Google Apps For Education Tokyo @ASIJ

Over two hundred educators converged on ASIJ on February 9th and 10th. It was a weekend of play, passion and purpose. Over twenty-five different workshops and keynote presentations were offered with participants attending from around Japan and from as far away as Indonesia.  Browsing through the Twitter stream #gafesummit you get a sense of the energy, ideas and connections that were made over the two days. Aside from attending some great sessions these kinds of events are about bringing interesting people together. Ideas were swapped and sparked through informal exchanges that were as much a part of the event as the opportunities to interact and hear from the Google team and workshop presenters.


“The Demo Slam”–3 fast & furious minutes in which to demo a tip, tool or idea. I shared the “Googles” function on a mobile device.

Rushton Hurley, Director of Next Vista for Learning opened Saturday morning and had people laughing from the get-go. In subsequent sessions he shared a wealth of resources from search skills to creative projects which I’ll be digging through for a long time to come.

Jim Sill‘s entertained and inspired us with his keynote address on Sunday. We were invited to think about the kind of world are we are now living in by contrasting it to the ‘material world’ of the 1980’s. Madonna’s hit song blared out and helped bring home some of the shifts that have occurred in the decades since it first aired. One example Jim shared was that now 72 hours of footage are being uploaded to YouTube every minute. It’s certainly a digital and very connected world. What can teachers make of the opportunities this affords?


Throughout the whole event Wendy Gorton kept the energy high as our MC. In the closing session Wendy also shared about some of the fantastic projects she’s involved in around Asia, and how she uses whatever technology is available to keep connections going and to support learning.

Overall it was a very energizing event. Like the collaborative installation that attendees helped create, GAFE Summit Tokyo was a culmination of lots of different peoples ideas, effort and commitment. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of it.




Learn, Share, Remix! with the K-12 Online Conference 2012

I’ve been learning, sharing and remixing in the lead up to the K-12 Online Conference because I have been working on putting a  presentation together. Wow, what an experience! I’m relieved to be finished. It was definitely a collaborative project with friends, colleagues and students playing a big part by sharing ideas, examples and student work.

Now I’m looking forward to digging into the wide range of PD offerings starting October 15 with pre-conference keynote presentation by Kevin Honeycutt.

Here’s a brief intro to my topic:

Thinking Big About Learning | Teaser from Glenda Baker on Vimeo.

Google Opps

You have no doubt heard of Special Ops. Well, this week we kicked off our own version titled Google Opps. What’s it all about? Creating and supporting opportunities for staff, faculty and students to dig deeper into all things Google. Why? Because ASIJ is very excited about hosting the Google Apps for Education Tokyo Summit on February 9-10 and we want to build momentum and anticipation for that great event.

How are we doing that? For starters we are sharing information about some of the upcoming opportunities for Google related PD.  Google Apps Training online material,  Google Teacher Academy in December at Mountain View, CA, and Power Searching with Google. (Thanks for your help with this effort @edueyeview!)

And what a great start! This week twenty plus enthusiastic ASIJ faculty and staff have signed up to form study groups to learn more about the suite of tools we have as part of being a Google Apps for Education school.

More Google Opps to come!

The edge of chaos

‘1:1 Think Big About Learning’ is the second iteration of our ‘Grade 9 and New Student 1:1 orientation’ program.

This year we split it into two parts. We flipped all the logistical components (installing software, check log in, download apps, setup Google Drive) and included some short videos on digital identity and copyright to preempt our face-to-face session. (We used a combination of TED Ed lessons and short screencasts.) Students completed this part at home prior to a two hour session on campus the day before classes began.

The goal for the face-to-face component was to have students interact and engage with each other about the AUA. With the input of some helpful existing students we developed eight ‘scenarios’ that reflected real situations students might face in our school – some were actually adaptions from students own experiences in the previous year. They worked in self selected groups of about eight, each group had one laptop, chart paper and materials to use however they decided. They also had student Ambassador helpers who were on hand to encourage them and bounce ideas around. The group challenge included deciding on how their scenario related to the AUA, problem-solving and exploring strategies for dealing with it, and finally coming up with a way to present their work. (We saw slide shows, skits & posters.)

