Sunday, March 26, 2017


On March 18th, 2017, I had the pleasure of presenting at #amplifica2017 at Colegio Marista Arquidiocesano in Sáo Paulo, Brazil.

This conference was about using technology for teaching and learning and sponsored by a group of very passionate teachers who are Google Certified Innovators. 400 Brazilian teachers gave up their Saturday to come and learn. Cheryl Oakes and I were invited by Carla Arena whom we met online. Cheryl taught with Carla on Webheads, we connected through the Seedlings podcasts, and we met in person in the summer of 2010.

The hosts at Colegio Marista were so gracious.  People went out of their way to help us and make sure that we had what we needed at all times. They gave us a tour of the amazing facilities and showed us some of the unique features of the school. It was built in the early 1800’s as a boys’ boarding school. It’s built around a quadrangle. There’s a chapel and a small auditorium (one of two)  on one side. On the third floor where there are now state of the art science labs, were display cases with the original lab equipment that has been used through the years. A soccer pitch and a swimming pool are all within the confines of a city block. It was clear that teachers and students were incredibly proud of their school. One of the things that really impressed
me about the school was the fact that students go to school from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. But then they have the opportunity to stay as late as 9 p.m. if they want to. There are lots of activities for the students to participate in. But what we noticed was the youngest students were free playing in the quadrangle and having a great time. There are benches all around the edge. Parents and caregivers were also enjoying some time together. It was so nice to see students excited to be at school and wanting to stay late to play together. Colegio Marista has developed a strong sense of safety and community.

During the conference, each presenter had a bilingual student who helped us set up and worked with us during our sessions. The students were so accommodating, helping us navigate our way around the school, get us on the network, and kept time with reminder cards that counted down how much time we had left to present.  

Cheryl and I did the first session together - Change it up with Student Purpose in Mind. We wanted to stress was that we are in a small world and connecting students is one of the most powerful learning opportunities to put learning in the hands of the students.  We modeled a connected classroom (Thank you Maria Knee, Kathy Cassidy, and Amanda Marrinan) and demoed Mystery Skype. Our purpose was to help teachers see that these tools are fairly easy to use and that students can do most of the work. We also introduced the idea connecting to other teachers through the use of hashtags and proposed the idea of a slow chat using the hashtag #BrazilEdu. Our intention with #BrazilEdu is to ask a question every other week and see if we can get people starting conversations, connecting with one another, and learning the value of being online to get new ideas for teaching and learning. The session was well received. Teachers seemed excited about trying out some of the ideas.

I did two sessions on digging deeper into Google Docs. Perhaps the biggest aha moment was when I showed teachers how to make a web page out of a Google Doc and share it with parents without too much fuss. They also liked the new tool for using Google Keep notes and we looked at some ideas for how to use Google Keep in the classroom.

I think my favorite part of the day was the coffee break. It was scheduled between the last two sessions. But it wasn't just coffee, a DJ and dancing were also on the menu. The music was pumping, people were line dancing and everyone was re-energized for the last session. Amazing!

My last session was introducing Breakout EDU. I brought the game with me. We think this was the first time it's ever been played in Brazil. We played Faculty Meeting because it's a little bit shorter (30 minutes vs. 45) and introduces the concept of solving puzzles. It's meant for 15 people but I had 35 in the room. It was a little crazy with so many people, but they dove right in and tried all kinds of things (in their second language!) They were quick to solve the puzzles but they had a fabulous time doing it. Victor, the student helper was amazing, helping me translate when necessary. They never used the hints. They ended up breaking out in 16 minutes. We then debriefed and talked about how Breakouts can be used in a class. I also introduced digital breakouts. It was a great way to end the day.

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