Google Certification A Worthy Task

Ever since my district became a Google district I started doing the training in the Google Training Center, but then my job got more complicated and I postponed it.  Last Fall I finally took the Level 1 Certification.  It was three strenuous hours but when I got the email and it read "Congratulations"  it was such a great feeling.  This past week I forced myself to take the Level 2 Certification.  I say "forced" because I had heard so many people say that it was difficult I kept on telling myself I wasn't ready.  So I went through the whole Advanced training in the Google Training Center.  I used Eric Curts Skills Checklist to prepare myself.  I went through and crossed out all the items I already knew and researched all the ones I wasn't sure about and I linked each one to the list.  The day of the test I said a few prayers before and during the test and after three stressful hours, I got the "Congratulations" once more. 

It was not as hard as people had told me.  It might be because I prepared more but I found it doable.  The hardest part for me was the multiple choice section because I kept on doubting myself, especially with the multiple answer questions.  The good thing is it lets you mark the answers you want to check later so I was able to move on and come back at the end of the test.  The section where you actually get to apply your knowledge doing tasks was easier for me because I either knew it or didn't and because I use Google Suite every day in my work I felt comfortable doing most tasks.

One benefit of going through the process of studying for the certifications was that the tools that I don't use very often I learned how to use better.  Another benefit and quite important is that I learned how to integrate technology better.  The Google Training Center has the ability to track your progress so if you sign in you can always go back to where you left off.  It also lets you skip and take unit tests for the sections you feel you already know and the ability to go back and review a question you might not know.  It also does an excellent job of giving examples of how other teachers are using the tools in their classrooms that I often go back for ideas on particular tools. Overall to me, that is the most useful part of the process of getting certified.  So believe me the cool badge that I am able to display on my email signature I display it proudly because it is a good reminder of a challenge I took on and succeeded.

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Teacher's Fear of Technology and It's Effects on ELLs

We entered the 21st century 17 years ago, you would think with all the Smartphones and digital media we use that teachers would be comfortable using technology with their students, but many are still on the fence.  Perhaps it's that many teachers and administrators still see technology as an extra task to do and have not realized that if you integrate technology into your content it will actually make your job easier. It will engage students in the content you are trying to teach.  As a matter of fact, if you integrate technology well your students will be enjoying themselves so much they won't realize they are working.  However, the most important reason is it will give students necessary skills for their future.

Some people say, that kids are already getting so much technology at home they don't need to get more at school. That may be true for some students and I do disagree that integrating technology in the classroom has adverse effects if it is not done well.  If you use it as a babysitter well it won't improve students' learning. Some parents even protest when schools want to use technology at school since they are already spending so much time on devices outside of school.

What about the ELL students that don't have access to technology at home? How will they keep up with their peers?  ELLs are already dealing with a language gap, now they are facing another challenge a Digital Divide.

So I understand that you might not be a digital native, but your fear of technology is keeping students from the skills they will need when they go to college or join the workforce.  When our current students graduate they won't have a choice, like many teachers today have of refusing to learn to use technology, students in the future will not get a job if they can't use it. 
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GoNoodle Plus

If you are interested in doing more with GoNoodle now you can do it for free thanks to El Camino Hospital who is paying subscriptions for all Silicon Valley teachers. Just sign-up at GoNoodlePlus. Once you register you will see the message:
GoNoodle Plus includes all the features of GoNoodle, with unlimited access to activities like: Mega Math Marathon, Bodyspell, and more.
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The Growing Divide for ELLs

It is not surprising that ELLs have a language divide and that depending on when they arrived in the United States this divide will impact their lives to a lesser or greater degree.  I have been in the U.S. since I was nine and even though English has become my main language, I will always be an ELL.  It doesn't affect my reading or listening, but my speaking and my writing continue to be a challenge especially if I am nervous.  I remember in college when I got nervous my English accent would get more pronounced and I would struggle to pronounce everyday words although they were part of my common usage. Now I still struggle to express myself when I get nervous, my ideas are clear in my head, but what comes out gets all jumbled up.  Especially if I am speaking among natives and they start looking at me like they can't understand what I am saying, then the nervousness increases and I need a translator to make my point. As for many ELLs this is my divide.

Using Technology
Thanks to a colleague I worked with when I first graduated from the university, technology has not been a divide for me.  My technology skills have actually opened doors for me and allowed me to travel around the U.S. training others.  This is why I am such a strong proponent of empowering ELL students with technology skills.  Although ELLs might, like me, struggle to improve the language divide, if we give them the opportunities to use technology to learn content they have a chance to have career opportunities they might not otherwise have.

Creating Technology
All students in public education are facing another divide, the divide between those students who know how to use technology and those who know how to create technology.  Private school students are benefitting from STEAM programs where they are designing using technology.  Although public schools are starting to bring in STEAM programs, many are focusing only on STEM and still focusing only on the students that are mathematically inclined to leave out those who are not, many of those girls, underprivileged students and of course ELLs.
So now ELLs have 3 barriers against them to be successful in school: language, lack of technology and creating technology skills.
As educators, we can make a difference in ELL students lives and help close these divides. Let's prepare ELLs for a bright future in the 21st Century.
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Quizlet is a powerful tool to help students learn content vocabulary. The best thing is that you don't have to create the lists yourself. There are thousands of lists created by teachers and students alike. You can copy one you like and modify for your needs. Shorter lists work best to take advantage of the great games students can play to practice the vocabulary. The range of lists includes math, ELA, Science and academic vocabulary.
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What is it? A website with various links for kids, organized into different areas: art, history, science, health...
Why we like it? Well organized and vetted information for kids to do research or find resources.
How you can you use it? You can place a link in your website so that kids can easily find it. Integrate one of the links into your teaching for example if you are teaching American History it has a link to the Memorial Hall Museum -a great interactive site for students to learn about American History with videos, first person oral accounts and original documents.
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Going Paperless

I remember the weekends and Holidays that I spent making copies instead of spending time with my family. Sometimes I would even drag them along to help me. |Keeping track of student paperwork that I needed for report cards and their end of the year portfolios was also a chore. For all of these reasons and more I know that if I return to the classroom with the help of technology I will go paperless as much as I can. Google Classroom Google Doc Google Forms Google Slides SeeSaw - Eportfolios
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