Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Get Certified -- Google Level 2

In my last post, I shared the benefits of becoming a Google Level 1 Certified Educator. Doing that is an accomplishment in itself for sure! But what if you're a Google tools super-user and just can't get enough of all things Google? What if you're really wanting to ramp up the way using all the G Suite for Education tools can really enhance your teaching and all the tasks associated with teaching? Then it sounds like you're a candidate for Google Level 2 certification!

Much like Level 1 certification, you can go through Google's online training modules for free. Once finished, you can then register for the Level 2 exam, which costs a little more than the level 1 exam (level 1 cost is $10; level 2 is $25). The level 2 advanced course will build upon the skills you have already shown you have from level 1 as well as add new skills to your repertoire! You will also learn interesting, practical, and innovative ways to use these tools to really enhance your instruction and improve your day to day tasks, saving you time and helping you be more efficient. We do have a few teachers in the district who are Level 2 certified; let me know if you want to talk to one of them to see what they have to say about the certification personally!

Interested in learning more about Level 2 certification? Check out the certification page! You can also check out the skills checklist that is shared on Eric Curts's blog Control Alt Achieve.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Get Certified -- Google Level 1

There was a great deal of interest from teachers across the district about becoming Google Level 1 certified educators, so I thought I'd share some highlights about what the certification is, why it's valuable, and how to do it!

  • Level 1 certification means that you have passed an exam that tested your ability to understand what Google tools are available to you as an educator, that you have sufficient skills in using those tools and their features, and that you understand the practical applications of using those tools in the classroom.
  • It's not easy, but it's worth it!
  • You can prepare on your own using the free modules offered online from Google or you can pursue other ways of preparation for the exam. If you feel confident enough, you can even skip any formal preparation and take the exam anyway! (Eric Curts, at his Control Alt Achieve blog, has a very comprehensive skills checklist you can review to determine where you might have any deficits.)
  • The exam is $10, and must be taken on a machine with a webcam. You also need to have 3 hours of uninterrupted time.
  • Completing the training alone will help you become so much more familiar with all the G Suite for Education tools and will inspire you to find ways to make your teaching more engaging and your workflow more productive. Passing the exam is the cherry on top of the learning, so you can do the training and benefit greatly if you don't want to actually pursue the exam.
  • Certification doesn't last forever, but it does last for 2 years!
I'm including here a slideshow that was used at the February 2018 institute day to share Google Certification information. You can also go directly to their training center to learn more or to start your training! I am hoping to offer 1 or 2 boot camps this school year, too, so be on the lookout for that information!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Certifications -- Pursuing Excellence

At the start of the school year, I sent out a survey asking if any staff had any of the following certifications:

  • Google Certified Educator Level 1
  • Google Certified Educator Level 2
  • Google for Education Trainer
  • Google Certified Innovator
  • Nearpod Pionear
  • Apple Teacher
  • Peardeck Inspearational Teacher
  • Kahoot! Certified (I didn't ask about this one, but I'm adding it to the list)
I didn't ask just to be nosy. I asked because I wanted to find out where our in-district experts are! These certifications are all related to tools that many of us use fairly regularly in our classrooms with our kids. These tools make learning more engaging and meaningful for our students. It makes sense that if you really have a good grasp for how to use a tool successfully that you should get some snaps for that. That's why these certifications exist!

Teachers often wonder why they should bother to pursue these kinds of certifications. The most obvious answer is growth! You grow as an educator which in turn helps your students grow as learners!

Over the next few weeks, I thought I would highlight all the different certifications mentioned above, especially since so many people expressed interest in so many of them on the survey! Maybe by learning about each one you can find a certification that is right for you and the kids in your class! And if there are a bunch of us who want to pursue certifications, we can work together!

Next week: Google Certified Educator Level 1 certification!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Quick Google Classroom Info

If you started a new Google Classroom recently, then you are seeing the great new version of it! It is so much easier to navigate, much more intuitive, don't you think? If you are recycling an old Google Classroom from last year, you might have noticed it looks a little different and you're probably not happy about that.
What you see if you are reusing an old Google Classroom.

What you see if you are using the new Google Classroom.

In the new Google Classroom, the Stream tab is the place for you to make announcements; the Classwork tab is where you can post assignments or questions; and the People tab puts all your students and teachers for that classroom in one spot (which is also where you can find the class code, manually add students, and invite other teachers).

In the old Google Classroom, you can still add an announcement, assignment, or question to the Stream, and you can find all your students and teachers for that classroom under the People tab. But you'll have to go into Settings to get a class code for students to join.

My suggestion for anyone who is interested is to archive your old Google Classrooms and start fresh with the new ones. You can still reuse posts from archived classrooms, so you aren't losing everything you've used previously. Plus kids won't get confused if they are part of more than one classroom and there are two different versions being used.

