Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear North Reading Educators

We are excited to announce Google Drive, a new way to access and share all your files and folders, at any time and on any device. Google Drive replaces and enhances what you know today as your Google Documents List.
For the most part you will not have to do anything but you will notice a few changes if you are using Google Apps for education.

What is Google Drive?
Think of Google Drive as your personal stash of files and folders that follows you wherever you go - it lets you keep everything and share anything. With Google Drive, you can access files, folders, and Google Docs from a web browser or any device where you've installed your Google Drive.
Your Google Drive is in the cloud, but you can also install the desktop and mobile application to access your files from your computer, smartphone, tablet, or other Android or iOS mobile device, in addition to the online interface at Google Drive's built-in sync capability ensures that your files, folders, and Google Docs are the same on all your devices.  If you've used Dropbox this is a very similar interface.
How do I try out Google Drive?
  1. We will download and install Google Drive for everyone in North Reading for your work computers.
  2. At home: Download and install the Google Drive for your Mac/PC application. This lets you sync files from your hard drive to Google Drive on the web, giving you access to your files on any device, at any time.
  3. At home: If you'd like to access your Google Drive contents on your Android or Apple iOS device, see Google Drive on a mobile device.
How is the Google Drive online interface different from my current Google Documents List?

The Google Drive online interface looks similar to the Google Documents List you're used to, with a few key differences:
  • Collections are now called Folders.
  • When you first switch to Google Drive, a new folder called My Drive contains:
    • Documents that you own or have previously uploaded
    • Folders you own and the items contained within (regardless of ownership)
    Note that only items contained in My Drive are synced to your computer and other devices. If you want to sync items from Google Drive on the web that aren't contained in My Drive by default, just drag them to My Drive.
  • Other items that would have previously appeared in the Home view can easily be found elsewhere. You can choose different views and filters to see recently opened documents, starred items, documents that have been shared with you, items owned by a particular person, files of a particular type, and more.
  • You'll have powerful new options to search, sort, or preview your files before opening them.
See the Google Drive user help to learn more about Google Drive versus your Documents List, and how to navigate your Google Drive online interface.
How much storage do I have for my Google Drive files?

When reading the Google Drive Help Center, you may see that the default amount of storage is 5 GB, and that you can purchase your own.  If you need more storage, you can purchase additional storage on your own.

Where can I get more information?
To get started with Google Drive, visit the Google Apps Learning Center.
--These videos may help to explain what's new with google drive!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Flipped Classroom comes to North Reading

One of the buzzwords that we often hear in educational circles is the concept of the “flipped classroom.”  What exactly does this mean, and how can this impact education in North Reading?

In the age of the internet content is readily available at the fingertips of our students.  In the old paradigm the teacher is at the front of the room as the master of the content.  In this scenario the student sits and takes notes, often individually, participates in some group activities, and is challenged to present what she has learned periodically through quizzes, tests, papers, labs, and other assessments.  Homework often consists of assignments that revisit the concepts from that day’s lesson and are, for the most part, completed individually. This is the old paradigm.

It’s important to note that this is NOT how most of our classrooms in North Reading operate today! 

However, there is always room for improvement!  In the flipped model, the student is in control of accessing the content.  Very often this is delivered not only through a close reading of complex texts but also through pre-recorded lectures that can be accessed from anywhere.  These videos could include content from textbook publishers, selected content videos (“I have a Dream” speech), uploads from teachers around the world (Kahn Academy, TED talks, MIT) or even very personal lessons recorded by the North Reading teacher.

This flipped model allows for the teacher to maximize classroom time for the students to collaborate, think critically and creatively, and to communicate with each other during the time they are all together in class. It also allows for the content to be delivered in a way that allows all students to access at their own pace.  Now, in class or for homework, you can pause, rewind, re-watch, ask questions, and bring those ideas with you to class the next day!

A deep exploration of these instructional concepts is really the first step towards creating a culture where students use iPads, mobile devices, and possibly their own devices (BYOD) in the classroom. 

This year several North Reading educators will be embarking in an exploration of this topic through a blended learning course I will be offering along with others who are a part of the technology team.  Together we will be reading Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams.  I had the pleasure meeting Aaron Sams this summer at the Building Learning Communities Conference (BLC12) and the energy and passion that this Colorado science teacher brought to the discussion inspired me to create this course for our North Reading educators throughout this year.

The outcomes of this course will be shared widely with the North Reading Public Schools community so please watch for us on Twitter at #flipnrps as well as on our district academic services blog!