What Can Google Do For You?

Recently I became a Google Certified Teacher. Huzzah. Huzzah indeed.  I’m eager to share what I’ve learned with other educators who think they might be able to leverage Google’s tools to benefit student learning.  So, if you have any questions, ask away!


Sync Saved My Life

The Sign of Death

On Tuesday I boarded a flight from Minneapolis to Washington D.C. to attend the Google Teachers Academy (more on that later).  Before I left, my BlackBerry Tour told me I needed a software update.  Since I try to obey gadgets when they command me to do something, I obliged.  After the captain of the plane told me that turning my phone on would no longer cause the air vessel to plummit to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin, I turned my phone back on.  Or at least tried to.

It completely crashed.  Again.

The only thing that appeared on my phone was a white screen with the error message pictured above.  This was the second time this has happened to me in the five months of owning the phone.  Seeing as how I was no a stranger in a strange (but patriotic) land, this was completely unacceptable.  How the heck was I supposed to navigate around the city and find my way to the conference I needed to be at?  How would I enter contacts of teachers I met into my phone?  Write things down with paper and pencil?  Was the wheel just invented?  What year is this anyway?

Needless to say when I hopped of the Metro line at the Farragut North station and marched to the nearest Verizon store, I was not happy.  I pleaded to them to let me return the phone so I could get a Droid, but to no avail.  The worst part of all of this was my lost contacts, over 354 of them thrown to the digital wastelands.

I tried, oh, how I tried.

Or so I thought.

After I returned home, a bright idea struck me:  didn’t I download Google Sync to sync up my Google calendar with my BlackBerry on my other phone(s)?  It’s supposed to sync contacts too, right?  Yes, yes it does.  Very well I might add.  I re-downloaded the sync app, and restored my contacts, all 354 of them.

Sync, to me, is a little like the extended warranty I bought on my car.  I thought I would never need it, and then two months after owning it, the transmission blows out.  The extended warranty ends up saving me over two thousand dollars.  Many a time while using sync, I thought to myself, “why am I doing this?  Is this ever going to be worth it?”  Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.


I wish I would have had something like this after my laptop was stolen.  Yes I could have saved my materials to our district’s server, but I need to be connected to the district to access them.  I could have also backed them up on an external hard-drive, but even that is prone to failure too.  I’m trusting the cloud more and more these days.  Someday, that might come back to bite me in the butt, but for now, I will sing the praises of Google Sync to high heaven.  Or, on all my connecting flights to Washington D.C., at least.

Questions for Oz

I can't wait for Google's bombardment

From December 8-10 of this week I’ll be in Washington D.C. attending the Google Teachers Academy. From all I’ve heard, I can expect to be bombarded with a full host of Google based services teachers can use in the classroom to promote 21st century learning (not learning OF the 21st century, that would be a history teacher’s job, and as it happens….).  I’ve never been more excited to be bombarded.

Many I tell about the GTA respond with, “How are you going to use Google in the classroom?  Kids need help figuring out how to search for stuff on Google?”  To the former, I usually respond with something to the effect of, “well I use maps and docs for so-and-so project to achieve such-and-such learning objectives”.  To the latter question, I respond with, “Yes.”

While students do need help effectively searching the web, when it comes to students utilizing the web for learning, search is really only the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many resources on the web for teachers to use, a gold panning sifter is needed to properly sort through them to find which resources are worth a teacher’s time, and which are worthy of an Internet blacklist.

While I’m there I’ll be soaking up everything like a sponge, but there’s no reason why I can’t help teachers who won’t be there.  So, if you have any burning questions for the The Great and Mighty Googs, what are they?  Are there any particular Google services  you don’t understand or can’t see using in your classroom?  Thinking of a particular unit coming up in your curriculum and would like to implement a web-based utility?

Leave a comment below and I’ll provide updates and replies with what I learn at GTADC.

Googs, The Great and Terrible is now open for questions

Washington D.C., Here I Come!

Yesterday afternoon as I was pushing my cart around Trader Joe’s, I received the coveted email I had been waiting for on my Blackberry:


You have been selected to participate in the Google Teacher Academy. After reviewing your application, we believe that you have the experience and passion necessary to positively impact education in your region, and we are excited to have you join us on Wednesday, December 9th at the Google office in Washington, DC.

On December 9th, I’ll be going to Washington D.C. to attend the Google Teachers Academy in Washington D.C.


For some odd reason (maybe it’s because I had to put my phone number on the application) I was expecting the big Goog to call me.  Silly me.  Of course they’re going to Gmail me.

I’m very excited for the opportunity and hope to connect with 49 other like-minded teachers who are using technology and are incorporating innovative new ideas into their teaching practices.

Supposedly, Google received a record number of applications this year.  Estimates I’ve heard thus far put it around 200, but it could be a lot more.  Here’s the video I had to make for the application process.

If you will be attending GTADC, I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below!