Posted in #COL16

Slides Make Awesome GIF’s!

Slides Make Awesome GIF’s!

Have you ever dreamed of having your students create stop motion videos to demonstrate their learning? What if you could also turn those stop motion videos into a GIF?? Thanks to the skills of Jordan Rhea (@RheaJT) and Dee Lanier (@DeeLanier), that dream can come true with!

GIF Example.gif

Step 1: Stop Motion Using Google Slides

Create a Google Slide Presentation where the objects move slowly from slide to slide. The slide presentation could end up containing well-over 100 slides, but the more slides used the smoother the motion looks! For more ideas on how to create stop motion using Google Slides, check out the blog “Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides” by Eric Curts (@ericcurts).

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Step 2: Turn Slides Into Images

After completing the stop motion images on a Google Slide, go to What this link will do is take you to an apps script called “Slides 2 Drive,” which turns each individual slide on a slide presentation into it’s own PNG file.Slides2Drive

Once on the site, click “select a file” it will take you to your google slides (after you approve all the permissions of course). Select the desired slide presentation for the app script to begin working and turning them into images. It will create a Folder in your drive that will store all the newly created images. These images will be labeled by the number to which they are found in the original google slide presentation.



Step 3: Turn Images Into a GIF!!

With the completion of the “slides 2 drive script”, go to On the GifMaker site, click “Upload Images” to find the images created from the google slide.

There are a slew of design options on GifMaker that will be used to create the GIF, including canvas size, animation speed, and loop number.  Next, click “Create GIF Animation” and wait for the site to work its magic! When it is completed, you have a GIF!

Create GIF

Step 4: GIF’s Final Stage

Download GIFAfter the GIF has been created, it will display a preview in the upper right hand corner. Adjustments to the GIF, such as size, speed, and loop, can still be made at this point. When satisfied with the GIF, select “Download the GIF” to use it for desired purpose. These GIF’s can be placed on Class Websites, Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.), Learning Management System Programs (Blackboard, SeeSaw, Canvas, etc.), to name a few!



Through these simple steps, students can become creators to demonstrate mastery of their learning through Stop-Motion-GIFS. Here is to putting more creativity and learning into our students’ hands!

Posted in Uncategorized

All Questions Required – Google Forms Update

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 9.55.23 PMGoogle Forms Update

Google Forms has been an incredible resource for me as a teacher to collect data on student learning and growth through pre-tests, formative assessments, choose-your-own-adventures, exit slips, among others. Despite my love for this tool, one of the more frustrating aspects of Google Forms has been the continual need to click specific options I used on every question. With today’s update to Google Forms, there is one less option I have to click… “All Questions Required!”

How To Access The OptionsPreferences - Google Forms (1)

To access this new option, go to the “3 dots” in the upper right hand side of the Google Form. Then click on “Preferences,” which will present you with three different options: “Collect Email Addresses”, “Make Questions Required”, & “Default Quiz Point Value.” By check-marking those options, the subsequent forms and questions will automatically apply those desired settings.

Default Settings - Google FormsMake Questions Required

When using the “Make Questions Required” option, it will not affect any questions that were created prior to that option being check-marked. Instead, it will make any newly created questions as “Required,” hopefully saving you from one more button to click. If you create a question that is not required, such as “Any questions?”, then simply click on the required option on the specific question and it will not longer be required.


What Updates Could Still Be Helpful?

Have a design options on specific questions, in order to avoid having to make the same adjustment every time. For example, when doing multiple choice questions, one still has to click shuffle option order. Another example is when using the multiple choice grid (Matching), one must click shuffle row order and-limit to one response per column. In the blog (Link: Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom Part 2), it demonstrates why it is prudent for teachers to put the correct answer in the same option spot (AKA Data Collection), therefore necessitating the shuffle option orders.

So while Google Forms still are not perfect, updates like these demonstrate that those features could be coming soon.

Also check out:

Google Forms – Basic Design Blog

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2) Blog

Posted in #COL16, #GoogleEI, Uncategorized

Globally Connected Student Activities (#GlobalConnectEDU)

“Wait, a student from Japan commented on my ideas? That is awesome!”

CollaborationWith these words, my American History students were hooked on that week’s activity. We had been reading some primary documents from Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the “New World” and then analyzing it with comments on a shared Google Doc. My goal was for the students to communicate their critical thinking in a collaborative manner, using the concept of the 4 C’s found in 21st Century Learning (Article Link). Yet, as they started collaborating within the class together, I wondered if we could take it to the next level… Global Collaboration! So what I decided to do, without informing my students, was to connect this activity with another history class in Japan. Luckily, my Google Innovator Mentor, (Nathan Gildart – Google+ Link – Twitter @nathangildart), taught history in Japan so it was an easy connection. Through the Columbus activity, my students not only got a greater understanding of who Christopher Columbus was as a person (which dramatically impacted their view of the man), but also better understood how Japanese students interpreted history through their own cultural lens.

