Monday, May 24, 2010

Google Docs Forms Uses for Ed Leaders

For the last few months I have been hearing how great Google Docs is for educators.  The potential is unlimited--especially for Principals!
Each year we give our teachers an End of the Year Packet (a pretty thick one) that includes directions on how to close out the school year. Most of the time, the staff gets pretty excited about the packet because it means that they are one day closer to summer vacation. The packet typically lets staff know when to turn in items like, books, equipment and keys. The forms they have to turn in focus on classroom repairs, committee/club sponsorship and things that we should continue, stop and start at our school.

This year I looked for an easier (free) way to collect , compile share (not to mention save some paper) this information. So, I decided to use Google Docs to collect data for the six forms that I typically have staff complete and turn in to my Secretary. In just a couple of hours, we had data for 15 teachers--without counting a single piece of paper!

I used Google Forms for these three items:
Committee and Club Request

Classroom Repair Form

Continue, Stop, Start Form

I also used Google Spreadsheet to collect information on students that were in Child Study or the 504 Process and students that we place on a "watch list" to receive academic intervention for the following school year (I did not share those because of student confidentiality).  The great news is that everyone can work on the same document.  Analyzing the data is relatively simple and collaborating between teachers is a breeze.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Using Twitter for Professional Development

When I first signed up for a Twitter account, I did so to be in “the know."  I’d seen Ashton Kutcher on Larry King live talking about how he tweets and how many followers he had   (I think he had 1 million).  I really just didn't get it.  After watching, I tried it a few more times and still didn’t get it. 
Although I didn’t get it,  I really liked the aspect of being able to tweet by phone and immediately saw some applications that students could use in the classroom, i.e. using Twitter for Socratic seminars, as a backchannel or to write Twittories.  Uses in the classroom seemed almost limitless.
Believing in the old adage, "Two heads are better than one", I gave my staff a homework assignment over the summer to open Twitter accounts to use for our back- to- school activity.  Our staff went to the movies and used Twitter as a Back Channel and Tweeted during the movie Julie & Julia.  The purpose was to encourage all of our instructional staff to host a blog with the plan to increase student performance in writing. That was eight months ago.  While several staff members hosted blogs this year, little tweeting took place in the form of professional development (we have however used it as a parent communication tool for activities and events).  I knew I wanted to use Twitter regularly with staff, but I just could not see how to make it work--that is until about a month ago.  So, here is what we are planning:
  1. Host a PLN Blog for staff. I post once a week (Passage PLN Blog).
  2. Include a feed to my Twitter so staff can get an idea of other educators they can follow and get some of the great links that I come across from my PLN.
  3. Have staff sign up for their own Twitter account (in my case, ask my staff for a do-over)
  4. Create a Wiki (probably Wikispace) so we can share websites, web 2.0 tools, blogs etc…
  5. Include useful articles, sites, blogs on the PLN Blog and offer incentives/encouragement to those that post to the Wikispace. I think this will be the tough part—convincing staff that Twitter is more than just sharing what you are doing. After all, it took me eight months to figure Twitter out.
  6. Use our Technology Integration Specialist as a resource for teachers to plan lessons and activities that integrate the resources/ideas into the curriculum.

Wish us luck!  Any ideas are welcome!