Google Day at RCWP

After months of deciding what to do with all of the information I learned at the Google Teacher Academy, (including blogging and/or podcasting about each of the tools), I finally landed on the idea of hosting a Google Day for the Red Cedar Writing Project.   The culmination of weeks of planning, fourteen RCWP TCs signed up for today’s workshop.  Unfortunately, due to a nasty bug that’s going around, our numbers dwindled to eight intrepid souls who met in the Writing Center to learn more about Google applications and tools.  It was a long day that began for me at 6 am, when I left my house for MSU.  I arrived on campus to discover that the building where Google Day was scheduled to be held also was hosting the SAT, the ACT, the PRAXIS and the LSAT.  Parking was going to be an issue.

Fortunately, all of my fellow RCWPers made it okay and we started right out of the gate.  Our agenda and all the materials for the day were included on my Google Site, The Zellner Zone. My intention was to take the GTA model and tweak it to forefront ideas of literacy, technological literacy and how these applications might support good literacy practices K-16.  We began reflecting on what both literacy and technological literacy means and then examining the Writing NEXT report, a meta-analysis of high-impact writing strategies that really transform writers.  We then began to look at examples of how Google applications might be used to impact student learning, through the use of Google Sites for e-Portfolios.  We followed that with a series of what I dubbed “Crash Courses,” which highlighted the tools, always with an eyeball on how the tools might be used to improve student literacy.  After lunch, we examined how Google Sketchup has been used with students on the autistic spectrum and engaged with Project Spectrum.  After another Crash Course, we built a collaborative presentation using Google Presentations to further explore the “Even More” of Google.  The results of our efforts our here, entitled “Gettin’ Googly with it!” (Thanks to Heather L.):

In all, we accomplished a lot.  As a reflective practitioner, I must say that despite my best efforts to not overwhelm people with the “tool, tool, tool” model of high-paced technology professional development, I did get a little distracted and wandered away from initial objective of foregrounding literacy practices.  For our next Google Day in March, I plan to focus in more carefully on high-impact tools that really have a place in writing and reading instruction and less time trying to “fit it all in.”  I kept reminding myself too that the mind will only absorb what the rear will endure, and our rears were a little skeptical about sitting around on the nicest day we’ve had in MONTHS.  All in all, I am pleased with how things turned out and am eager to repeat it for a larger audience.  Thanks to Marie, Troy, Aram, Penny, Lynnette, Elizabeth, Kristine and Heather!

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