Reflection after attending Google Summit
by Albert Chun, 7th grade teacher, Piedmont Middle School
I’m a 21st century kid. I grew up with Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. I remember I began writing my online journal using Live Journal and Xanga before switching over to Blogger and WordPress, and all of this before the word “blog” was even accepted as part of our regular vernacular. I remember texting Google questions before smartphones were invented. I remember using MapQuest before Google Maps was around. I remember being a part of the group that tested out the beta version of Gmail all the while switching over from AOL to AIM to GChat. You get the idea.
In one of my first jobs after college, I worked as a traveling representative for a non-profit organization. As the Team Leader for my cohort, it was my job that we were plastered over every social media outlet possible: MySpace, Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter. It was therefore much to my dismay when I found that the first school I worked for was technologically barren. There was no WiFi, no laptops, phones were not allowed, and I was left technologically starving. I knew that there was a plethora of apps and software that my students and I would love, but we had no access. We were a broke school, and we had to make due with what we had. Even still, we made magic happen.
After a couple of years, my former school held trainings for certain things like the SBAC test, Data Director, and Illuminate, but those were necessities for important but boring ends. Don’t get me wrong; I understand their importance: tabulating student data, creating Common Core aligned assessments, gaining formative feedback, using data-driven instruction, and performing well on our CAASPP—all of which we did. However, I had never gotten the chance to work with technology that could augment, modify and redefine our curriculum in a meaningful, practical, everyday way.
It was with much excitement that I entered into my career at Piedmont. I knew Piedmont had a 1:1 campus and wholeheartedly embraced 21st century technology. I was finally going to be able to flex my many years of personally training, understanding, and interacting with technology.
When I first stepped into the classroom with Sati for our first professional development day over the summer, I was more than excited. The session was called Pear Deck. The name sounded funny and there were only six people in the classroom, but I didn’t care. I was ready. Sati did an excellent job of presenting and answering my boatload of questions. I was amazed at the features and all it had to offer. Before the day was over, I had finished my first presentation. …Five months later, I receive an email from Pear Deck. They told me that I had given over 50 presentations and had over 8,500 interactions with my students. I think it’s safe to say that I had become a Pear Deck junkie.
Pear Deck wasn’t the only technology that I used. I’ve regularly interacted and implemented Kahoot, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Classroom, Hapara, Membean, No Red Ink, Jeopardy, and a myriad of other online resources. To be honest, I was feeling like I was on top of my game. However, it was over the last two days that I was humbly reminded that I need to stay technologically hungry. One of the presenters, Dan Russell said it best: “If you stop learning technology, you will fall into a pit of despair and die.” He was amusing and sarcastic, but I felt a lot of truth ringing from his statement.
After the charismatic opening keynote, I learned from Chris Scott as he gave us a basic introduction to Google Sites. After the session and our 30-minute break, I had already finished making a basic site that included a header, pages, table of content, embedded video, PowerPoint, map, calendar, HSTRY, and pretty much every other introductory bell and whistle. Despite my small feeling of triumph over my meager accomplishment, I looked at my site with sobriety. It pretty much looked like one of those cheesy sites from the 90s built from a basic Angel Fire or Geocities template. I was not satisfied.
I decided to go to the next session held by Michael Wacker from Ed Tech to learn at the intermediate level. There, he taught about how to make a sliding hero image and a favicon. The content may have been intermediate, but Michael was rushing through it like we were seasoned Googlers. I ended up spending hours recreating this process and trying to produce some original content for my reading course and an upcoming unit we have called “be the change.” I was hooked and hungry for more.
As I have been feasting on all of this knowledge, I realize that I do not like to eat alone—literally or metaphorically. Therefore, it is with excitement that I share this news with my department and any colleague who is willing to hear.
To jumpstart this process, I compiled all 40 pages of my notes and have asked my fellow colleagues in attendance to send me their notes so that I can compile them onto a Google Doc. From there, I plan to keep it as a reference as an open and shared document with the school. After having success in getting our entire remaining department to use Kahoot and Pear Deck, I am encouraged and even more eager to bring them more of the wealth that I accrued over this most enlightening weekend. I want to thank you both for the opportunity to serve our community with more richness, energy, and technology.