Google Certified Educator Level 1 and Level 2 is a Dream Come True

posted Jan 26, 2016, 1:51 PM by Kate Petty

Written by: Kate Petty

I have been waiting a long time for an accessible digital learning experience to be available for teachers and Google has finally made that happen.

Over the summer, Google revamped its certification courses and created a new set of courses specifically aimed at educators called the Google Certified Educator Level 1 and/or Level 2.. One would expect that these courses were Google-centric, and they are, but they are so much more. The courses offer lessons in general 21st century pedagogy for teaching students and coaching teachers. There are entire sections devoted to Digital Citizenship including copyright and Fair Use. What a pleasant surprise to be exposed to a full spectrum of instruction, hands-on activities, and certification in digital literacy as a whole. Not only do educators learn applications, they also learn how to use the applications purposefully in the classroom

I know there are many districts and principals who are wondering what the next step is for their teachers, teacher leaders, and academic coaches...this is a wonderful step. The curriculum is free - the only thing that isn't is the time it takes to dig in deep and learn these applications. The exams are minimal too- just $10 to take the Level 1 exam and $25 to take the Level 2 exam.

Having Google Certified Educators in your school and district can be a real boon to the community outreach for an area but also, leaders can provide a powerful way to empower their teachers to be comfortable in the classroom and confident to try new things with their students.

Multi-Media Text Sets (MMTS)

posted May 17, 2015, 2:05 PM by Kate Petty   [ updated May 17, 2015, 2:07 PM ]
written by Kate Petty @techclassroom

It seems that everyone is telling us about some amazing new apps for the classroom and, before we know it, we have students going to one app for 5 minutes and another app for another 5 minutes.

Why is it that no one is showing us how to cohesively organize all this amazing media into one place for our students to access?

Lisa Highfill, a Bay Area educator, finally figured out an outstanding way to, very simply, create a document for our students to use. She calls them Multi-Media Text Sets and all it is is one document with a two column table. Listed in the first column are places on the Internet you want your students to visit, read, analyze, watch, etc. Listed in the second column is the activity you want your students to do with each media resource. Take a look at the image on the right. It is a lesson I adapted from Lisa's Avalanche lesson on her larger unit: Earth in Action. You can see a YouTube video in listed first - this is a purposeful step. My igniting excitement about the topic (done here through a video showing skiers and snowboarders caught in avalanches- it shows no one getting hurt) you can create an initial engagement with the topic.

So here is what you need to know:
  1. Click on the image to the right and make a copy of the Google Doc. 
  2. Change the title and image to fit your unit.
  3. Change the media to go to various places you want your students to go.
  4. Change the tasks on the right to the activities you want your students to do with each piece of media.
    1. Note: The more "tasks" you give them, the more grading of different documents you will have. If you notice the actual column header it says "I learned/Makes me think:" sometimes a simple reflection in the box itself is plenty.
  5. Share your new set through Google Classroom or with your students as "View Only" in Google docs and ask them to FILE > Make a Copy.
This activity makes a perfect round of rotations for your students. Whether you are 1:1, have a few devices, or just a computer lab, consider using this activity in a rotation cycle over a few days. It works like a gem!

4 Digital Citizenship Points to Consider in GAFE

posted Mar 10, 2015, 10:58 AM by Kate Petty   [ updated Mar 10, 2015, 3:20 PM ]

When it comes to technology, Google Docs have been around for an eternity. A few of us tinkered with it when it first came out and now we have wave after wave of teachers, students, businesses, and others using it daily. As with anything online, the majority of users use the technology appropriately. However there is that small group of users that don’t think before they click.

There are four key digital citizenship points that any teacher will want to know if using Google Docs in the classroom:

When a user shares a Google document with another person, the user is given the opportunity to ADD A NOTE. This note is emailed with the invitation. Many users use this as a place to add information about the document that is being shared. For some reason, this invitation makes some users want to “play around” with their buddy by putting something degrading as a note. These types of notes usually refer to someone’s sexual orientation, exploration of certain four letter words, or a specific body part. While it is tempting to have a little fun with friends, students (and teachers) need to be reminded that they need to be professional when using their GAFE accounts. See the ADD A NOTE image to the left.

99.9% of people will name their documents in a way that makes it easy for them to find them later. There is a small portion of the population that would rather name them based on the mood the creator is feeling. Titles such as “Science Crap” or other, more descriptive, titles are created that don’t consider the professionalism they should.
Along this note, the contents of a document can come into question as well. Students might not be considering professionalism as they are using their GAFE accounts to create and share an agenda for a weekend party that might shock their grandmothers. Some might also use their documents/presentations as a platform to share their not-so-nice opinions of other students and teachers.

