UPDATE to my Google Innovator project ‘plnnr.net’ 

http://plnnr.net

When I first submitted my project back in April, I had only taken previous projects and created a system where others could add suggestions for new tools.

It wasn’t until being at the Academy in Boulder that I had the idea to connect the ideas that teachers suggest with developers on Github. You can browse mine at www.github.com/rheajt.

If you aren’t familiar with Github, let me give you a quick description. GitHub is a way for developers to house their open source projects. Many developers keep lots of small projects that they use as part of their resumes. Why not provide a way to connect these developers directly to those ideas?

There is no limit to the ideas that teachers have for custom functions, add-ons, extensions, and other various web apps. I am hoping to help that process by making it easier to collaborate!

Still to come:

1. Allow developers to create a gist or repository directly on Github using their API with description of the project already created.

2. Tweet out project ideas when teachers create a new project. Should I create a new hash tag for these projects or harness the power of existing ones?

3. Tweet out when a developer accepts a teacher’s project idea. 

4. I need some better ways to promote the idea. I think there are tons of people looking to help out and improve their own portfolios at the same time. Examples of this are FreeCodeCamp and Stack Overflow. How can I get people on those sites interested in plnnr.net?

Closing

There is tons of work to do in the next few weeks. I hope sharing this prototype helps me better see ways to improve the idea. If even a few ideas that can help teachers become reality then it will be worth it!

From the Middle East to the Mid-west!

Prompted by being accepted into the #COL16 Google for Education Certified Innovator Academy in Boulder, Colorado I decided it was a perfect time to turn it into a little bit of a road trip around the mid-west. I got to see family and friends that I have been lucky enough to associate myself with in my lifetime.

First stop was Chicago.

I took a boat tour and learned about the city where I was born. Truly an impressive city that almost feels like it is one big machine. The amount of engineering that must take place to just to move people around the city is so impressive to me.

innovator-graduationThen it was off to Boulder for the Innovators Academy! I already wrote about my experience there, so please check that out if you are an educator considering an application. Definitely a professional highlight for me.

After that experience I took off for a few days in Wisconsin with family. From Madison, I decided to rent a car and drive around Minnesota and South Dakota. I got to see Ben in Minneapolis and Sam and Nora in Worthington. From there I took off all the way across South Dakota to check out Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood.

I am not a huge fan of driving but there is something very liberating about cruising across an entire state at 80 miles per hour. I am so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to make these travels.

 

Reflections from the Google Innovator Academy

In 6 years as a teacher I have never had a professional development experience as rewarding as this. Especially since the last 3 years have been spent in Turkey with very little in the way of a PD community. The focus of the program is on helping teachers advance their project ideas, however, my big take-away from the time was the networking with other teachers who all have a technological focus in their districts/schools/classrooms.

Beyond that facet of the program, there were things that really stood out to me from each day of the program.

Day 1:

breakoutBreakoutEDU. That is all I really need to say. I was basically the only teacher who had no familiarity with the program prior to this conference.

It is an escape room for your classroom. I have posted about escape rooms before, and I am not shy about telling people that “it is more about the puzzles than the escape” despite how pretentious that statement sounds.

Day 2:

Wesley Chun (@wescpy) gave a talk about Google Apps Script! This is my favorite part of using Google Apps and to hear from someone who creates the kind of add-ons/apps that I am interested in creating myself was incredible. Google Apps Script has been a big part of me learning javascript and other web technologies in the first place. It has been an invaluable resource in my learning, and I am hoping to build my innovator project around it.

Beyond that, he gave a demo of his new add-on for Google Forms that allows you to build a form from a document called GFormIt. It streamlines the entire process of creating a form. This was really cool for me, because I had created a similar add-on months ago just to play around with the Form API and see what was possible.

Day 3:

Have you heard of Google Cardboard??? Virtual reality is coming into the education space in a big way with very cheap VR devices.

I think this is going to completely change the way we take field trips in schools.

Simply put, this was a great experience for me as a classroom teacher, especially as a classroom teacher in Turkey. I work at a school that is certainly not for lack of resources, however, it can feel like teaching on an island.

I would encourage any teacher with an idea for integrating technology and education to start putting together a proposal!

40 Recommended Extensions for Teachers, Research, and Language Learners | Tech Learning

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Source: 40 Recommended Extensions for Teachers, Research, and Language Learners | Tech Learning

This is a great list of browser extensions that are designed to save time and add functionality. I have recently been interested in programming these for myself. In the Google Innovator cohort I designed a replacement ‘New Tab’ window for Chrome browser. It has links to several of the files that we have been using in the preparation weeks before the conference.

One day, I hope to have my an extension that I build on a list like this!

Google for Education Certified Innovator

My project was accepted into the next Google for Education cohort program! I will update more when I find out more, but for now I am just going to ride the excitement through the last few weeks of the school year!

