Center Grove educators going gaga for Google

Daily Journal Staff Writer

After a two-day boot camp of training in Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive, two Center Grove educators got a title that shows they specialize in ways of using technology in the classroom.

They can show teachers how to create a customized Google search, which will filter out unrelated or inappropriate sites and only bring up credible sources. For an elementary school teacher teaching her class about penguins, that allows her students to find educational, accurate information through the Web.

And they can show them how to use video more easily in their classroom, where they can stop and talk with their students or ask questions about what they saw without having to touch a button.

The two Center Grove educators became Google certified this year, meaning they are trained in using multiple Google applications in the classroom, including Gmail, Google Calendars and Google Drive. Now, they are tasked with training teachers on how they can use those apps in their classroom.

Across the county, few teachers have that certification, but dozens will get certified within the next year.

Franklin has four staff members who are certified, but more than 10 others have asked to be certified this fall, director of technology Matt Sprout said. Since the applications are free and already on teachers’ computers, educators can use them to collaborate with other teachers more easily and improve instruction in the classroom, he said.

“We’re giving them tools to help do what they already do,” Sprout said. “We want to make the most of the technology that we have.”

Greenwood doesn’t have any Google-certified teachers, but it and Clark-Pleasant both will start using Google applications districtwide this fall.

The two Center Grove educators decided to get the certification themselves so they could teach other faculty members about tips and tricks found within Google applications that are already on Center Grove computers.

Teachers or administrators have to pay $10 to $25 to take the Google Educator certification exams and then are tested on Google Drive, Gmail, Google Sites, Google Docs and Google Calendar before they can be certified.

Center Grove instructional technology specialist Jenna Cooper and coordinator of connected learning Kim Hendrick regularly train teachers and administrators on tools to use in the classroom, such as how to create a PowerPoint project for a specific topic while also incorporating video clips and photos into the presentation.

“(Google certification) gives me credibility with the teachers that I’m training. If I’m training on Google Drive, that usually helps the audience see that I’ve been through extensive training. I really love Google, and I was motivated to get this certification,” Cooper said.

One benefit of the certification is that they are able to move more of their training online, instead of setting up individual teacher training sessions, Cooper said.

Online training lets teachers learn more on their own schedule, Cooper said. And the materials would then be available online at any time, in case a teacher needs to reference them again.

Cooper also can upload step-by-step instructional videos or bullet-point lists for common lessons that teachers ask about, such as how to create a calendar for students’ homework deadlines.

Teachers also can set up documents that allow students to receive instant feedback when grading a term paper or project. Teachers can comment on the projects, and students can make instant updates without waiting to turn in a draft to their teacher.

Cooper and Hendrick can take another set of exams to become a Google-certified trainer in the future, which would give them access to shared resources with other Google-certified trainers.

Two weeks ago, at the Google Ed Camp in Indianapolis, Cooper led a session on engaging professional development ideas, which she felt comfortable doing because she trains teachers every week.

By leading the group, she was able to share how Center Grove coordinates professional development — from one-on-one sessions to daylong training during the summertime — as well as learn what other school districts do.