If you are one of the few, proud, mighty might readers of Blogush you might recall that October was “Positive Posting” month for me, and I was able to jam out exactly 2, count them two, posts. It’s not that I didn’t try. I have been writing a post for about three weeks now based on my video for the Google Teacher Academy application that is being held in a few weeks at Google Headquarters in New York City. After spending another twenty minutes or so on it, I decided to table it and just post my video—and why not all the questions and answers on the application too.
First the story behind the application—hey don’t skip to the questions and answers, it’s a good story. I was excited to find out through a Plurk that the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) was going to be held in New York City this year. I think there have only been six and so there are less than 300 Google Certified Teachers in the world! From what I read, and seeing who had been accepted in the past, I became a bit intimidated—there are some real rock stars that have gone through the academy. I put it off and put it off. Finally it was the night it was due and for some reason I decided to go for it. I decided to do the video first. Problem was, there was no time to storyboard, film, edited, etc, a classy movie. I also spent some time looking at other folks videos—geez, some teachers have access to some incredible software and equipment. I decided to go to the other extreme—make a video as simply as possible on using technology the opposite way that many people are using it. No on screen captions, no fancy quotes, no backing music, just my face, my voice, my words-oh, and I had to film it outside since it was impossible to ask two little kids to stay quiet for 60 seconds before bedtime!! My first full take was 62 seconds long—it can only be 60—so I slowly shaved a little bit off each end until it was 60 secs. No time for a second take! On to the questions. I pounded out some answers—grrrrr….not my best work, downloaded the video to youtube and shipped it off to google. Below is basically what I sent to GTA. I did change a few sentences in each section to make it more powerful once I cut and pasted to the application, but the gist of each answer remains.
Why should we select you to be a Google Certified Teacher? And what do you hope to get out of the Google Teacher Academy?
Someone once told me that if you plan on using technology in a lesson and the technology fails but the lesson can still continue, then you really haven’t fully integrated technology into the lesson. If we lost our internet connection our 8th grade Social Studies classes would not be able to continue as planned. We are one of the heaviest users of blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other web 2.0 tools in the country. Almost every unit we do is in some way done in collaboration with a class somewhere in the world with web 2.0 tools. The internet is the backbone of my classroom. Our biggest problem is that the tools we use are spread over many different sites and companies which lead to projects that become disorganized and lack depth. Google Academy would give our creativity, collaboration, and passion a focus and depth that we have not been able to attain.
Describe one of your favorite teaching moments. What made it so special for you and your students?
It was last fall when our podcast team landed an interview with one of the leaders of an internet video site (a google competitor that will remain nameless!). Our school had just opened up our internet filter to allow us to communicate with the outside world with Skype. This one call knocked down our four walls. From that moment on, the kids stopped thinking that learning and information could only come from within our classroom. They used web 2.0 tools to create and collaborate with people from around the world. They started to use the web not just to get information, but to produce products for authentic audiences around the world.
Describe your role as a Professional Developer.
As a regular classroom teacher, my role as a Professional Developer is more of being the web 2.0 evangelist in my building. I try to speak to the benefits of integrating technology into the curriculum with any teacher that I am with, and have done formal presentations for both my team and curriculum area. I am also a mentor teacher and have either a student teacher or intern every semester. I find that in this 1:1 atmosphere professional development is truly meaningful. We don’t just talk about integrating technology into a lesson, but practice it, reflect together, and learn what the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson were, and try it again.
Describe an obstacle you encountered in your professional life and how you overcame it.
I am about as far from a traditional teacher as one can be. My staff thinks I am crazy doing authentic child centered Project Based Learning units that are infused with technology and are done in collaboration with schools across the world. I became professionally lonely and was growing stagnant as a teacher. There was no one I knew that I could learn from, no one to pass ideas by. After the recommendation of one of the teacher’s I was collaborating with I jumped into Twitter, then I began to seriously blog and read other’s blogs, and now I Plurk. My PLN has grown incredibly and now I have so many people to learn from. I can see how this might not necessarily be seen as a major obstacle, but a static teacher is a dead teacher, and I was on life support before I developed my PLN.
60 Second Video on “Learning and Motivation”