Still going to devote my free time towards finishing FreeCodeCamp. Just a few more projects to go! I will be updating my portfolio with some new projects soon.

Google Certified Educator Level 2… ACHIEVED!

And just like that… in the span of 4 days… I am a level 2 Google Certified Educator! I am pretty proud of myself for having read through all the manuals, and for having the amount of prior knowledge that I did. I had really built up a lot of know-how regarding the many apps that Google provides.

Some of the new things were Google Scholar and the research tools available in Google Docs. Both very helpful tools. Also, many of the ideas that are contained in some of the lessons are very helpful. Due to the fact that I was going through everything so quickly, I am sure that I missed out on some really great ideas. However, I can always go back through and find some stuff.

Badge-GCE-Level2

Maybe someday, if I am ever a GOOGLE INNOVATOR (dun dun duuuuuuun) I will be able to suggest some of my own ideas. For now, I am very stoked about this achievement. Hopefully now I will have some time to get back to work on the plnnr.net project that I have started. In the next few weeks I hope to…

  1. Finish up my Online Gradebook with Google Sheets application.
  2. Create a tutorial series on setting up your own Online Gradebook along with help on incorporating things like Doctopus and Flubaroo.
  3. Finish my flashcard application that I began several months ago and lacked some of the knowledge required to complete.

I definitely feel that I have progressed significantly in my ability to use several of these programming languages and frameworks. I am really hoping that I don’t get too bogged down in the end-of-the-year rigmarole that always tends to happen in any given school year. Even if I do, there is a summer to play around with these new tech skills… Right? Or will travel get in the way?

Google Certified Educator Level 1 ACHIEVED!

On Monday (the day we returned from vacation) I decided that I need to have certifications from Google. I had heard of the programs, however, I hadn’t really done any research into it. So I finally did, and 48 hours later I am certified in the first level!

Badge-GCE-Level1

I was already familiar with most of the apps that are covered in level 1 and use most of them pretty regularly. Since I have been using the Google Scripts service for a number of my programming projects I have familiarized myself with most of the apps pretty well. I am always looking for new ways to streamline my own work flow and there are a number of new things that I picked up while running through this course. I am going to dive right into level 2. Another 48 hours? Probably not, but I like to think that I can finish it before next week! Hopes and dreams.

Google Sheets: Functions for grading!

It is that time of the year when entering grades becomes the all-consuming activity for teachers everywhere. Since I am crazy about learning how to better use Google products to make life easier I thought I would share a few functions that have made grading easier for me. Excel provides similar functionality, but you will have to check the docs to figure out the syntactical differences.

Before I jump into the formulas, let me make sure everyone is aware of how to select data on a spreadsheet.

A1:D1 This will select all of the data in cells A1, B1, C1, and D1 and allow you to manipulate that data.

A very basic example of that would be: =AVERAGE(A1:D1) will provide you the average of the data in the selected range.

To take that a step further, we could select all the data in a column: =AVERAGE(A:A)

Or maybe we want a set of data from a different worksheet inside the file: =AVERAGE('Another worksheet'!A1:D1)

These functions can then be nested inside each other: =ROUNDUP(AVERAGE(A:A))

The functions purpose is usually pretty explicit from the name. Obviously, AVERAGE provides the average of a data range. ROUNDUP takes a number and rounds it up to the nearest integer.

That is a very basic explanation of how to select data in Google Sheets. Now onto the functions that I found helpful in my gradebook.

I want to take the average of the top 4 grades…

=ROUNDUP(AVERAGE(LARGE(A1:F1, 1), LARGE(A1:F1, 2), LARGE(A1:F1, 3), LARGE(A1:F1, 4)))

Looking at this formula from the inside out, first you see the LARGE(range, position) function. This takes the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th values respectively from the range A1:F1. (Replace that range with whatever you want)

Then that is wrapped in the AVERAGE function, which is in turn wrapped in the ROUNDUP function. This will get an average, and roundup that average to the nearest integer. Make sense?

I want to count text fields as numerical values…

Sometimes I like to mark in my gradebook “Complete”, “Incomplete”, “Missing”, or “Absent”. When you use a function like AVERAGE or ROUNDUP then it completely ignores these text fields. But let’s say I want “Complete” to be equal to 100, “Incomplete” to be a 50, “Missing” to be a 0, and “Absent” to be ignored. For this we will need to create a custom function. Along the toolbar select ‘Tools’ > ‘Script editor’ and create a blank project.

Copy and past the code above into the blank ‘Code.gs’, save your work, and return to your spreadsheet. You now have access to a =AVGCOMPLETES(range) function that will perform the required tasks.

Hopefully this has given you an idea or two about how to better manage student data in Google Sheets. Post a comment if you have any questions.