Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Innovative Educator’s View of A Day at The Google Certified Teacher Academy Reunion

On Friday, February 27th Google hosted the reunion of the first northeast cohort of Google Certified Teachers. For an innovative educator, being at Google admittedly feels much like winning the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Once you enter the Google facilities, what you find inside is as awe inspiring as to innovative educators as it was to Charlie and Grampa Joe.

In place of Willy Wonka’s psychedelic wonderland full of chocolate rivers, giant edible mushrooms, lickable wallpaper, other ingenious inventions you find the Google micro kitchens, whimsical lava lamps, colorful rubber balls for sitting, lego sculptures, first class (and free) dining facilities (including a fabulous sushi chef), gyms, a full game room (pool, ping, foos, Guitar Hero, etc), laundry rooms, massage rooms, dry cleaning, Razor Scooter stations, and collaborative workspaces fully equipped for 21st Century innovation.

When you put innovative educators in the mix, you have a recipe for success that drives innovation and customization right into the hands of those best suited to help students and other educators serve up an enticing future. One of the many benefits of being a Google Certified Teacher is that you get an insight into all the great educational uses of Google from some of the most innovative educators in the world.

Here is a peak into what we saw.
  • How to launch Google Apps in your school district
    Presented by mother and daughter team, Connie & Kyli Sitterley from the PENNCREST School District in Pennsylvania.
    Visit: Google Apps and The Sitterleys – Part 1 and Google Apps and The Sitterleys – Part 2.
  • Yes You Can! Conquering Copyright Confusion
    Presented by Kristin Hokanson, Technology Integration Coach Upper Merion Area HS, Media Education Lab, Temple University
    Visit: Copyright Confusion
  • Google Forms - Visualize. Capture. Analyze. Act.
    Presented by Kevin Jarrett ,Technology Facilitator, K-4, Northfield Community School
    Visit Google Forms
  • What's New in Google Earth 5 – Travel back in Time with Historical Imagery, Dive Below the Surface of the Ocean, Record Your Journeys with Touring
    Presented by a Google Earth Programmer
    Visit Google Earth 5
  • Sharing Effective Staff Development Strategies a.k.a "How to share the magic."
    Presented by Barry Bachenheimer, Director of Instructional Services at Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools, NJ and Pam Friedman, Instructional Technology Specialist at Westfield Schools, NJ
    Visit Staff Development Strategies
  • I Didn’t Know Google Could Do That!
    Presented by Jerry Crisci, Director of Technology at Scarsdale Public Schools, NY
    Visit "I Didn't Know Google Could Do That"
  • Taking it Virtual …into Second Life as a Google Certified Teacher
    Presented by Nancy Sharoff K-4 Technology Facilitator in Ellenville, New York
    Visit Google Certified Teachers in Second Life
  • Web 2.0 Smackdown – Sharing of Cool Tech
    Presented by various GCT Participants
    Visit Web 2.0 Smackdown

In addition to these presentations, one of the big features/pushes at the event was Google Apps for Educators which schools can use to bring communication and collaboration tools to the entire academic community for free. Kevin Jarrett, Technology Facilitator, K-4 at Northfield Community School and Lisa Thumann, Sr. Specialist in Technology Education at CMSCE, Rutgers University showed participants how to get started with this presentation. They shared that Google manages all the technology details, so educators can focus their time, energy and budgets on teaching and learning.

From the Google Apps for Educators website:

“Google Apps Education Edition lets tech administrators provide email, sharable
online calendars, instant messaging tools and even a dedicated website to
faculty, students and staff for free. There's no hardware or software to install
or maintain, since everything is delivered through a standard web browser --
anytime, from anyplace.”

Here are the services included:
  • Gmail - Offer email to your faculty, students and staff with 2 gigabytes of storage per account, search tools to help them find information fast, and instant messaging built right into the browser (chat can easily be disabled for the whole school if you don't want students to be able to IM with their accounts).
  • Google Talk - Teachers and students can call or send instant messages to their contacts for free -- anytime, anywhere in the world. Imagine the possibilities for people collaborating on projects from different locations.
  • Google Calendar - Everyone can organize their schedules and share events, meetings and entire calendars with others. You can even publish the school calendar on your website to let families know about events like back-to-school nights, homecoming and vacation days.
  • Google Docs - Students and teachers can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations and then collaborate with each other in real-time right inside a web browser window.
  • Google Sites - Create a class site and edit it the same way you'd edit a document -- no technical expertise required. Your site can bring together all the information you want to share with your colleagues and students, including docs, calendars, photos, videos and attachments. IT decision-makers can learn more about Google Apps Education Edition.

Here’s a pictorial peak captured by Google Certified Teacher, Kevin Jarrett.

I know many of my readers want more information on how they can apply to become a Google Certified Teacher. Stay tuned for a future post outlining how and when to go about applying.


  1. I applied for the Google Teacher Academy, but was declined. Any help with "how" and "when" to go about applying will be appreciated! I'm looking forward to the future post. Thanks.