Reflecting on the first VES March Madness-April 1, 2019

Over six weeks ago, I was looking at a Google+ post by my colleague, @Nishi Langhorne, and got inspired! She was doing a Tech Tools March Madness at @McLeanHS and I loved the idea. As I described back in my February 23rd blog, yes, I needed to make some adjustments (both in tools used and rewards), but when I get inspired by a great idea, watch out- I go full force!

Week 1 included our first vote. I deliberately chose match ups of similar tools. I wanted teachers and students to look at the tools and use their critical thinking skills to make their decisions. I also wanted students and staff to get excited about the contest.

Part of being a Technology Specialist is modeling growth mindset and risk taking, so I decided to create my first promotional video for the contest. It was a lot of fun creating it, but even more fun when I heard the response when it was posted on NewsWave, our daily news show. The students had definite opinions about this contest and wanted their opinions to be heard!

Week 2 began with the announcement of the winning tools and the announcement of how to share how classes used the winning tech tools on Flipgrid. I use these tools all the time but it was really interesting learning how other classes used the tools. See some of the ways they use these tools here. Flipgrid was very popular initially and I was sure it would win. Guess even I can be wrong...

Week 3 was our next vote. There were 2 high stakes contests: Flipgrid vs. Google Classroom and Google Docs vs. Google Slides and Google Forms. Now, I have to say I love using Google Slides, so of course, I was rooting for it. But the other contest, it could have gone either way. In a surprise upset, Google Classroom won over Flipgrid and then predictably, Slides won over Docs and Forms.

At first, I was surprised but then I thought about how much growth my staff has had and realized that Google Classroom's versatility and integration with so many other apps had helped it win.

Week 4 gave students an opportunity to share about the last 2 Championship tools. Students this week shared their favorite uses of both Google Slides and Google Classroom. Once again, I was really impressed by the variety of uses. After this week, it appeared Google Slides was primed to win- but you never know...

Week 5 was our Championship vote. All week long, it was super close. After all, both of these tech tools are amazing and deserve props. They both have many uses and encourage our FCPS Portrait of a Graduate skills such as collaboration, communication, and much more.

But only one could be our tech tool champion:

Google Classroom.

Week 6 concluded VES March Madness. Students got the opportunity to share uses of Google Classroom on Flipgrid. It was a very quiet week until Friday afternoon when my inbox flooded with posts. All of them were from Mr. Kingsbury's Class (all 15 of them)!

Truly VES March Madness Champions

Now, at the beginning of the year, Mr. Kingsbury had never used Google Classroom, Google Slides and had no idea what a Flipgrid was. But he truly embodies the growth mindset and was at every one of my breakfast trainings learning new tools. He was not afraid to ask the students to help him learn or to summon me through email with a superhero greeting. There truly is no other class that deserves the honor of being the 1st VES March Madness Champions!

Listen to his students- I love how reflective they are and what risk takers!

Looking back, would I do VES March Madness again? I think so. I loved how engaged it got my school. At the beginning of the year, some of the teachers and students at my school had never heard of some of these tools (Flipgrid, EdPuzzle, Padlet, etc) but now, they are part of the culture of our school. I am so proud to work at a school where staff and students are willing to take risks and try new tools that help them create their own content. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know this was a March to Remember:) Thanks @ViennaES for a great tournament.