Troy Hicks and colleagues from the Columbus Area Writing Project as we explore Teacher Leadership in Teaching Digital Writing. Over the course of the semester, we are meeting 3 different weekends face to face. In addition, we "hang out" on Google+ once a week for an hour and communicate via a Google+ community.
I've been reluctant to investigate Google+. Time is precious and I already feel like there isn't enough of it. I have a tendency to want to know it all and do it all, and unfortunately, I'm learning I can't. However, I've quickly become a fan of Google+ and I'm sure I've only dipped into a very small part of everything it has to offer. I know I have to be patient with the learning curve as I delve into some new tools and think about how I can use them.
To begin with, we have a Google community where we can discuss articles, share our thinking, ask questions, or post resources we've found. That has been powerful this week. All 8 of us are reading the same articles, all 8 of us are commenting, and all 8 of us are learning from each other. What great professional development this is. As opposed to all of us reading common articles and getting together a week or two later to discuss it in person, we've each been able to have access to others' thinking whenever it's been convenient. We just log on to our Google+ community, and everything is right there. I had time to mull over others' responses and had many "aha" moments as well as I considered other points of view.
Tonight we met on Google Hangout. All 8 of us in different parts of Columbus (or Michigan), gathered to discuss our readings and our goals for this class. As we talked, Troy was able to keep notes of our conversation on a shared Google doc that we could all see. In addition, we had the capability to share our screen, have a side bar chat, and watch YouTube videos. If you're feeling silly, there is even an option to add a pirate hat or crown to your face showing on the screen.
This class is giving me lots to think about as a classroom teacher as well as a teacher leader helping other teachers venture into new territories. I'm thinking of ways to use some of these tools with my fourth graders as they read collaboratively or using Google hangouts to invite authors or guest speakers to talk to my classroom. The possibilities are endless!