Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Thoughts about Google's Education on Air Conference

This past weekend, I was honored to participate in Google's 2nd Education on Air Conference.  I will tell you that I have never met a more amazing and passionate group of educators as I did here.  For those of you that were not able to participate, don't worry.... you still can.

Friday's keynotes were amazing.  I was most inspired by Bethany Wenger.  Bethany was the winner of the 2012 Google Science Fair.  As a breast cancer survivor, I was eager to hear how she created a cloud-based neural network to accurately assess breast cancer from fine needle aspirate samples.  The program she created when she was 17 years old correctly diagnosed 94% of cancer cases and correctly identified 99% of the cancerous cases.  (Fox News)  I was overwhelmed by the accomplishments of this young lady.

I was also inspired by Richard Curtis.  Richard, along with UNICEF, has started a movement to create the "World's Largest Lesson".  In September of 2015, the United Nations will announce the "Sustainable Development Goals".  These global goals will help drive change by providing a framework of targets to guide policy.  There are seven themes that the seventeen goals are a part of.  Richard's goal is to have teachers all over the world create lessons to introduce the Global Goals in their classrooms the week of September 27th.  Can you imagine teachers worldwide all working together to teach these goals to their students to help eradicate extreme poverty and more?

Day 2 of the online conference consisted of the individual sessions, presented by over 100 educators, administrators, IT staff, and more.  Sessions were available in four strands - Educators, Administrators, IT, and Anyone.  Sessions for educators ranged from Flipping your Classroom, Using Google Forms for Assessment, Intro to Google Classroom and other topics like Ditching your Textbooks, Using QR codes and many more topics.  I presented Building your Personal Learning Network (PLN).  There were so many good sessions that there was no way I could watch them all.  Luckily, Google has archived all of them on the conference website - https://educationonair.withgoogle.com.  If the speaker posted resources, they are available there as well.

I met so many amazing people online during this conference.  Many of them connected with myself (and others!) on Twitter or Google+ afterwards.  The hashtag #GoogleEduOnAir was one of the top trending hashtags all weekend!   Folks from all over the world viewed these sessions and interacted with the presenters via the online Q & A sessions.  It's great to know that learning continues on outside the original event.  Some teachers have shared with me that what they learned this weekend was going to change the way they taught in their classroom.  Teachers were so inspired by what they learned and so was I.

If you didn't get a chance to watch the live event, I challenge you to visit the website and view some of these sessions.  As teachers, it is important that we never stop learning.  We need to meet our students where they are at - not only socially, emotionally, and intellectually, but also technologically!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is such an important topic when working with students.  Too many times, we hear heart-breaking stories on the news: how a child was abducted by someone they met online, a suicide that was caused by cyberbullying, and more.  Our students do not realize that what they do and say online can haunt them forever.  It is our responsibility as educators and technical staff to teach our students how to protect themselves online.  Fortunately, there is a tremendous amount of quality resources online to help us.

There are nine elements or themes of Digital Citizenship.  Each one is as important as the other and need to be addressed in our schools.  They are:

  1. Digital Access - full electronic participation in society
  2. Digital Commerce - electronic buying and selling of goods
  3. Digital Communications - electronic exchange of information
  4. Digital Literacy - process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
  5. Digital Etiquette - electronic standards of conduct or procedure
  6. Digital Law - electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
  7. Digital Rights and Responsibilities - those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
  8. Digital Health and Wellness - physical and psychological well-being in a digital technology world
  9. Digital Security - electronic precautions to guarantee safety

Common Sense Media's mission is "dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology."  They provide quality resources for both parents and school for educating students of all ages.  This is a free resource for teachers. On their website, there is a gadget that you can use to explore appropriate movies, games, tv shows, books, apps, websites and music by age level.   They also have their "Top Pics" for each of these forms of electronic media.  For parents, they help provide answers to questions about social media, cybersafety, privacy and internet safety and more.  For educators, they have developed curriculum to help teach online safety to children of all ages in a safe, but informational way.  You can even become a Common Sense Certified Educator.

They have also developed a platform called Graphite that helps educators "discover the best apps, games, and websites for classroom use."  I particularly like that you can search their Common Core Explorer by CCSS (currently only Math and Language Arts, Science coming soon!) for all grade levels for appropriate electronic resources that align to the standard(s) you are working on. They have Lesson Flows which are lesson plans with age-appropriate apps tied into the lesson.

i-SAFE was established as a non-profit Internet safety organization since 1998.  According to their website, they have "developed one of the most extensive e-Safety education curriculum libraries in the world."  I have previously used their curriculum in the past and found it to be very complete and thorough.  They have a new version of their curriculum which is web-based.  I've not found it as easy to use or to preview.  They have been very big on student involvement via assemblies and campaigns.  I've found their videos to be current and well made.  This program is not free, unlike Common Sense Media,

TeachInCtrl is a series of free standards-based lessons that were originally developed by Cable in the Classroom.  These lessons cover key digital citizenship concepts for students in grades 4-8.  These lessons involve inquiry-based activities and opportunities to collaborate with others.  Lessons include Communication & Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, Privacy, Media Literacy, Cyberbullying, Ethics/Copyright and Information Literacy.  There are also subject-specific ideas on how to integrate digital citizenship topics in to your classroom.  Lesson materials are provided for teachers.  

Even our friends at Google have a series of lessons for teachers on how to strengthen digital literacy skills in their classroom.  They offer an Introduction and a Basics module to help teachers understand how to address Digital Citizenship in class.  I have found Google's trainings on other topics to be very good.  I think that it is important to note that Google feels that it is important for those working on their Google certifications to be exposed to this as well.

Twitter chats are one of my favorite forms of professional development for teachers.  One of the most popular chats is #digcit.  This chat takes place every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 7pm eastern.  Archives of the chat as well as resources for addressing Digital Citzenship in your classroom can be found there.