November 22, 2015

Are Your Students Pretenders in a Digital World?

Are Your Students Pretenders in a Digital World?

This is a great post about where our students are in today's digital world. I am thinking about how I can work this into my lessons this week. 

Please read and share your thoughts on this article. 

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November 3, 2015

10 Ways to Help Students Become "Future Ready"

Matt Miller, author of DITCH THAT TEXTBOOK, recently wrote a post titled "10 Ways to help students become "future ready".  I follow Matt's blog and find his posts insightful and pretty much relevant to today's student and classroom. This one was no exception and spoke to me even louder than some of his other posts.
His list gave me things to think about while at the same time validated some of my current classroom practices. One of his lead ins reads "We can’t keep teaching as if the world is static and will always look like it did for us." Let that sink in for a minute. Can you wrap your head around that statement? Does your classroom have the same look and feel as it did even five years ago? Are you changing to accommodate today's student. Today our challenges, as a classroom teacher, are as different as the classroom full of students in front of us.

September 24, 2015

Google for Education Certified Trainer

In the middle of August I wrote a blog post when I submitted my Google Trainer application. The whole process took the better part of seven weeks dating back to the end of June. Today I received an email from Google accepting me into the Google for Education Certified Trainer program. To say I am excited, anxious, ecstatic is an understatement. 
Acceptance into the program will help me help other teachers in the future. As a Google for Education Certified Trainer, I will have access to other Google Trainers, Tips, & Tools all of which will help me help other educators. 
I look forward to learning and sharing, all I learn about Google Apps for Education, well into the future. 

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September 6, 2015

Ninja Program

The Ninja Program is a great find.  I just came across this site the other day. The possibilities are endless as a resource for student in-class instruction and faculty/staff Professional Development. The site offers training in all Google Apps for Education products. When you register on the Ninja Program site you need to let the site know if you are an Educator or Student as there are two sets of lessons for each application. 
Educators get lessons designed to assist teachers in using GAFE in their classroom. Students are provided with lessons to help them use GAFE for research, learning, and classroom productivity. Upon successful completion of each App's lessons, the teacher and student are instructed to take quiz. the quizzes have around 40 questions and a passing score of 80% is needed to gain an Achievement Certificate for that particular app. The color certificates can be printed out and are suitable for framing.

I found the lessons to coincide with the old Google Certified Educator now Google Trainer Essentials study guides. My plan is to have my students create a Ninja Program account in the second week of September. I think I am going to ask if I can have space in the hallway outside my room to post pictures of my students with their certificates. I might look at putting a monitor with the program information in a continuous scroll highlighting their achievement.

As mentioned earlier, the Ninja Program is also a good Professional Development tool for faculties and staffs. When we get back to school this week, I will be getting this information out to my fellow teachers. Since the work can be completed at the learner's own pace, there isn't a need to work on this program in formal training sessions. Teachers can work on the program online whenever they have the time. Like the students, teachers will be able to print out Achievement Certificates for each successfully completed training module. If teachers need assistance, they can see one of several GAFE experienced teachers in the school for assistance. 

I am looking forward to working, learning, and sharing with my students and fellow teachers using the Ninja Program this year.

Special thanks go out to Master Ninja, Jeff Utecht for making it possible for countless numbers of teachers and students validate their Google Apps knowledge using the Ninja Program

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September 3, 2015

Share to Classroom Chrome Extension

Check out Google's latest addition to Google Classroom. This is big. The Share to Classroom Chrome extension allows teachers to push web pages out to their class instantaneously. This will definitely help with classroom management. Students will not be fumbling around trying to type in a url. Students can also push pages to their teacher allowing for sharing, collaboration and more effective planning.

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August 27, 2015

Using Google Forms to Collect Student Back to School Informaton

Back in June I was working with a group of elementary school teachers in a Summer Tech Academy sponsored by the Connelly Foundation. We were talking about different ways teachers can use Google Forms to ease their workflow. 
One of the ideas discussed involved using Google Forms to collect student information. All teachers, young and old, see the process of collecting student information, as a Back to School ritual. Some break out the index cards while others copy, collate, and staple a blank information packet for their students to take home for their parents to complete and hopefully return to school. Google forms can replace the index cards and information packets by providing a digital copy of the information for the teacher. Because the information is stored in Google Drive, it is available 24/7 from any device with Internet access. 

In the following video I demonstrate how to make a copy of a spreadsheet that has a form to collect student information. The form was designed for use with a high school class but can easily be edited to suite your needs.

Click this link to add the spreadsheet and form to your Google Drive. 

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August 17, 2015

Google for Education Certified Trainer Application Submitted

In the last week of June, just about seven weeks ago, I started working on my Google for Education Certified Trainer application. What a learning experience it has been for me. I feel I know myself better now than when I started. 

Back in June I started planning things out. There were many questions: 
  1. Should I do my Training Resume first or should I start with the Case Study?
  2. Do I fully understand the requirements?
  3. How much time do I have to submit?
  4. How do I sell myself to Google?
  5. What should be the topic of my demo video?
  6. Can I say all I need to say in a three minute video?
  7. What if my video is too long, after all I am Italian and can ramble on forever, or worse yet too short?
  8. Who should I ask to be a professional reference?
  9. How do I organize all my presentations to really showcase my Google skill set?
  10. How can I figure out what makes a good video application demonstration?
  11. Is what I should avoid as important as what I include in my video?

Thank you.Now you know why it took me seven weeks.  

I will expand on these questions in future posts. Do you think you know how I answered some of these questions? Let's see. Continue the discussion in the comments below.

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August 8, 2015

Are you flying solo?

Is it better to be alone, part of network, or member of a Community?
Showing folks the benefits of being connected will always be needed. I do lessons with my boys on this topic every year.  We usually start to network for personal gain. We have a problem and need help so we go online. We follow people who can help us. Lord knows, I do this all the time. Through these network connections we are sometimes able to join communities. 

One of the benefits not realized through our connections is the power of the community. Communities have a common goal driving them. As our trust in community members becomes stronger so too does the community. Usually what calls for the need to form communities is the need for change. The change could be a revised mission statement, new technology visions plan, or introduction of learning devices/tools like the iPad or Google Docs. 

Quite often we see schools go it alone. Principals going through Middle States don't talk to other principals who recently went through the process. In some cases people are stubborn but mostly I think people don't know how to go about being connected.  Some see the need to connect as a sign of weakness or not having the answers. Teachers especially spend a lot of time alone with their class. They don't have visitors aside from the required evaluation visit. Lunch rooms and faculty lounges are spaces to vent rather than learn and share. 

I believe many schools could benefit from a workshop on being a "learning tool". Two years ago one of my Secondary sessions was on "Building Your PLN to Become a Connected Educator".  It was designed to help teachers get connected.  We created Twitter accounts, found some educators to follow and laid the groundwork for becoming a connected educator.

What do you think? Should teachers be connected? Do you see the information available online as a distraction? Would you rather develop your own solutions? 

I am curious to hear what my fellow teachers are thinking. Pleases share your comments below.

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August 7, 2015

Mobile Apps Deep Dive | Docs, Sheets | The Apps Show

Originally shared via YouTube on Aug 4, 2015

Google has invested heavily in mobile lately - and we're excited to show you some of the improvements we've made!

We often think we can't use the iPad as a Google Docs creation tool. This video shows us how to use the iPad to edit and create & edit Docs, Sheets and more.

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August 6, 2015

Guide to Going Google

Guide to Going Google
This site contains tools and guidelines to use as a starting point to getting your students, faculty, and alumni ready and excited about what’s coming.

Be sure to check out the Professional Development Plan. The purpose of the plan is to help you get your teachers up to speed in using Google Apps for Education without letting them feel out of the loop and overwhelmed.

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August 4, 2015

Google Drive/Docs Video Tutorials by Skill Level

Recently I got a request for Google Drive learning resources. I came across 2013-14 ELEM Tool Skill Levels : Google Drive Tutorials. Of all the resources I found this one seemed to be the one that could prove most useful to teachers and students from novice to advanced Google Apps for Education users. This is an excellent collection of Google Drive/Docs video tutorials by skill level. The videos range from Basic to Advanced and cover Drive, Docs, Sheets, Presentations (Slides), Forms, and Calendar.

Google Drive/Docs Video Tutorials by Skill Level

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July 30, 2015

Chromebook Management Console

The other day I got an email from a teacher requesting information about Google's  Chromebook Management Console. Her school is deploying Chromebooks and she had some questions about the Chromebook Management Console and how many licenses were needed. Her question had a couple of layers one being managing devices and the other dealt more with filtering websites on the new devices.

Management Console

  • Admins manage devices using a browser, preferably Chrome
  • one time license purchase per device
  • license good for the life of the device
  • allows Admins to manage users
  • configure Chrome features
  • Admis can add Chrome extensions & apps to some or all devices
  • manage devices by organizational unit

Security and Filtering Sites
Feedback I received from several Google+ friends unanimously suggest using GoGuardian to manage website access. GoGuardian filters work even off campus. when the student takes the device home. This is a real plus when you are extending the learning outside the classroom.

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July 18, 2015

Slides Carnival - Google Sllides Templates
Are you looking for something different to spice up your presentations? Want to use Google Slides but can't seem to find a template or theme that works for your project? Slides Carnival might be just the thing you are looking for to get your presentations noticed. Slides Carnival has thirty-five templates to choose from ranging from Formal to Playful. Each template includes over 20 different slide layouts. You have the option to customize the template to fit your needs. I simply move the slides I do not want to use to the end of the presentation. If I change my mind, I can easily move the slide up in the presentation. When my presentations are complete I delete the unused slides leaving my presentation and the Credit Slides. All of the templates are free to download and edit. When downloaded the templates are added to your Drive. Make sure to make a copy of the template before you start to edit. Please be sure not to delete the Credit Slides. The developers of the site have gone through great lengths to put these templates together, please give them the proper credit.

In June I needed three presentations for elementary and secondary teachers in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. When I came across Slides Carnival during the winter, I bookmarked it and made my notes so I could revisit Slides Carnival when I needed to prepare something special.

As a presenter at the Connelly Foundation's PACT Summer Tech Academy, I collaborated with co-presenter Preston Tyrrell. Together we built Advanced Google Docs using the Nathaniel Presentation Template.  The following week I needed two presentations for our Secondary Tech Academy. Bill Brannick, Director of Technology for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia decided to use it to create his Welcome presentation. Bill used the Banquo Presentation Template. For my first presentation titled Google Classroom + Doctopus + Goobric I used the Imogen Presentation Template. The second presentation was titled Online Assessment Tools created using the Timon Presentation Template.

If you need a slides presentation and are looking for something different check out Slides Carnival to move your presentations to the next level.  If you decide to give Slides Carnival a try, please stop back and share your experience in the comment section.

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July 14, 2015

Google for Education Adds Whitelist Domain for Google Classroom

This is big for schools that have one domain for teachers and another for students. Now you can whitelist the domains and have teachers invite students to a class even though they are in a different domain. This was the case at my school. When I used classroom this year I needed to have an account in the student domain. This link explains how to set up the whitelist. Make sure you perform the "add domain" to each domain. If you don't whitelist both domains students will not be able to share files from their teacher.

I performed this task today on my school's two domains. Teachers are on and students are on The process took maybe five minutes to do both domains. I enrolled students from the domain into a Test Class I created with my account. After joining the class, students were able to create a document in an assignment. The document then appeared in the assignment folder in the class folder in my teacher account's Drive. This is what we have been waiting for to hitch our horse the Google Classroom wagon.

July 13, 2015

Google Trainer Application in the Works

This time last year I was preparing to take the Google Educator Certification exams. I spent the summer preparing and started taking the exams in mid-August and finished on September 9th. I chose to go with Chrome as my fifth test since I seem to live in the Chrome browser.

Now it is time to take the next step, Google for Education Certified Trainer. Three weeks ago I started preparing my application. I have my Google Educator Certificate and completed my training resume along with my case study. Now I am spending time planning and working on my 3 minute video highlighting my training style.

If you are a Google for Education Trainer or have previously applied, I would like to hear from you. Any an all suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance.

July 9, 2015

Smartphones: From Toy to Tool | Edutopia

More and more students are beginning to harness the power of their cell phone. Advertising agencies market today's cell phones as "Smartphones".  Are they all they are hyped up to be or is the phone only as "Smart" as the person using it?

This Edutopia post from December 2014, Smartphones: From Toy to Tool | Edutopia, gives us a glimpse into how students can use their phones for educational purposes.

This is a nice post on integrating your students' smartphones into your lessons.

February 20, 2015

Tools for No School Days

"Frozen Schuylkill River, Philadelphia 2014" by Shuvaev - Own work.Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

At 5:50 a.m.  this morning I received an email from my principal informing me schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were closed to severe weather conditions. It was +1 with wind chills factored in to -13.  We already lost Tuesday to snow. All this on a short week.

After reading my principal’s email on my phone, I got out my iPad and loaded the Schoology app to post a quick update to all my classes (my guys just love that).  My PC Repair classes were reminded there was a scheduled quiz on the motherboard videos we viewed in class. That quiz is on Schoology and still needs to be completed today.  My Operating Systems Fundamentals students were directed to EdPuzzle to complete a video quiz. I also teach a Tech Communications class and they were directed to Quizlet to get some vocabulary review in today. This group was scheduled to have a Kahoot match today and they were informed it has been rescheduled for Monday.

I finished posting my updates and crawled back under the covers by 6:05 a. m. Later today I will check their progress along with my email. My guys know I check my mail and I have alerts set for emails from our student Google Apps for Education domain.

I am wondering what tools other teachers are using to keep their students engaged in the learning process outside of school? Schoology and EdPuzzle can also be used to Flip faculty meetings and Staff Professional Development.  What possibilities do you see for using these or other tools with your teachers?
Photo credit: 
"Frozen Schuylkill River, Philadelphia 2014" by Shuvaev - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -,_Phi...

February 17, 2015

Passion for Learning & Sharing

I suppose from appearances my roles in education, specifically on my school level, could be classified as follows:
  • classroom teacher
  • department chair
  • faculty trainer
  • mentor
  • education leader

The one big piece I see missing from the above list is learner.  As I classify my roles I see things quite differently:
  • self-motivated learner
  • community member
  • learning network member
  • collaborator
  • classroom teacher
  • department chair
  • edtech trainer
  • mentor
  • technology coach
  • education leader

It is obvious to me that I am a learner first. If was not a learner first, I would not be able to fulfill any of my other perceived roles as an educator.  Surprisingly I was never much of a reader until I got involved in online learning communities in 2008. My involvement in learning communities along with developing my personal learning network has stretched me beyond my wildest dream. As I got more comfortable with my learning I began to share on Twitter, and most recently Google+.  My personal reading time increased exponentially over the years.  I end most days reviewing my Zite and Feedly feeds. 

Learning and sharing keeps me current while making me a better educator. My students and peers also benefit from my online learning.

February 12, 2015

Learning From Failing

Don't be afraid to fail! Every failure takes you 
one step closer to success!

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