Google Summit: A huge success for Virginia educators

The EdTechTeam Virginia Independent Schools Summit featuring Google for Education brought more than 115 educators from around the state to Norfolk Collegiate’s Middle and Upper School campus the weekend of Jan. 23. The two-day, high intensity summit created an environment for participants to focus on integrating Google applications to promote student learning within K-12 and higher education institutions.   

“Serving as the host site for the Google + iOS Summit brought  a world class educators' conference to our campus, which, in turn, allowed teachers and administrators from every division and discipline in our school to attend,” said Charlene Loope, director of instructional technology and communication arts. 

Thanks to the generous donors at last year's auction, more than $18,000 was raised to send more than 40 of Collegiate's faculty and staff to the event.

"We also had the opportunity to meet and share ideas with colleagues from other independent and public schools who made the trip to Norfolk Collegiate for the conference," said Loope. "We learned from expert and passionate presenters, made lasting connections with colleagues from other schools, and we did this as a cohort of Norfolk Collegiate professional educators. This was a unique opportunity to bring a groundswell of great ideas into our practice, which was exactly what we wanted to achieve.”

The Google + iOS Summit for Educators taught participants how to brainstorm ideas and gather knowledge of using iPads with Google applications to amplify learning and advance the summit’s goal of creating a paperless classroom.

Collegiate’s mission is to teach students through traditional and innovative methods to produce a diverse body of students who will thrive in a college setting and beyond. By creating a forward-thinking curriculum, Collegiate features a wireless community with dual platforms, iPads® Integration, Apple TVs, SMART Boards and projectors, coding courses, 3D printers, Lego ® Robotics and more.

“I enjoy watching my students learn through inquiry and the summit reminded me about the excitement of discovery and mastering the unknown," said Claire Fornsel, Middle School science teacher. “Since the summit, I tasked my students with downloading the PASCO Sparkvue app and projected my app on the SMART board. The students, without any direction from me, realized that the screen recorded sound levels in the classroom. They made plenty of noise and then encourage each other to remain quiet as they watched the slope of the graph dip low,” she continued. “By then their apps were downloaded and they collected their own data and shared it with each other, helping one another understand what the data represented.   They also used some of the graphing tools that came with the app. This is why I teach, for those moments of discovery on my students' faces and the ‘I can do this’ confidence in their eyes.”

The hands-on learning experience featured inspiring keynote speakers and presenters who were Google-certified teachers, education-certified innovators, Apple-distinguished educators and Google employees.  

“The keynote speaker, Holly Clark, was amazing in her knowledge and passion about teaching and bringing education to where the kids are now,” said Alan Stell, Middle School science teacher and department chair. “She led several sessions and they were all eye opening and challenged each of us to strive to shake things up in the classroom.”

“Tanya Avrith, who led the post-conference workshop, kept returning to the importance of student choice,” said Margaret Dalrymple, Upper School English teacher. “While it feels like the teacher needs to take a risk and lose a little control, ultimately, the students become empowered to explore, inquire, and synthesize leading to deeper learning.  Trying to so tightly control the direction of every class or activity stifles creativity and curiosity.”

 Participants learned a host of innovative tools which cross disciplines and grade levels, including Google Tour Builder, Google My Maps and Google Cardboard, which is a virtual reality tool.

“EdTech Team's Google Summits are deliberately designed to provide participants with real takeaways that can be implemented immediately in their schools and classrooms.  From using Google Apps for Education tools to improve workflow on student iPads ® to experimenting with the new virtual reality Google Cardboard viewfinder, everyone walked away with something that they want to try with students,” said Loope. “But more importantly, the presenters and participants engaged in discussions about how to create learning opportunities for students that encourage creativity and deep understanding of content.”

Teachers, information technology managers, instructional technology coaches and administrators from public and private schools expressed their gratitude of having the opportunity to attend a Google Summit in Hampton Roads.  

“One of my professional goals their year is to enhance the use of iPads® as a tool for learning in my classroom,” said Catherine Thomson, Lower School first grade teacher. “The summit offered several workshops that focused directly on applications that can be used for such purposes. I also hoped to gain insight on which applications are most beneficial and how to manage using them with younger students.”

Collegiate hopes to host another Google Summit for Educators in the future.

For more information about Communications Arts at Norfolk Collegiate, contact Charlene Loope at