“How Do I Start Doing This In My Classroom?”

There are a various ways you could get your students collaborating with students around the world, including: Mystery Skype/Hangouts, MyMap Projects (Global ConnectEDU For Google MyMaps Ideas), Old-School Letter Writing (No tech is just as awesome sometimes), to name a few.

“How Does One Connect With Classrooms Globally”

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With my first globally connected student activity, I was blessed to have an already established connection with an international teacher. So what other ways could you connect with international teachers/classrooms? The easiest way is via social media, such as Twitter, Google+, or Facebook. Those connections can happen through Twitter hashtags, Google+ Communities, or Facebook Groups. Another way I recently learned was for U.S. schools to

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Google+ GEG’s and Communities

contact the “Office of Overseas Schools” through the U.S. Department of State (Website Link). They can get you into contact with other schools, which could provide you with other educators from around the world.

Another great set of resources for connecting with educators is through these websites: Projects By Jen, Classroom Bridges, Global Audience Project

“How Does One Design A Globally Connected Activity?”

When designing, or considering, doing a globally connected activity, it is imperative that you have an understanding of your own curriculum standards. Are there any standards that would easily translate into a global activity? With the Columbus activity mentioned above, I identified two standards that could be collaborative: Analyzing primary documents and Identifying the impact of the European Discovery in the Americas.

Then, start contacting educators from around the world to see who you can connect with on the activity (As detailed above).

Once you have started connecting with international educators, begin brainstorming ideas for the activity, most likely through a shared Google Doc and/or Google

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Nathan Gildart and I Collaborating Via Google Hangouts

Hangout/Skype. Through the brainstorming, the activity will most likely meet everyone’s curriculum needs, and also proactively help identify any possible struggles that could develop.

Tip – If this is your first time participating in a globally connected activity with your students, try focusing on questions or activities that demonstrate the cultural similarities/differences between the various classrooms.

When you are ready to take the globally connected activity to the next level for the students, then it is important for educators to create activities, as identified by Researchers Sears & Reagin (Link to 2013 article), that require relative levels of “complexity of the task” (p. 1170).  Therefore try to design questions that require “higher-order thinking, depth of knowledge (DOK)” and “substantive conversation” according to researcher Beeson et al., (Link to 2014 article, p. 125) when designing collaborative work (meaning DOK Levels 3 & 4).  According to researcher Yi-Jeng Chen, this helps students to “gradually become more collaborative” (Link to 2015 article, p. 166) which allows them to answer increasingly complex questioning.  Not only does this collaborative culture produce greater results of learning from students, it also depends their understanding of the content.

“What Technology Tools Should I Use?”

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.34.15 PMReally there are a slew of tools available, but I personally have had success using web based tools such as G Suite (formerly Google Apps). When considering ease of use, and their synchronous (real-time) nature, it is hard to beat Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, etc. Those are great, not only for the planning process, but also for students collaborative work and commenting together from around the world.

Tip: When the Doc (or whatever product you use) is ready to be used collaboratively, share it with the setting “public, anyone with the link can edit” to the other teachers.

Then consider creating videos, or organizing a Hangout/Skype with the students participating in the global activity. If time zones prevent that from effectively happening, consider using YouTube (as private videos that have links shared between classes),

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FlipGrid Example

videos in Google Drive shared with the cooperating teacher, or even better: FlipGrid (recently learned about this tool)! It allows students to do short (no more than 3 minute) videos.  The cool part is it allows students then to ask follow-up questions (via another video) to the other students!

If possible, you could also use social media (depending on grade level and school board policy), such as twitter, to expand the learning outside of the classroom.

“What Are Some Obstacles I Could Face?”

Probably the two biggest obstacles I faced in doing these globally connected activities was the time zone differences and language barriers. Most of the students involved in this collaboration from around the world lived in time zones where it was nearly impossible to work at the same time. Because of that, it was necessary for these activities to have a loose timeline for completion.  After that discovery, I planned Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 11.44.38 PMa more expansive time window for collaboration to ensure quality work could be accomplished from all involved.

To deal with the language barrier, I mostly connected with schools where the students possessed the ability to speak English.  For example, the schools in China, Australia, Japan and Turkey were all American International Schools (or the equivalent), so there were no translation issues.

If you are afraid that the activity will be a bust, whether it be because your students will not be interested or other reasons… Don’t be. Give it a try, and see if it doesn’t provide another cool avenue to help your students to learn.

“What Are Some Benefits Of A Globally Connected Activity?”

How many times in your life have you spoken to individuals from other countries?  In my school district (Ash Grove, Missouri: Small-Rural-Lower-Middle Class-98% Caucasian-95% of the population will never leave the U.S.) it provided a unique involvement that most of my students may never get the chance to experience otherwise. Not only did they learn about the curriculum content I was going to have them learn anyway, they also learned various cultural differences between the different classrooms that participated.

Had I used FlipGrid (which I did not have available at the time), my students could have also seen these students face-face (via video) to interact in a more active-personal way.


Give it a try! If you are fearful, then consider doing a collaborative activity locally, as in within your own state/province/country. Provide students the opportunity to tackle

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21st Century Learning

bigger questions through the collaborative process in order to help them develop those 21st Century Skills.  Also, have your students be reflective in their learning (true whether during a globally connected activity, or any other learning opportunity). Research has consistently demonstrated the power of reflection in helping learners master content.

Finally, plan future collaborative opportunities! As mentioned earlier, the more collaborative activities students participate in, the more effective they become at mastering complex problems!

My questions for you:

How are you going to challenge your classroom (and yourself) to learn globally in the school year?

What steps should you take today to get a globally connected activity started/designed

What other ideas/steps have you taken to do things like this in the past?


Global ConnectEDU Website

Nathan Gildart – Google+ Link – Twitter @nathangildart

4C’s of 21st Century Learning – Article Link

Projects By Jen

Classroom Bridges

Global Audience Project

“Office of Overseas” Website Link

Sears & Reagin Research – Article Link 2013

Chen Research – Article Link 2015

Beeson Research – Article Link 2014

Google DocsSheets, Slides, DrawingsHangout, YouTube



Posted in ISTE, Uncategorized

ISTE 17 Reflection

ISTE 17 Reflection

This time last year, I was leaving my first ISTE excited, overwhelmed, and afraid that I had missed some session or poster that would positively rock my world.  Today, leaving my second ISTE, I can appreciate the week knowing that the conference provided me with an incredible experience.

Here are my three biggest takeaways from #ISTE17:

Power of Poster Sessions

Kim Calderon - Poster Sessions

At ISTE, they have poster sessions that take place throughout the entire week. These posters are an incredible opportunity because (as stated by Kim Calderon) “It’s like 50 sessions in 2 hours.” If you are curious how these poster sessions work, just think high school science fair on steroids.

These educators have posters (and/or monitors) to display their ideas, projects, or research in order to inspire other educators.  Then, other educators wander throughout the the space, stopping to take pictures, scan QR codes, or talk to the presenters.  The coolest part of this is the ability to talk individually about the processes that the poster presenter went through as they implemented their ideas.  Not only does that help the inquisitive educator learn something new, it also helps provide the poster presenter with other ideas.

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Mari Rocking Her Poster Session!

Mari Venturino (@MsVenturino – ISTE Emerging Leader 2017) had this to say about doing a poster session, “I loved the opportunity to present a poster session at ISTE17. It’s a unique experience to be able to present to small groups of people, and answer individual questions about the topic. Not only did I share with attendees, but also I learned a lot of great ideas from then!”

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Connecting With Awesome Educators

Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) encouraging me to learn how to code

An incredible aspect of ISTE is the sheer number of educators that descend on a convention and share all their tips, tricks, and ideas.  This year’s ISTE had nearly 20,000 educators from 8,000 different schools from around the world.  Many of these people may have been previously connected from their Professional Learning Network (PLN), or from past conferences.  But the opportunity to meet Face-To-Face (F2F), provides another level of collaboration and sharing.  This could include the various booths where educators would congregate, such as the Google For Education Booth or the EdTechTeam Booth (two of the booths I spent quite a bit of time at this year).

Kern Kelley - Collab

For example, while hanging around the EdTechTeam booth, I started talking to Kern Kelley (@kernkelley)about a new student help desk program he helped me to establish this year.  Through our conversation, we were able to develop another level of collaboration for our students in the coming year!

Another common area where teachers would connect could simply be in the hallways, lounges, and restaurants, (or Riverwalk since we were in San Antonio) as educators strike up conversation with those with whom they came into contact.  It’s amazing the similar interests/visions/goals/expertise that others have to offer and the fact that they are so willing to be a resource for other educators.


#COL16 Innovator Academy Members at ISTE17

Impassioned Keynote

1st Day QuestionTuesday morning’s keynote can be described in one word… “Epic-Emotional-Awesomeness.” (I know, that is more than one word, but the hyphens makes it one word still, right??)  This should not be any surprise because the speaker was Jennie Magiera.  While her resume is impressive, her ability to share a story that captives and resonates moved the crowd into action.

Her keynote centered on the idea of telling the untold stories that surround us everyday.  She encouraged us to find our own identity as an educator and through that we must make sure we are working to help our students find their own identity as well.  Everyday we must seek to meet every student’s need, provide them a safe place to learn/grow, and challenge them to be the best versions of themselves.

Here is a more thoughts on the Keynote by Jennie: ISTE 17 Keynote Blog

ISTE Final Thoughts

So as we finalize our reflections of ISTE, or the past school year, we must consider the lessons we have learned.  How have we been challenged by these experiences?  What must we personally do different in order to be the best versions of ourselves?  How can we connect with other educators more consistently in order to challenge and encourage us?  And most importantly, what can we do this next year to empower students to write a new story about themselves that will be the defining moment to their future success?

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ISTE (@ISTEConnects)
Posted in Uncategorized

ISTE 17 Keynote – Jennie Magiera


Jennie Magiera Keynote

Tuesday morning’s keynote can be described in one word… “Epic-Emotional-Awesomeness.” (I know, that is more than one word, but the hyphens makes it one word still, right??) This should not be any surprise because the speaker was Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera). While her resume is impressive, her ability to share a story that captives and resonates moved the crowd into action.

Amazing Keynote
Natalia Castillo (@NataliaCas0319)


Untold Stories

Tell the untold story of your school, educators, and most importantly the students. All of us are more than a single story, and it is our job as educators to help students to see their unlimited potential that the student (or educator for that matter) may have allowed to be stymied by their fear of their TOLD story. We must help students to see they can overcome that TOLD story in order find their UNTOLD story!

Untold Story

Opportunities For A New Identity

Jenny recounted the story of her mother’s experience as a young child (having been an immigrant from Korea), and the powerful, life-changing question her teacher asked her, “what do you want to be called this year?” As students enter our classroom each year, they carry baggage of past experiences and choices, many of those negative. Yet, we must provide (and encourage) students to understand those past decisions do not have to continue defining them.

So what if you were a failing student in the past, or a someone with a checkered past? You can choose differently today, and I’m here to be your support.

1st Day Question
Austin Houp (@coachhoup24)

Stop And Listen

When facing resistance, anger, etc. from parents, colleagues, or others it is important to find out the reasoning for their anger. As humans, we constantly find ourselves looking to get our agenda or desires advanced without regard for others. So when we face frustration from others, we generally ignore or push away those individuals in order to complete our goals. Yet, as stated by Magiera, if we would stop and LISTEN to those complaints and frustrations, we provide an outlet. Not only do we find out the true issues, we also learn more about those individuals.

Through this exercise of listening, we build bridges that can empower others to greater heights and soften their resistance to our ideas. While they (or we) may not get their way, it creates an environment of compromise and collaboration that seeks to meet everyone’s needs.

Find Out Their Anger
Austin Houp (@coachhoup24)

Be You!

Many, if not most, of us got into education due to the positive experience of a past teacher of ours. This drives us to be that same influence to our future students. While this is noble and a worthwhile ambition, it also inhibits our ability to be awesome. I could provide multiple teachers who helped define the educator I am today, however, Jennie reminded us that it is imperative that we should be the best version of ourselves. “Who Am I As An Educator?”

Do not try to be a carbon copy of your past teachers, except in terms of positively impacting students. Instead, be the Mr.-Mrs.-Ms.-Coach ________ that you are called to be.

Me Then You?
Linda Acocelli (@LAcocelli)

Who We Are

Finally Jennie acknowledged a truth that many educators live by but rarely recognize. We as professionals, have wrapped our identity into our profession. Every success and heartbreak of our students drives us to new heights, both in school and post-graduation. We can not help but talk about the things happening in our classrooms, the new ideas we are excited about trying out, and the success of our students and schools.

Who I am
Austin Houp (@coachhoup24)

Keynote Reflections

What about Jennie’s keynote spoke the most to you and your current journey?  What are you going to do differently due to this message?  How are you going to tell the untold stories before you in the coming year?

Posted in #COL16, #GoogleEI, EdTechTeam, GAFE

Google Innovator Academy – #COL16 Reflection

Google Innovator Academy – #COL16 Reflection

As I sit at the airport in Denver to fly back home, I still struggle to put into words my experience with The Google For Education Certified Innovator Academy. It was an amazing time of learning from fellow educators from around the world and trying to steal the awesome things they do in their classes that could improve my school (Ash Grove School District, MO).

Here are my 4 biggest takeaways:

1.  Networking, Networking, Networking.

Working With Nick Brierley  (Teacher in Australia)

One of the most powerful tools that individuals (regardless of occupation) can harness is the ability to network with other people. Growing up, this was a tool that I never really was taught. Yet, over the last few years (especially this last year), I have begun to understand the power in accessing the intelligence and experiences of those around the world. While I had slowly started building my own “Personal-Professional Learning Network (PLN)” (Check out “What Connected Educators Does Differently” by Whitaker, Zoul, and Casas for great ideas on how to form a powerful PLN), it wasn’t till the EdTechTeam GAFE Summit in July of 2015 that it completely rocked my pedagogy.


Working On Making A Lightbulb

So why list networking at the Google Innovator Academy as the top on my list? Simply, I met “personally” some amazing educators who are actively challenging themselves to provide the best teaching experiences for their students/staff/community, and sharing it with the world. There is something powerful about seeing someone in person that provides a deeper connection for sharing ideas and questions. The exciting part about meeting these people personally is that I not only have their personal experiences, ideas, questions but also of their own “PLN” they have developed over time. When I ask them a question, they don’t have to know the answer personally, but probability has it that they “know” someone (either virtually through social media or personally) who could be of help. The academy provided 36 fellow educators (who became classified as innovators through the academy) and various coaches/mentors/developers who can help me to impact my school and beyond.

2.  “Your fears are smaller than you think but your dreams are so much bigger than you realize.” Sergio Villegas (Twitter: @coach_sv)

Sergio Villegas

This powerful statement from one of the academy coaches, Sergio Villegas, articulated everything that teachers believe about their students. How many times as teachers do we tell a student, “Persevere, you are so close! I know that seems like a big obstacle, I promise you the reward is worth it! It looks like a mountain, I know, but if only you can fight through it!” What hit me though about this statement was the power this could give to the staff members that we work with directly (as in our school district) or through our PLN (Social Media, Conferences, etc.). For much of my career I have allowed self-doubt and fear to keep me from making pedagogical changes that would make a better experience for my students and their learning. Ultimately, fear is a powerful tool, but dreams can drive you to places your fear could never fathom.

3.  “84% of your staff are not ready to embrace your ideas. How are you going to excite them?” Jennie Magiera (Twitter: @MsMagiera)

Jennie Magiera

Have you ever been to summer/church camp where you were with like-minded people who share your passions? Then once you returned “home” to the “real world,” you found yourself depressed because not everyone shares the same passions? Academy Coach Jennie Magiera discussed the idea of how statistically 84% of your staff, students, district, do not operate the same as you. So how do you “get them on board”? Her solution was as basic as you can get, yet the hardest things to do. Meet the 84% where they are and encourage every “little step” or “new iteration” they do to improve their students’ learning. If you are in the 16%, it’s likely that you are ready to “jump on the boat” with new and exciting tech pedagogy. Everyone else would prefer to use what’s “safe” because they have developed “safety nets” for those older pedagogical practices. So consider few steps, according to Jennie, to help move the 84% forward: Print out paper material for them to use as resources, guides, how-to, etc.; meet with them personally to help them get over the struggles they (and all of us) encounter (as this will help them to develop new “safety nets”); administrators need to model in PD or other staff situations what they expect their teachers to do in their classroom. If you are in the 16% and fail to meet the other 84% where they are, you will fail to truly impact the school district.

4.  “Compare yourself to yourself from yesterday… nothing else.” Molly Schroeder (Twitter: @followmolly)

Molly Schroeder (Our Coach)

As I prepared to attend the Google Innovator Academy in Boulder, I looked through the other 35 accepted innovators projects and digital footprint. Honestly… I felt as if I did not belong because of how awesome their ideas were, along with all the awesome things many of them were already doing (via their digital footprint). Then as we collaborated at the academy, they would ask insightful questions and articulate their amazing projects! Then Molly Schroeder (My coach from team “Awkward Smoothie”) reminded us that the comparative game only has one powerful tool: Are you better than you were the day before? Is your project one step (even if an inch) closer to improving student learning? If you can answer yes to those two questions, then you are rocking it! Ignore the progress of others, unless that progress can help you move forward. Some ideas inherently get completed faster, but that doesn’t make them better. Do not look at the educators around you as though they are miles ahead and that you could never attain their “awesomeness” because it’s true. What you have to realize is that you personally have an “awesomeness” that no could ever attain. Be you, and make yourself a better “you” everyday. How does one do that? Read. Connect with others. Challenge yourself. Experiment and fail… frequently… then re-iterate.

Reflection’s End

As my flight arrives here shortly, I must wrap up a 3 day event that was a once-in-a-lifetime event. How do I wrap an experience where I was able to collaborate in person with just over 40 incredible educators of all skills, meet with Google for Education product managers to discuss how to better improve their tools for the classroom, and develop a project that will hopefully make this a better world for us all? I can not with words. I can however use these experiences to positively impact my own students, share it with the world, and then thank the Lord above for another day to live and do it all again.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Personal Ed Tech Adventure

Hanging out with Andy Love at the KC GAFE Summit

It has been a whirlwind year both personally and professionally.  It started in July of 2015 by attending a Google Apps Conference in Kansas City put on by EdTechTeam.  While at the Google Apps Conference in KC, I got the opportunity to attend a Pre-Summit Google Apps Trainer Bootcamp put on by Jay Atwood.  I was in awe at all the possibilities that Google Apps had to offer a teacher (even though I had dabbled in GAFE the previous school year, I did not realize it’s full potential till the conference).  From there, I was encouraged to get my Google Educator Certification level 1 & 2 (Which had just been released the week before).

Once I had passed those two exams, I set my eyes on the Google Certified Trainer Program (Which is about to be updated FYI).  After failing at some of the tests a couple times, and feeling the pressure of the December deadline, I was afraid my goal of getting Trainer Certified was slipping through my fingers.  With only a day to go, I passed the last exam necessary and began working on my Trainer application.  In December, much to my surprise, I received an email informing me that I had earned the Trainer Certification!

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Through this adventure, I had slowly built up my Professional Learning Network (PLN) via Twitter and was constantly amazed at the awesome stuff teachers around the world were doing in their classrooms.  I also received the opportunity to present at the Kansas City Google Apps Conference held in February of 2016 (Random Fact: presented that Saturday morning/afternoon in KC, then drove to Bolivar to coach a basketball game at 8:30 PM, then drove back that evening – Getting to the hotel at 1:30 AM – only to present that next morning.  #Exhausted).

One person whom I am constantly challenged by is Patrick Dempsey (also the best man in my wedding), who is a middle school science teacher at Webster Grove School District outside of St. Louis (He recently received the Allen Distinguished Educators Award).  One of the things that he said that really ignited many of his ideas and collaborations was the Google Innovator Academy he attended a couple years prior.  With that in mind (and so I could be as cool as “PDemps”) I decided to apply for the Google Innovator Program in Mountain View, California.

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With only a couple weeks to put my application together (as the application was due in January), I struggled to put a good application together.  Not only was it tough because of it being in the middle of the school year, it was also in the middle of Girls Basketball Season (for which I am the Head Coach), and my wife was 6+ Months pregnant with our second child.  Despite those hurdles, I still applied… and was rejected.

The rejection email was tough to take, as I really looked forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other great educators, but it was obvious that God had even better plans for me.  The rejection allowed me to refocus on what was important at the time, being a husband/father, devoted teacher, and hard-working coach.  Plus, it helped me to reevaluate my goals as a teacher and how I could best help my school district.  With the help of a couple teachers in my district, we decided to put on a tech conference (much like we had the year before) but this time offer it to other school districts as well.  I also worked with the my principal (Chris Thompson) to offer a student help desk class for the next school year (It’s goals are to make them Google Apps Experts to help other teachers, and to provide some maintenance on the chromebooks).  Ultimately I decided, as Tom Mullaney discussed in his blog “Rejected For Google Certified Innovator? Don’t Freak Out!” that I was going to impact education whether I was a Google Innovator or not.

When the new window opened for Google Innovators Applications, I decided to apply again but this time decided on a tool that I had previous experience with in the classroom but that I wished could be better (Google For Education Certified Innovator – My Application if you want to check it out).  On May 20th (While I was home sick on the last day of school), amazingly I was accepted for the Boulder, Colorado Google Innovators Academy (#COL16) for June 2016.

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After my acceptance, I received a call from my boy Patrick Dempsey and he had some words of wisdom.  He said essentially that the Academy is awesome, but it is the face to face collaboration that truly makes the program wonderful.  Fellow #COL16 Peeps, how are you going to use this academy to better your students’ lives?  How will your teaching, and the teaching around the world, make this world a better place?

So as this school year ends and the preparation for the new school year begins, I stand thankful for all those who have helped me in my career thus far.  I am blessed to work in a school district that supports me and is willing to challenge themselves in their educational approaches.  Ultimately I am thankful for a wife (Amanda Houp) who loves and supports me and is willing to join me in these adventures!

Austin, Amanda, Eli, and Ezra Houp
Posted in Uncategorized

The Year of Tech

At the end of every school year, it is natural to reflect on what transpired.  Was it what you had expected?  Pleasant and unpleasant surprises?

As a school district, we had one of the most transformational years that I have ever haAcer-Chromebook-11-C740-nontouch-zoom-big.pngd the joy to be a part of.  As detailed in August, we have been slowing transitioning to technology in the classroom, starting with iPads nearly 4 years ago.  This fall, we bought a few classroom sets of chromebooks (Acer C740 specifically) for all the buildings in our district.  We also implemented the Google Apps for Education district-wide, from the Superintendent’s office to the lunch lady.

Something that we did as a district that seemed to go over extremely well was the implementation of two different professional development days:  A summer Google Apps Conference (held and administered in house) and a Google Play Date on one of our PD days during the school year.  These two PD events not only exposed teachers to Google Apps, but gave them the resource of local teachers to be a sounding board for their tech adventures.  It was amazing to see how various staff members developed their own uses for Google Apps, including: School Calendar by the Central Office, Spreadsheets by coaches for practice plans, Google Classroom as a Learning Management System (LMS), just to name a few.Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 4.11.56 PM.png

Also as a district, we set a goal of all the staff getting Google Educator Level 1 Certified by the end of the year and ultimately about 80% of our staff got the level 1 certification (Two other staff members beside myself got level 2 certification – Kelly Blankenship and Lindsey Buckley)!  Despite some of the aforementioned successes, we did have our share of failures.  We implemented many of the tech advancements without first updating our infrastructure.  Our wifi was spotty and awful which discouraged and frustrated staff and students (That was fixed though by 2nd semester due to E-Rate Funding and wifi upgrades by the district).  Also, we didn’t have an easy way to monitor student use of the chromebooks, but once we discovered GoGuardian that problem was alleviated.


With all these successes and failures, we are now looking ahead to next year and the possibility of being in a 1:1 environment for the coming school year.  Not only that, but we are putting on a technology conference on August 3rd, 2016 TechCampAG.  This is a free tech conference for schools of all sizes or stages of tech implementation are welcomed.  Also any and all to are encouraged to attend or present.  If you are interested in presenting, feel free to fill out the following Presenter Form.

What has been your school’s adventure?  How can we work together to impact this world as fellow educators and schools?  We’d love to hear your story and ultimately let’s collaborate!

Posted in #GoogleEI

Google For Education Certified Innovator – My Application

What Is The Google Innovator Program?

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It is a program designed and implemented by Google For Education in order to support those teachers who are determined to make a positive impact on educational practices throughout the world.

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Interested In The Program?

Pass the Level 2 Google Educator Exam (If you need help with passing the exam, check out Google Educator Blog), Go to Certified Innovator and apply!

Below is my application that I just turned.  Feel free to provide any feedback or ideas of how we can make this project a success for students!

About You

If a friend designed for you a t-shirt that described you perfectly, what would it say?

Answer:  Where there is coffee, there is a way.

Tell us how you have transformed your practice, your classroom, your school, or your community (500 Character Limit).

Answer:  I returned to my HS to impact the school that had impacted me. I started the tech movement in our district: joined the tech committee, played an integral part in the implementation of Google Apps, Chromebooks, & encouraged improvement of technology infrastructure in the district. Also, I organized & setup the Google Apps Domain in the HS, then the district as a whole. I redesigned my classroom from a lecture (1950’s structure) to using various tech tools so the students became the researchers.

Link to a piece of content you’ve made.

This is a Google Slide that I use in presentations for educators at various conferences on how to use Google MyMaps in their classes: MyMaps: Student Created Maps!

Grow: Where do you find new ideas and inspiration? (500 Character Limit)

Answer:  1st, my students. Many of my subtle, but meaningful changes in my approach have come from suggestions of students. 2nd, my fellow teachers that I teach with both in the past and presently. Their willingness to challenge me, or their new ideas make think, “How can I do that?!” The 3rd & final place is my PLN via Twitter, Google+, EdCamps, etc. Constantly I see what they’re doing in their classroom, or challenging questions they ask that cause me to re-evaluate my own practices.

Your Vision

Your Vision: Title

Answer:  MyMaps Global Initiative

Your Vision: Brief Description: (250 Character Limit)

Answer:  Database for students & teachers to display/collaborate on MyMaps projects with 3 part: Details on all the various methods of using MyMaps, display completed projects, space for MyMaps that can be collaboratively completed by other teachers/students.

Vision Deck: Link to your public vision deck.

Answer:  I used SlideCarnival to help me create this snazzy vision deck:  MyMaps Global Initiative

Vision Video: You have one minute to creatively explain your problem and your vision for tackling it!  Google Innovator Application “Vision” Video – Austin Houp

Imagine you are able to have coffee with one person (currently living) who would mentor you in support of your vision. Who would you pick and why? (500 Character Limit)

Answer:  I’d pick Stafford Marquardt as a mentor, who was the product manager for Google MyMaps. He introduced me to MyMaps at the EdTechTeam Google Summit held in July at Kansas City. Obviously I’d be willing to work with anyone in that product line, but I greatly appreciate his knowledge, conversational ability, & willingness to share ideas. Not only would he help me to understand the intricacies of how best to manipulate MyMaps, but he’d also be a means to improve the resource for teachers.


Today I submitted my application but will not hear about wether or not I was accepted till May 10th.  Best of luck to everyone, and continue to change the world through your students!

Posted in GAFE, Uncategorized

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2)

Google Forms – Responses, Flubaroo, and Classroom (Part 2)

You checked out the first Google Forms Post and you created a Google Form to give to your students.  That’s awesome!  Now what…

ResponsesScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 10.52.10 AMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.02.14 AM

Once the assessment is designed to your liking, click the “Responses” tab at the top of the Google Form.  This will give you a myriad of options to collect student information.  First, create a Google Spreadsheet by clicking the “sheets” button at the top.
This will give you the option to “Create A New Sheet” or attach it as a tab into an existing spreadsheet.  If you are giving this as an assessment, then at this point you are ready to share it with your students!Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.11.57 AM

Tip: Technically you don’t have to create the spreadsheet before giving the test, but that is just how I normally do it.

Google Forms - Creating Spreadsheet

As students begin taking the assessment, their responses will appear on the Google Form Response page (but only after submitting the assessment).

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Example of Student Responses

 What’s great is that it gives you the overview of each question!  For Example, 37% of participants chose the wrong answer.  Questions to consider: Bad wording of question?  Insufficient teaching of the material? Etc.  You can also click on “Individual” and see the participants assessment and which answer they specifically selected.  This is less intuitive than the “Summary” tab, but still helpful none-the-less if you want to see how a specific student answered.

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FlubarooOne of the great things about using Google Forms, especially for Formative Assessments, is the ability to use Flubaroo to auto-grade the participants answers.  Realize though that Flubaroo is not a Google Forms add-on but a Google Sheets add-on.  To access Flubaroo, go to the corresponding sheet (click on the sheet button at the top of the “Responses” tab).  Once on the spreadsheet, do the following:  click “add-on,” select “Get add-ons,” search “Flubaroo,” click “+ Free” to add it to your sheet.  

Tip: After you “Get Flubaroo,” it will always be an option for your spreadsheets, even if you don’t create the spreadsheet through Google Forms.

Google Forms - Answer Key
Answer Key Gif

Now that Flubaroo is added to your spreadsheet, you have a lot of different options.  To set up the grading, you must take the assessment personally so that Flubaroo can use it as a template for grading all the student assessments.  When doing “Auto-grading”, Flubaroo then gives you various options for each question type including: “Identifies Students,” “Skip Grading,” “Normal Grading,” and “Grade By Hand.”  

Tip: For the name, use “Answer Key” to remind yourself when you go to create the template for Flubaroo.  

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Example of Student Responses
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Bottom of Flubaroo Spreadsheet

Identifies Students – Used for non-grading purposes, specifically sending the results to participants after completing the assessment.

Skip Grading – As stated, will skip grading the question and won’t be given as a option for sending results to students.  This is great for getting their perspective, or testing questions without any consequence to students.

Normal Grading – Will give you the option to provide various point levels for these questions.  This would be for the multiple choice/matching style questions that it matches to your answer key.

Grade By Hand – A great way to do short answer questions.  However, for most essay style questions, I use Google Docs and the Add-On Doctopus to grade.  I will do a blog post about that later on in the year.Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 11.13.32 AM

Personally, I love the auto-grade option, so that students can get feedback immediately on where they stand with the content.  Due to the immediate response, I do not do any short answer questions (besides Identifying Student Type) so that students can know how they did.

Google Classroom

When assigning the assessment to students, use Google Classroom!  Create an assignment on Classroom, and add the Google Form Assessment from Drive.  What’s great is that it will keep track for you of what students have taken/not taken the assessment.  The only frustration is that the grades are not carried over to Google Classroom (but should Google Classroom really be for grades or should it just be used for feedback?  Something to think about.).  Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.14.23 PM

Any other thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!