Sunday, June 23, 2013

ISTE 2013 - HackEd Unconference

Attending ISTE is always a highlight for me.  I have been fortunate to attend several ISTE conferences over the past few years, but I've never been able to fly in early enough to attend the unconference.  This year, I decided that it was time to experience what many people say is the best part of ISTE.  It was amazing to see so many of my GCT and ADE friends as well as all of the Edu Tech Super Stars.  Coming to events like these gives you a chance to connect with people that you only talk to on Twitter or see virtually.

#HackEd13 began with a group meeting for general directions and time to socialize and meet new people.  The energy was buzzing and you could feel the excitement as the crowd grew.  We were then instructed to go to a room where we would contribute ideas and vote using stickers to decide which topics would make the final schedule.  What I liked most about this process was seeing what types of trends and interests people have in the area of ed tech.

Thank you to those who worked hard to create the schedule after tallying up all the dots.  I know from experience that it isn't an easy task given a short amount of time.  You can check out the schedule at:  The best part about an unconference is that it really gives you a chance to have conversations with other educators and hear opinions, thoughts, and questions.  It isn't a presentation, but a discussion to really hear from one another.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I enjoyed every moment.  I now see what I've been missing all these years.  If you've never attended the unconference, I'd highly recommend it.  We left with a cool shirt with an inspiring quote, but more importantly...we left with new ideas to inspire and ignite our students and an extended network of amazing educators.

Friday, March 29, 2013

GAFE Summit Illinois

For the past 2 days I was able to be a part of the GAFE Summit in Northbrook, IL.  Coincidentally I was on a vacation with my family at the same time as the summit and didn't want to miss this opportunity to share, learn, connect, and expand my PLN.  The best part was being able to hangout with amazing educators and learn from some of the best presenters from around the globe.  It was also great to see some of my favorite edtech rockstar friends like Lucy GrayJennie Mageira - who won the demo slam,  and Jim Sill - who rocked the keynote with one of the highlights of the whole summit!  I was also able to present a session on Enhancing PBL with Google and showcased some of my favorite script tools: Doctopus and Goobric.

What I appreciate most about many of the educators that share at these conferences, is that the resources are accessible to others who may not be able to attend.  You can check out the presenter resources to many of the sessions and learn about your favorite Google tools.  Definitely check out the resources and follow the #gafesummit hashtag to keep learning.  The EdTechTeam does an outstanding job and puts on one of the best PD conferences around - especially for those of you who LOVE Google as much as I do.  Check out the upcoming GAFE summits - perhaps one will be in your part of the world soon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Google Hangouts for PD

If you've never used Google Hangouts, you are definitely missing out!  It has probably been one of my favorite and most used technology tools for staying connected with friends and colleagues near and far.  Before Hangouts, I often used Skype for video chatting with friends and family.  I still use Skype once in a while but Google Hangout is definitely my go to video conferencing tool.  The best part of a Google Hangout is the ability to video chat with up to 10 people at one time (15 if you use your Google Apps for schools account).  There is also the ability to hangout from the Google Plus app available for iPhone and android users.  Learning can literally be anytime and anywhere.  Plus, you can easily share your screen and collaborate on a doc.  This makes it perfect for professional development and for meetings that can't be done in person.  Not to mention, silly hats are always a way to make any meeting more fun.

To get started, you need a Google+ account.  You can visit this link to get to easily get to a hangout or click on More and select Hangouts from any page in Google+.
Once you are there, you will select to start an hangout and Google+ will let you know who in your circles are online.  You can invite anyone to the hangout and it they will be notified on their Google+ page.

Another very useful and cool feature is the ability to do a Hangout On Air.  This will allow your hangout to be broadcast on your Google+ stream and on your YouTube channel.  This is great for sharing with a large audience.  It will also allow you to save the hangout to your YouTube channel where you can share the link or make it available for others to see in case they missed it.  Hangouts On Air are great ways to host webinars and share PD or host study sessions for students.  If you do use Google+ with students, please be aware that there is a strict over 13 policy in place.  Students under 13 should not use Google+.

At the very minimum, you should definitely check out the hangouts that are happening live on Google Education On Air.  Learn from educators across the globe for free.  In case you missed it, you can always watch the recorded shows.  

Hopefully I'll be "Hanging" out with you very soon!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Goodies From The Google Teacher Academy

It has been over a week since I returned from the amazing experience at the Google Teacher Academy. It was definitely a highlight of my career as an educator.  I was fortunate to be a part of the awesome Team Edison with our fearless lead learner Kyle Brumbaugh. The best part was connecting to some of the most innovative and inspiring educators from all across the globe and hearing about the great things that are happening in their schools.  The other highlight was being at the Googleplex and learning from Googlers and other GCT's.  There was definitely no shortage of ideas and resources.  Below is a list of some of the resources that were shared at the GTA.  Believe it or not, there's much more to share and I will try to highlight a few of my favorites in future blog posts.  Even if you only have time to check a few of these, you won't be disappointed.

