Posted in Uncategorized

Personal Ed Tech Adventure

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Hanging out with Andy Love at the KC GAFE Summit

It has been a whirlwind year both personally and professionally.  It started in July of 2015 by attending a Google Apps Conference in Kansas City put on by EdTechTeam.  While at the Google Apps Conference in KC, I got the opportunity to attend a Pre-Summit Google Apps Trainer Bootcamp put on by Jay Atwood.  I was in awe at all the possibilities that Google Apps had to offer a teacher (even though I had dabbled in GAFE the previous school year, I did not realize it’s full potential till the conference).  From there, I was encouraged to get my Google Educator Certification level 1 & 2 (Which had just been released the week before).

Once I had passed those two exams, I set my eyes on the Google Certified Trainer Program (Which is about to be updated FYI).  After failing at some of the tests a couple times, and feeling the pressure of the December deadline, I was afraid my goal of getting Trainer Certified was slipping through my fingers.  With only a day to go, I passed the last exam necessary and began working on my Trainer application.  In December, much to my surprise, I received an email informing me that I had earned the Trainer Certification!

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Through this adventure, I had slowly built up my Professional Learning Network (PLN) via Twitter and was constantly amazed at the awesome stuff teachers around the world were doing in their classrooms.  I also received the opportunity to present at the Kansas City Google Apps Conference held in February of 2016 (Random Fact: presented that Saturday morning/afternoon in KC, then drove to Bolivar to coach a basketball game at 8:30 PM, then drove back that evening – Getting to the hotel at 1:30 AM – only to present that next morning.  #Exhausted).

One person whom I am constantly challenged by is Patrick Dempsey (also the best man in my wedding), who is a middle school science teacher at Webster Grove School District outside of St. Louis (He recently received the Allen Distinguished Educators Award).  One of the things that he said that really ignited many of his ideas and collaborations was the Google Innovator Academy he attended a couple years prior.  With that in mind (and so I could be as cool as “PDemps”) I decided to apply for the Google Innovator Program in Mountain View, California.

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With only a couple weeks to put my application together (as the application was due in January), I struggled to put a good application together.  Not only was it tough because of it being in the middle of the school year, it was also in the middle of Girls Basketball Season (for which I am the Head Coach), and my wife was 6+ Months pregnant with our second child.  Despite those hurdles, I still applied… and was rejected.

The rejection email was tough to take, as I really looked forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other great educators, but it was obvious that God had even better plans for me.  The rejection allowed me to refocus on what was important at the time, being a husband/father, devoted teacher, and hard-working coach.  Plus, it helped me to reevaluate my goals as a teacher and how I could best help my school district.  With the help of a couple teachers in my district, we decided to put on a tech conference (much like we had the year before) but this time offer it to other school districts as well.  I also worked with the my principal (Chris Thompson) to offer a student help desk class for the next school year (It’s goals are to make them Google Apps Experts to help other teachers, and to provide some maintenance on the chromebooks).  Ultimately I decided, as Tom Mullaney discussed in his blog “Rejected For Google Certified Innovator? Don’t Freak Out!” that I was going to impact education whether I was a Google Innovator or not.

When the new window opened for Google Innovators Applications, I decided to apply again but this time decided on a tool that I had previous experience with in the classroom but that I wished could be better (Google For Education Certified Innovator – My Application if you want to check it out).  On May 20th (While I was home sick on the last day of school), amazingly I was accepted for the Boulder, Colorado Google Innovators Academy (#COL16) for June 2016.

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After my acceptance, I received a call from my boy Patrick Dempsey and he had some words of wisdom.  He said essentially that the Academy is awesome, but it is the face to face collaboration that truly makes the program wonderful.  Fellow #COL16 Peeps, how are you going to use this academy to better your students’ lives?  How will your teaching, and the teaching around the world, make this world a better place?

So as this school year ends and the preparation for the new school year begins, I stand thankful for all those who have helped me in my career thus far.  I am blessed to work in a school district that supports me and is willing to challenge themselves in their educational approaches.  Ultimately I am thankful for a wife (Amanda Houp) who loves and supports me and is willing to join me in these adventures!

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Austin, Amanda, Eli, and Ezra Houp
Posted in Uncategorized

The Year of Tech

At the end of every school year, it is natural to reflect on what transpired.  Was it what you had expected?  Pleasant and unpleasant surprises?

As a school district, we had one of the most transformational years that I have ever haAcer-Chromebook-11-C740-nontouch-zoom-big.pngd the joy to be a part of.  As detailed in August, we have been slowing transitioning to technology in the classroom, starting with iPads nearly 4 years ago.  This fall, we bought a few classroom sets of chromebooks (Acer C740 specifically) for all the buildings in our district.  We also implemented the Google Apps for Education district-wide, from the Superintendent’s office to the lunch lady.

Something that we did as a district that seemed to go over extremely well was the implementation of two different professional development days:  A summer Google Apps Conference (held and administered in house) and a Google Play Date on one of our PD days during the school year.  These two PD events not only exposed teachers to Google Apps, but gave them the resource of local teachers to be a sounding board for their tech adventures.  It was amazing to see how various staff members developed their own uses for Google Apps, including: School Calendar by the Central Office, Spreadsheets by coaches for practice plans, Google Classroom as a Learning Management System (LMS), just to name a few.Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.11.56 PM.png

Also as a district, we set a goal of all the staff getting Google Educator Level 1 Certified by the end of the year and ultimately about 80% of our staff got the level 1 certification (Two other staff members beside myself got level 2 certification – Kelly Blankenship and Lindsey Buckley)!  Despite some of the aforementioned successes, we did have our share of failures.  We implemented many of the tech advancements without first updating our infrastructure.  Our wifi was spotty and awful which discouraged and frustrated staff and students (That was fixed though by 2nd semester due to E-Rate Funding and wifi upgrades by the district).  Also, we didn’t have an easy way to monitor student use of the chromebooks, but once we discovered GoGuardian that problem was alleviated.

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With all these successes and failures, we are now looking ahead to next year and the possibility of being in a 1:1 environment for the coming school year.  Not only that, but we are putting on a technology conference on August 3rd, 2016 TechCampAG.  This is a free tech conference for schools of all sizes or stages of tech implementation are welcomed.  Also any and all to are encouraged to attend or present.  If you are interested in presenting, feel free to fill out the following Presenter Form.

What has been your school’s adventure?  How can we work together to impact this world as fellow educators and schools?  We’d love to hear your story and ultimately let’s collaborate!

Posted in GAFE, Uncategorized

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2)

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2)

You checked out the first Google Forms Post and you created a Google Form to give to your students.  That’s awesome!  Now what…

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Once the assessment is designed to your liking, click the “Responses” tab at the top of the Google Form.  This will give you a myriad of options to collect student information.  First, create a Google Spreadsheet by clicking the “sheets” button at the top.
This will give you the option to “Create A New Sheet” or attach it as a tab into an existing spreadsheet.  If you are giving this as an assessment, then at this point you are ready to share it with your students!Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.11.57 AM

Tip: Technically you don’t have to create the spreadsheet before giving the test, but that is just how I normally do it.

Google Forms - Creating Spreadsheet

As students begin taking the assessment, their responses will appear on the Google Form Response page (but only after submitting the assessment).

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Example of Student Responses

 What’s great is that it gives you the overview of each question!  For Example, 37% of participants chose the wrong answer.  Questions to consider: Bad wording of question?  Insufficient teaching of the material? Etc.  You can also click on “Individual” and see the participants assessment and which answer they specifically selected.  This is less intuitive than the “Summary” tab, but still helpful none-the-less if you want to see how a specific student answered.

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Flubaroo

FlubarooOne of the great things about using Google Forms, especially for Formative Assessments, is the ability to use Flubaroo to auto-grade the participants answers.  Realize though that Flubaroo is not a Google Forms add-on but a Google Sheets add-on.  To access Flubaroo, go to the corresponding sheet (click on the sheet button at the top of the “Responses” tab).  Once on the spreadsheet, do the following:  click “add-on,” select “Get add-ons,” search “Flubaroo,” click “+ Free” to add it to your sheet.  

Tip: After you “Get Flubaroo,” it will always be an option for your spreadsheets, even if you don’t create the spreadsheet through Google Forms.

Google Forms - Answer Key
Answer Key Gif

Now that Flubaroo is added to your spreadsheet, you have a lot of different options.  To set up the grading, you must take the assessment personally so that Flubaroo can use it as a template for grading all the student assessments.  When doing “Auto-grading”, Flubaroo then gives you various options for each question type including: “Identifies Students,” “Skip Grading,” “Normal Grading,” and “Grade By Hand.”  

Tip: For the name, use “Answer Key” to remind yourself when you go to create the template for Flubaroo.  

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Example of Student Responses
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Bottom of Flubaroo Spreadsheet

Identifies Students – Used for non-grading purposes, specifically sending the results to participants after completing the assessment.

Skip Grading – As stated, will skip grading the question and won’t be given as a option for sending results to students.  This is great for getting their perspective, or testing questions without any consequence to students.

Normal Grading – Will give you the option to provide various point levels for these questions.  This would be for the multiple choice/matching style questions that it matches to your answer key.

Grade By Hand – A great way to do short answer questions.  However, for most essay style questions, I use Google Docs and the Add-On Doctopus to grade.  I will do a blog post about that later on in the year.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.13.32 AM

Personally, I love the auto-grade option, so that students can get feedback immediately on where they stand with the content.  Due to the immediate response, I do not do any short answer questions (besides Identifying Student Type) so that students can know how they did.

Google Classroom

When assigning the assessment to students, use Google Classroom!  Create an assignment on Classroom, and add the Google Form Assessment from Drive.  What’s great is that it will keep track for you of what students have taken/not taken the assessment.  The only frustration is that the grades are not carried over to Google Classroom (but should Google Classroom really be for grades or should it just be used for feedback?  Something to think about.).  Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.14.23 PM

Any other thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Posted in Professional Deveoplment

Twitter – Just A Nudge

Twitter.com
As the school year rolls along, I thought it was a good time to encourage you to be involved in Twitter.com for professional development purposes.  For those who have never tried it before, feel free to go to https://twitter.com/search-home and start seeing what is available to learn today!

Some of the basics include:

1.  Twitter handle is your identifying name (similar to email address).  For example, my Twitter handle is @coachhoup24 .  If someone wants to “tweet at me” (again similar to sending a message on email), they just compose a message with “@coachhoup24 …” and I will receive it.
2.  There is nothing wrong with being a fly on the wall with Twitter and just following people.  Nothing says that you need to ever personally tweet.
3.  Hashtags (#) on Twitter can be used in one of two ways.  First to demonstrate your nonverbal communication.  For example, a tweet could say, “Today’s lesson plan involved puppets and singing! #TheKidsLovedIt #ProudTeacher”
4.  Tweets can use no more than 140 characters, including anyone that you mentioned.
5.  If you don’t like what people are tweeting, then simply unfollow them (They will never know!).

Join Us!

If you are considering joining Twitter, here is a resource to help guide you in developing a professional Twitter account:  New 2 Twitter Resource .  This resource provides ideas on how to set your own account up as a educator and what to do once you are active.  When we as a district did a survey a couple months ago, some teachers already involved with Twitter provided some of their “top people to follow.”
They suggested:
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but none-the-less a good place to start.
The final benefit one gets from Twitter is the opportunity to participate in events called, “Hashtag Chats.”  One great one to follow is #MoEdChat, which takes place every Thursday at 9 PM CST.  It’s a great event to just jump on and see what other educators throughout Missouri doing.  One final chat that is great to follow is #GAFESummit, which is used by +EdTechTeam for their Google Summits held throughout the world.  It is a “slow chat,” meaning it is happening throughout the day, and most active when they have summits on various weekends.

Other Resources:

Continue reading “Twitter – Just A Nudge”

Posted in GAFE

Lucidcharts To The Rescue!

Web Diagram

In my American Government class, we began the discussion of the legislative branch.  One of the important aspects of this branch is the process of how a bill becomes a law.  This semester I decided that we would do it with a tech tool, which could allow for collaboration, correction, etc.  
Initially, I had students use “Mindmaps by mindmapmaker.org” to diagram how a bill becomes a law.  After the first day of students working with this tool, it became apparent that it was a frustrating tool for the students.  (Mindmaps may be a wonderful tool, but for what I was asking my students to do, it was not helpful.)

Doesn’t Work… Fix it

As I saw the frustration on my students’ facez, I decided it was time to find a new tool.  So I went back to drive and looked for another web diagraming tool.  That’s when I found “Lucidcharts for Education,” and immediately I knew it was going to be a better tool for our project.  It allowed students to make any adjustments seamlessly, while also saving instantly (which mindmap failed to do).  

Lucidcharts

Initially when you sign up for Lucidcharts, it places you in the “free-version” which has various restrictions such as:  create only 5 documents and the use of 60 “complexities” (or as I told my students “symbols”).  For the project we were doing, the “complexities” limitation was frustrating, but as a program, the students absolutely loved it!  It allowed for quick adjustments, additions, and reformatting that was excruciatingly tough to do on Mindmaps.

How to use Lucidcharts

To create a web diagram using Lucidcharts, just go to your Drive and click the following: New–>More–>Lucidcharts.  Then create a document (either blank or from one of their templates) in order to get started.  From there, you can drag various symbols over from the left toolbar such as Text, Shapes, etc.  With the boxes or text on the document, you can draw lines to help create a flow from one step to the next.  (After Lucidchart approved our school for the free education upgrade, you will have unlimited complexities!  That definitely made all the difference).  To help make the web diagram stand out, students can change the fill color of the boxes, lines, text, etc.  

