This month we took thirty-seven eighth graders and five adults to Washington, DC for 5 days. We left our school in Phoenix at 3 AM on a Wednesday morning and returned at 11:30 PM on a Sunday night. I couldn’t even put all of the sites and memorials we visited in order without using the agenda. It was a very hectic, but very well organized trip.
I wanted to use social media to connect with parents and to let them know where we were and what we were doing during the trip. Below are my tips for anyone that is going on a field trip for an extended period of time.
1. Choose Your Purpose
What are you going to try and tweet or post out to parents or the community during your trip? With such a large group, getting a photo of most of our students at each stop along our trip wasn’t a feasible option. I wanted to make sure that parents knew where we were at and that we were safe. I posted a photo and the location of where we were at as soon as we arrived at a monument. Parents told me that this helped them feel better about the trip because they knew where their kids were at any given time. If time allowed, I took photos of students and posted them as well.
If it was a smaller group, I would have tried to take more photos of the students. Parents want to see photos of their own children smiling and having a good time. If you decide on trying to get photos of every student on the trip, you run the risk of missing someone and worrying parents.
2. Who will post?
Who will have access to the accounts that you are going to publish content? Is it one person on the trip or an entire group? With our group, I was the only one that had access to the accounts. I wanted to make sure that the posts were put up in a timely fashion and that the information wasn’t being repeated or told in more than one “voice”. I was also the person on the trip that was the most comfortable with the technology that we were using. It may have been better to have more than one person posting so that I could have enjoyed the monuments, but it really wasn’t that much time to take a photo and post it quickly at each place. I was taking photos already, so it wasn’t much more time to post them online from my phone.
3. Which service will you use?
Hopefully your school already has some social media accounts in place that you can use during your field trip. We have a Facebook Page and a Twitter account that we started using this school year. I wanted to use Facebook because most parents have a personal account and you can check in to places. Unfortunately, as a page you are not able to check in to specific places. Twitter does have the ability to geo-locate your tweets, so I used that instead. It would not put the monument name with the post, but it would put a marker on a map.
I also connected our Twitter account with our Facebook page (instructions here). This allowed any post on Twitter to be automatically put on the Facebook page. This made it easy for one person to post, and also gave access to all of the analytics and insights that Facebook offers for the amount of people that saw the post.
4. How will you share it with the people that should see it?
Making sure that you share the field trip posts with parents and community members before, during, and after the trip are important. We sent out an email to all of the parents with students going on the trip with links to both the Twitter and Facebook accounts. We also made sure to tell them that they do not need an account to be able to view the posts.
I also used a hashtag during the trip. This allowed me to easily find all of the Tweets that pertained to the trip easily. I also made a Storify of all of the Tweets and put them in chronological order so that parents, teachers, and community members could go back and look at the posts from the trip. Next year I may give the hashtag to students to use, but we did not do that this year.
Overall, the trip was great! Students acted appropriately and were able to see many monuments and museums in the Washington, DC area. The only time we had a problem was during our bus ride from the airport to dinner. A car that was parked on the street pulled out of their parking spot and grazed the side of our bus. There was quite a bit of damage to the other car, but our students didn’t even notice that it had happened until we stopped. I told students that if they were going to text or call their parents to lead off with telling them that no one was hurt or injured and to use the word “grazed” when describing the “accident”. Some decided to not even tell their parents at all because they didn’t want them to worry.
If you would like to see the Storify from our trip, check out this link:
Here are some of the things I have been watching this week (other than College Basketball):
Sir Ken Robinson – TED Education – 2013
Learning and Creating with iPad’s in Kindergarten:
Kids React to Rotary Phones – The Fine Brothers
Android Wear – Information that Moves With You
Jamie Casap – Address to educators at NAF Next
QR Book Project – The Giver
During Spring Break, I attended the Google Apps for Education Summit presented by the EdTech Team. It was a great conference and here are my notes and thoughts from the sessions I attended.
Keynote – Iterating Education – Jamie Casap – www.jcasap.com – @jcasap
I didn’t actually take any notes during this session, but it was still a great way to start out the GAFE Summit. The main message was that at Google, it is ok to fail as long as you own up to it and learn from it. Also, everyone collaborates, so we should in schools as well.
