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The Magic of Google!

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The Magic of Google!

Two days, 350 or so participants and one enthusiastic team of experts laid the base for NGPS’ highly anticipated Whitecourt Summit last week, held at Hilltop Jr/Sr High School.

What is it?

Google Apps for Education, or GAFE, is a comprehensive suite of Google Apps that allow us to learn and collaborate in a digital environment like never before. Northern Gateway Public Schools (NGPS) introduced GAFE throughout the Division this year to enhance teaching and learning for all users, from the student and the teacher in the classroom to the Superintendent and support staff in our offices. More about GAFE!

What we learned

Educational course options ranged from Google in the Classroom, Projects for the Inquiry-based Classroom and Yes, even YOU can build an Android App to Ignite Learning with Multi-Media Text Sets, Explore Your World with Google Geo Tools and Re-charge Classroom Instruction with YouTube EDU and Google Apps for Education.

NGPS Superintendent Kevin Andrea opened Day 1 speaking to the needs of new generation learners and the division wide introduction and roll-out of the GAFE platform this past fall.

“We were discussing the Google Summit in Edmonton and the logistics of getting as many teachers and other staff members to the training as possible when one of our principals asked the question: could we bring the summit to us?”

Andrea continued, “Bringing the EdTech Team in for customized training, the first summit of its kind in rural Alberta, helps to ensure that all staff are comfortable and skilled in using GAFE and taking full advantage of all of Google’s features, applications and capabilities.”

Experience, Connectivity, Engagement and Collaboration

Features and applications that will allow and inspire teachers to do things like use GoogleMaps to plan Virtual Field Trips, show their class the Dead Sea Scrolls via Google’s Cultural Institute, bring the outside world into our rural schools through Google Hangouts and make their lessons accessible on mobile devices. And, as staff learned last Thursday and Friday, that’s just the beginning. As teachers shared, “now we get to take it into our classrooms and share it with the students, once it is in their hands it turns into reciprocal learning as we will surely be learning from their discoveries.”

“I am just so excited to share what I’ve learned with my students,” commented Hilltop social studies teacher, Jennifer Keay. “To be able to compare constitutions of different countries, side by side, or access the Library of Congress, it opens up a whole new level of learning and experience for students. I will be using this in my classroom on Monday.”

Chris Landry, elementary teacher at Whitecourt Central agrees with Keay. “I took a course called ‘The Next Best thing to Being There.’ It is like virtual field trips on a whole new level. We study Peru, we look at photos in books and online, but with these tools we can actually tour Machu Picchu virtually in such a real way. It’s very engaging for students.”

Other sessions covered Gmail, GoogleDocs, GoogleForms and calendar and graphics applications.

NGPS Communications Officer Lisa Bakos commented, “From an administrative perspective, Google opens up ways for us to work and communicate more efficiently and creatively. From collaborating on documents with multiple contributors and unlimited file and data storage to different graphics applications and scheduling options, this PD has given me new tools to streamline and enhance my every day work.”

Something for Everyone

Courses catered to every level of GAFE user from beginner to advanced, showed us how and where to access live, expert support and resources and, well, just plain inspired us all. We can’t wait to start sharing what we’ve learned with students and for the learning possibilities to come.

Learning for Life. Together. 


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