The finale of the event was when we drew random table numbers out of a hat to decide who presented. (We had about 170 students.) The random draw had two effects, firstly it compelled all groups to complete the challenge – as they all would potentially be asked to perform. Secondly, it created anticipation and energy. As we made each draw the room erupted in laughs and cheers, adding to the atmosphere and fun.

Why ‘the edge of chaos’? We’ve had time to reflect and gather some feedback on this iteration. For the most part we are really pleased with how it went. We set out to create a student-centered program, and I think we did that. (But we’ll keep tinkering.) Interestingly a few of our student Ambassadors were a little uncomfortable with aspects of the ‘student-centered’ approach. A few felt the groups wasted time trying to working out what to do, and that not ‘every’ student was fully engaged. My hunch is they were ill at ease with with letting go, with the messiness, and with trusting that students have the capacity to work stuff out without being spoon fed. I found their response fascinating – part of me is wondering if we have now established the passive ‘lecture style’ presentation of material as the ‘how we learning’ model in the minds of some of our students.

We’re expecting more chaos and trusting that the conversations about learning with technology will be revisited in classes, in other events and programs throughout the year. We are after an ongoing discussion…about using technology for learning, about protecting digital identities, about using resources appropriately, and about make healthy choices with the technology that is pervasive in our lives and at our finger tips.


Contribute, Curate, Convene #inspireASIJ


My hunch is that our most potentially powerful collaborators are right under our noses. As we look to innovating, prototyping, iterating (not sure that’s a word), trialling, and tinkering with how we do ‘school’, it’s the kids who we need as our design partners. A personal learning goal for me this year is to empower and advocate for our students so they might have a greater voice in how we ‘do’ learning at ASIJ.

One idea to foster voice is to launch a stream of ideas via the Twitter #inspireASIJ. We’d like Contribute, Curate, Convene to be about students (past and present), teachers, parent…and all interested others posting inspirational videos (and other content) to form a stream of information that might challenge and spark ideas. Student curators can create playlists to share online and to screen during school days in the HS Library learning space. Clubs, groups and individuals can convene pop up events to discuss, debate and deliberate.

What other ideas might we try to empower and advocate for student participation in rethinking learning?

All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.
Lao Tzu


On being 1:1 — some reflections on year one

After a little decompressing it’s time to reflect on the school year. There sure have been some low points yet despite those personal and professional heart aches I feel upbeat and positive about some of the things we got right.

Acceptable Use Agreement: students were involved in the process of writing our Acceptable Use Agreement in 2010-11. At the start of 11-12 all students participated in a 1:1 Orientation program based around the six points of the Acceptable Use Agreement. We could’ve done a better at job at triangulating teachers, students, and the AUA (I know, that sounds a bit weird.) While teachers were given an overview of the AUA roll-out and the orientation students received, the fact that it was outside the classroom rather than integrated made it less potent.  Doing is more powerful than just hearing about something. (See below for how we’re doing it differently next year.)

Student voice: we gathered feedback from student focus groups throughout the year on their experience of one-to-one and shared that back to faculty leaders and administrators. While not a lot of direct outcomes sprang from this it did validate some of our hunches and opened conversation about teaching style, engagement, and competencies & dispositions we want to build in our students.

Support from Library Media Specialists: Together we launched a campaign on Creating a Culture of Citation, starting with engaging faculty about how we were preparing students for dealing with the variety of content they are using more frequently. I loved working with the Library team and want to continue to champion their skills and expertise. I hope we’ll continue to find new ways for them to engage with students in their learning. Plans are afoot to continue the work by unpacking plagiarism with a keen group of teachers now leading the charge.

Up-Skilling: Ms Java (linchpin of the HS IT Support team) is worth her wait in gold. She’s been a brilliant collaborator in our weekly ‘express’ tech PD sessions for faculty from any division. It’s surprising what you can do in 20 minutes. Two particular pieces that I thought worked were 1. the low threshold to commit for that length of time and 2. enabling people to mix across divisions.