Breakout Session 1 – Google Apps Tricks & Tips – Monica Martinez – @mimg1225
In this session Monica Martinez went through the main Google Apps and gave some great ways to implement them into a teachers workflow. A few of the tips that stood out to me were giving commenting rights by adding an email address to the comment in Google Docs, how to remote log out of all other sessions, and using a script to generate QR Codes automatically in Google Sheets. The Google Document for this session can be found here.
Breakout Session 2 – Making Magnificent Maps – Jim Sill – @mistersill
In this session, Jim Sill went over the new Google Maps and some of its features. He talked about how Maps can update themselves & sync over devices based on previous searches and information from an Android Phone. He also talked about Street View and Underwater Maps. The real new “wow” information came when he showed the Google Maps Engine (his resources here). He showed how easy it was to create your own map and add media like images or YouTube videos. We also filled out a Google Form with information and he used it to populate markers on the map. This would be a great resource for anyone working on any learning objects that were place based.
Breakout Session 3 – Beginners Guide to the Google Apps Console – Peter Henrie
Peter Henrie went over the Google Apps Console and set-up procedures that would be helpful to someone that was setting up or maintaining a Google Apps for Education adoption. Unfortunately for me, I only have access to be able to manage devices. It was nice to see the options available in the Google Apps Console, and if I ever have more access, the information he provided will be useful. Cory and I made it into the picture that was shared on Twitter.
Breakout Session 4 – Chromebook 101 – Chris Bell – @cbell619
This session was set up at a “choose your own pace” based on the information available here. Chris went over some of the basics of a Chromebook then allowed us time to explore. He then circulated throughout the room and answered individual questions. It was a nice change to the “sit&get” sessions and the resources provided could be used to facilitate the same type of session with staff that are unfamiliar with a Chromebook.
Keynote – Maximizing the Power of the Web - Monica Martinez - @mimg1225
Monica Martinez started this session talking about how her parents chose her name and added to a Google Doc using the research tools. She inserted photos and information then added where the information was from to a bibliography instantly. The main focus of her keynote was that if students can Google the answer to a question, it is not a question that will enhance thinking. She shared many websites and services that could be useful in the classroom.
WolframAlpha – Teach Parents Tech – Constitution Project
Breakout Session 1 – Creating Presence in an Online Classroom - Chris Bell - @cbell619
In this session, Chris Bell talked about Online Classrooms and best practices for a teacher in them. The sticking point was making sure that the teacher still connects with students on a personal level. He talked about adding photos of himself and his family even though they may not have been “learning objects” because it allowed students to know more about him. He also talked about the importance of giving individualized feedback using Screen Casting or tools like Kaizena. He talked about how easy it is to add video using the My Webcam feature of YouTube, and also using the YouTube Video Editor. Other tools mentioned that can be used in an online/hybrid classroom setting: Google Hangouts, Google Voice, Google Groups, Google+, Google Drawings.
Breakout Session 2 – What Can App Scripts do for You? - Monica Martinez - @mimg1225
Monica Martinez showed off the Scripts Gallery in Google Sheets in this session. When she gave this presentation, the Script Gallery was not available in the New Google Sheets. As I’m writing this, it is now available. She showed us scripts like GMail Meter – which gives you data about your Gmail use, Flubaroo – used to correct multiple choice forms (available in Add Ons), and Map Mail Merge which can add photos and mapped directions to an automatically created document. I have used Flubaroo quite extensively, but GMail Meter was new to me. It gave me a ton of information about my Gmail use over the last month.
Breakout Session 3 – Art Appreciation - Jim Sill - @mistersill
I went to this session thinking it would be a “break” from all that was going on. I was getting tired from all of the great information we were receiving and this session was in the room where the projector wasn’t very good and the lights needed to be turned off. I thought I’d be able to just sit back and relax. I’m sure I could have, but then Jim showed us the Google Art Project. Wow! I barely took any notes in this session because I was “playing” with the content the entire time. If you want to end up using up an entire day of your time, just go to the Art Project link and start looking around. The gigapixel paintings are amazing, and the ability to “walk” through an art gallery is incredible. Here are some links to more information: Art Talks, For Educators, Jim Sill’s Gallery.
