Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Process for Becoming a Certified Google Education Trainer

I became a Certified Google Education Trainer last month! Since then, a few teachers have expressed interest in also earning certification, so I thought I would explain the process in a blog post.  The process is time-intensive, but the knowledge and experience I gained has been worth it.

Step 1: Review the Process and Decide To Do It
You'll need to set goals and create a timeline. This is not something that should be spread out over a year. My best advice is to give yourself three months max, or you probably will never finish.  I attended a full day kick-off session at the MiGoogle Conference on Nov 5. I learned about the process and made a commitment (to myself) to do it.  I completed all the tests and applied for the program by the end of December, and then waited for the review process to occur. Of all the people at the kickoff session I attended (probably 30 people), I am the only one who has completed the process and earned a certificate (so far).  Hopefully this blog post will help as you decide whether you want to put forth the work and effort to become a Certified Google Education Trainer.

Step 2: Study, Explore, and Practice - then take the exams,  module by module
The process has been revamped since I was at this step (updated materials), so I will relay info as best as I understand it. There are 4 required modules: Gmail, Calendar, Docs/Drive, and Sites. Additionally, you can select at least one "elective" from this list: Chrome, Chromebooks, Tablets with Google Play for Education, and Implementing Google Apps.

Review the training materials here.  Each module took me about 10 hours to feel really prepared for the exam. I admit that I probably over-prepared. Instead of just reading about a feature, I wanted to do it myself using my school Google account.

Each module has its own exam. They cost $15/each and you take them at the Google Testing Center. Passing score is 80%. You can retake them if you do not pass, but it will cost another $15.  Luckily I passed them all on the first try.

Step 3: Get Your Google Educator Certificate
When you pass all five tests, you earn your Google Educator Certificate. You can download it from the testing center. This is a milestone! Time to celebrate!

Step 4: Apply to Become a Certified Google Education Trainer
Not everyone who earns Google Educator status becomes a Certified Google Education Trainer. Google is looking for passionate and innovative individuals to join the community of trainers who provide PD and support to schools using GAFE. An authorized Google Education Trainer badge is an official "stamp of approval" from Google. Schools can be assured that your expertise and learning materials meet high quality standards set by the Google for Education team.

Individuals must demonstrate their abilities:

  • A strong history of Google training in schools
  • Engaging public speaking skills
  • Ability to distill content into creative, informative learning materials
  • Enthusiasm and passion for the role of technology in education
  • Contributor to the larger edtech community via blogs, social media, or other networks
  • Knowledge of other edtech web technology
  • Supporter of web-based learning


  • Individuals must have a Google Educator certificate
  • Upload a resume highlighting relevant work experience, training and speaking sessions, and any other awards or certifications.
  • Provide references for trainings you have delivered over the past year.
  • Submit a two minute video showcasing your training skills. Highlight a feature of Google Apps for Education, Chrome, Chromebooks, or Tablets with Play for Education. Screencasts are preferred.
  • Create a case study using a template. Include sample learning materials and training strategies (include planning, implementation, and evaluation)
Applications are reviewed quarterly.  The next window will be June 2 to August 15.

Step 5: Walled Lake educators: Contact me if you are interested in becoming a Google Certified Trainer. 
If enough people are interested, we can work through some of the process together over the summer months. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Saturday PD

A couple of outstanding professional development events are coming up this Saturday (April 26, 2014)!

  1. If you are in the Jackson, Michigan area, don't miss the Connected Educator Unconference. See details here.  Registration is $45.  People like attending unconferences because of  the opportunity to learn in an interactive way.
  2. The Discovery Educator Network Spring Virtual Conference is loaded with over 30 excellent presentations, including three keynotes. Registration is free. Attend from home for an hour or the entire day. Also, if you are in the Grand Rapids area, you can attend the event in person at Jenison High School, where hands-on learning opportunities are available.

Creating & Editing Video in the Cloud

Historically, students and teachers have used software programs such as Photostory or MovieMaker to create and edit videos. It is now possible to do this in the cloud using an tool called WeVideo.  It works great on Chromebooks and is linked to Google Apps for Education accounts, so saving and publishing is convenient. Below is a 7 minute how-to video created specifically for Walled Lake Consolidated Schools 8th graders as they create projects in collaborative groups to show their understanding of the impact of the transcontinental railroad on the economy and people of the United States of America, 1800-1900.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Online Interactive Math Tools

figure 1
figure 2

Teachers and administrators have expressed concern to me that elementary students need more practice using interactive math tools that will be part of the Smarter Balanced online assessments.  Students need to understand the concepts, and be comfortable using online tools.

If students are learning how to measure angles, it would make sense to have them use a plastic protractor as they develop skills, and then move to an online protractor (although I suppose they could also start with the online protractor).

Where might you find online interactive tools?  The screenshot above is from the Khan Academy Common Core website for 4th grade mathematics.  The site is free. It also works on Chromebooks!  The task for this example is to measure the angle using the online protractor (figure 1). Students move the online protractor over the angle and rotate it to measure the angle (figure 2). They then determine if the angle is acute, right, or obtuse.  The goal is to practice measuring angles using an online protractor and get 5 questions in a row correct. If they get a question incorrect, they can click a button and get a hint. If the hint isn't helpful, there is also an instructional video that they can watch.

Students practice and learn to measure angles quickly when they get the immediate feedback. It doesn't take them long to figure out how to move the protractor over the angle by dragging and dropping with the computer mouse and then click on the arrow to rotate it.

Yes, they will do better on the Smarter Balanced test if they are given opportunities to answer questions and manipulate objects online, similar to what  they will experience on the test. But that is not the main point. Learning to measure angles and categorize them as acute, right, and obtuse in this way saves time for the teacher, and the built-in immediate feedback and support makes it easier for students to quickly learn and practice new concepts.

Of course teachers need to review any learning activities prior to using them with students, but using a site such as this one would be one more way to determine if students mastered that day's learning target.