g suite

Becoming a Google Certified Educator

As of Saturday, March 3, I have successfully passed both Level 1 and Level 2 exams to become a Google Certified Educator. This has been on my “to-do” list since I became an ITRT in Fluvanna County. I had originally intended to do it much sooner, but always put it off for one reason or another. That all changed when I had the chance to take boot camps on my district’s dime to better my craft. Of course, I jumped at the chance!

My journey to becoming Google Certified started with me working through some of the Google Training Center materials. I didn’t complete all of it for Level 1, and I learned a lot through hands-on application with other teachers. I had to take the Level 1 exam prior to Level 2 boot camp, so I instead used Kasey Bell’s Level 1 Matrix to see what I would need to know for my exam. I browsed the matrix and studied only the material I didn’t use often or didn’t feel confident using. My fellow Google colleagues told me that I based on what I did with my teachers and talked about with them meant I was pretty well prepared for the first exam.

I took the initial exam in December 2017 before winter break. It was far too easy for me, but that’s my own experience. I was able to finish it in just over an hour and felt very confident in my ability to pass. It wasn’t too long before I received the confirmation email with my pass status, and then later my Level 1 badge to display as proof of my knowledge.

From there, I waited for February and Level 2 boot camp. I opted to not complete any of the study materials in the Google Training Center this time around. This was mostly because I expected to get the best information from boot camp and not because I felt it was subpar. Until then, I continued exploring and learning G Suite.

Boot camp day rolled around, and I was excited. It was a very fast-paced, on your toes kind of day. I didn’t find the information to be too difficult, and by the end of boot camp, I felt very confident in my skillset. I planned to take the exam the following weekend, but that didn’t quite pan out. I actually forgot to take the exam because I was very involved in painting rocks. It was a good thing that I hadn’t registered for the exam yet!

It was probably a good thing I waited though because Kasey Bell released a Level 2 Matrix document that I could use to help me study. I reviewed the document, noting where I was weak and would probably have to Google something during the exam.

When I finally took the exam on the 3rd, I was very nervous. I knew from my tech friends who had already taken the exam that it was more in depth and would take me longer to complete. Because I’d completed Level 2 boot camp with EdTechTeam, I got a $25 voucher to cover the cost of the exam.

Taking the exam the 2nd time was indeed more difficult. I found that I would second guess myself quite a few times, and I had to look up more online than I had before. It also took me longer to complete, just over 2 hours this time around. I submitted my exam and was not completely sure that I passed. It was definitely a tense few minutes, that’s for sure!

In the end, I passed my exam. I was probably more excited than I had been for Level 1, but that’s because it felt so much harder on round 2. I’m pleased that I’m certified at Level 1 & Level 2, and I’m now ready to move on to my next goal – Google Trainer. I needed to have both of the GCE exams under my belt, and now I can focus on putting together all of the documentation for that instead. I have a long way to go, and I plan to apply for that in May 2019.

Fluco Toolbox: AwesomeDrive and UFO

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wished that you could easily open Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) directly from your Drive, and have any changes sync back to your Drive? Have you hated having to download and then reupload changed files?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener

First, the basics:

Name: AwesomeDrive / Universal File Opener
URL: AwesomeDrive / UFO
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Use both of these extensions hand in hand, and you’ll be able to create new Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from within your Drive. You’ll also be able to edit the files on your computer’s version of Office, and then sync changes back to your Google Drive.

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There’s a wedding set, and you’re invited! Well, it’s like a wedding, in a weird, techy way. I’ve always had people ask if there was a way to get Drive to play well with Office, and thanks to these two extensions by AODocs, there is most definitely a way! I do caution that these extensions are not meant to be used on a Chromebook. However, these extensions will up your PC game, especially if you find yourself working with both Google and Microsoft files on a regular basis.

First, visit the Chrome web store by using the links provided above. Add both Awesome Drive and Universal File Opener to your Chrome browser. Make sure you provide all permissions. Once Universal File Opener is added, you’ll find an alert that says you need to install a sync client to your computer. Don’t worry. This program will allow your Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file to sync changes to your Drive once the file has been saved. It’s a quick install, and once you’ve done that, you’re set.

Now that everything is added and installed, let’s see what kinds of cool tricks we can now do with Drive and Office!

First go to your Drive. With AwesomeDrive, you now have some new features. Try clicking the blue “New” button to create a new file. Before, you were only able to create new Docs, Forms, Sheets, etc. Now, you’ll also see options for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. When you select one of these, you must name the file, and then it will open with the version of Office installed on your computer.

 

Once you’ve finished editing the document, simply save it and it will automatically sync to your Drive. No more downloading and uploading Office files for you!

Another cool feature you now have, thanks to Universal File Opener, is the ability to open any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file from Drive. First, locate the file in your Drive. Instead of double-clicking on the file name, move your cursor to the right. You’ll see an icon of a computer with a pencil over it. Hovering over this shows the “Open File” text. Clicking it opens the file in your computer’s version of Office. Make any changes to the file and click Save. A small pop-up will notify you that the file is being synced to Drive. Make sure to save often!

 

After the file has been synced, another notification will pop up on the lower right corner of your screen notifying you that your file has been saved to Drive.

Using both AwesomeDrive and Universal File Opener should definitely make managing your files a lot easier. Give them a try!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Kaizena

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever wanted a beefed up version of Google’s comment feature for Docs? Wished you could stop repeatedly typing the same comments over and over, or wanted to add voice comments? Wished that you didn’t need a program that required yet more student accounts and was instant?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Kaizena

First, the basics:

Name: Kaizena
URL: Link Here (Or find with the Add-Ons menu in Google Docs)
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Kaizena’s recent switch to focusing on Google Docs makes it easy to add text comments, voice comments, track skills, and reuse common comments over and over again. No need for a special account for students, and everything syncs with Google.

If you looked at Kaizena before and cast it aside because you had to be using the website, you might want to give it another shot. I remember looking at this particular tool before and putting it aside because it just seemed like one more thing. However, Kaizena has changed their focus as of the end of January 2018. While their website still exists, and can be used, G Suite schools will find that Kaizena is focusing mainly on their new Google Docs add-on. This add-on is easy to use, and only teachers need accounts to provide feedback. Students do not need any special accounts, just the add-on. Based on that premise alone, I was intrigued, and I think you will be, too.

First, load Google Docs and go to the Add-Ons menu. Search for Kaizena, and add it to your account. Docs will install it in the background. Once installed, open it like any other add-on. A new window will slide into view.

When you first open Kaizena, you will be asked if you are a Teacher or Student. Teachers need to have an account to give others feedback, and clicking the Teacher button will walk you through this process. If you are just a student, chose that route, and give Kaizena any permissions that it asks for to access your Drive and Docs.

Every other time Kaizena loads, you’ll see a screen with a few different options- Voice Message, Track a Skill, Attach a Lesson, and Text Message. Let’s break each of these down:

  • Voice Message: Record your voice and leave a comment for students to listen to later. Students can also download the comment.
  • Track a Skill: This lets you give students feedback in the moment on how they are doing with a particular skill or standard, much like a rubric. Customize and reuse as necessary.
  • Attach a Lesson: When giving feedback, you can attach a lesson that has links to guides or videos about a certain skill, such as capitalizing beginnings of sentences. Reuse your custom lessons again and again!
  • Text Message: Similar to the regular commenting feature, this does just as you think. Write a text comment to be viewed later.

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Since lessons and skills can be used again and again, they are stored and created on Kaizena’s website instead of in the add-on. More on how to create these later in this post.

Let’s look at using Kaizena. First, have a student share a document with you. This can be done in many ways, but chances are that Google Classroom is the most common method. Open the student’s document, and then start Kaizena from the Add-Ons menu.

Read through the student document. When you are ready to make a comment, highlight the text to be commented on. Choose to either make a text comment or a voice comment. Do note that you can change the color of the text that has been highlighted. This can be handy if you and a collaborative teacher will both be giving feedback on the document.

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If choosing to make a text comment, simply type the text and post. If choosing to make a voice comment, first agree to allow Kaizena to access your microphone. Then record your comment. Notice that highlighted text stays highlighted as long as the Kaizena add-on is active. It will be hidden from the screen if turned off, but not deleted.

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Example of a text comment with highlighted text.

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Example of a voice comment with highlight

All comments are immediately available to the student. All the student must do is open the same document and load Kaizena from the Add-On menu. They will be able to review any comments left by the teacher, and leave replies, just as with the regular Google commenting feature.

Commenting, whether text or voice, is a great tool, but Kaizena lets you do more than just that. By utilizing their website, you can create reusable lessons or track skills. Let’s take a closer look at each of those.

Any time you make a comment on a student’s work, you can attach a lesson. Lessons can be customized and reused. They must be made on the website side of Kaizena. For example, if students are always forgetting to capitalize letters at the beginning of sentences, you can create a lesson on capitalizing that includes what students should do, and provides links to other websites or resources.

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Click + New Lesson to create a new lesson for your Kaizena account.

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Add comments that include links to videos or websites. You can even add voice comments as well!

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Go back to the document and Add a Lesson. Start typing the name of the lesson, and click to add it.

Track a Skill is like a mini rubric. If you are focusing the assignment around certain skills, such as organization, this tool will let you track student progress toward mastery. Create a skill on the website and then edit to provide further details. You can describe what it means to receive each level, or modify the number of levels for a skill.

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On the website, click the + New Skill button to begin.

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Name the skill, and edit the different levels, as well as provide descriptions for each.

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Go back to the document and Add a Skill. Start typing the name of the skill, and click to add it.

With all of these extra features, Kaizena takes adding comments and feedback to student work to the next level. Step up your feedback game and give this add-on a try!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: Formenate

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever had a multiple choice quiz set up in Google Docs, and wished you could easily make it a Google Form as well? Ever wished that the process was quick and easy?

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: Formenate

First, the basics:

Name: Formenate
URL: Go here (or get the Add-On in Google Docs)
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: Take a multiple choice quiz that has been set up in Google Docs and easily convert it into a Google Form. Don’t spend wasted time copying and pasting each question. Just select your desired options and go!

I stumbled onto this Google Docs add-on by accident. A colleague had told me to check out another add-on that allowed a user to convert a quiz set up in Google Docs to Google Forms. I installed it, and found it was almost as much of a hassle as simply copying and pasting. It was quickly removed, and I searched for another option instead. Formenate popped up in my results so I gave it a try. Right away I knew my teachers would love it!

First things first: Open up Google Docs and click the Add-On menu button. From there, select to get add-ons. Formenate will appear after a search, so go ahead and install it. Give Google Docs time to install the add-on before going to the next step. It will take less than a minute.

Once the add-on is installed, then you’re ready to convert a Docs quiz to Forms. First, open your multiple choice quiz in Docs, or create a new quiz. Formenate requires that the quiz be set up as a Numbered list. If you’re creating a quiz from scratch, then this is easy. Just make sure to select the icon on the right side of the that has numbers 1, 2, 3 and what looks like writing beside it. Now, type in 1. and press space. Your document will automatically be formatted. Finish typing in the question and press enter. The next line is automatically formatted to be 2., but if you press the tab key on your keyboard, you can tab in and have the options to add answer choices a, b, c, etc. Use the decrease indent button to move back to using numbers and to start the next question.

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Make sure to select Numbered List before creating your form. Make sure any already created quiz is formatted this way!

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Decrease Indent button

Once the quiz is created, go to the Add-Ons menu button. Look for Formenate and select “Start”. A new window slides in from the right side of the document. Select the options that apply to your quiz. Give it a title, select if all questions are required (or not), whether to collect email, and so on. If you need Forms to grade, make sure to select to make it a quiz at the bottom. Choose how many points each question will be. If the option you are looking for is not available, don’t worry. You’ll always be able to edit the settings once the Doc has been turned into a form.

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After all necessary options have been selected, click the blue “Formenate” button. If you have done everything correctly, you’ll see a red “Success!” message below this button, and if you scroll down, you’ll find links to preview your form, as well as to edit it. Your form is saved in the main area of your Drive, so make sure to move it to the appropriate folder.

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Now that your quiz is in Google Forms, you can finish making any necessary changes. Don’t forget to complete the answer key portion! Formenate doesn’t do this, so it must be done in Forms instead.

This tool will help you save so much time, and you can now have copies of the Doc and Form version of your quiz. Easily edit the Doc version of the quiz and create a new form with the click of a button. From looking at the creator’s website, it seems that there will be an add-on in the future that will allow you to convert from a Form to a Doc. If one is released, you can bet it’ll be featured on the Toolbox!

Resources

Fluco Toolbox: G Suite Training

Welcome to Fluco Toolbox, a series of posts that showcases potential edtech tools for the Fluvanna County classroom. Each post will discuss the tool, the type of problems it can help solve, and how it can be used in the classroom. If you’re a Fluvanna County staff member and want to learn more about using the tool in your own classroom, please schedule to see your ITRT and we will develop professional development based around your needs. If you’ve stumbled upon this post and you’re not part of the district, no worries! Feel free to use the information provided to jumpstart your own research.

Have you ever been working within the G Suite tools, and suddenly realized you didn’t know how to do something or find a particular tool? Google has put together a Google Chrome extension that solves just that!

Today’s Fluco Toolbox tool is: G Suite Training

First, the basics:

Name: G Suite Training
URL: http://tinyurl.com/j87jnjo
Cost: FREE
Problem this tool solves: This Google extension provides training and interactive walk-throughs while you work within G Suite. At any time while in the G Suite tools, there will be a button with a question mark and Google colors around the outside. Users can search the database for answers to any question they may have about using G Suite.

Sometimes it’s good to have a tutorial or database full of answers to our questions right within our grasp. Google has created the G Suite Training extension to assist new and old users with the G Suite programs. Once the extension is installed, a simple refresh of any Google apps currently open will activate the extension. You’ll now see a button that looks like this in the upper right corner of all apps:

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Clicking on this button will pull up a new box. The content in this box will vary, depending on the G Suite app you are using, but it will show a search bar and suggestions to help guide you. The image below shows suggestions for using Gmail:

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Within the current suggestions, I can watch a video on an overview of Gmail, or I can select “Composing, Editing, and Sending Email” to see further help topics in that category. The best part is that there are interactive lessons in each section. If I was new to the G Suite world and needed to go through an overview of Gmail, I can press the red play button on that topic. A lesson will begin. It will show me the text and read it to me, and then use my screen to guide me through Gmail. As it guides me, I am asked to click and interact with the screen. I can choose to end the lesson at any time by clicking anywhere on the screen.

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Resources

Video – G Suite Training: This video is a quick look at the G Suite Training extension.

 

 

Fluco Toolbox image created by Stephanie King (Fan) for this series. Please do not use without permission.