Need help getting started with Google Classroom? Need a refresher? You know who to call :-)

Got a cool Google Classroom tip to share? Post it in the comments section here and I'll come see you so you can pick a Google sticker or an emoji sticker!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Do You Have #ChannahonPride?

Another year, another bunch of blog posts! I get to combine my two favorite things: education and writing! As I was moving to my new digs at TRS, I realized that it has been a while since I talked about the stickers we still have for teachers here in CSD 17! Maybe you've got loads of them from when we started this a few years ago; maybe you only have a couple. But do you have them all? I invite you to check out the document here to see what stickers we have available for YOU! Maybe you're able to get some of them now that we are in year 2 of being 1:1. Maybe you're new to the district and want to gussy up your Chromebook. If you've worked hard for a sticker, please click here to share the sticker you want and share what you've been doing, too!

Have an idea for another sticker we can offer to teachers? Add it in the comments -- that will get you your choice of a Google or emoji sticker! If we end up using your idea, you'll get ANOTHER Google or emoji sticker!

You're never too old to show off what you learn or what you do. And you're never too old for stickers!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

New Gmail Update

Maybe you heard on the news last week that there was an update to Gmail. This is the first significant update to Gmail since 2011, and it's pretty cool! To get started, all you have to do is click on the Settings cog and select "Try the New Gmail." Choose the Default view and voila! Your inbox will transform in front of your eyes!

Some of the features I personally love include the following:

  • Inline view of message attachments -- this means I don;t have to open an email to get to the attachment; I can directly open the attachment from the list of messages in my inbox.
  • Inline delete -- if there is an email I don't need, I can just move my mouse to the right edge of the message and click on the trash can to delete it.
  • Auto reply -- on some email messages, you may see some auto-reply choices: just click the response you want and then click send!
  • Calendar, Keep, and Tasks on the same page -- so handy to be able to have an email message open and right there in the same tab be able to open my calendar to add an event, Keep to make a note, or Tasks to add to my to-do list!
  • Snooze -- well, I love the IDEA of snoozing an email (essentially marking that email to come back and tug you on the metaphorical sleeve as a reminder to deal with that message); I say I love the idea because it is only available if you use Conversation View for your inbox (which I don't).
Try it out, see what you think! To help you, I found this great overview video put together by another Google for Education Certified Trainer. Watch it to see the new Gmail in action!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cool Tool Alert -- Flipgrid

I've heard a lot recently about this cool online tool called Flipgrid, so I had to check it out. I was not disappointed!

In a nutshell, Flipgrid allows students to create short videos of themselves. The interface is reminiscent of Snapchat because they can create a selfie with fun stickers or drawings. It also references Instagram in the way that students can react and respond to each others' videos. The interface is super easy for students to use -- they can create a video in literally a couple of minutes. You as the teacher have control over the visibility of the video, too. Each grid, topic, and video generates its own flip code -- no one can see the items without that flip code.

Most teachers who have raved about Flipgrid have mentioned its usefulness as a formative assessment tool. This would make a terrific exit ticket or quick check of understanding about a topic discussed in class. It could also be useful as a documentation of re-learning. Let's say a student doesn't fully understand the water cycle on an assessment. Rather than create a whole new assessment, you could meet with the student and ask him to explain the water cycle to you. But this makes some teachers nervous -- they really like to have the documentation or tangible evidence of learning. Enter Flipgrid. You could have a topic on a grid called (something clever!), "Play It Again!" where students can submit their videos explaining what they have now learned, like the water cycle. Those videos do not have to be shared publicly, and you now have the evidence you feel comfortable gathering to show that student's mastery.

Flipgrid could also be a great way to introduce kids to public speaking in a less threatening way. Have them start with a short video that only you see; provide feedback (try to speak a little louder; try to have more eye contact by looking at the camera more). Do another video that gets shared; allow student reactions and feedback.

Why not have a discussion about a character in a novel (Do you think the ending of the novel Fahrenheit 451 is happy or sad? Why?), explain a concept (What were some of the causes of the Revolutionary War?), do a demonstration (the proper way to do a push up), solve a problem (solve for x in the equation 10 - x = 6, explaining what you are doing along the way), do review (assign each student a vocabulary word to make a video about before an assessment), or facilitate discussion (Is climate change real, in your opinion?).

Want to give Flipgrid a try? If so, please share with me what you do -- I'd love to see how you use it in your classroom. Anxious to tackle it on your own? Get in touch; I'll come sit next to you and get you started!

Here are some resources for you:

Flipgrid's resources page

Step by step guide to using Flipgrid

P.S. Flipgrid works on iPads, too, and mobile phones! There's even an app!