Friday, April 29, 2016

3 Tips to Rock the Google Level 2 EDU Certification

Toronto, Canada
Want to become a Google for Education Certified Innovator? You'll need Certified Educator Level 2 to do it. Applications Due: May 10th!


The new Google Certified Educator Certifications were established to give teachers official recognition of their mastery and understanding of Google Apps for Education. The exams consist of multiple choice questions and practical scenarios that require you to demonstrate hands-on knowledge of various Google tools.  The modules in the Training Centre cover topics such as basic Google docs, Google Classroom, Blogger, Google Earth, Google groups, Gmail, Google Play for Education, and much more. The exams are designed to be finished in 3 hours and cost $10 for Level 1 and $25 for Level 2.

“To get certified or not get certified?” that is the question!

When the Google Certification program launched a few months ago, I debated taking the exams.

“Why do I need to get certified? I’m managing fine with Google Apps and I’m doing interesting things with my students. What’s the point?” I said to myself.

Life gets busy and it’s easy to put something aside that is optional. But then I began to notice that teachers in my network who I admire were getting their certifications. I started to feel like I was missing out on something and before I knew it, I signed up to do the Level 2 exam (I decided to skip Level 1). “How hard could it be?” I thought.

Prior to the exam, I perused the Level 2 Training modules, tried some of the unit quizzes, and felt like I was ready to go. I clicked “Start the exam” and 3 hours later, I clicked “Finish”.

Within minutes I received this email:

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I was crushed. Despite my confidence with Google Apps, my level of expertise was obviously not what I believed it to be. And then the real self-debate began: To re-try the exam, or just accept defeat? Exam rules stipulate that you must wait two weeks before re-taking an exam so I had 14 days to get ready. I decided to go for it. This is what I did to prepare for the retake of the Level 2 exam:

  1. I reviewed the modules for Level 1, took the Level 1 exam and passed (much easier!)
  2. I revisited the modules for Level 2, reviewing every section in finer detail. I did all of the lesson checks and all of the unit review quizzes. I took screenshots of the questions I didn’t answer correctly, and went back and reviewed the material. Then I did all the lesson checks and quizzes again. And again. Until I got every answer right.
  3. I created a folder on my Bookmarks bar and loaded it up with links to topics that I wasn’t feeling confident about for quick and easy reference during the exam (all the links are from the Training Centre.) Tip: put these bookmarks in alphabetical order for easy retrieval.
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NOTE: When you take the exam you have to sign out of your Google account (they will give you a temporary account for the exam), so your bookmarks might not be available, especially if you’re on a Chromebook. So I recommend that you have two computers open during the exam: one for the exam itself, the other to access your bookmarks.

Hardest part of the exam? The multiple choice questions. They were tricky; some questions were confusing and appeared to have several answers. Some questions were difficult to understand. There’s definitely a skill involved in doing multiple choice questions, a skill you can hone by doing (and re-doing) all of the lesson checks and unit review quizzes in the Training Centre.

The practical part of the exam was fun. I can’t divulge specific information, but be prepared to demonstrate your working knowledge of everything GAFE (Docs, Sheets, Forms, Add-ons, Sites, Blogger, Classroom, Google Scholar, Google Play for Education, etc.) The best way to prepare for this part of the exam is simply to use GAFE (in every aspect!) on a regular basis. If you’re not, you’re going to find this section very challenging. Reviewing the tools that you don’t use often in the Training Centre is highly recommended.

I am happy to report that minutes after I pressed “End Exam”, I received this notification:

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Bottom line: these exams are definitely worth while taking. You will learn so much about GAFE, even if you feel like you already know a lot. The process will help you see what areas you have a good working knowledge of and what areas you have more learning to do. BONUS: if you pass, you get to proudly display your badges wherever you want. And who doesn’t love badges?!

If you are a teacher who prefers to have support while preparing for the exams, the EdTechTeam offers Bootcamps across the USA and Canada. Or, you can contact them to come to your school/board to provide a personalized, in-house Bootcamp.

In Eastern Canada, consider coming to the fall 2016 2-day GAFESummit in Toronto which will offer a full day Level 1 Boot Camp on Saturday, and a full day Level 2 Boot Camp on Sunday. This GAFESummit will also offer regular GAFE sessions, along with sessions for iOS/iPad users. And it’s at MY SCHOOL!!!! (Crescent School). There will be something for everyone, so don’t miss it! (The date is not yet determined so stay tuned)

Do you have more tips for passing the Google Certification exams? Please leave your ideas in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Get coding in your classroom! Enter the Challenge.

We know how important it is to get kids exposed to computer programming, but how? Here are 10 easy ways to get started with coding in the classroom.

