all CUE members.  This partnership will provide low-cost professional development in a flexible online environment to teachers throughout the state.  And a portion of each registration will also help support CUE’s mission! More…

Check out the course options and register today!

Incidentally, this is one of the few services CUE offers that’s available to readers of this blog from anywhere in the world. Of course, if you’re interested in brining CUEtoYOU face-to-face professional development (or perhaps the Google Learning Institute in particular) to you, we’re willing to travel anywhere on the globe. :)

Welcome Activities

This post began as a reflection on the GTA, but in an email to a colleague it became a bit more… so I’m sharing it here again in this new format.

As with many other things, it helps to be clear about the purpose of the Welcome Activity. This may change depending on the event and the audience, but in general a welcome activity needs to do the following:

  • Help participants get to know each other
  • Help participants get their mental juices flowing
  • Help participants get physically involved in the event
  • Help participants get emotionally (or passionately) involved in the event

In addition, a welcome activity must easy to participate in; complicated or difficult activities will make it very difficult to achieve any of the above. I like to start with an engaging personal or humorous anecdote, and then pose a question for participants to discuss. The question usually plays off of the anecdote, taps into participants’ own passions, and also relates to the topic at hand. I often use the “Think, Pair, Share” model of asking participants to consider their own answer, to share it with one partner, and then to share out with the whole group (either everyone if it is a small group, or select volunteers if it is a large group). Here are a few example welcome activities that follow this model.

A Message From The Future
This is based on my personal experience with a U2 song – be sure to read the story behind it.

Driving a Race Car
This is based on my personal experience with a race car driving book. It’s pretty straight forward.

Building Airplanes in The Sky
This is based on a funny video – a commercial actually – and is also fairly straight forward.

For me, the physical component is often challenging, but asking participants to build something, move something around, or simply move themselves around the room can also help to engage them in the physical space in which they’ll be learning. Two welcome activities I’ve led at the Google Teacher Academy meet this need well.

Building Innovators
The surprise step four asks participant teams to use the index cards to create the highest tower that they can – with a focus on thinking outside the box to accomplish their task. :)

The Innovation Connection
Moving around within the room trying to connect in every possible combination with the members of their group turns out to be a very physical (and challenging) experience.

Feel free to adapt any of the above welcome activities for your own use if they resonate with you. Or, create your own. I also subscribe to the “Start with a Demo” philosophy and will sometimes start with an interactive demonstration – such as asking participants questions and live blogging the answers to demonstrate how easy it is to post when starting a blogging workshop. You might sort out a way to start by taking pictures as they come in and then displaying them as part of a Welcome activity that demonstrates the engaging power multimedia.

I hope this reflection on Welcome Activities has been helpful, and I hope you’ll let me know if you have any other examples or additional thoughts on welcome activities that you’d like to share.

Speaking of reflections, a good reflection activity is at least as important as a good welcome activity, though it may be more important to focus on the things learned that day than on other outside passions. However, I usually shoot for the best of both worlds by trying to connect the reflection activity to the opening welcome activity.

Good luck with your own workshops. I hope your welcome activity gets you and your participants started on the right foot. :)

UPDATE: Google Certified Teacher Jim Lerman left a very thoughtful and very detailed comment on my previous post about Welcome Activities. In it, he pointed out something very important that I haven’t highlighted here:

The most important thing is that the opening event should bear a clear relationship to the other events of the day, including most importantly, the closing event. People remember beginnings and endings much more than everything in between – so it’s important to maximize the value of them and not fritter away these most significant of times.

Read more of Jim’s Comment on the original post. Naturally, the most important thing about any welcome activity is that it prepares participants for the task at hand – which of course means that the purpose of the professional development day is the most important purpose of the welcome activity. I allude to this briefly in the “Lead Learner Procedures” I share with all CUE Lead Learners:

Provide a welcome activity (that gets participants talking and introducing themselves). It is best if this is related to the topic at hand and to a greater emotional connection beyond the topic at hand

Ultimtely, this need to connect the welcome activity to the purpose of the professional development event highlights the need to be clear about the purpose of the PD. This would be another post altogether, but I think the discussion would touch on the need of good face-to-face PD to take advantage of the people in the room for some constructive purpose. (This is a need at the GTA as well – and I think the most important purpose of the day is to help 50 new educators become new members of the Google Certified Teacher community… a purpose I hope will be even more central to future Google Teacher Academies.)

