Guest Post: The Official Google Educator Group-Massachusetts

I am excited to share that I will be leading the Google Educator Group for the great state of Massachusetts! You can become a part of this community by clicking here. Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 11.59.54 AM
Why Join the Massachusetts GEG?
If you are an educator, technology integrator, or administrator in the Commonwealth, and have “gone Google” with Google Apps for Education, or your team is considering the adoption of GAFE, I  urge you to become a part of the GEG Massachusetts community for several reasons:
1. Go beyond 140 characters
The Massachusetts GEG is a community. People who choose to become members of this community believe in Google and what is has to offer to students and teachers. As a member, you’ll be automatically connected to a group of educators with similar interests, attitudes, and goals. Obviously members of this community have a great deal of enthusiasm for all things Google. In fact, there are several Google Certified Trainers (and a few self-proclaimed “Google addicts”) who are members and I’m excited to have the opportunity to learn alongside them! This community will allow you to engage in deep discussions with colleagues, both virtually and face to face.
When you need advice, want to share a tip or trick, or are faced with a challenge, fellow community members will be there to offer suggestions and encouragement. Twitter is still definitely an excellent way to build a PLN, but the Massachusetts GEG will take sharing and connecting to another level. If you feel as though you’ve mastered Twitter, or you are at the point where you need more than just bite-sized sharing, then it’s definitely time you give Google+ a try. Set-up your profile. Add a picture (we want to know what you look like!) and a story (what makes you tick!) and any other details you wish to share about yourself. Create a GEG-Mass circle to organize all the new contacts you will make as a member of this community and get ready to learn, share, and grow as an educator.
I can tell you from experience connecting with other educators via social media is truly life-changing. Like many teachers, I worked in isolation for many years. However, when I discovered how educators were using social media for professional reasons, and learned about the concept of a PLN, I began building a network of colleagues whom I learn from and am inspired by daily. Every educator should have the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be connected. And I don’t mean gaining thousands of followers. I’m talking about real connections and professional relationships, some of which can ultimately evolve into meaningful friendships. It’s truly amazing how many genuine people there are out there who are willing to help their peers become better educators.
2. Make the Mass GEG Your “One Stop Google Shop”
Share and curate resources and get the latest updates about anything and everything related to Google Apps for Education including:
  • Drive
  • Docs, Sheets, Forms, Presentations
  • Sites & Blogger
  • Gmail & Calendar
  • Hangouts
  • and best of all…CLASSROOM! (yes, I’m excited about Classroom launching this fall, can ya tell?)
And if you know anything about GAFE, you know that Google is constantly updating its products and tools with new features to make the user experience more powerful. The Massachusetts GEG will ultimately become your “one stop shop” for all that is Google. You won’t need to join separate communities to learn about specific Google products and how to integrate them into your school or classroom. Whether you’re 1:1 Chromebook, iPad, or BYOD, the Massachusetts GEG will serve all of your needs. Heck, you’ll even be able to ask questions and learn more about Google Glass! The best part is that because this community is the official GEG for Massachusetts, there is a strong connection directly to Google. My interaction with the folks at Google has been great and I can tell you they are very excited about the GEG initiative.
3. Received invitations to face to face and virtual learning and networking events. This is the part of the GEG initiative that excites me the most. I plan to work very hard to coordinate regional, face to face events throughout Massachusetts. I am hopeful the first face to face meet up will be in late August and will release details as soon as the event is confirmed. There will also be Hangouts to discuss the latest educational trends and Google products. Please feel free to suggest topics or offer to host a Hangout or face to face event in your area. Massachusetts is filled with incredibly innovative and talented teachers and I am hopeful that our GEG will grow into a strong, collaborative community where all members contribute their knowledge and skill. Thank you in advance for joining and I look forward to working with all of you!

Day 51 – Dennis Villano, BPS Director of Technology Integration

Gmail – Creating Student Contact Groups
Google Groups.001
Burlington Public Schools is a Google Apps for Education district. All students and staff have Google accounts. One of the most powerful aspects of this consistent integration is the ability to communicate and collaborate in an organized system.

The BPS EdTech Team recommends setting up class groups or blocks for better distribution of digital content and communication to students. This process is appropriate even for beginners but does take some time initially. The time saved throughout a semester or school year after completing the set up can be a great benefit to teachers. The best part is that these groups can be used to send emails and share documents from Google Drive.

The process can be completed in a few steps that is duplicated for each student in your class or block. Check out this walkthrough video guide from BHS Student HelpDesk member Sidd Chhayani to complete the process:

Once you create a group you can use it as a recipient for emails and shared documents.
In Gmail – simply click the Compose button and start typing the name of a group in the To box. Click on the group that you want to use:

In Google Drive – click on the Share button in a document and start typing the name of a group in the Add People box (make sure to change the sharing and editing options appropriate for the document you are sending):
Drive Group

Gmail Contact Groups are a powerful tool for distributing digital content to students, staff, and community members. Organized distribution methods like this are a critical part of a 1:1 classroom.
Please check out the BHS Student HelpDesk for more technology guides and support.

