Let’s Hang Out! #NEOtech2016

Learning is Everywhere

When I was doing my teaching internship at Saint Ignatius High School, my mentor teacher continuously told me to “look for the teachable moment”.  As I have gotten more experienced (I hesitate to say “older”), I realize that the teachable moments are everywhere.  In fact, if you look around you, learning is everywhere.

Going Beyond the Four Walls

Classrooms are relatively small yet many teachers spend 180 or more days in their classroom.  In my classroom, I had one small window.  There were days when I yearned to go on a field trip, take my students outside, or even just go out into the hallway.  But, we were contained in those four walls.

The Web Cam

I was fortunate to live overseas as a child, so I know, first-hand what else is out there.  For the first few years of my teaching career in the World Languages Department, I struggled to teach my students what else was out there.  I could explain and explain, narrate and narrate, etc. but truly, they did not get it.  Even when I showed the “great” travel videos that I had borrowed from the library, they were still unimpressed.

One glorious day, I received a web cam.  Honestly, I do not remember the circumstance why I was granted this beautiful piece of technology, but there it was so delicately placed on top of my computer monitor.  I looked at that and the world opened up for me and my students.  Good-bye travel videos, hello real people, telling real stories! It was marvelous and a French/German teacher’s dream.

After Skype Came Hangouts

I was only with my sweet web cam for a few short months before I left my classroom to work district wide.  Fortunately, my new monitor had my favorite piece of technology also sitting atop.  I had previously used Skype and was tied to talking to one person at one time.  Also, Skype had to be downloaded on to a PC, which is another obstacle that I had to face.  I could download on my home computer, but not my work one.

Soon after I came into my new job in 2013, I learned about Google Hangouts.  Like Skype, you could video chat with people. One big difference was that more than one person could join that Hangout.  This meant that you could talk to multiple people, in different places all at the same time.  All you needed was a web cam.

Hanging Out

This brings me to my presentation today.  If you are in my session, you will have the opportunity to take part in a Mystery Hangout (providing the technology is working).  If you are not in my session, I encourage you to Google “Mystery Hangout” and see what you can find.  You will be surprised to see how engaged your students will be when you connect them to the world outside of the four walls of your classroom.

And, don’t forget…you need that web cam!

Click here for today’s slides

Extending my Boundaries

Trying Something New

Today, I did it.  I practiced what I preached, took a step (or ten) out of my comfort zone and I tried something new.  I did my first Google Hangout on Air broadcast for Professional Development.

A Passion for Presenting

Many people that I encounter every day would prefer not to present to adults.  This makes sense.  We are teachers and every day we present to children.  But, adults?  They are definitely a different breed.  They take out their cell phones, talk to each other, pass notes, make comments under their breath and even sometimes, they may put their head down and take a nap during a presentation.  No, no, I didn’t just describe my class of high school students – really, I am talking about adults!

It is true; adults make a difficult audience.  Especially teachers!  Ask any teacher and he / she will tell you the same thing.  But, for some reason, I love to present to teachers.  I enjoy getting them engaged in something that they may have previously had no interest.  I like the interaction, the Q & A, and the feedback.  I like feeling like I can help them help their students!  It is truly exhilarating to feel the adrenaline flowing through a great presentation and an engaged audience.

Each time that I present, I rely a lot on the audience’s reactions.  I did this while I was in the classroom, too.  I could gauge how interesting (or boring) my lesson was by looking at my room full of students.  Facial expressions give a lot away.  I gear my presentations towards the looks I get from the audience.

Google Hangout on Air

TILO presents

I was very grateful to have the opportunity to present today with Stephanie Sholtis from the Brunswick City School District.  We both agreed to try something new together.  (And, everything is better when you have a friend!)  TILOhio (the Tech Integrator’s Group in Ohio) requested presenters for the online Professional Development, and Stephanie and I signed up.  We presented “15 Excellent Chrome Extensions”.  Neither of us had ever done a PD like this before so we were a little nervous!

The broadcast began and all was well.  We had sound, video and, most importantly, internet.  The introductions had passed and I had even made it through my first extension.  When I went to close my screenshare and pass it over to Stephanie, I got the cascading that often happens when I screenshare in Google Hangouts on Air.  I WAS HORRIFIED.

But, really, what could I do?  Nothing.  I just watched part of the HOA with my kids and Will asked me if I was embarrassed.  I told him the truth, yes, I was but I couldn’t do anything about it.  I told him that I had to take it in stride, like “Pete the Cat”, and say “It’s all good.”

As I watched the HOA this evening, it really wasn’t that bad.  I think that the faces that I made as I was trying to fix my problem were worse than anything.  But, as I told my kids, I moved on.  I continued and I still conveyed the message that I wanted to convey.  Eventually, it started working again and the rest of the presentation continued without any problems.  But, it was a difficult presentation to do because I couldn’t see any of the reactions of my audience.

Lessons Learned

My lessons learned: Do more “blind” presentations, without seeing the reactions of an audience.

My boys’ lessons learned: Sometimes Mom has to be like Pete the Cat and say, “It’s all good.”

Your lesson learned: 15 Excellent Chrome Extensions – try them at home or in school!