I have seen Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera) speak on a few occasions and she is always vivacious. Her charismatic personality and her love for all students everywhere shines through. One of the things she spoke about during her keynote speech at the Waukegan Google Mini Conference 2014 held this last Saturday was doing Google Hangouts with other classrooms of students, keeping in mind that the other classroom can be just a few miles away.
Jennie told us a fascinating story of differing points of view on a Google Hangout she recently did. Her classroom, in a school across the street from a liquor store, did a session with another classroom only a few miles away that is located across the street from a Starbucks. She had a photo of the liquor store and the Starbucks and you could tell that one neighborhood was more affluent than the other. They used Gabriele Galimberti’s photos of Toy Stories as prompts for conversation. When they discussed the photo of Pavel, from Kiev, Ukraine with his toy guns, it turned out that every student in Jennie’s class had seen and touched real guns, but none of the students in the other class had. This led to an active discussion by the students and a follow-up student led project.
Besides the keynote first thing in the morning, the day consisted of two sessions before lunch, a tasty Corner Bakery lunch, two sessions after lunch, and a slam session at the end of the day. I especially enjoyed Vinne Vrotny’s (@Vvrotny) Google Hangouts session as it was a nice accompaniment to Jennie Magiera’s keynote offering further ideas on using Google Hangouts in an educational environment.
One last feature that I would like to mention is the great organization of the conference. People were on duty in the parking lot to make parking quick and easy, and everything was easy to find on the ground floor, with the rooms all contained in one hallway down the hall from the main meeting area. This made it impossible to get lost, and so easy to go from session to session, but just in case you needed to be pointed in the right direction they had some friendly staff on duty in the hallway. Here is a big thank you to all the #waukegangoogle14 organizers.