R4SDSS Google Tools 2.0 3.11.17

The team at Region 4 has given us many opportunities to support teachers over the past few years, including The Classroom Chef workshop, Google Tools, and an upcoming full day of Desmos and how it can empower teachers and students.

This weekend was no different, with a room of teachers ready to take their knowledge of the Google Suite of tools to a new level.

We began the day by having everyone complete a Google Form that gave us some information about the attendees, but also to show off the quiz feature of Forms as each person answered questions about Polar Bears (a common theme for the day… you’ll see).

Once we had “taken attendance” with the Form, each attendee dove right into creating their own form that they could use in class – or role outside the classroom – this week. We saw a variety of Forms being created, from a 4th grade book review to a college visitation form to quiz about color palettes for an high school art course. The time was well-spent not only for the opportunity and freedom to create a product for their class, but to also see how others were using their newfound knowledge of Google Forms.

Next, we wanted to highlight some of the new features of Google Slides and to lean on some of its existing features that make presentations cleaner, more efficient, and more student-friendly. The group made a copy of our Polar Bear Slides template and built things like this:

More specifically, we introduced the addition and editing of video, insertion and masking of images, and theme design. After we all create an individual report on Polar Bears, the task became applying these principles to a slide deck that could be used this week, so time was given for the creation of a product.

For as little discussion that happens around Google Drawings, it sure is useful. From diagrams to flow charts to handouts and beyond, Drawings is the forgotten gem of the Google Suite; not in our workshop. All in attendance made a copy of a Bear Venn Diagram and sorted the descriptors, then created their own to use with their class.

This theme, along with Polar Bears, persisted throughout the day. When doing an advanced Google Suite training, we felt that it would be more useful to have a unit of study that teachers could refer to–and build on their own–before leaving for the day. After all, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

We closed by going through the various ways in which Google Slides can be presented, how content can be collaborative and shared, and encouraged everyone to take some risks.

If you are interested in having us come work with your staff on using the Google Suite of tools in class, head over to our reservations and get in touch!

#ESU10 – Kearney, NE

Full disclosure; this was our first workshop in Nebraska. And the largest. And the first with microphones (despite our best efforts to use teacher voice).

Over 100 people crammed into ESU 10 today, and we checked in with administrators and coaches before everyone else arrived. They shared concerns that echo those we hear around the country: We’re adopting a textbook, some teachers are resistant to change, and we’re feeling the pinch of time.

Yeah, we get that. Thankfully, Classroom Chef isn’t about the materials or the resources or the supplemental materials. It ain’t about the what, it’s about the how.

We felt our own challenges; moving 100 adults around a room is tough, getting 100 adults on wi-fi is tough, and speaking loud and clear to 100 adults is tough.

With all that, though, we had an incredible day of conversations, learning, and risk-taking. Yes, we poured cups of water into a pitcher, compared stacks of quarters to cash, and came up with reasons why shapes didn’t belong in a group. Beyond that were rich discussions that will be seen for weeks to come in teachers’ classrooms all around Nebraska and we look forward to hearing about them.

During the Mullet Ratio entree, there were some high quality epiphanies from the elementary teachers who were talking about using the lesson as a way of introducing measurement while others found useful modifications like relying on whole numbers versus the decimal values in the current lesson.

Because of the size of the room and the range of teachers attending, we showcased three different Desmos Polygraph activities based on grade level and gave Nebraska just enough Desmos to want more. Here’s to hoping they are still hungry to learn about what Activity Builder, Polygraph, and the Desmos calculator can do.

We finished with a delectable dessert of Choose Your Own Assessment, which can be summarized–in part–by the tweets below. Thank you to ESU10, Dianah and Denise, and the incredible teachers who drove up to 3 hours to spend their day with us!

If you are ready to become The Classroom Chef, please make your reservations early.


Harney ESD – February 10th, 2017

“Burns, Oregon? Where… where is that?”

When our publishers first told us that we had been requested in Oregon, we were stoked; we hadn’t yet done any travels to Oregon and we were thrilled to bring a full menu to the state that houses Tillamook cheese.

…even more stoked when we Googled it and found it’s a three hour drive from Boise, the nearest airport.

Map of the 3 hour drive from Boise Airport, through the middle of nowhere to central Oregon.

That drive, blanketed in snow, gave us time to wonder about the teachers who serve students in remote areas. Surely, those rural folks are often forgotten, so they’d be quite receptive to learn about the #mtbos and all the free goodies that come with connecting to a larger community.

How right we were. In the crowd this weekend were teachers from boarding schools, rural schools with heavy-bussing communities, and a one-room schoolhouse where the teacher has three students this year.

They dove right in, though. As usual, we discussed the Mullet Ratio, and this crowd had two responses that stunned us:

Kimberly: Lots of my students ride horses, we could do the horse ratio! Comparing the tail to the forelock!
Vaudrey: …yeah! Okay, um… whatever that means! Go for it!
Carla: I would be careful about actually using the Mullet haircut as a silly example; it’s a common hairstyle among the low-income community I serve, and they don’t need any more reason to feel self-conscious.

We talked for a while, and all agreed that it depends on the student with the mullet; some might enjoy the added attention and being the star for the day.

Throughout our Friday together, one theme ran consistent:

Teachers know their students, and will modify anything to better fit their needs.

The teachers in Harney left with a copy of Classroom Chef, the promise of our continued support, and our encouragement to take a risk in their own, unique classrooms.

Those students will benefit from risk-taking teachers, too.

~Matt and John