Closing Keynote – Reckless Creativity - Jim Sill - @mistersill
In his closing Keynote, Jim Sill talked about how everyone desires to be creative. Students are able to “talk” to millions of people using tools like YouTube and Instagram and they use these services as a “proof of travel” by using the location based features. Students are “living in a time of reckless creativity … without a safety net.” They will fail, and fail often (iteration). “How can we change the world with an idea?” “You are living in a __________ world & We are a _________ girl (or boy)!
During our Leadership meeting Thursday morning, the grade level representatives used play-doh to collaboratively create a bus. We would like you to vote on one of the busses. Use any criteria you want for the voting.
First, we thought we’d show you these cool busses. Second, I wanted to show you a few technology resources that you could use in your classroom to show off student work, collect information from students or parents, etc. The website used to create these “synths” is Photosynth. To create your own you would need to have a Microsoft account (free) and a digital camera (I used my phone after the busses were completed). The votes are being tracked in a Google Form (did you know you could embed those?).
Bus 1 (Click on this bus for a better view)
Bus 2 (Click on this bus for a better view)
Here are some random things that I have been using or working on over the last couple of weeks.
Video Starters for PD: I like to start off our professional developments with some sort of video that is hopefully applicable to our classrooms or school culture, but aren’t “school” videos. Here are a couple that we have used or are planning on using.
Everyday Leadership – Drew Dudley
The Science of Happiness – Soul Pancake
Snap Your Joy – Soul Pancake
Sites I have Bookmarked:
Videonot.es – This website syncs with your Google Drive account and lets you take time stamped notes while watching a video. This could be really good for students that want to take notes while watching a video in a flipped classroom model.
gClassFolders – This is a script that can be run on a Google Drive Spreadsheet that creates three folders in students GAFE accounts. It allows the teacher to share files with students (and students to share files with the teacher) without having all of the email notifications that go along with it. Our GAFE accounts do not have gmail enabled, so students are not able to receive notifications. They are able to send out notifications when they share with teachers though, so the teacher ends up with a ton of notifications.
During our half-day professional development I showed K-2 and specials teachers how to create QR codes to use with the iPad carts.
I have been doing short demos in 3 – 8th grade classrooms on how to use the Chromebooks, how to use Google Drive, and how to use gClassFolders to share within Google Drive.
I also gave a 2 hour presentation for teachers on using Google Drive with Students. Unfortunately I scheduled this last year and didn’t realize that it was during Parent – Teacher Conference week. It was not very well attended, but I will share the slides I used below.
We have completed the first week with students of the 2013-2014 school year. I am not in the classroom as a teacher this year, so I think I need to change the focus of my blog. This year I am one of two Instructional Coaches at a K-8 public school in south Phoenix.
Tasks Completed this week:
- Visited every classroom and used the In – and – Out coaching technique.
- Created user accounts for every teacher and student on Kid’s College.
- Met with the leadership team about PLC Norms.
- Checked with teachers daily that were having trouble with the attendance system.
- Hooked up many laptops to projectors and Interactive Whiteboards.
The In – and – Out coaching technique was great for me to see. Myself and the other Instructional Coach observed teachers in their classrooms for around 10 minutes. Then we met and exchanged notes on what we saw in the classroom. Then we came up with an idea that we thought may help the teacher. One of us then conferenced with the teacher for a few minutes while the other I.C. taught the class. We focused on student engagement this week and our teachers were very receptive to the strategies that we thought may be helpful. It was a very positive experience and we were able to see great teaching going on in our classrooms!
I started reading “The Homework Myth” this week, so I will end this post with a quote from the book.
Whenever homework crowds out social experience, outdoor recreation, and creative activities, and whenever it usurps time that should be devoted to sleep, it is not meeting the basic needs of children and adolescents. (p. 16)
Here is an embedded version of the I.S.S. Lip Dub Project that we particpated in with other students and teachers throughout North America. Our class can be seen around the 2:58 and 3:40 marks.
For more information about the project, please visit Dean Shareski’s blog post about how he organized and set it up: