Category Archives: adult learning

Certification Update

For many online courses, the weekly deadline is Sunday at 11:59 PM. While it wasn’t quite that late when I got online to start the Google training, it was late-ish. I knew some of the content as I had completed the first section over the summer and figured I didn’t need a lot of time to get back up to speed.

So, like many of my online students, I missed the opportunity to spend the week considering the content and really thinking about the questions. The first unit focuses on general ideas about using technology and helping students develop citizenship skills. I spent a little time brainstorming ideas for integration but did not meet the level of detail in the examples. I love that I can go back and expand on my original ideas.

Well…it turns out I am already behind! I went to check my study plan against the training center and realized that I had planned to do Units 1 and 2 this week. I didn’t complete Unit 2: Expand Your Access to Help and Learning. Guess I better dive in after my meeting tonight.

Then, my goal is to schedule time for Units 3 and 4 earlier this week so I have time to really dig into the content.

I’ve seen a couple folks in the GEGs who are interested in tagging along with me. Not sure how we might work together beyond just moral support: share ideas, tips, questions.

Google Certification Study Schedule Fall 2017

Here is my plan to study for and take the Google Educator Level 1 Exam before the end of the year. I’ll be sharing my progress here and encouraging others to join me in this journey through the Google Educator Groups in Virginia.

I’m working my way through the Google Training Center materials.


Week One (11/6/2017): Get Ready to Use Technology in the Classroom, Expand Your Access to Help and Learning


Week Two (11/13/2017):  Have a Mostly Paperless Classroom, Save Time Communicating

Week Three (11/20/2017): Organize Activities for Yourself and Others, Bring Meetings Online

Week Four (11/27/2017): Bring Student Work Online, Measure, Understand and Share Student Work


Week Five (12/ 6/2017): Teach Students Online Skills, Build Interactive Lessons

Week Six (12/13/2017): Captivate Your Class With Video, Facilitate Group Work

Week Seven (12/20/2017): Promote Digital Citizenship, Final Review

Week Eight (12/27/2017): Take the Test

Finding Time for Quadrant Two in Busy Times

Fall is my busiest time of year and life seems dominated by work. It’s work I enjoy and I get to collaborate with outstanding leaders and educators across the state. But, there are days when I just need to let the work go a bit and spend some time in what Stephen Covey called Quadrant Two: not urgent but important activities that focus on personal and professional development. I started today by cleaning up my desk and shelves. I’ve been sort of shoving stuff there as I come home between events and now that life has settled down for a few weeks, things can go to their proper places.

I have been using my personal time to play the guitar almost every day. I know *how* to play the guitar but needed something better than the old Mel Bay books to move me along to actually playing the guitar in an enjoyable way. I’m using a great app called Yousician that creates lessons for me and tracks my progress. It is challenging enough to keep my interest but not so difficult that I can’t keep up. The practice mode allows me to go slower and work through difficult passages.  I like the way the app focuses primarily on playing but also has a learning track related to music theory. (I’m playing minor blues scales right now.) I enjoy escaping to another room away from the office and just playing for fun…no pressure to achieve other than to please myself although I am motivated by the gold stars!

Professionally, I know what I want to do but I seem to keep putting it off: I want to earn Google Level 1 Educator certification. I have a test code tacked to my bulletin board and had plans to do it this summer. It didn’t happen and I had a revelation the other day that there was never going to be a perfect time to do it. So, I am just going to figure out how to work in study time.  My plan is to complete Google Fundamentals Training with a goal of  taking the exam before the end of the year. Then I can participate in the VSTE training for Level 2 in the spring.

Frankly, I’m a little nervous…I haven’t taken an exam of any kind for a very long time. I’m going to see if others want to join in with me to study. MOOCs might be dead, but I think there is still a place for people learning together and supporting each other professionally.  I’ll post my study schedule later today and then push it out via the Google Plus communities in Virginia. I’m not imagining anything formal but just a group of fellow travelers who help to hold each other accountable.


Literary Maps

This summer, I am taking a course through North Tier called Telling the World’s Stories Through Google Maps. We’re just getting started on the first week and I’ve already learned a few things I didn’t know about this tool that I use almost every day. I am fortunate to have Tim Stahmer as my instructor.

Part of my motivation for taking this course came from my reading. I was reading Wallace Stegner’s biography of John Wesley Powell, the western explorer known for being the first European to make the passage through the Grand Canyon. Using the maps to explore helped better understand the challenges of navigating the Colorado River. It was fun to look up the various places mentioned in the book, many of which Powell named.

From there, I headed to the 10,000 Islands area of the Gulf Coast of Florida as part of reading Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, the fictionalized story of Edgar “Bloody” Watson who lived in the islands at the turn of the century. It is a wild country, and the satellite view was  most helpful as the Google street view cameras haven’t quite made it to the mangrove swamps yet. Again, maps enriched my understanding of how the setting influenced the story.

Finally..and here was the real lightbulb moment for using maps in the English classroom…I was reading a cozy mystery series set in Leap, Cork County, Ireland. One of the characters was an elderly Irish woman and when I checked out the tiny village in maps, there she was! A woman showed up on one of the photos, pushing her walker down the road. I know it was not the woman from the book, but it occurred to me that exploring the maps would be a wonderful story starter activity.

Getting Serious About Goals in 2016

I feel like I drifted a bit professionally through 2015. Was it because I didn’t have any written resolutions about blogging, reading or being more active in social media? I think they were my hazy goals last year but without making any kind of action plan, they fell a bit by the wayside. I was a pleasantly surprised to count up 33 blog posts on this blog although fall 2015 has been a dry season.

Blogging more consistently is a major goal for 2016: at least twice a week here and once a week on my reading blog at In One Place. The action plan for finding blog fodder includes more professional reading and sharing. I encourage my students to establish routines around reading and sharing and am challenging myself to do that this year.

I’ve been loving reading other writers’ reflections on their year and their ideas for the coming year. I’m glad to know from Martin Weller that blogging isn’t dead. I want to move further out of my comfort zone along with Tamara Letter, work through Jen Orr’s list of her open tabs, and “do something” with Pernille Ripp.  The first thing I’m doing is joining in Pernille’s Passionate Learners Book Club. I know I am not the main audience for her book but I think it’s essential that those of us who work with educators model the kinds of ideas she writes about. For instance, my “non grading” practice has opened some really important discussions with the teachers I work with and I really enjoyed the conversation I had with other professors during VCU’s #ALTFest.

It wasn’t like I didn’t accomplish a few things, mostly around my areas of work. I developed and taught two new courses for University of Richmond and rediscovered the joy of working and learning face to face after several years of teaching exclusively online. I helped VSTE expand its offerings and its audience so it is now truly a year round professional development provider. I read 97 books, 22 more than my initial goal of 75. Admittedly, many of them were fluff, but I had fun with some old and new authors.  I’m going to set a goal of 75 books again this year, making sure to include professional books. I bought three new ones during Dean Shareski‘s keynote at the conference (The Wondering Brain, Writing on the Wall, and A New Culture of Learning.) I’ll write about this reading here while I muse on my personal reading over at In One Place. If you’re interested, I’ve written my top five books of 2015 post to kick off 2016.

One last new routine: I love looking at Tom Woodward’s weekly web harvest that gets posted via Diigo. I’ve had it set up for awhile but never seem to remember to use the tag that would kick off the blog post. I’ve got it ready to go for this week: I tagged the various sites I used for this blog post as well as a few others about blogging in general. I think the post should happen on Sundays.