Google Maps & Earth

Google Map Maker: Enrich Google Maps With Your Knowledge -

Maths Map: Using Google Maps to Teach Math -

Historical Map Collection -

Batch Geo: Create a map from spreadsheet data -

Using Google Earth for a Book Review -

Google Search

Safe Search: Use with younger students/children -

Create a Google Custom Search Engine -

Explore Google Trends: See interest over time on topics -

Google Ngram Viewer: Graph display of phrase occurrence in books -

Power Searching with Google -

What do you love?: A unique way to search -

Google Hotel Finder:


Google Takeout: Download a copy of your data in Google products -

Data Liberation Front: Move data in or out of Google products -


Interactive Video Example -

YouTube Create: Use this for video creation -

YouTube Video Editor: Edit video in YouTube -

Digital Citizenship & Literacy

Common Sense Media: Digital Literacy Curriculum -

Google Good To Know -

Misc Resources

Google World Wonders Project -

Tech Sherpas: Learn tech from students -

The Chromium Project -

Google Art Project -

Google Cultural Institute -

Google Story Builder -

Scripts Resource -

Create a Favicon for your Google Site -

Videos to Watch on YouTube:

Augmented Reality Video: The Future is Now -

Augmented Reality Video: Project Glass -

YouTube's 7th Birthday Video -

Wishin' for a Definition -

Choose What Happens Next (Interactive Video Example) -

Chrome Extension Favorites: 
Webpage Screenshot - Take a screenshot of any webpage and also edit the web page text
MeasureIt - Find the pixel length and height of any webpage element

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Collaboration & CBL Journey to Beijing

Last week I had the amazing experience traveling to Beijing, China to attend the RDFZ Xishan International Summit.  It was a life changing experience connecting and learning from innovative educators from across the globe.  RDFZ Xishan is an amazing school that is leading education innovation in China and being held as a model for schools across the world.  You can learn more by watching the video and reading the profile that Apple showcased on their education website (  We were blown away by the inspiring leadership of Principal Shu, his dedicated faculty and staff, and the school philosophy of creating students who are "Global Citizens with a Chinese Heart."

I didn't know it at the time, but my journey across the world started a couple of years ago when I made the conscious decision to center my professional growth and curriculum development around the theme of collaboration.  Because of my experience as a middle school teacher and working on teams, I already knew the benefits that working together can bring.  The best designed projects, ideas, and creative solutions have always come as a result of collaboration.  Although it is not something measured on standardized tests, collaboration is a vital skill that our students need as they enter a global work place.  This belief is what led me to expand my PLN and work toward creating opportunities for my students to connect and collaborate across the globe.

In 2011, our team was transformed by the CBL framework.  We were fortunate to be selected to be a part of the Apple CBL Implementation project.  We saw how CBL made a difference for our students in solving real-world problems and developing their critical thinking skills.  CBL truly changed the way we approached teaching and learning.

We were brought together with RDFZ Xishan in the fall of 2011 when they were initially implementing CBL with a group of their students.  Raja Marwah took on the challenge of learning about CBL and leading the students at RDFZ Xishan through the process.  Their students excelled and two of their challenge groups were selected by Apple to take part in their leadership summit in Geneva.

We continued our collaboration and friendship by inviting the students at RDFZ Xishan to participate in our Building Global Community CBL project in May 2012.  It was a highlight of our year and a great way to showcase the power of collaboration and importance of sustaining global friendships for both the teachers and students at our school.  We were also fortunate to meet the amazing team from RDFZ Xishan when  a few of them visited Hawai'i this past summer.

We never would have thought that our journey would lead us all the way to Beijing.  I have been blessed to have many opportunities in my career as an educator, but I never imagined that going to China would be one of them.  RDFZ Xishan graciously extended an invitation for 4 people from our school to attend their summit.  One of the highlights was co-presenting CBL with Raja and coming full circle to learn from his experience and talk to the students who participated in CBL.  We were overwhelmed by their hospitality and kindness and inspired by everyone that we met, including their wonderful students.

I hope that my experience will inspire you to continue to extend your PLN, create collaborative opportunities for your students, and to explore CBL...after all, you never know where your journey may take you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

When Failure Leads to Success: My Journey to the Google Teacher Academy

Tonight I learned that I was accepted to the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Mountain View California at Google Headquarters!  I am so honored and humbled to be a part of this amazing group of educators from across the globe.  I can hardly wait to meet, collaborate, and learn from some of the most inspiring people in the world.