As always, I’d love to hear your comments on any of this, including any additional thoughts you might have on what makes a good welcome activity.

GTA NYC Reflection – Part 4: Reflection Activities

This is the fourth (of four) posts reflecting on my experience leading the Google Teacher Academy in NYC on November 18th. They may not be explicit in this post, but I still feel the presence of these three themes from my reflections: Innovation, Inspiration, and Passion.

This particular GTA also saw the return of our original reflection activity (though this version may have at least been conceived as a slightly more formal activity). The activity, called “Aha! Moments” is a simple variation on the old “Think, Pair, Share” method. Participants were given a minute to think to themselves about what their Aha! moment was during the day. Then they had a few minutes to share with a partner next to them. This was the most successful part of the reflection activity – the conversations were loud, animated, and perhaps even passionate. Following that I had planned that each pair would share “the best” of their moments with their whole team – and that the team would then share “the best” of the table with the whole room.

Unfortunately, I felt pressed for time and was afraid we might be spending too much time on a low energy reflection activity… and I was somewhat uneasy about the competition element and asking them to rate each other’s moments (even though I know that in sharing such stories one or two always stand out and competition isn’t an issue). In the end I them share with partners and with their table. Then I called them all back together (away from their team tables to the central tables where they were all mixed together) and simply asked for volunteers to share their aha moments. The first few were fantastic… but then after about the fourth or fifth there were no more volunteers. At the end of the night we did get feedback that suggested each table should’ve been heard. In the future, I will trust the process and respect the reflection process by following through on allocating the necessary time. I am always impressing upon other lead learners the importance of the “wrapping” on a PD session (the welcome and reflection activities), and sometimes I need to hear that myself.

In terms of what makes a good reflection activity in general, I think the purpose is similar to that of a good welcome activity – and a good reflection activity is at least as important as a good welcome activity, though it may be more important to focus on the things learned that day than on other outside passions. However, I usually shoot for the best of both worlds by trying to connect the reflection activity to the opening welcome activity (and to what they’ve learned and what their next steps are, of course).

Obviously, I haven’t given this as much thought as I’ve given to welcome activities, and I think it shows in my workshops… the welcomes are much stronger than the reflections. So I’d love to hear any thoughts you all have on what makes a good reflection activity for teachers in a professional development session… and I hope you’ll share.

I actually outlined material for at least one more post, but my battery gave out on the plane… and now I’m up plenty late putting this series of posts together. However, I did create a sort of bullet list of “what I learned” that I think it might be appropriate to include in this “reflection” post. Here they are – in the order I thought of them.

  • It’s six of one and a half dozen of the other when it comes to balancing fast versus slow or technical versus pedagogical… but you still have to consider these elements and strike a good balance.
  • Innovation, inspiration, and passion are necessary for good professional development – at every stage of the day (and every stage of the planning and preparation too).
  • I absolutely needed to care at every step of the way – and I need to believe my efforts will make a difference to the participants and their students. (I had to consciously get myself back to this place when I left home for four days.)
  • The power of the Google Teacher Academy (and perhaps all professional development in education) is in the diffusion of innovation that occurs after the event, and that should be the focus.
  • The power of the Google Teacher Academy (and perhaps all groups of professional development participants) is in the network of people the event creates.
  • I personally did a better job of meeting new people – and enjoyed it. It’s valuable to do make an effort to not chat and eat with the people you already know… but it’s hard when you rarely see them face to face as it is. ;)
  • I personally still learned more from talking to people informally than I did from the formal event.
  • When it comes to choosing new speakers (that I hadn’t previously worked with), this has an similar effect to adding new segments to the day (such as the office hours)… it’s a risk that can really pan out – or that can be a real liability.
  • There’s a conflict, I think, between the need to be very prescriptive about what you want from presenters – and trusting them to shine in their own way. Perhaps there’s some sort of balance to be had here as well… a way to inspire rather than proscribe.
  • I wish I could’ve taken Eva and Clark with me… even though I was working for nearly the entire time I was there. I’m not sure what the answer to this is. ;)
  • I definitely should’ve talked to more people about “Search, Learn, Share.” :)

Of course, if any of you have reactions to these, I hope you’ll share those in the comments, too.