This guest blog post was written by Bob Mullen, Principal ofBlack River Middle School in Chester, NJ. Bob has been an educator for over 40 years as a teacher, administrator, and coach. He prides himself on knowing every child's name and supporting pedagogically sound teaching. Over the past few years I have had the good fortune of working with and learning from Bob. He is a 2014 Bammy Award Finalist for Middle School Principal of the Year and has the distinction of leading a middle school that has twice been designated as a Middle Grade Forums School to Watch. You can learn more about by following him on Twitter @Principal_Mullen. Below you will find several ways that Bob has embraced technology and virtual tools to help promote the success of students and staff.
I am using Google Classroom this year to open up communication with my teaching staff. I can flip faculty meetings and save valuable time. Teachers can make comments, and they also have the opportunity to share information with other staff members. I am already receiving positive feedback from our staff.
I posted a summary of Domain Three of the Danielson Model on my Google Classroom. I now have the opportunity to exchange ideas with my staff concerning instruction, the heart of the Danielson Model. I also have included a video of Charlotte Danielson summarizing the main points we will discuss in our upcoming faculty meeting.
I used Adobe Voice to reinforce some major concepts we expect our teachers to use during everyday instruction. It is very simple to use, and it saves an incredible amount of time. I took pictures of a few slides and recorded my message. It was easy to edit if necessary. It is a great tool for administrators.
We are telling our story at Black River Middle School through the use of Twitter. I take pictures of our teachers and students on a daily basis as they engage in extraordinary activities. I use my phone, Chrome Book, or Ipad to take the pictures and then post them on our website. It is important to let parents know the great things our teachers and students are working on.
Ever wonder what it would be like to have your classroom or school turned into a movie set? Back in June that's exactly what happened at Black River Middle School in Chester, New Jersey. Google sent in a production crew to film our students and staff for a Google Classroom promotional campaign. Literally for almost an entire week our building was turned into a make shift filming site. An 8th grade language arts classroom was turned into a makeup/wardrobe room. Down the hall a 6th grade social studies classroom would serve as a backdrop for the commercial shoot which you can watch at the beginning of this blog post. Half of our gymnasium was transformed into a classroom for a still photo shoot (see screen shot below). The entire experience was, in a word, spectacular. Our entire student body and staff were so gracious with the patience and flexibility they exhibited during the filming process.
So what were the takeaways from all of this? Our students realized that their education is really important. So much so, that Google was willing to send a production team to our school to film a commercial. Our teachers, in particular Diane Basanese who is featured in the commercial, and Kathy Werner, who is featured in the photo shoot, were finally recognized in a big way for all of the awesome things they bring to the table as educators. Our entire school community is now recognized on a global scale as being a staunch supporter of an innovative and child-centered learning environment aimed at preparing students for a future that currently does not exist.
At our teacher in-service last week, we were able to show the commercial to our entire district staff. At it's conclusion, a standing ovation was given and tears were shed. People in the room realized that the important work they do everyday matters and the right infusion of technology can be very powerful in addressing the needs of diverse learners. Whether it's assigning and submitting on Google Classroom or peers providing authentic feedback in real time on a Google Doc or students collaborating on a Google Slide project from home on a snow day, Google Apps for Education is a game-changer in the way that students can enhance their own learning. There are great things going in our schools each day and it's important to celebrate this fact as much as possible. The Google Classroom Movie experience is something that most of us directly involved will never forget and is a small way that we can pay homage to the incredible work that teachers, students, and administrators exert on a consistent basis.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities and the newly released Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Google Certified Trainer. Brad currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is a Google Certified Trainer and speaks nationally about tech integration. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.