This is not the first time that I applied to the GTA.  I have been waiting for a couple of years for the opportunity to apply.  I've followed the tweets and the GTA website religiously, waiting for the right time to put in an application.  This past summer I saw my chance and I applied for the GTA in New York which was held in October.  I worked hard on that application, waited anxiously, and I was totally bummed that I didn't get in.  Of course I didn't expect to get in knowing that the competition is always tough...but it is still a let down when you let yourself get excited at the possibility of it happening.  After taking a few moments to feel sorry for myself...I decided that I would make the most of it and dedicate my energy into learning as much as I could from following those who made it to New York and seeking out my own professional development opportunities.  I committed to writing more on my blog, being more active with Twitter, signed up and completed the Google Power Search course, and worked on my Google Apps Qualification Exams.

I was shocked to hear that Google decided to open up another GTA for December.  I had another chance and I knew immediately that I wouldn't waste this opportunity.  Even if I was happy with my original application, I decided to take a closer look at what I wrote and what I said in my video.  I ended up redoing both parts of the application.  In the end, I knew that I had done much better and after submitting it, I was so grateful that I was able to improve it.  I also knew that no matter what the results were, I was happy for the growth that comes with getting up after a 'failed' attempt.

To my surprise, the second time was a charm and my failed attempt really did lead to success.  I can honestly say that I am happier that it took me a second time around to be accepted because I wouldn't be where I am today.  Failure often leads to success...and it definitely always leads to learning.  To those of you who have experienced a failure, such as not being accepted to GTA this time around, I encourage you to try again, keep motivated, and remember why you were interested in being a GCT in the first place.  There are so many opportunities to keep growing, learning, connecting with others, and to stay involved with all that is happening in education.  As Steve Jobs once said..."The journey is the reward."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Highlights From TEDxHonolulu: City 2.0

I had the honor of attending TEDxHonolulu yesterday at the beautiful Aulani resort.  It was a wonderful setting for an inspiring event.  There were over 300 attendees from all types of personal and professional backgrounds.  The Master of Ceremonies was Kealoha who is an amazing and dynamic speaker.  If you ever get the chance to see him perform his slam is awesome.  There were so many speakers that impressed me.  For the most part, the theme of the day is that we need to work as a community and start to care about our neighbors.  We can make a difference and we all need to be a part of change if we'd like our community to positively change for the better.

Although all of the presenters were outstanding, I'd like to highlight 3 that stood out to me.

Forest Frizzel is the Deputy Director for the Department of Information Technology for the city of Honolulu.  Forest brought our attention to the efforts that are being done to bring communities together and to leverage the power of people working together and technology to better our city.  He shared about 'open government' and citizen engagement.  You should check out Code for America to see what cities are taking part in this initiative.  One of the best ideas shared was the ability to adopt a civil defense siren.  This idea gets citizens involved in caring for the equipment and lessens the burden on the city to manage the sirens alone.  Forest also shared about Da Bus app that utilizes GPS to show the location of bus stops and arrival times.  Honolulu 311 app will allow you to report potholes, broken streetlights, cracked sidewalks, illegal dumping, vandalized/broken signs, and abandoned cars.  The key now is to get the word out and encourage people to use the technology to get involved.  Definitely check out the rest of the apps at Can-Do Honolulu.

One of the most moving talks was from Mark Patterson who is the Warden at the Women's Community Correctional Center.  The first thing I'd like to say is that he is definitely the right person for the job.  Our community is very fortunate to have him in charge because he truly has the heart to help these women and better the lives of their children and family.  The main message from Mark is that we need to return to a 'village' frame of mind.  We need to start caring for one another and help to stop the cycle that affects inter-generational incarceration.  To read more about this amazing man, check out the article "Can Prison Be a Healing Place?"

Timber Hawkeye was enlightening with his talk entitled "Sit Happens."  He offered his advice for being happy: "Be grateful."  Many of us go through our lives flying from one thing to another and don't take the time to stop, sit, and think about what really makes our lives meaningful and all that we should be grateful for.  Appreciation instead of entitlement is Timber's key to success.  He also reminded us that it is not our beliefs that make us a better person, it is our true!  Check out his book called Buddhist Boot Camp so that you can make "Sit Happen" in your life too.

Finally, here is my favorite TED Talk of the night, as well as the awesome closing video by Kenji Croman that showcases Honolulu is a spectacular way. See you at the next TEDx event!