Saturday, August 20, 2016

How May We GAFEhelp You?

Do you use Google Apps for Education (GAFE)? Are you a connected educator on Twitter? (And if you are not, then why not? But that is another conversation to have later.) Have you ever had a question about GAFE and so you Tweet it out only for it to get lost in the abyss of Twitter and never get a response? Or if you do get a response, it is completely random and really doesn’t help?

How May We GAFEhelp You?

GAFE Help Twitter Pic.pngWell, we hope this will be a solution to that dilemma. We would like to introduce to you a new Twitter account, @GAFEhelp.
Eight GAFE using educators connected on Twitter and have teamed up to manage this new handle. Our goal is to be a resource to other GAFE using teachers and help provide a quick answer to any type of GAFE related question you may need help with.
In addition to this new Twitter account, we will be using the hashtag #GAFEhelp to also facilitate communication of any questions that may be out there.
We don’t see ourselves as experts, but just a group knowledgeable teachers wanting to help provide answers to your questions. If we don’t know an answer, we will try to help you research a solution and provide resources to help you get going in the right direction.
So if you need help with Google Apps, just tweet us @GAFEhelp and/or use the hashtag #GAFEhelp. So, How may we GAFEhelp you?
Meet the GAFEhelp Team:
Justin Birckbichler (@Mr_B_Teacher) - 4th grade teacher in Virginia. Teaches with 1:1 Chromebooks. Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer.
Ben Cogswell (@cogswell_ben) - TK-6th Educational Technology TOSA in Salinas, CA. Google Educator Level 1 and 2. 1:1 iPads & Dell Venues implementing GAFE in 12 schools with 380+ teachers.
Sean Fahey (@SEANJFAHEY) - 4th grade teacher in Indiana at a Google Apps for Education School. Teaches with 1:1 ChromeBooks.
Ari Flewelling (@EdTechAri) - Staff Development Specialist (Technology Integration and 1:1 Support), Google Certified Trainer & Innovator, CUE Affiliate President
Kelly Martin (@kmartintahoe) - K-8 Educational Technology and Curriculum Coordinator in South Lake Tahoe, California. Google Educator Level 1 and 2. Supports 60+ teachers in a 1:1 chromebook environment in grades 3-12.
Karly Moura (@KarlyMoura) - Instructional Coach & Educational Technology Support Teacher in California. Supports educators in a Google Apps for Education school teaching with chromebooks and ipads.

Mari Venturino (@MsVenturino) - Middle school science and AVID teacher in California. Teaches with 1:1 iPads. Google for Education Certified Trainer & Innovator.

Joe Young (@jyoung1219) - Math & STEAM Instructional Coach in Palo Alto, California. Taught 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades in a GAFE district, 1:1 iPads, 1:1 Chromebooks, and served as a tech lead teacher.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


CUE Hangover!!! That’s what Jody Green (@peerlessgreen) and Kelly Martin (@kmartintahoe) referred to the sharp contrast that happens after leaving the awesomeness that is CUE National. I must say that I agree with them wholeheartedly as I sit here three days later, my mind still reeling from all the learning that took place in Palm Springs. Intoxicating as the learning was, I also know it is sometimes effervescent and so this blog is intended to capture some of my reflections I want to carry with me through the year, and beyond.
Even though, #CUE16 offered some amazing sessions, for me it was more the people I connected with then the sessions themselves. In no particular order here are the people, topics, and sessions that hit me the most.

The unconference room was definitely one of the most inspiring rooms of CUE. Between @EdtechAri’s #tweetup with #TOSACHAT and #connectedtl, Mario Kart on the wall, and the awesome tweeps hanging out, my head was spinning, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. One my favorite conversations in the unconference room was with Dan Bennett (@dabennett7). As a TOSA, offering engaging and learner centered PD is a goal I strive for like a Mario for Princess Peach. Dan shared his self guided PD which engages teachers in interesting content, while Dan differentiates and helps on an individual level ( Besides sharing awesome content, Dan schooled me on a few new Google short cuts and tips. We also had some interesting conversations about teaching theme through Star Wars and other multimedia. Scaffolding difficult concepts in text through multimedia is definitely high in the midichlorian count, and made the unconference room a place of improvisational awesomeness.
Shark Attack
Now let me just say that, constructing flying sharks doesn’t seem like a whole lot of learning, but when you are doing it with the likes of Bill Selak (@billselak) with Jon Corippo (@jcorippo) popping up, you never know what is going to happen. Bill’s enthusiasm and patience are infectious as he reminded me of the patience
and kindness we must have for our learners. And a little confidence can go a long way. I went from a shark newb to a shark “expert” in a matter of hours thanks to Bill. ( On the other side of the coin, Corippo’s sauciness mixed with perseverance and fortitude are always inspiring. Jon said something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as it get’s done.” These attributes are a must for any successful teacher or leader. No one would have ever though all of this was the product of some hot air, a few balloons, and some great interactions.

TOSA with Mimosa’s
Perhaps, my favorite actual session was the session dubbed “TOSA with Mimosa’s.” The session was actually called TOSA and Tech Leaders Collaborate to Revolutionize Learning put on in a joint effort by Campbell & Union School Districts. They shared some of their vision in moving the system forward with strategic plans, awesome PD, and top-notch collaboration. The panel consisted of Lindsey Blass (@LindseyBlass1), Genevieve Pacada (@PacadaVision), MaryFran Lynch (@mflynch), Heather Haggerty (@HeatherHaggerty), and Andrew Schwab (@anotherschwab). Not only were their resources stellar ( & , they used today’s meet as a backchannel to engage the audience answering questions both orally and in the chat as well. The session cooked up some high octane dendrites on moving forward with a strategic plan with take aways I can bring back to my district in an effort of excellence.
Podcasting and Beyond
“Podcasting is in its renaissance period,” at least according to Ryan O’Donnell (@creativeedtech) & Brian Briggs (@bribriggs). Brian and Ryan had a high energy sessions called “Podcasting and Beyond” Now through their proxy, I have been introduced to some awesome podcasting dudes like the Bassett Brothers, Jon Samuelson, and Brett Warner ( Podcasting has been one of my fascinations for a while. I do a low budget gig on Youtube called Coach’s Corner, which I am converting to podcasting. After CUE, I left with some awesome podcasts in my pocket. The first one I am digesting is “TOSA’s Talking Tech” with Tom & Mike ( This podcast was music to my ears, and made me wonder about trying to do a podcast for my district to supplement my weekly Edtech Newsletter.  Like Brian Briggs, I am not sure writing is my greatest strength, but I do certainly love to talk. :/ Techlandia and EdTech TV are the next ones on my list. Here is a great list of some ear tingling podcast that Ryan O’Donnell recommends. Beyond, listening to these awesome podcasts. I am more motivated to keep moving forward with my own, podcast. There is just this pesky thing called time that keeps me from moving forward.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Now just like our schools and classrooms have expanded beyond the four walls, so has the CUE conference. My pocket pals keep my company on Twitter and Voxer, and the CUE16 hashtag keeps driving me forward. With this in mind, my last great session took place on the plane ride home. I was lucky enough to sit next to Lindsay Blass (@LindseyBlass1) and Cate Tolnai (@CateTolnai) on the plane ride home. Our discussion wondered around a bit from being #bettertogether, and finally wound up on the topic of servant leadership. It seems like a bit of an oxymoran, but it gave me some food for thought. How do we meet the needs of our stakeholders? What task is too small for us? It came down to the fact that a little bit of caring can go a long way. It also made me rethink the ways I approach some of the tasks I had before. Instead of getting grumping when I have to do some possible “techretary” (@EdTechAri) work for an admin, I should rethink my strategy; I should take time to work with the secretary to make my life and my possible admin’s life easier. Approaching the people I work with and for with an attitude or servant leadership will be something, I take back into my work.
Last Thoughts
So finally almost three weeks later, I have finished documenting my reflection. CUE is still in my blood and the midichlorians whirling around in my blood. A few more shout outs need to be made before I finished. Some of the other bright spots on my CUE adventure need to be highlighted like our first #TOSAchat presentation ( and Saved by #connectedTL with Mr. Belding Karaoke
 ( These tweeps are certainly awesome and awesome better together.  Those were definitely some good times, as was EdSurge social event with Molly Levitt (@Molly_Levitt) and Mary Jo Madda (@MJMadda ). They put on a intimate social event connecting some cool cat peeps. Finally the people from the #alisalstrong team were above extraordinary in their passion and energy. Our district sent down a large team, and seeing their inspiration overflowed my cup for sure.
So with that I look forward to the next awesome event. Thanks for joining me in my journey. I would love to hear your bright spots from the adventure that is #CUE16.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Accelerating Initiatives and Building Capacity

New standards, new curriculum, new tech initiatives are all surrounding and swirling about the current landscape of education. Teachers and administrators everywhere are battling with implementing these initiatives within their schools and across classrooms. It's a battle because there are always a few eager individuals that implement in their practice, but the struggle lies in implementing and building capacity across a school site. 

This specific post focuses on one such method of capacity building. Although focus is specifically on listening and speaking, it could be applied to various entry points. 

It all began during the 2015 school year when the Alisal Union School District hired Dr. John Nelson, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services and Support at Chula Vista Elementary School District, to work with leadership groups. Dr. Nelson spoke about the notion of lead learners, growth mindset, and the vision of shared leadership to accelerate capacity building and fidelity. These notions spoke to me deeply and influenced much of the work our school was invested in. Besides these key ideas, Dr. Nelson also emphasized that one needs to be careful about overloading the system with too many initiatives.

With these guiding thoughts, the Tiburcio Vásquez Elementary School site leadership decided that we needed to have strategic entry points for implementing Common Core across our site. We chose to focus on the listening and speaking strand in part because of the work of Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey, and also it was also one of our District entry points. Further, we felt this strand was important because discussion and collaboration seemed to be integrated into of many of the Common Core State Standards; the metaphorical blood that flows and sustains the academic system. Lastly, we felt that our high population of ELLs also needed the extra support and scaffolding in listening and speaking.

Now it wasn't enough just having a strategic entry point: we needed a plan. We needed to figure out how we were going to build capacity in all our classrooms not just a few. Thus, enter the Listening and Speaking Matrix, grade level collaboration teams, and the shared leadership model. 
Google Doc:

The backbone to our plan was the blank matrix to the left. This matrix was to be built and rebuilt by our staff. We decided to create two matrices: one for 3-6 and one for K-2.

In grade level collaboration teams, we started to think about what listening and speaking might look like in our classroom, and what we wanted it to look like. We used the CCSS Speaking and Listening Standards as a starting point to spring board our discussion. We brainstormed what scaffolds would be in place to get students across the continuum. We discussed seating formations, classroom set-up, sentence frames, discourse and social norms, and put all those ideas in the matrix under the relevant columns. Meeting after meeting each grade level team built on the previous team's ideas. During this process, we stressed that this was a living document that would change over time, and would be revisited throughout the year.

K-2 Iteration 1:
3-6 Iteration 1:
Finally after each team had added its thoughts, I categorized the ideas as best as I could into groups like seating, body language, and collaboration. You can take a closer look at these iterations, by clicking on the links in the captions.

Our next step in the process was bringing the first iteration back to subsequent grade-level team meetings. As a cohort we looked at the matrix and discussed any possible changes that needed to be made. Each team was then given time to reflect on its own teaching practice and pick one area that each individual was going to focus on. We followed the self-reflection with discussion on how we could support students to meet our goals and move across the matrix. If you would like a specific example of how teachers supported students, check out my blog on Building Student Discourse.

We went through this same process over several team meetings, each time reflecting on where we were, and how we could move forward. We also made minor changes throughout the year as our understanding of the matrix and our practice grew. As the year moved forward, our students were gaining what we referred to as "active listening and speaking" skills.  Students were speaking loud and proud, in complete sentences, and were using precise vocabulary. At one point we participated in a district learning walk, and one of the group's notices was the rigor and quality of academic language across classrooms. I mention this because for us, this helped validate the work we were doing.

3-6 Iteration 2:
K-2 Iteration 2:
Finally the year was winding down, and it was time to revisit the L & S Matrix as staff cohorts of K-2 and 3-6. The cohorts worked within the groups to revise and modify the matrix. During this work, the matrix changed significantly as staff truly took ownership of the tool. With the final revision of the year, we sent the second major iteration to Kinkos and blew them up as large posters to display in a few rooms throughout the campus.

Now this year the process is continuing with a different staff and a new and awesome instructional coach (I am now a District TOSA focusing on EdTech). The matrices continue to be reiterated and improved to meet the teachers' needs. For your viewing pleasure, you can view the live versions of the K-2 Matrix and the 3-6 Matrix. For this ongoing work, I would like to commend the teachers and staff involved in forming this tool. This list does not name all the staff involved, but the brave ones who are on Twitter. These teachers are great additions to your #pln.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Alisal EdTech News v1.6

Alisal EdTech News v1.6
EdTech Council Logo
Monterey County’s Edtech Council
  • Interested in connecting with other educators integrating Educational Technology
  • Come this Wednesday, October 7th  to MCOE from 4:00-6:00
  • Each Meeting will focus on:
    • A spotlight on a successful EdTech implementation with Q&A
    • Update on the latest EdTech developments
    • Time to network and discuss challenges and successes with colleagues in large and small groups
  • Bonus!!! Dinner will be provided for those evenings!!

EdTech TOSA Updates
  • Teachers, need some personalized support? Contact your EdTech TOSA for After-School Personalized Office Hours fit to meet your schedule
  • Want to be part of a monthly tech raffle!! Want to receive updates directly to your cell phone from your Edtech Coach? To receive messages via text, text @alisaltech to 81010. You can opt out of messages at anytime by replying, 'unsubscribe@alisaltech'.
    • This Month’s Winner was Mr. Kenneth Cho

1:1 Device Expansion: Helping bring our District into future ready status  
  • Our New 1:1 Devices should be coming to classrooms soon. I.T. should start delivering them on October 15!!
  • Important!!! Remember that sites need to host a parent meeting in order to review the Student Acceptable Use Policy
  • KUDOS!!! Thanks Ms. McIntosh for translating the presentation into Spanish!!!
  • Youtube!!!  Here is a video presentation in English to help the 1:1 Rollout!!! A Spanish version is in the works!!
  • Save the Date!!! We are trying to put together a make up 1:1 BootCamp on October 12th. More information to come tomorrow!!!
  • For Reminders straight to your cell phone, text @alisal1to1 to 81010. You can optout of messages at anytime by replying, 'unsubscribe @alisal1to1'
EdTech Academy Logo
Upcoming EdTech Professional
  • Want to be a search master? Sign up for the free Power Searching with Google Course
  • Monterey County’s Edtech Academy is now open for registration.  Registration will close October 16th. Space is limited!!!
  • MCOE Yearlong EdTech PD Series Flyer is now out. Click here!!!
Ilustrasi Gratis: Informasi
More info to come!!
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