Today was our Picture Book Smackdown Google Hangout On Air. We had an amazing lineup of schools and authors to share their favorite picture books and talk about why picture books matter in our world. This event grew from a seed of an idea on a Google Doc into a collaborative event. Each participant and school brought their own talents, expertise, and connections to the table to make this event successful. This was my first leap into Google Hangouts to do an event such as this. I always tell students, teachers, and families that we have to be willing to take risks. If we don’t put ourselves in a place of risk, then we’ll never learn. We don’t do our best learning in places of comfort. I certainly learned a lot today by taking that risk. I want to thank each of these schools for preparing their students and taking time out of their day to connect and share with the world a love of reading and picture books.
- Jenny Lussier, school librarian in Durham, Connecticut
- Cathy Potter, school librarian in Falmouth, Maine
- Kathy Kaldenberg, school librarian in Solon, Iowa
- Shawna Ford, school librarian in Weatherford, Texas
I also want to thank authors Laurel Snyder and Ame Dyckman for joining us and sharing their own favorite picture books and why picture books matter. They both have busy schedules and it meant so much to have them take the time to join us. My adrenaline is finally coming down from the morning and I’m pausing to reflect on the experience.
What I loved:
- Student voices from 5 different states were united.
- Students were passionate about the picture books they were talking about.
- Students had an opportunity to take a stance on talking about something that mattered to them.
- Students were able to create an archived video that can be referenced for many purposes like inspiring readers of picture books or even showing a district’s technology department the power of Google Hangouts.
- Authors and students had the chance to speak together on a level playing field discussing a common interest.
- Students from multiple grade levels, backgrounds, and experiences made a connection to one another.
- Students were engaged. Each student had a role and purpose and were so eager to share even when technical difficulties happened. My students stayed for a whole hour and were happy to wait and watch.
- Even though only 10 people can participate in the hangout, we knew that many others were tuning in live or watching later, which connected us all with a very large authentic audience.
What I learned as the host:
- Using a Smore page to advertise the event was a great choice. We could all advertise the Smore, and then the actual hangout could be embedded right before we went live. The page also gave analytics after a certain amount of views which allowed us to see where people were viewing the Smore and how they were sharing it.
- In advance, communicate with all participants about what is expected during the hangout: order of speaking, microphone rules, etc. Make sure that all participants are added to your circles in Google Plus.
- Prepare students in advance and practice. As the host, there was no time to check-in with students today to see how they were. They had to be ready to walk in the door and go live.
- Have someone available to either facilitate students sharing or running the keyboard. It was hard to do both. Someone needs to click on each person in the hangout when it is their turn to speak if you are the host.
- If you are broadcasting your hangout over speakers, then you should mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking. If people are unmuted, there is feedback.
- I’m considering having my control center be in a separate space so that I can click on who is next in the hangout and have students speak in a less noisy environment. Then, I can have viewing of the hangout in another space.
- If you have multiple modes of communication with your participants: twitter, email, hangout chat, etc., it is difficult to manage and host. Perhaps over time I might be able to juggle all of those roles, but I just ignored email and twitter during the hangout today.
What stressed me out!:
- Feeling like everything had to be perfect and forgetting my own mantra that we have to be willing to fail in order to learn.
- Having moments of panic when the connection was slow, the microphone wouldn’t mute, the main video wouldn’t switch to the right person, or when the audio had a lot of feedback.
- Trying to host the event on air by verbally calling on each school. Sometimes my microphone wouldn’t mute/unmute in time. It was great when we got in a rhythm of our order and self-facilitated our speakers.
Take a look at how our event turned out, and please share your own learning about using Google Hangouts On Air in the comments below.