Alas . . . it is that time of year when all kinds of changes are being announced, and whether they know it or not, LOTS of people have this question! The answer is YES . . . unless of course I am a really big fan of yours and I am mad that you're leaving. In that case, the answer is most definitely, "No, so you might as well stay."
Ok, ok fine. If you are getting ready to retire, leave your district, or graduate from your GAFE institution (as a student), and you want to preserve your Google account data, then you need to know about Google Takeout.
I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend the Northwest Council for Computers in Education for a second year, and as I should have expected, I came away from it a great deal smarter. While my brain was inundated with new ideas, tools, resources, connections, and inspirations, the main difference between this year and last was that this time, I wasn’t just there to sit back and take it all in. This time, I tried to be part of someone else’s “take home” because this time, I presented.
In my former life, I was a 4th/5th grade teacher. I was good at it. I [mostly] knew what I was doing. I loved the kids, and they loved me. I happily showed up to work, and knew my purpose.
Times have changed a bit. I am now in the middle of my third year as a Technology Integration Specialist. In this job, I rarely know what I'm doing. My "kids" are [mostly] teachers, and sometimes I'm not exactly sure how they feel about me. I still happily show up for work, but it's only because in this crazy adventure that has become my job, there are a few pretty cool, impressive, and awesomely geeky people who have really inspired me on my journey. While I could actually list hundreds of them, these four kind-of-a-big-deal people have really impacted me over the last year or so:
Do you remember the first iPad you ever touched? No, neither do I. As evidenced by the whorls and loops that form a polka-dotted haze across my computer screen, it's hard to remember first learning to use a finger to swipe across the smooth glass of an iPad. I can't even put my finger on the memory of that first time I ever tapped on the Home button. And downloading an app? Haven't we done that our whole lives? The answer is NO. Even though using an iPad seems to many of us like second nature, there are actually many people in the world who have no concept of any of these first-world tasks. One such population is the great-grandparent group.
I was recently asked to lead an iPad basics class for a group of Foster Grandparents. When I gladly agreed to do it, I was thinking quite optimistically - I figured I would just pare down the typical iPad course I do for teachers when they get their first devices. As the day approached, I kept thinking about my dear, sweet mother-in-law, just one generation ahead of me, and how she struggles to even use the TV remote; I decided that I would need to take a different approach. I woke up extra early this [Saturday] morning, went to Albertson's to purchase some donut holes and a traveller of Starbucks coffee, then headed over to our Gear Up Lab to set up for the 2-hour training. True to their generation, my group of grandmas started showing up respectably (30 minutes) early, ready to start learning.
Throughout the 2-hour training, they were amazingly good sports! And why wouldn't they be?! These ladies practically volunteer their time (they make barely over $2.50 an hour, just enough to cover the cost of their transportation) to work in classrooms all over Billings and beyond. They model fluency for emerging readers, they help little fingers assemble projects, they check for signatures in assignment notebooks, and now, in the age of 21st Century learners, they are being asked to assist with technology they barely understand.
Using Nearpod to get to know them (and to help them get comfortable with the devices), I asked them to draw a picture of themselves in their classrooms:
As it always turns out, my "students" weren't the only learners today. These ladies reminded me that, even though I may not recall a time when technology was a foreign concept to me, I can't just assume that everyone knows the lingo, the buttons, the settings, or the gestures needed to be successful with a brand new tool or piece of equipment. In helping someone to learn something new, we need to exercise patience, allow for extra think and work time, build in plenty of time for questions, and most importantly, opportunity to work and even play with the device.
And so, for all my grandmas and the iPad newbies of the world, HERE are the basics of the iPad Basics:
Well . . . if you know me at all, you know that this post could go off in a multitude of directions. I'm obsessed with a lot of things, including coffee, caramel, scarves, learning, and lime-green. BUT this time, I'm obsessed with finding new ways to use "old" things.
I have had the idea to use Forms or Sheets for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Style activity for a long time, but didn't really have the motivation until recently. While in Las Vegas for a Google Summit last month, I got to watch a Demo Slam where Googlista Michelle Armstrong showed this very thing: she presented a story that took off in different directions depending upon which option the reader chose at the end of each page. Each "taker of the form" could potentially end up with an entirely different story, depending upon how he or she navigated through it. Interesting! This got me thinking . . .
So what if I conducted a Professional Development day in this manner? Goodness knows there are myriad options for things I could present on a given day, but how am I to know which of those is most relevant to my audience? Who says they want to learn what I have to share? I over-plan anyway, so why not use that to my advantage? That's just what I did:
Even though we only got through about 2/3 of what I had planned, I felt like this day was super-fun and extra-productive! Instead of "Ann the Leader" calling all the shots, the participants used Mimio Votes to select where we would go at the end of each adventure. When I guessed my group would want to learn more about Gmail Love, they actually chose Chrome Tips & Tricks. When I figured they'd opt for 10 Ways to Use YouTube, they decided they were more curious about Iteration in Drawings. Because the group directed the day, they were more engaged, more motivated, and more curious. They asked great questions, and experienced a lot of "OHHHHH!" moments that they may not have had if I had simply set the agenda and told them what we were doing.
I do have to admit, however, that this wasn't a typical throw-it-together type of agenda. This one took me a while; not because I didn't know what I was going to do, and not because I'm not savvy with Forms. The planning itself was the lengthiest part of the process. For any multi-page form you ever create, there is a bit of pre-planning that needs to take place before you ever dive in; think, "If this, then that." If my group gets through our morning tasks early, when will I give them the option for lunch? If the morning tasks take longer than I think, how will I direct them back to those opportunities after lunch? Speaking of lunch, what are we having for lunch? My advice for this endeavor, should I ever choose to pursue it again (which I will!): WRITE IT DOWN FIRST! Map it out on paper, and draw arrows from THIS to THAT. Make sure you don't forget anything because it's challenging to go back and fix it once you realize you've linked something wrong; one mistake usually leads to two, which in turn lead to two of their own.
After seeing the students of a brilliant 4th-grade teacher, Alissa Gray, use Google Slides to create multiple-choice math quizzes last year, I started to think about new and different ways to use Slides. Actually, I could have done the same PD agenda (described in the section above) with Slides instead of Forms, but remember: I'm obsessed with using old tools in new ways. This one was pure iteration for me. Here was my thought process:
About 45 minutes later (because I decided to make them pretty in Canva first), I had my 14 slides ready to start linking.
About 4 HOURS and 5 SECONDS later (see what I mean by obsessed), because I thought I was so stinking smart, I had my 41 slides - yes, that's right - FORTY-ONE SLIDES - ready to be tested. I shot the link over to my husband who could try it with an objective set of eyes, and it wasn't but a minute before he very politely informed me (after clicking outside of the transparent boxes on slide 3), that he didn't get to answer slide 3 because it automatically moved him onto . . . normal slide behavior . . . SLIDE 4. AAAAGGGHHHH!!!!!
SO. After many hours, and many iterations, I finally came up with THIS:
Perfect? No. If the user attempts to navigate with the arrow keys, they will still get all messed up and the experience will be ruined. BUT, if I make sure to tell them to JUST CLICK their way through . . . success. (If, by the way, you would like a copy of this ridiculous thing to pull apart and see how it was done, just click here!)
My point here is that I did choose my own adventure. My journey involved more than a little bit of cussing, along with healthy doses of coffee and caramel, BUT I learned a lot along the way: