Becoming a Google Certified Innovator

The Google Certified Innovator program is something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time. I knew that being a part of this program would mean participating with a community of educators working to transform the learning communities we serve and advocating for change. I was seeking a new space for my personal growth. I was craving another experience similar to that of the Master’s in Educational Technology (MAET) overseas program I was in at Michigan State University. I wanted a work hard, play hard environment where I could meet and connect with new people who share some of the same passions I have in education.

Four times. I applied to MTV16, COL16, and TOR16. Three rejections, but I wasn’t giving up. My fourth application was to NYC19 and I was accepted! The application process changed since I had applied in the past. My challenge that I submitted also changed. Back in 2016 my challenge was about managing educational screen time (which I think is still a challenge today). My 2019 challenge was about addressing the technology skills gap between adult learners and young students.

How I found out I was accepted in the program was funny. I had been added to a Google Hangout Chat called #NYC19 Innovators. I was a little confused because I hadn’t received an email confirming this acceptance. This seemed to be a common feeling with others in the chat. Ironically, the acceptance email had gone to our spam. We were all relieved to know this was an official, real thing that was happening! I hadn’t even met my cohort yet but we all celebrated in the chat together. We got to know each other pre-academy through this hangout chat, a hangout video call, Voxer chats, and uniting to solve a Breakout EDU challenge. There was already a sense of camaraderie before we arrived at the academy.

Day one of the academy, I arrived at Google early. I sat and waited in the fun googley chairs in the lobby in excitement. I heard a loud and energetic group of people walk in and instantly knew those were my people, my cohort.  It was a surreal feeling. I was greeted with a hug from my coach, Christine Lion-Bailey, they escorted us upstairs and we hit the ground running. The flood of hospitality and belonging continued all week long. We learned that we are 1 out of 2,200 innovators globally. We connected with our teams, went through design thinking, rang the #FailBell, toured the YouTube Space, and became familiar with “yes and” feedback.

Day two began with a sense of gratitude and sharing of G Thanks from day one. We learned about the core skills of innovation: accept every offer, make your partner look good, error recovery over failure avoidance, and zealous communication. Googlers came and spoke to us. We empathized with the feeling of imposter syndrome. We developed prototypes to solve our challenges using no technology. We attended Spark Camp sessions facilitated by peers in the cohort.

On day three, we did identity sketches, went through the user testing phase of design thinking with our prototypes, learned about Google Data studio, visited the Grow with Google space, worked on our roadmaps, launched our pitches for solutions to our challenges, and graduated from the academy. Academy week was a whirlwind and flew by. I left feeling many different emotions. I was mentally exhausted, overwhelmed, inspired, motivated, driven, happy and thankful. I got what I asked for; a work hard, play hard experience, new global connections and friends, professional growth. I was surrounded by great role models and diverse perspectives, or as we like to call ourselves, like-minded wackos.

Being a Google Certified Innovator is still a lot to process. Post academy, I am scrolling through the photos of our short time together. I am lucky to have had this experience. I catch myself reflecting on it often and smile when I get a ping from the group. Our conversations are ongoing and I look forward to the next time we are reunited. We are here to transform, advocate, and grow. We stand by the four foundations for a culture of innovation: curiosity, agency, collaboration, and risk-taking. We are forever connected. We are #NYC19 innovators.





Be Internet Awesome Printable Activities & Everfi

The tool I have to share with you this week is Be Internet Awesome by Google. This resource has a lot of great digital citizenship activities and resources for families and educators. Please share this resource with families! Teachers, check out the printable activities. These can be done without devices!

Check out Everfi and the free courses they offer, including digital wellness and safety. They added some new ones this year!

Guardian’s Guide to Chromebooks & Applied Digital Skills

The tools I have to share with you this week are the Guardian’s Guide to Chromebooks and Google Applied Digital Skills. Please share the Guardian’s Guide to Chromebooks with parents and guardians. This resource provides more context and understanding of Chromebooks at school. Google Applied Digital Skills has a couple collections I’d like to point out; Back to School 2019 and Online Safety & Digital Wellbeing. These collections have great video lessons that foster digital skills and good habits for the year ahead.

Also check out this fun and engaging activity that integrates computer science —> how to code a popup message for your google docs!

How to Break Up With Your Phone & Google Certification

Congratulations on another year in the books! This week I am sharing How to Break Up With Your Phone. I want you to take the time for a good digital detox over the summer and practice good screen life balance. I encourage you to scroll to the bottom and sign up to Take the Challenge. You will get 7 daily emails with steps to take to internalize and achieve better screen life balance. Enjoy the outdoors and your time off! 
Google Tip: Google Certification

If you are interested in becoming a Google Certified Educator, check out the Google Teacher Center. Summer is a great time to do this! For Level 1 certification, go through the Fundamentals training and then register for the exam. For Level 2, go through the Advanced training and then register for the exam. If you would like to meet for a study/tutor session prior to taking the exam, I’m happy to help you out.


Google Tip: Wakelet Extension

There is a great bookmarking tool extension called Wakelet. This makes it easy to save and organize content you find on the web. The beauty of this is that Wakelet is Free and what you save is viewable on all devices. Imagine how this extension can transform teaching and learning! Check out the Educator’s Guide. Click here to add Wakelet to your Google Chrome extensions.

Story Speaker & Goals in Google Calendar

This week I am sharing another Google Experiment with you called Story Speaker. It uses voice to create interactive stories. This can be great for writing units and speaking skills. To get Story Speaker, get the Google Docs Add-on. Start from scratch or use a template to guide you through creating a story. This can be a fun activity to do with students whole group, in small groups, or individually.
Google Tip: Goals in Google Calendar

Google Calendar can help you set goals for yourself! These goals could be personal and/or professional. As we reflect on this school year and come up with goals for next year, this is the perfect tool to help hold us accountable for achieving our goals. To use the goals feature within Google Calendar, open the Google Calendar app on your mobile device, in the bottom right, tap “+”, tap Goal, choose a category or create a custom goal, follow the prompts, tap done. Sessions automatically add to your calendar and when life gets in the way, Google calendar will add it to another available time in your schedule. Check out their commercial here.

BoClips & Google Search Education

The resource I have to share with you this week is called BoClips. This website curates educational videos that have the proper licensing for educational use. Their platform sorts videos by subject area. The affordance of BoClips is that it is free of clutter and inappropriate content. You may recognize many of their content providers. It is also free to sign up for an account. Check it out today! Don’t forget about Classhook for educational videos from popular TV shows and movies, too.
Google Tip: Google Search Education Lessons

Google has a library of lessons to help students learn how to navigate the web effectively and efficiently. These lessons are great for growing search literacy skills. 

Shared Drives & Adding Audio to Google Slides

The news I have to share with you this week is about Team Drives within Google Drive. “Team Drives” will soon be renamed to “Shared Drives”. This renaming will NOT change its functionality. It will still “live” in the same spot on the left-hand side panel of your Google Drive. You will notice this change happen sometime this month, regardless of if you are using the web or mobile versions.

Google Tip: Add Audio to Google Slides

Google Slides will be adding a new feature this month. We will now be able to insert audio into Slides! When you click Insert and then Audio. The audio can be voice, music, narrations, sound effects that you already have the file for. *Note: This is not a way to create audio.