On December 7-8, 2013, the Anglo-American School of Sofia hosted the Google in Education Balkans Summit. The event gathered more than 120 educators and administrators from across Europe and Bulgaria who came to learn and share the use of Google Apps in education.
Speakers Rowland Baker, Allison Mollica, Sarah Woods and Derek Harwell shared their experience working with Google Apps in various locations across the world, and AAS teachers showed how Google Apps are used in the hosting school.
One of the most popular sessions was student-led. Thirty Elementary School students from grades 2 through 5 taught their parents and teachers about Google Apps in short, 5-minute "speedgeeking" sessions. Our second graders taught Purplemash, an alternative to Google Apps especially designed for young learners.
Students in grades 3-5 taught Google presentation using Drive, Docs, Forms and Sites. Six students per grade level presented their topics, with half of them presenting in English and the other half in Bulgarian. Our students were confident and relaxed presenters, a result of their thorough preparation. Many Balkan Google Summit attendees rated our presentation best of the whole summit. This was an unforgettable experience for our students and we hope our little teachers will carry the joy and pride for years to come.
The "Demo Slams" at the end of each day were a great tool for anyone who wanted to share a great tip or trick that they use in their classroom. The best "slams" were chosen by the audience, with awards presented by the organizers. Between sessions, Summit attendees connected and shared ways to integrate technology and make their classrooms more exciting and engaging. During the weekend the AAS campus was buzzing with fun and passion for learning.
We believe that this productive time spent together amid a network of inspired professionals will lead to future educational successes.
Balkan Google Summit Session, Grade 5 Google Hangout Demonstration
Our Grade 5 participants at the Balkan Google Summit, together with their peers from the USA, France and Bulgaria led a session on collaboration together with their teachers Mr. Gagnon, Ms. Tareva, and Ms. Mariangela, an AAS-Sofia teacher who joined the event from Paris.
Mr. Gagnon's students from Stratham Memorial School in New Hampshire came to school on a Saturday morning at 7 a.m. to accommodate a real-time Google Hangout video conference since the schools are seven hours apart. During that time our Google Summit representatives from Grade 5 shared experiences on collaboration through Google Sites, Google Docs, Edmodo and AWWapp. They also demonstrated the features of Google Hangouts, including a Google Sites project "Explorers" and an art project, "The Dot".
Ultimately, our work at the Balkan Summit comprised a lot of collaboration through Edmodo, Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Docs and Google Sites. Students were so excited, they sang a Christmas song together and expressed hope that they might be able to meet face to face in the future.