Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Email from a Calendar Event


It was a subtle change, so you may not have even noticed it, but now you can send an email from a calendar event. When you click on a calendar event on your Google Calendar, along the top you will see an envelope for email. Once you click on that icon, you will get an email window like the second image. It will automatically add anyone who is invited to that event to the email and you can write up to 2400 characters. It is a great way to ask a quick question or share some brief information with all those who are coming to the event. I've been using it to ask teachers where they would like to meet for appointments
or to remind them about things they will need for our meeting.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

G4 Students Coding with CodeCombat.com

G4 students trying out coding with Codecombat.com. Everyone had fun, but it was interesting to observe the different levels of tolerance for ambiguity and frustration. Not to mention the difference in skill level -- wow! I had three out of the 16 students who simply could not work independently. Every level was an incredible challenge for these three students. The majority were fine on their own or with limited help from a buddy, but these three needed continuous one-on-one attention from me. There were another two that simply wanted validation for their choices, which I also found interesting. These two were up to the challenge, but wanted to be sure about the decisions and choices they were making with their coding. This was our second session of the year and two of the students had completed all of the levels, so I set them to helping and assisting others.

I find working with the elementary students has been one of the unexpected joys of my PreK-12 position. Most of my career has been in the secondary, but at KIS, SIS, and CDS I have had many opportunities to work closely with elementary teachers and their students and it has always been a joy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

#21CLHK10 Takeaways Part 1: Mini-Keynotes with Liz Cho and Carlos Galvez

I was thinking of how to write a debrief of #21clhk10, but I realized after wrestling with the problem for over a week that it wasn't going to happen. There was simply too much: too many great ideas; too many discussions; too many amazing moments. It was going to require several blog posts. With that in mind, I'm going to start with the mini-keynote presentations of Liz Cho (@cho_liz) and Carlos Galvez (@clos_gm).

I should never question these guys, right?
Photo from the #21clhk Flickr feed.
By now, I should know better than to question the judgment of the #21clhk team. By now, I should know that they have insight and vision. But when I heard about the mini-keynote concept, I was lukewarm to the idea at best. I just wasn't seeing where it was going, why it would be good, or how it was going to make an impact. When I saw that Liz Cho and Carlos Galvez were doing them, I knew it was going to be interesting, but I still wasn't sold on the concept.

And then Liz took the stage... She was poised, calm, and deliberate in her delivery. She caught the crowd in her message and even threw some geekiness to Star Wars fans. (She asked us what Yoda had said to Luke -- "Do. Or do not. There is no try.") She told her story as a girl growing up who was not encouraged (in fact seriously discouraged)
Liz coaching.
Photo from the #21clhk Flickr feed.
to do sports. She told us how she saw the silks for the first time and suddenly found the courage within her to try something new; to live a dream she had never thought possible. And she told us how a mentor had been the person who supported her learning; encouraged her dream. She then climbed the silks and performed an amazing display of grace and strength. She took my breath away, but not just mine -- the entire crowd was hypnotized by her beautiful routine with the silks. And when she finished, Carlos took the stage.

People were joking that Carlos was not in a good position having to follow Liz's performance, but then he told the story of the dancing students from his school. Two boys who he saw trying to do something different and so he encouraged them. Not as himself, Carlos developed a
Carlos telling the story.
Photo from the #21clhk Flickr feed.
character and challenged the boys from the internet. They rose to the challenge and then went further than Carlos had ever dreamed imaginable. They started their own dance troop; they performed around the community; they raised money; they donated the money to other dancers who they had met online. It was bigger than Carlos; it was bigger than the boys; it was bigger than the school. And it all happened because he helped encourage some young guys with dreams of dancing.

How can we encourage those around us to continue dreaming? How can we support the dreams of our colleagues and our students? And what can we do with those dreams? If we allow ourselves to dream; if we allow our students to dream, then we can build real things with those dreams. Things that change the world. Few giant changes ever really happened from large events. Instead, small events occurred. Little changes happen due to the actions of regular people doing amazing things. Small forces build upon each other. And over time, huge change happens because someone small dared to dream. And someone else encouraged that dream. From little things, big things grow.
One of the dancers.
Photo from the #21clhk Flickr feed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Google Sites for Student Portfolios


During the AppsEvent at Chadwick International School back in December, I offered one presentation about using Google Sites for Student Portfolios. My room was full and part way into the presentation, I realized there were many folks who wanted the session to be more hands on, so I switched gears and went into Google Sites and started walking through the process we used at Cheongna Dalton School to build portfolios with our students. The teachers were very thankful and interested in the step-by-step process of creating a portfolio. I guess I did a good job, because I was recently contacted by an AppsEvent team member (Neil Trinidad) requesting a guess blog post about it. I'm posting the original here on my blog, but will be giving Neil a version to post on the AppsEvents Blog.

The content of the presentation is something you can read from the Slides above, so I will get into the discussions from the session that was more interesting for the teachers. The most commonly asked question was how to get students to create a portfolio when templates don't really exist in Google Sites. At CDS we dealt with this by building a portfolio with the students. For example, I created my Google Site going step-by-step to show the G2-G5 students exactly what they needed to do. I believe this is better than simply giving a student a template, because then they actually learn how to build the Site from the beginning. Many of the students were really happy and made tons of comments like, "Dude, we are building webpages. This is so cool." We started by simply going to Google Sites and using the + button to make a new Site.

The next step was to properly name the Site and give it an address by publishing it. Our student Sites are published only for people within our domain, which gives a layer of security for our First Program students. As a school, we have agreed to continue publishing within our own domain through G6 and then Sites become public. Students are taught to consider what they are posting and to alert a faculty member or parent if anyone from outside of our school ever contacts them online. After creating our homepage, we added subpages for each Term and then subpages under each Term for each subject. Homeroom and subject teachers decide what assignments the students should share and reflect on in FP, but starting in middle school, student select their own assignments to share and reflect upon.

After Term 1, the G3 and G4 students really needed very little support; mostly they needed a few reminders about where to find things in Google Drive. G2 continued to need some major hand holding during Term 2, but I think they are fairly comfortable at this point. The middle school students needed one 20-minute overview of Google Sites and the rest they basically did on their own with some gentle nudging from their House teachers. If you have any questions about using Google Sites for creating student portfolios, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, January 8, 2018

21CLHK10: Getting Google Certified

This presentation is the one I will be offering at #21CLHK10 on January 20, 2018 in the Hong Kong Convention Center.