1. Pencilcode Draw is for everyone and works much like the old Logo program where you write simple commands to make a turtle move on a grid. forward 10, right 90, forward 10, right 90 forward 10, right 90, forward 10. Boom. You just coded a square. Make more interesting shapes as you learn more code.
2. Android App Inventor
With a computer and an Android device, you can learn to be an app developer and make truly functional apps. Start with the Hello Purr tutorial.
3. Code without a Computer
Inspired by Pencilcode, have kids invent their own computer language and have other students execute the commands out in the playground.
4. Code with Google Forms
Using multiple choice questions in Google Forms, you can enable the “Go to page based on answer” feature to create branching logic “Choose Your Own Adventure” style stories. Should you go in the cave or into the woods?
5. Code in a Spreadsheet
Whenever you reference one cell in another, you're starting to understand variables. Have students make a tip calculator app into a spreadsheet by formulating simple division.
6. Learn HTML, CSS, and Python with Codecademy
Codecademy offers bite-sized lessons in coding that middle and high school students can follow and learn to code like a pro. Added bonus … students earn collectable badges.
7. Control BB8 at is one of the largest platforms designed to get kids coding. You can learn coding by playing games with a Star Wars theme.
8. Get hands-on with a Raspberry Pi
Learn how computers get physical by running your own code on a computer you wire yourself with LED lights and motors. Get started at
9. Hello Processing!
Learn how code and art interact at and take really fun tutorials on how to create your own visual magic with computer programming.
10. Robotics with MINDSTORMS
Admit it: you want to build a robot army. You need to start somewhere, and LEGO MINDSTORMS is a great platform to design, build, and code your own robots that respond to the the environment. Please use your power for good.

Watch Coding on Air!


Do your students code? We're sourcing coding lesson plans for an upcoming book, Code in Every Class by Kevin Brookhouser. Share yours! Extra bonus: We'll be sending Raspberry Pi's to the winners each week!

Submit your lesson plans through by filling out this form 

Help share this challenge on Twitter with #codeineveryclass.

Need an idea of what we're looking for?
Here's one example.

*Note: submissions gives the publisher rights to publish your coding lesson and your attribution.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

March Google PD Partner News

March was another amazing month of connecting with educators around the globe! We hosted 45 events in six countries, including our 4th Annual Summits in Hawaii and GeorgiaCertification Bootcamps around the U.S., and in-district customized professional development such as these GAFE workshops in Saudi Arabia and Australia as well as a student event in Forest Hills, OH.

We reported a combined 494 hours of professional development on behalf of 71 different Google Certified Trainers.

We are honored to work with so many fabulous trainers and organizations. Thank you for allowing us to share our knowledge and expertise with so many educators and students. Look what's in store for April and as always, feel free to contact us about coming to you! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

14 Tips for the New Presenter

Cross-Post from 

With as much confidence as you have about your subject area of expertise, for a new presenter, it's normal to feel nervous about sharing your ideas in front of a group of strangers.

The tips below, written by GAFE Summit presenter Sylvia Duckworth, can help you knock your presentation out of the park!

1. Go over your presentation days before. Make sure all the links and videos work. Try opening all Google Apps documents with a different Google account. (Note: see this sketchnote for some EdTechTeam tips on a great presentation).
2. Practice your presentation. Ask a friend/colleague to watch and provide feedback.
3. Earlier in the week check that you have all the equipment necessary for your presentation (dongle, clicker, power bar, projector, speakers, etc.) and put them in a bag by your door. (Note: GAFE Summits will have projectors and speakers already set up in presentation rooms).
4. Try to get a good sleep the night before. If you suspect that you’re not going to sleep well, try to get a good night’s sleep two nights before.
5. Charge your devices the night before.
6. At the venue, ask someone in charge who you can contact in case you have a technology glitch. If possible, go to your presentation room early in the morning before anyone arrives. Plug in your laptop/speakers/projector and make sure that everything works.
7. Make sure you know how to set the proper resolution for your laptop to maximize projection on the screen and to be able to view all of your open tabs. If you don’t know how to do this, find someone who can help. (NOTE: Every projector will display your screen in a different way which is why I recommend you check this early.)
8. Internet connection: Sometimes there will be a special wifi network for presenters only, so ask about this. But if you have a hard-wired option, take it. In fact, it's a good idea to have your presentation (and videos) in a non-internet-dependent form in case you lose all internet connection.
9. If the room and audience is large, ask for a microphone. Wireless clip-on is best. If going with clip-on, avoid wearing a long top/shirt (or dress) without a belt to clip the receiver onto.
10. At a conference, try to get to your presentation room at least 15 minutes before your presentation. Sit at the back of the room, and as soon as the previous presenter has wrapped up, start setting up for your presentation. You might need to be assertive and that’s okay.
11. When people start to arrive to your session, be friendly and say hello (it will relax you). Ask them how they are enjoying the conference, etc.
12. Make sure you have lots of water nearby: you will get very thirsty!
13. Just before your presentation, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself why you are there: You have something to offer and the audience appreciates you being there to share your expertise.
14. Apply to present again and again. The more you do it, the less nervous you will be.

There's so much to gain from stepping out of your comfort zone and sharing your knowledge with others. What are some of your tips to overcome the jitters?