Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Journey to Google Certification Level 1


After helping to facilitate the Visalia CUE Black Label training this last September, I thought going to a CVCUE Meet Up called  #PitaCUE, would be a good way to start to connect with educators in my local area. Wow!  Was I right! Educators from Tulare, Fresno & Hanford county areas were chatting & I was listening to everyone share ideas & plans for this current school year. One topic in particular that piqued my interest was that an upcoming EdTechTeam Google Certified Level 1 Boot Camp was going to be held in Orosi.




Almost a year earlier I epically failed forward on the exam. I realized how shallow my understanding was of all that is available inside the G Suite. I set out to apply more Google Apps into my classroom lessons. In addition, my teaching partner, Debbie Pendergast and I, were holding monthly GAFE workshops after school for teachers. The commitment to teach technology in the workshops really helped to bridge gaps in my tools knowledge & pedagogy of instruction.  


Each month as I was preparing a topic to present, I began to branch out into apps I had rarely used. I also started to follow, lurk & search out other educators on Twitter. Just like I had been told at CUE Rock Star Camp, Twitter is “24 / 7 PD on All Things Tech”. I began to search for specific lessons using apps I had not previously used. Because I failed the Google Educator Exam once, I pretty much knew all the areas I needed to work on. I needed Forms, Sheets, Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Sites & Hangouts the most.


As I added variety to my classroom practices, I gradually added more depth and breadth to my Googly knowledge.  Docs, Slides, Draw & Classroom are just the tip of the Google iceberg!  One of favorite lessons comes from Alice Keeler's  coordinate plane battleship lesson to rethink ways to use technology in collaboration. I also have a classroom full of kids hooked on pixel art which is done in sheets. I began to dive into YouTube and learn that dashboard. My own children were better at making playlists then I was. At the end of a writing assignment I had kids start to use forms for their own surveys and evaluations, and you can’t do forms without teaching students about sheets.  

Then the HyperDoc magic happened. After reading the book, The HyperDoc Handbook, I realized how powerful a tool shared folders could be. This really helped my understanding of the way Google Drive works. Not to mention how combining the power of multimedia, color, images, and app smashing could fire up a doc or slide like crazy! The creativity just blew me away.


Armed with a renewed confidence in my base knowledge of the G Suite, I was ready for the EdTechTeam Google Certified Level 1 Boot Camp. Trainers, Mark Hammons, Kate Petty, along with Adam Juarez, were hosting the event at Orosi High School. The day included numerous activities & challenge level extensions. If you finished the first set of tasks early you had additional tasks to complete. At the end we wrapped up a day of learning with a digital citizenship review. All along the way were  gems of advice. “Be exact”. “Copy & paste to save time.” Review before you take the exam with the Ed Tech Team Bootcamp Signature Resource Library.  


Feeling like I could not prepare any more. I took the exam. I passed! When I told my family my son yelled, “It’s your Google Birthday!”


I encourage teachers to dive deeper into the types of lessons that you can apply in your classroom beyond Docs & Slides. The G Suite has so much to offer. Connect on Twitter to other educators and just try!



Amy Downs
6th Grade Teacher
Annie R. Mitchell Elementary School
Visalia, CA






Want to begin or continue your own Google Certification journey? Join an EdTechTeam Bootcamp near you!

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