Friday, August 8, 2014

Chromebook Training Week

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If you've read any of my recent blog posts, you'll know my district will have 1:1 Chromebooks (Acer C720P's) for grades 7 through 11 this coming school year.  To prepare the teachers for this new adventure, we were given the opportunity to participate in four days of Chromebook training, with teachers from our district leading the sessions.  Whenever I attend a workshop or conference, I like to reflect on what I have learned, and I'm happy when I can walk away with having learned one new valuable idea.  The purpose of this post is to do just that, and share my favorites with you, my readers.

All attendees met in a large group for each day's opening session, then we broke out into individual sessions based on experience and interest.  After our lunch break, we met with our content area colleagues to discuss how we can apply our new technology to our curriculum.  We ended the day back in the large group to answer any questions from the day.  Here's the overview of each of the days' sessions I attended and what I feel was the best thing I learned on each day.

Day 1
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The sessions I attended on day 1 included Hapara, Google Add-ons, and Best Practices for Google Docs.  I'm really intrigued by Hapara and I'm excited to be able to try it out with my new group of students in September.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Hapara, it's a Google Apps for Education add-on that consists of two components, Teacher Dashboard and Remote ControlTeacher Dashboard allows for workflow management and monitoring of students' activity.  Remote Control gives teachers the power to remotely open or close tabs on students' Chromebooks as needed.  With the new Google Classroom being release August 11th, just in time for the new school year, it will be interesting to see if it can be a replacement for the Teacher Dashboard portion of Hapara or if they will just work well together.  I plan on comparing the capabilities of the two applications by using Classroom with one of my Pre-Algebra classes, and Teacher Dashboard with my other Pre-Algebra class.  I still plan on using Remote Control for both classes since Classroom does not have that functionality (yet).

Day 2
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On day 2, I attended a session on Flubaroo, another on Socrative, and one of screencasting with TechSmith's Snagit and Movenote.  I was already familiar with the first two applications, but Snagit is what caught my attention on this day.  I have been using the iPad app Explain Everything to make videos for my students (and for my students to make their own videos as well).  While I absolutely love Explain Everything, sometimes I need to do a screencast of something on the Chromebooks, so Snagit will be my go-to app for this purpose.

Day 3
My "Do Now" mini-NPP
Day 3 was all about tools for our content areas (math for me), differentiation, and sharing learning.  My math team worked with Nearpod.  Since I had experience with it, I demonstrated how to use it.  I had the other teachers take the student role so they could see how it will look to our students.  They absolutely loved the "Draw It" feature, especially since our Chromebooks are touch screen!  I shared my favorite stylus with them (TruGlide) and one of my team jumped onto Amazon right away to order one!
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 After I showed them how to create a quick Nearpod Presentation (NPP), we brainstormed how to use "mini-NPP"s for our "Do Now"s, homework checks, and even exit tickets (thank you to Cathy Yenca for that great idea!).  I have used Nearpod for full presentations in the past, but never for these shorter snapshots of learning.  What made us decide to use Nearpod over some of the other tools we tried was the "Draw It" feature and the fact that we can save the data from each session.  We also liked InfuseLearning, except that we couldn't use the draw feature during a pre-made quiz.

Day 4
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On the final day, I attended sessions on backchanneling, Google Sites and Google groups, and blogging.  We played around with TodaysMeet for backchanneling, which had my wheels spinning trying to figure out how I could use this tool in my math classes.  (Any ideas? Please let me know!)  But the most exciting idea I took away from this day was having my students using Blogger for their math journaling.  I had set up a Google Sites with the announcement style pages for my students to blog and keep all their blogs connected under one site to make it easier to monitor all of them.  But during the blogging session I found out that Hapara will monitor my students' posts and comments as long as they use Blogger as their blogging tool.  This is definitely the way I will go.  Now I just have to plan a digital citizenship/how to blog lesson.  I'm excited to try this new way to improve my students' writing about math.

On the last day of training, everyone who didn't already have a Twitter account signed up for one.  Eisenhower Middle School and Roxbury High School teachers will be busy tweeting now!  All-in-all, the week of Chromebook training was terrific!  I found a new tool to experiment with during each of the four days.  As much as I am enjoying my last few weeks of summer break, I look forward to my new "Tech Adventures in a Middle School Math Class" in September!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Caryn -

    My school is moving to 1:1 next year with Google Chromebooks. I'm interested in how you used Nearpod in your math classroom. Do you have any more information from your presentation about Nearpod? email: