Tuesday, 18 February 2014

3 Great Resources for Common Core

I have mixed feelings about common core. Despite this, a fellow co-worker of mine turned me onto three great resources that I have to share.

The Text Project-The text project is a must for any language arts teacher or any teachers that are teaching literacy. A visit to the site brings up student and teacher resources, and professional development opportunities. There is a great list of tools and also research supporting many of the instructional practices.

Achieve the Core- Achieve the core is primarily for EAL/literacy and mathematics teachers. Simply indicate which subject and grade level resources that you're looking for and it brings you to a nice interface of lessons, big picture ideas and a year at the glance for long term planning. Having only literacy and math is a bit limiting to many teachers, but it has a nice platform.

The Teaching Channel-Videos for teachers and students. What's really nice about the teaching channel is that you can subscribe to not only videos in your content area but also addresses issues with pedagogy. There is a forum to post questions and a developing community of teachers that are eager to share.

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Monday, 10 February 2014

Google Teacher Academy

The Google Teacher Academy in Stockholm. December 2013

It's been two months since I completed Google Teacher academy back in December. I was so honored to get in, and I thought I'd spend a little time sharing my experiences about the summit.

Applicant Profiles
"Applicants include classroom teachers, curriculum specialists, technology advocates, librarians, administrators, professional trainers, and other education professionals who actively serve the world's primary and secondary teachers and students." (GCT Website) I'm a classroom teacher but there was a varied mix of people ranging from ICT professionals, to librarians, to even PE teachers! What everyone did have in common however, was an extreme sense of humility and willingness to learn and share. Not a single person came across as overly "wizardly" in their skills but there definitely an underlying buzz about the different skills sets that people had brought to the proverbial table. Some people were just starting to explore tools that others had been using for years and vice versa.

What Google really looks for is people that have a willingness to share within their region or school. I think the strength of my candidacy was my teaching blog (about 85,000 hits) and twitter profile (about 350 followers), which is by no means the largest on the internet, but one of the bigger ones for teachers at my school. This is not to say that one can't get in without blog. A number of teachers who I met had never blogged before, but had the ability to work with and with teachers in other ways. For instance, one GCT whom I met visits a number of school districts every day and does Ipad training, so through her job, she meets many educators on a daily basis.

The Application Process
Applicants need to complete an online registration and make a short 1 minute video based on one of the following themes:
  • Motivation and Learning
  • Classroom Innovation
  • Positive Change in My Community

Do spend some time on your application. The first time I applied, I didn't get in, but went back and put some more thought into my essay responses. A number of other GCT's whom I met didn't get in on their first try. I felt that my video was pretty good and used it for my second application which was accepted. Here it is: 

The Google Community
The Google community is great. I've typically used Edmodo and Twitter for my PLN, but haven't gotten the feedback that I hope for when I submit a query asking for help. On both Edmodo and Twitter, there are a few key people that I contact weekly with educational dilemmas, but with Google +, more strangers are willing to help out. Some communities like Google Teacher Academy are for GCT's only, but there are many learning communities that are dynamite. The Script developers and users community is fantastic!

If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea, there is also a "Google Apps for Educators" class that runs regular sessions. There is a slight cost, but everyone I've known that has taken it says that it's great!