Thoughts on the Midwest Google Summit

The coming of November means a lot of things:

     The leaves are falling

     Football is in full swing

     Scraping your car windows in the morning (I hate this)

     Christmas music is starting....ugghhh

But, for me November has turned into something else, attending the Google Midwest Summit.  This awesome opportunity brings educators form all over the midwest to hear from Google Certified Teachers, Google Certified Trainers, and people with some awesome Google mojo.  It is seriously one the best conferences and PD opportunities around.  The Google Midwest planning team puts on a fantastic conference that is well worth the money districts invest in sending attendees.

 So, without further ado....here are some reflections on what I learned...both philosophically and technology tools.

 7.  Twitter is so amazing.  The tweets during the David Jakes keynote were fantastic.  Speaking of David Jakes, what a great message about learning, teachers, and spaces.  Some quote highlights:

     First step in redesigning your classroom is to reject the notion that it has to be a classroom.  

      Yeah but….and instant killer. YES

     The iPad will be the worst technology my 3 year old will use in his life…what a thought.

Back to Twitter....it is, and will continue to be, my go to place to learn and connect.  Being Connected Matters in education today, the Twitter was a great resource during the Midwest Google Summit.

 

6.  Lucidpress--WOW.  What a cool resource and app for teachers and students.  What impresses me the most is that it has much of the same collaborative powers of Google Drive.  If you are looking for a Microsoft Publisher alternative this may be worth your time.  Additionally, it is an app in the Chrome Web Store and works pretty well within Chrome.  Bonus for Waukesha Schools--Lucidpress has an iPad app called Lucidchart.  Both the desktop and iPad app need some work, but it is a good start to some powerful software.

 5.  Using scripts is the next step for teachers looking to "up their game" using Google Drive.  Scripting can allow teachers to be more efficient and work smarter in a paper free environment.  The script Doctopus is the solution so that students do not have to "Make a Copy" of a Google Document in the Drive app on the iPad.  Plus....it helps keep teachers organized with all linked copies of that assignment for each student in a spreadsheet.  I cannot wait to share this with teachers at Waukesha North.

 4.  The Chrome web browser is pretty amazing. The Chrome Web Store is bursting with apps and extensions that can help students and teachers be more efficient.  The intricacies of the Chrome web browser makes it one of the best tools of the Google Apps for Education, but I also think its one of the most underutilized.  Teachers need to be more exposed to the Chrome web store so that they can see the awesome productivity tools that allow the Chrome web browser to be so flexible and efficient.

 3.  We have some amazing educators in the School District of Waukesha.  We need to shrink Waukesha...it was awesome to connect with all the people in our group.  Lots of energy that I hope this group can harness and bring back to Waukesha and in our buildings. Waukesha has some great pockets of innovation and excellence....we need to expose and expand those pockets.  I think we try to connect horizontally in Waukesha, and we need to continue to do that, but it would be nice to be able to connect more vertically.  What are kids doing in the elementary schools in Waukesha?  Connecting with more folks at different/vertical levels can be valuable perspective for all involved.  It was great to connect with Waukesha Elementary teachers at Midwest Google Summit.

 2.  Hey Midwest Google Summit team....mix it up.  This is my second year attending the Midwest Google Summit (I also attended the Minnesota Google Summit) and it seems as if it is mostly the same people presenting with mainly the same topics.  There were some differences, but the majority of presenters, who were fantastic, are ones that multiple attendees have seen before.  We have wonderful educational technologists, administrators, and teachers in the area.  Open a call for presenting so that you can get a good mix of veteran Google presenters along with some new blood that can show practical application of Google Apps.  We need less of "here are some cool apps and extensions" and more of "here is how I use Google apps in my classroom".  Teachers that apply and use technology in the classroom need their voices to he heard more.

 And finally.......

1.  Students don't need the Google Apps for Education.  Students need teachers that will implement rigorous and relevant lessons incorporating the Google Apps for Education to improve student learning.  What students need are teachers that are learners...teachers that care...and teachers that can use technology tools in relevant way's to improve learning and teaching.  It was great to hear that message from so many people from such diverse districts.  It is intoxicating to be around such like minded people.  Technology is not a silver bullet, but great teachers with diverse and rigorous lessons that use technology in a meaningful way can start to make a difference.