Teachers took risks: We worked hard to emphasize upgrading and transforming curriculum and instruction rather than focusing on tools and equipment. This included starting dialogue about what transformation is and how it is different from substituting existing practices for digital versions. (SAMR)

What will be some focus  areas for next year?

1:1 Think Big About Learning: Next year we are trying a different approach with the start of year orientation. We will flip some of the introduction and logistical stuff for students to do prior to attending a face-to-face session.  We want to be more collaborative and interactive by getting groups thinking about scenarios and connecting them back to the AUA to share – & we want teachers in this process.





Distraction and engagement: Two sides of a see-saw perhaps. Some teachers have felt students are distracted by having laptops, others feel it’s a class management, instructional style or tolerance issue. However you want to describe it, to address this students and teachers need to invest in the topic together to forge forward. We have some PD planned to continue unpacking this with faculty, and I’m planning sessions with the 9 & 10  grade levels on the “Multitasking Myth” to offer strategies and perspective on managing their work flow.

FAIL (First Attempt In Learning): We need to create space for teachers to try stuff without fear. Providing permission and incentive to take risks hasn’t been perfect. Administrators, who are in the midst of coming to terms with what good practice looks like in a 1:1 environment (just like teachers), have at times inadvertently jumped at things rather than recognizing that the process of innovation involves iteration, sometimes failure and is usually a little messy.

Three Themes: Finally a few themes I hope might provide focus as we continue to upgrade and transform teaching and learning; let’s make more of mobiles (most students have one), let’s connect beyond the classroom (there’s so much out there to engage and enrich learning!) and let’s pursue authentic assessment (making it real IS engaging.)

I’ve been fortunate to work with some fabulous teachers and admin who have been brave, honest, encouraging, supportive and inviting. I have learnt a lot from them this year.



Dragon Dictation – a favorite app

I love Dragon Dictation on the iPad. I’ve just finished transcribing several hours of student focus group comments using Dragon Dictation. Last year I did all my student comments using this app. It takes a little bit to get used to but once you develop a work flow it’s definitely a time saver. The copy or e-mail options makes using your dictations so fluid.


A code of conduct

Riding public transport in Tokyo is quite different from doing so in Melbourne. Sitting on the train there, it is not unusual to hear people talking loudly on their mobile phone about the intimate details of their life. This is because in Australia, mobile phone use in public places is acceptable and the norm.

In contrast to this, riding a train in Tokyo is like entering an envelope of silence. While there is usually plenty of people with mobile phones, the norm is to use text and email in silence. Answering a phone on the train here, is socially unacceptable behavior.

How did this happen? Are the stern looks and side ways glares from other commuters the reason, or perhaps an outcome, of an unwritten code of conduct that governs Japan.

What is a code of conduct? Is it possible to influence a cultural situation in such a profound way on a smaller scale – like in a high school?

“A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the responsibilities of or proper practices for an individual or organization. Related concepts include ethical codes and honor codes.”Wikipedia

With the 1:1 laptop program set to begin in August, the Acceptable Use Agreement represents one strategy to foster a code of conduct ‘for learning’. It will take a unified effort but I am excited about the possibilities.

High School Acceptable Use Agreement


Google Teacher Academy Sydney

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Sydney GTA this past week. It was an amazing opportunity to meet many inspiring educators, expand my learning network, open doors to new ideas, and uncover many more questions about how technology can leverage learning.

I’m still decompressing–the pace and volume of material covered in such a short space of time was definitely overwhelming.

The biggest challenge with any PD is how to integrate what you learn when you get back to your own context. Often there is not much support and accountablity–not so with the GTA–I like their follow-up strategy that requires Google Certified Teachers to reflect on their learning, and write and execute an action plan to be reviewed by someone in the cohort. (Thanks Cyberspaced Penny!) I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share, and continue to learn from this experienced community of educators.