For our project, I suggested to students that they color code the steps to help them quickly identify things like vocabulary or the house/senate differences.  Finally, students can share their projects with each other as a point of reference.  It was interesting how different students found steps/information that other students had missed, so sharing it with each other helped them to add them to their own project.  Also, (unlike Mindmaps) Lucidcharts allows individuals to work simultaneously with one another (just like the other Google Apps Tools). 

Google Classroom – Turn It In

  

I provided the assignment through Google Classroom with the expectations.  As students found valuable resources, they would share them via the “class comment” so that other students could use them.  When students finished, they would add it to Google Classroom the same way they would turn in other Google Apps products (docs, sheets, slides, etc.).  

Student Examples



Suggestions

Any other suggestions for fellow teachers to use this (or similar) tools in their classroom?  Give us your thoughts!

Posted in GAFE

Google My Maps – Student Created Maps

Maps

As a high school social studies teacher, I constantly use different types of maps for all of my classes.  More times than not, these are maps created by other individuals with various amounts of information that may/or may not be pertinent to my classroom.  


After attending the GAFE (Google Apps For Education) KC Summit this summer, the idea of map creation (as opposed to map consumption) became a real reality.  The presentation was done by Stafford Marquardt (Product Manager for Google My Maps) on how to use mymaps.google.com to create interactive maps.  Simply put, this presentation rocked my world in all the right ways!
Title the Map

So how does it work?

Outline an area
First go to mymaps.google.com and start creating maps!  One of the cool features of My Maps is that the file is automatically saved in your Drive so that you can access it like your other Google Docs.  Which means you can also share them just like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.  I realize that right now I need to provide more details on what to do, but really just messing with My Maps will amaze you. 

Tips/Tricks

Title the shape
Create various different “layers” in order to keep it nice, neat and organized.  If you want students to work on the same project, then have a different layer for each student.  

Use the drawing mechanism to outline states, cities, etc. and then apply a color over the top.  Once the color is applied, you can change the transparency to the desired level.

Provide a color to the shape

When you use the “marker” option, you can include pictures, videos, descriptions of that marker or location.

Insert a marker with various Details
If you do not want to create maps, or have students create maps, Google has provided some pre-built maps.  These maps can be found at both of the following:

MyMaps Gallery

Google Maps Gallery

I have created a short Youtube video (60 seconds) that demonstrates how to download one of the template maps as a KMZ file and then import it into My Maps:
Also provided is the Presentation done by Marquardt that explains and provides examples of other ideas using My Maps:

MyMaps Presentation

Classroom Example:  

Have students draw the path of Lewis and Clark from St. Louis to the Pacific and back.  Break up the students with the job of a specific city on the route to another city (St. Louis to Omaha).  Then have students trace the path, provide images of those location (Past and Present), and include words/images from the Lewis and Clark Journal (Link to Journal) to the spot where it was likely written.

Conclusion

I want to end with the following statement I have used constantly in the last two months. Start by messing with it and do not be afraid to break it.  It normally is easy to fix and you will be shocked how capable you are at creating cool/interactive things!
Posted in GAFE, Patrick Dempsey

Google Apps Principal Resources

“Beginning of the Year”

We are one week away from our “Beginning of the Year” meetings and professional development.  As we prepare for this new year, our first as a Google Apps For Education (GAFE) school, I looked back to what I have learned over the last month or so.  I attended the Google Apps Summit in Kansas City and was inspired by +Melinda Miller‘s presentation on tools for Administrators.  So I scheduled a meeting with the four Principal’s in our school district (HS/JH, Athletic Director, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary) to demonstrate some of the possibilities of Google Apps.  In preparation for this meeting, I enlisted the help of +Patrick Dempsey (Google Apps Certified and has his Masters in Administration).

“Gobs of Possibilities”

As I looked over all of +Melinda Miller+Patrick Dempsey, and various other resources suggestions, I was amazed at all the free possibilities with Google Apps for Principals (Or teachers for the matter).  I found myself struggling to truly demonstrate all the possibilities and ultimately decided to keep the suggestions brief.  At our school (probably similar to many of yours) our Principals carry many hats/jobs/responsibilities.  While I know they would love to do all these (and more), their available time to work on them is minimal.
Here is the slide I will present to the principals:

“Advise”

Realize that I am simply a teacher and I have never been an administrator.  If you have any other suggestions to provide to the principals at our school district, please feel free to pass those suggestions on to me!