This GAFE is No Faux Pas!

After much anticipation and mental preparation, a group of Hopkins teachers set out last weekend on an expedition to transform their teaching. Upon arrival at base camp on Friday morning, they were greeted with a view of the summit – the Google Apps for Education Summit, that is! The weekend event, which was part of a global effort sponsored by Ed Tech Team, was held at the Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, MA. The conference featured experienced guides from across the country whose mission was to acclimate teachers to the power of using Google Apps for Education or GAFE alongside other educational technology tools to promote student learning. Here is a peek into their trek.

Friday: Base Camp

The Hopkins team was introduced to Kern Kelley, an educational technologist from central Maine, certified Google Teacher and Trainer and the man behind the aptly-named Tech Sherpas, a team of high school students who produce a series of ed-tech tutorials and present at educator conferences. Kern unpacked the GAFE tools, which include Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Draw, while providing authentic examples of how teachers are using these apps to enhance student learning, collaboration, and communication. The daylong bootcamp piqued interest and prepared teachers to navigate the trail of presentations ahead.

Saturday: Camp Two

Fuel for the conquest was delivered through an inspirational keynote by Jennie Magiera, the Digital Learning Coordinator for the Academy for Urban School Leadership in Chicago and world renowned tech educator. Magiera believes, “the classroom should reflect the world for which we are preparing our students. If we are asking them to create, innovate and be outstanding as graduates entering a terrifying job market, then our classrooms should be creative, innovative and outstanding places to learn. Everyday. Period.” She had everyone believing in her mantra, too, as they embarked on the journey through the day’s workshops. The top two takeaways from the day included the superhero status of using Chrome browser extensions and the many faces of using Google Forms with students.

Hopkins teachers use Google Forms with Google My Map to analyze global survey results.

Hopkins teachers use Google Forms with Google My Map to analyze global survey results.

Sunday: Camp Three

Feeling empowered and somewhat weary from the journey, Team Hopkins was rejuvenated from the morning keynote where they saw once again how technology can move mountains. Kern Kelley shared how a homebound middle school student is now able to socialize with her peers through a roving iPad robot named Sulley, showcasing how assistive technology can transform the learning experience for all students. Inspiration in tow, the group planned their routes for the day and once again made their way to another round of breakout sessions. Highlights included using Google Classroom to manage assignments and workflow and exploring the potential of digitizing student planners with Google Calendar.

Hopkins teachers pose with Sulley.

Hopkins teachers pose with Sulley.

After three days on the trail, Team Hopkins descended the summit with a better understanding of how technology can transform student learning. Along the way, they collaborated with a group tech-inspired educators from Hopkins Middle School and connected with like-minded teachers from around the region. If you are wondering how you can capture some of their excitement, jump on Twitter and check out #gafesummit. Amongst the stream from mountaineers around the world, you just may catch the wisdom of HPS staffers!

“We have to adapt our teaching to emerging technologies. I really want to begin to make my classroom more paperless and streamline the process of assigning and turning in assignments.”

– Kristin Fumarola

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