Wednesday, July 27, 2011

YouTube Teacher Studio

I've arrived at Google!
Today, I had the honour of participating in the first ever YouTube Teacher Studio and can now proudly call myself a "YouTube Star Teacher".

Our sessions were held at the Google Offices in Kincaid. Just being inside the Google buildings was an experience in itself. Google treats their employees really well to ensure that they are the most productive they can be. As guests, we also got to experience some of their many perks. I can't go into much detail, but I do have to say that all the teachers were very envious of the cafeteria and the readily available snacks and beverages available throughout the day. We thought that we would be very productive educators if we could enjoy some of these many perks in our staff lounges.

During our day, our small group of 15 educators was treated to a number of presentations and  smaller workshops. We learned so much I can't share it all in one blog post! I know I will be posting more about what we learned in more detail as I start to apply and use what I learned in my practice.

New Tools from YouTube
To start our day, we were lucky enough to receive three wonderful gifts, a YouTube Flip HD pocket video camera, a mini tripod and a Bamboo tablet. All these tools will help us produce our future videos that we will be hosting on our channels on YouTube.

During our first session with history teacher James Sanders, we learned about how to use the power of  YouTube in the classroom to support instruction and engage students. We were saw numerous examples of how Sanders uses video to support his students and to differentiate instruction. One idea shared that particularly resonated with me was how to help students to dig deeper into concepts by providing them with YouTube playlists that support what they are learning to watch when they are done their assignments in class. Students who are done earlier than everyone else are often a challenge to keep engaged and busy in a classroom so I thought that this was a great idea to deepen their understanding and let them go further. I also really liked the idea of having a YouTube center where students watch videos made by the teacher that gives them the content they need and administers an assignment or quiz through the use of Google Forms. The other students are then working in a smaller group with the Teacher answering questions and getting further explanation and practice.

During our next session with chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musllam, we learned all about screencasting and the power of capturing direct instruction and assigning it as homework. This approach is know as flip teaching. Musllam demonstrated how to make screencasts of his explanations in chemistry and gave us examples of how he uses them in his classroom. His website, has wonderful examples and resources anyone could use to try flip teaching in their classroom. This is an approach I plan to explore further in my classroom this year. We also got some hands on experience with our new Bamboo tablets and experimented with screencasting.

Our final presenter was Jim Sill who used to work in the TV and movie industry and is now a video production teacher. He showed us the basics of video production and gave us some simple techniques to ensure we are making quality videos. We also later had a hands on component where we got to practice what he had shown us and make short videos using our new Flip cameras.

The whole day was a fantastic experience to share with other educators how we are already using video in our classrooms, learn so new techniques and to brainstorm new ideas about how we will use video in the future. There is a lot more to come on this topic so please come back to read more about my adventures with YouTube. I'm so excited about the future possibilities of this new adventure.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Google Adventure

Last month, I applied to be part of the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) taking place in Seattle, WA. Google received over 4,000 applications from around the world and only 50 were accepted. I'm excited to say that I was one of the few chosen to participate in this exciting one-day professional development event. After I'm done, I will be a Google Certified Teacher.

Here is the video that I made as a part of my application to GTA:

After learning we were chosen to participate in GTA, the 50 participants were asked to apply for the first ever YouTube Teacher's Studio. Only 15 spots were available for this event that is taking place the day before GTA. I'm excited to say that I got chosen to attend this event as well. YouTube and Google all in one week! Wow!

I'm very overwhelmed to be part of this fantastic group of educators and can't wait for this adventure to begin. I leave tomorrow for Seattle and will be writing posts about my adventure while I'm there. Thanks to the power of social media, namely Twitter and Google+, I have had the chance to chat and connect with my fellow participants over the past few weeks. What a powerful way to get to know some of the other people that will be participating. Gone are the days where you show up in a room of strangers and have to begin making small talk to get to know each other. We have already broken the ice and are ready to learn!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Day On Earth

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada from Joanna Sanders Bobiash on Vimeo.

Last fall, my students and I participated in this wonderful project with people from around the world called "One Day on Earth". My Grade 6, 7 and 8 students all captured a short portion of their lives with still cameras and video cameras on October 10, 2010. They edited their footage into short documentaries of their own and shared them with the class. A number of my 68 students decided to contribute their footage, along with my own, to the main project and were delighted to hear that some of their footage had been selected to be included in the final documentary. We are not sure what exactly has been included in the final version of this film, but we were very excited to be included. Please check out the trailer for this project and consider contributing towards the final production costs. Seeing the pride and excitement in my students' by participating in this project made it a very worthwhile venture. I hope to participate in this type of project again in the future. Not many students can say that they contributed footage to a Hollywood documentary in middle school!