Bring Out the Magnificence

I recently had the privilege of listening to Steve Sherman (@livingmaths) speak at our school at a workshop he hosted for our staff. One statement he made really resonated with me:

“If you dismiss a child you might be dismissing magnificence in your presence”.

I found this to be a profound statement. It made me stop and think. The students in our care are brimming with untapped talents, possibilities and potential brilliance. It is our duty as educators to spark their curiosity, to awaken their passions and to tap into their potential so that we may all experience that magnificence. Yesterday I witnessed a snippet of what I believe Steve was alluding to in his statement.

Our Grade 4s have been learning about the nine provinces of South Africa. One of our music teachers created a little song for them to sing in order to learn the names of the provinces. The teachers, however, were mulling over how to create a video using the song, to show the students where these provinces are situated within South Africa, and they had not yet come to a solution for the video. One of the teachers, Mrs Duminy, mentioned their dilemma to her students and she asked them for their ideas and suggestions and left it there. One of her students, Alon, took up the challenge. He went home and, with the help of his sister, he put together a simple but clever video.

Alon went away having listened very carefully to his teacher’s needs and while I think the video is great, for me the “magnificence” of this lies in the process behind it. Alon acted upon his own initiative, he made his own choices and decisions. This was not a teacher-driven activity. He problem-solved by brainstorming the possibilities and then carefully chose the tools he thought would work best and put together a video that works – simple but effective! Not only that, but once he had created the video, he created a QR code with a link to the video in his Google Drive, printed it out, stuck it on the wall in his classroom and shared the video with his peers in this manner. In other words, he considered the needs of his peers too as he carefully considered the best way to share the video with them. To top it all he roped in his equally talented sister, Daniella, to sing the song for the video backtrack with him and it sounds delightful. In doing all this, Alon created a video that his teacher can now use as a teaching aid in the classroom. I do know that Mrs Duminy was delighted with the result because she excitedly came to call me to her classroom to come and watch Alon’s video.

Teachers need to create more opportunities such as this to allow the magnificence of the children we work with to shine through. We must not underestimate them, they need the space and opportunities to bring out their  “magnificence”. Our students will surprise us every day.

Alon used the following apps and tools for his video:

Piccollage

iMovie

Phonto

Google Docs

Google Chrome

Google Drive

Dafont.com

Documents 5

Photos

https://createqrcode.appspot.com/ (to create the QR code).

Below is the video created by Alon (click on the image below). Well done, Alon. I am very proud of you!

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 2.07.13 PM

Get your Google on!

In the past two weeks a colleague and I have written, and passed, our Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications! It’s been a whirlwind of Google Apps, training sessions, self-study and then two three-hour exams. It sounds awful but actually, it was not bad at all and is very achievable for all educators.

The first certification Google Educator Level 1, expects you to have a brief overview and basic working knowledge of G Suite for Education apps such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides and others such as YouTube and Sites. The online training provided by Google is very thorough and one comes away with much learning. For this certification, however, we opted to attend a Boot Camp hosted by an outside company during the school holidays, as we were unsure of the expectations or the level of knowledge expected. It was most enjoyable and inspiring – and not too difficult! We both passed the test well within the 180-minute time limit.

We left the Boot Camp very inspired and curious about the Level 2 certification, so almost immediately we began investigating our options. We decided to go it on our own and over the next week we worked through all the online training and reviews provided by Google in the Google For Education Training Center. Level 2 is a step up from Level 1 and requires you to have a more in-depth knowledge of the pedagogy behind effective use of technology in the classroom, as well as a deeper knowledge of the G Suite apps, including new ones such as Blogger, Google Hangouts, Google+ and a few others. The test is, however, still very achievable for educators who use the Google Suite apps regularly in their teaching and student learning.

So, on a sunny Sunday morning, we sat down in our school library with the musical sounds of the church service in the hall next door providing us with some divine background inspiration and wrote the Level 2 test. We again completed the test well within the 180 minutes and passed! We can now call ourselves Google Certified Educators – Level 2.

I can highly recommend these certifications for teachers interested in furthering their knowledge of effective use of technology in the classroom, or if you are a Google Suite for Education user and you would like to expand your knowledge of these apps. For your trouble, you will receive a certificate and a badge that you can display on your blog or website (see mine below). I have learnt so much during the past few weeks, and it has inspired me to pass on this knowledge to my fellow teachers at school.

This blog post by Kasey Bell provides some very valid reasons for becoming a Google Certified Educator.