This week I had the privilege to work with a group of educators in a course called Communication and Collaborating with Google Tools through UWGB. I was asked to take over the course at the end of June and was given the syllabus to use as my guide. I spent the next few weeks creating the assignments and daily tasks that would guide us. I wanted the course to be self paced and put together a number of activities that participants could choose from. Here is the site if you are interested in seeing my vision - gg.gg/TechVenture. I asked the participants to complete and submit three tasks under each tool.
I went into the class thinking all teachers would have experience with Google Apps for Education. I thought they would have experience creating and working in Docs, their Drive, and likely Slides. I quickly found out that the level of experience and comfort level varied greatly. I had some students who had never created anything with Google Apps.
I wish I could say that everything went perfectly, that I did an awesome job inspiring these educators and they had no struggles with learning or using the technology. Unfortunately that isn't the case. There were struggles, there were moments of frustration and there were moment of failure. The reality of learning new skills, especially technology comes with failure. There were lots of questions being asked, most I could answer, but sometimes they wanted to do something so specific that while it could be done it would involve a level of complexity they weren't ready for. It taught me many lessons in how to provide instruction, to listen to these learners as both individuals and as a group. It gave me numerous moments to take pause and reflect. I also saw that same behavior with many of my students. I saw them think about how they could use the technology, contemplate ways to infuse it, or whether a different technology like Microsoft would be easier and more appropriate for them. I experienced their anxiety, their struggle to explore something new. Some dipped their toes in and others jumped in the deep end.
The struggles I witnessed this week remind me how important building relationships and trust are. I spent a lot of time working with these educators individually getting to know them and listening to their needs. I also incorporated a number of activities to help the entire group get to know each other. These activities had little to do with technology, but I think they made a huge difference in how well the course went, especially when the students had time of struggle and frustration.
I have to be completely honest here that I haven't looked at the products students have submitted beyond what they showed me while working on them in class. I don't think I need to see the final products of their labor to comment on the triumphs of the class.
I witnessed the journey of these educators as both a group and more importantly as individuals. I saw the student who had never created a Google Doc create a Site showcasing her work for the week. She also created a page of her awesome creations in a world beyond education. She quilts, creates stained class, and welds yard art to name a few. She brought in examples of her work and showcased a page of images on her portfolio site. She came in now knowing how the tools would fit her unique teaching circumstances to creating numerous lesson activities with a multitude of classes.
I worked with another teacher who took a Choose Your Own Adventure Google Form Template I created and built her own lesson for her 2nd grade students. She is going to create a writing prompt for her students that will allow them to choose which path their take and which story ending their friends wrote they wish to read.
An Admin in the class left thinking about how he could use QR codes to revamp his beginning of the year PD sessions. And most importantly I heard many ideas about how to provide students with a variety of opportunities to use their voice in the learning experiences.
The week was a bit of a roller coaster ride as we navigated our way through the learning process. In the end I am ecstatic to see the progress and final products of my students. I can't wait to sit down to make some tweaks to it and work with the next group of students.