One of the best features of Google Docs is the ability for commenting within a document. This activity has enhanced peer edits and the overall grading process. Unfortunately, similar to #1 above, students might be tempted to use this opportunity to goof around with their friends. They are under the mistaken belief that behavior is okay, especially if you can delete the comment. The truth, however, is (1) the behavior is not okay and (2) the comments are not deleted, ever. The comments are stored in the COMMENTS button just to the left of the blue SHARE button.

Many teachers really love the Research Tool (TOOLS > RESEARCH TOOL) for researching and adding images. The reality is that most of the images that are generated are under copyright unless students click the arrow directly under the search and then filter the images by “FREE TO USE, SHARE OR MODIFY, EVEN COMMERCIALLY.” See image to the right.

An even better way to have students search for images, however, is to go to INSERT > IMAGES > SEARCH. The search option actually gives three options: 
  • Google Images (sorted by Free to Use, Share or Modify, Even Commercially)
  • LIFE - access to hundreds of images from LIFE magazine
  • Stock Photos - my favorite. Professional grade photos that look great in presentations.

What Do We Do?
Educate. If you are using Google Docs, you know the creativity and collaboration that can empower a user when working with them. For most the cases above, the user just simply isn’t thinking before he/she clicks. It may have never even occurred to him/her that it is an issue. 

All we need to do as educators is explain the expectations we have for use in GAFE. When using GAFE, be professional. Send professional notes to colleagues. Create and share professional documents with collaborators. Consider copyright when looking for images. 

It helps to even go through the four situations above with students so they understand and see what it truly means to be professional.

Virtual Fieldtrips Are Seriously Amazing

posted Apr 24, 2014, 1:41 PM by Kate Petty

Written by Kate Petty

Andrew Moriates at Mission Viejo High School in Southern California gave me a unique opportunity to visit his classroom as they did a Google Hangout with the Chicago Bulls front office and a CBS News anchor in Wisconsin.

WHAT??? You ask!!

What is Connected Classrooms?

Yes, the G+ Community Connected Classrooms is in full swing as they connect classrooms, businesses, and places with each other to virtually meet people and see places that they wouldn't normally get to see all because of Google Hangouts.

I had my first experience with a virtual field-trip as I showed a small group of teachers in my district the Connected Classrooms Community. We saw Cameron Young take schools on a trip in Colorado to explore snakes via a Google Hangout. It was exhilarating to see the eyes of my small teacher group light up when they realized how easily they could transport their students anywhere.

Today Mr. Moriates connected his class to a hangout where Google's Education Evangelist, Jaime Casap, was moderating Hangouts with several schools throughout the day. If a teacher was not chosen to actually be live in the Hangout, his/her class was able to watch as a third party and ask questions in a chat box virtually.

Surprises From the Experience

The tech aspect of connecting went really well. There were no hiccups connecting to the Hangouts or communicating with the participants. I believe that if you brace for the worst, you are pleasantly surprised- that was the case today!
The students asked really interesting questions.To the Bulls: "What kind of education did you need to get where you are?"  and to CBS: "Do you do anything to alleviate stress right before you broadcast?"  


I wish this could have been around 20 years ago.

CABE 2014

posted Apr 3, 2014, 3:01 PM by Kate Petty   [ updated Apr 3, 2014, 4:29 PM ]

CABE 2014 Blogs Presentation

CUE 2014 and CUE West Coast Summit Presentations

posted Mar 17, 2014, 8:11 PM by Kate Petty

What and How??? 20 Time in Education

WHAT is 20 Time and HOW do we implement it in the K-12 classroom? Let your brain swirl with ideas about inspiring creativity while meeting Common Core State Standards. 
3/22 8:30-9:30am

How to Implement 20-Time in Your Class Tomorrow

Classroom Projects in the 21st Century

You know there are awesome classroom projects that utilize CCSS and 21st Century Skills but haven't found them? This session is for you with blogging projects, 20-Time, and beginner PBL activities.
Sunday 3/24  8-9am

Projects for the Inquiry-Based Classroom

Introduction to Chrome

This session will introduce you to Chrome. You will learn how to personalize your settings, access amazing Google apps, and add Chrome extensions to your browser.
Sunday 3/24  10:30-11:30am

Chrome 101

Roseville Summit 2/8-9 2014

posted Feb 9, 2014, 9:53 AM by Kate Petty   [ updated Feb 9, 2014, 9:58 AM ]

Roseville Summit Projects for the Inquiry-Based Classroom

Roseville: Teach Digital Literacy with Blogs

Roseville Summit: Google Apps to Teach the ABCs of Writing

How to Implement 20-Time in Your Class Tomorrow

OCCUE TechFest 2014

posted Feb 8, 2014, 10:53 AM by Kate Petty   [ updated Feb 8, 2014, 10:53 AM ]

OCCUE TechFest 2014: How to Implement 20-Time in Your Class Tomorrow

San Diego iPad Summit 2014

posted Feb 5, 2014, 7:46 AM by Kate Petty

Projects for the Inquiry-Based Classroom

iPad Summit: Projects for the Inquiry-Based Classroom

PBL Reflections on Group Work: A Bad Start but Great Learning Experience

posted Jan 24, 2014, 12:51 PM by Kate Petty   [ updated Jan 24, 2014, 12:56 PM ]

By Kate Petty

At the beginning of our school year this year, our principal informed us that we would not be doing CST testing and that this was the year to try new things and not worry about pacing and fitting EVERYTHING in. In other words, EXPERIMENT. I'm not sure how many teachers embraced this freedom but I did. Actually, I've been doing it for a long time but this year I didn't have to hide it. I'm a big fan of inquiry-based learning and PBL. I went through the Buck Institute's PBL University and received my completion certificate last year. I decided to do a few PBL projects this year and really try to master the PBL experience. Day 1 sucked. Day 2 was ten times better.

Why Did Day 1 Suck?

It shouldn't have, I thought. I've been doing Genius Hour with the students all year- they know how to research. I gave them the Driving Question, we completed the KWL and Need to Know chart. Once I let them loose, they should have floated along, right? Nope. They were working in groups and were to report their results in a group webpage designed by the group. As soon as they started "research" they immediately began assigning each other pages for their websites- without doing any research first.
AHHHH. How can they design a website persuading readers to like poetry if they don't even know what poetry is first? They didn't understand that they can't begin planning the end result until they are well informed about the topic first. Doing initial research seemed obvious to me but when it didn't happen, I realized steps like that are learned- not natural. 

So What Did I Do?

The next day I admitted I didn't do a good job and asked them if I could start over. There was a resounding "YES!" which made me feel good and bad (but those are my own issues) and we began again. Don't forget how important it is to model failure for your class- they watched me struggle, reflect, and try again.

My Advice:

GUIDE and PAY ATTENTION: The first time you give students a task with a lot of independence, hold their hand throughout and explain WHY they need to complete each step. For instance- I changed my Guiding Question. I challenged my students to spend three days attempting to "LIKE POETRY." They had to figure out where to start (I suggested the Wikipedia article on poetry) and then see where their research led them. I asked them to document their journey and, at the end of the three days, I asked them whether they liked poetry now or not (80% of students DID NOT like poetry at the start). 98% admitted they had a new appreciation of poetry and were able to list the steps they took to create that appreciation. We discussed WHY they needed to do this initial research in order to complete their assignment- they now knew what kinds of pages, links, pictures, etc might actually convince someone that poetry rocked. NOW I let the students get together in groups to plan and design their websites. They had the new challenge of creating sites that would convince that 2% in the class that poetry is awesome. This goal is what I'd wanted at the beginning. 

CLASS DISCUSSIONS: I found that after the groups completed their initial planning, many still had pages that might not be persuading (my assignment) rather would be informing (BORING). I brought the class back and listed some of the groups' planned pages on the board and then we discussed why "WHAT IS POETRY?" might not hit the mark but "HOW TO USE POETRY FOR ROMANCE" might. We talked about the PURPOSE of the assignment and it really helped students get back on track.

REMEMBER, IT'S THEIR CREATION: Many of my students kept asking me "Can I ...?" I finally made a class announcement and said "Stop!" All the decisions the groups made were up to the group- they had to decide whether the "Can I...?" question would work for their group or not. Some students struggled with this autonomy. They are used to teachers telling them if they are on the right track or not. In this case, the group really had to deliberate and decide if each choice was right for the group or not.

GROUP WORK BUT INDIVIDUAL GRADES: When I first announced we were doing group work- the class groaned. They were used to teachers assigning a "Group Project" in which one student did all of the work but only one or two people were the ones who actually did ANY work. What I do is create a project that has INDIVIDUAL parts but is presented as a whole. For instance, each group in this class will design their own website. Each person in the group is responsible for a PAGE on the website. This way, if a student fails to complete a page or doesn't take pride in his/her page, the rest of the group will not be penalized for it. You can do the same for essays (each member has a component/section of the essay to write), poster projects, etc.

*Photo image courtesy of StormKatt on Flickr CC

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