Daniel Russell – Google Apps For Education New England Summit – Speaker Profile #2

We are excited to host the first ever Google Apps for Education New England Summit here at BHS on November 3 and 4.  The list of speakers has been finalized for the weekend and its is an amazing group that you will not want to miss. 
My second speaker profile of the two mazing keynotes is focused on Daniel Russell Google’s Űber Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness.  Daniel, the  will provide our opening keynote on Sunday morning. He recently conducted an open course for thousands to become better web searchers and his blog SearchResearch is a must read!
Here’s a bit more on Daniel from the Summit’s website:

Daniel Russell is the Űber Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness in Mountain View.  He earned his PhD in computer science, specializing in Artificial Intelligence before he realized that magnifying and understanding human intelligence was his real passion.  Twenty years ago he foreswore AI in favor of HI, and now enjoys teaching, learning, running and music, preferably all in one day.  He worked at Xerox PARC before it was, and was in the Advanced Technology Group at Apple where he wrote the first 100 web pages for using SimpleText.  He also worked at IBM and briefly at a startup that developed tablet computers before the iPad.  

His keynote focuses on what it means to be literate in the age of Google – at a time when you can search billions of texts in milliseconds.  Although you might think that “literacy” is one of the great constants that transcends the ages, the skills of a literate person have changed substantially over time as texts and technology allow for new kinds of reading and understanding.  Knowing how to read is just the beginning of it – knowing how to frame a question, pose a query, interpret the texts that you find, organize (and use) the information you discover, and understand your metacognition – these are all critical parts of being literate as well.  In his talk Dan reviews what literacy means today and shows how some very surprising and unexpected skills will turn out to be critical in the years ahead.

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Jaime Casap – Google Apps For Education New England Summit – Speaker Profile #1

We are excited to host the first ever Google Apps for Education New England Summit here at BHS on November 3 and 4.  The list of speakers has been finalized for the weekend and its is an amazing group that you will not want to miss. 
I have decided to quickly profile one of the speakers over the next few days to offer a preview of what is to come.  Kicking things off for us on Saturday with our opening Keynote will be Google’s Senior Education Evangelist Jaime Casap.
Here’s a bit on Jaime from the Summit’s website:

Jaime Casap is the Senior Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. With more than 15 years of technology experience, he is responsible for working with K12 educational institutions and organizations to bring current and future technological innovations into the education environment. Mr. Casap evangelizes the power of technology and the use of Google tools, such as Google Apps and Chromebooks, to help students build the skills needed to succeed, close the digital divide, and help level the playing field. He has worked with hundreds of school systems and states to build the capability to bring Google tools to millions of teachers and students.

Mr. Casap is also a Faculty Associate at Arizona State University, where he teaches classes in organizational behavior, leadership, and innovation. He serves on the Advisory Board of Directors for New Global Citizens and the Arizona STEM Education Program, and is a member of the Digital Education Council. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York at Brockport and a Master’s from Arizona State University.

We have been discussing the integration of technology in education for as long as most of us can remember.  In his keynote, Jaime will examine technology’s role in education and why now it’s no longer a question of whether we should integrate technology in education, but rather it is now a question of how we can leverage it to build the skills students will need to compete on a global scale.

You can check out all of the presenters here and the full schedule for the summit here.

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Preparing Our Students For What Is Ahead With Google’s Apps

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Thanks to Ryan Bretag for his blog post on using Google Apps with students.  Ryan, an Instructional Technology Coordinator at Glenbrook North High School near Chicago, shared his thoughts on using Google Apps for students along with some interesting data on colleges that are providing Google Apps for their students. As we enter year two as a Google Apps high school and year one utilizing Google Apps with students in grades K-8, I think Ryan’s words are important for all of us to consider. 

While the world of education seems hell-bent on content and skills, it is vital that the other areas are on equal footing such as guaranteed experiences.
One important experience that I strive to guarantee at the school level is immersion into the realm of Google Apps. The reasons for this are many in the area of life: cloud-based living and management, Internet-minded thinkersmaking learning public, globally connected scholars, Google opportunities, etc. 

But I would be remiss not to mention the importance of this guaranteed  experience for students going to college. According to Google, “seven of the eight Ivy League universities and 72 of this year’s top 100 U.S. Universities (as determined by 2013 U.S. News and World Report’s ranking) have gone Google”.

For those students that identify college in their future, how valuable is this experience in helping with the transition to college? How beneficial is it making that first year a success and moving them into that critical second year, a move that statistically some say is our best predictor of graduating?

Given these Gone Google numbers in college and a world that is expecting our students to function in life with said tools, I see it as a valuable and beneficial experience for students beyond the normal talk of skills. 

Speaking of Google, we are proud to be the host site for the Google Apps for Education New England Summit November 3 and 4 at Burlington High. This will help us all continue to expand our use of these resources better prepare our students for what is ahead.

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A Great Guide For Teachers On Using Google Drive and Documents

As we move into our second year as a Google Apps school, we continue to offer a number of professional development sessions to help teachers make the move away from Microsoft Office and saving documents on our network. These two options will no longer be supported as we move into the 2012-2013 school year.

The book below is another great resource from Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers website that can also help staff make this transition.
Google Drive and Docs for Teachers 2012

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