How to pass the Google Certification Exams

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(This is a cross-post from the EdTechTeam blog.)

The new Google Certified Educator Certifications were established to give teachers official recognition of their mastery and understanding of Google Apps for Education. The exams consist of multiple choice questions and practical scenarios that require you to demonstrate hands-on knowledge of various Google tools.  The modules in the Training Centre cover topics such as basic Google docs, Google Classroom, Blogger, Google Earth, Google groups, Gmail, Google Play for Education, and much more. The exams are designed to be finished in 3 hours and cost $10 for Level 1 and $25 for Level 2.

“To get certified or not get certified?” that is the question!

When the Google Certification program launched a few months ago, I debated taking the exams.

“Why do I need to get certified? I’m managing fine with Google Apps and I’m doing interesting things with my students. What’s the point?” I said to myself.

Life gets busy and it’s easy to put something aside that is optional. But then I began to notice that teachers in my network who I admire were getting their certifications. I started to feel like I was missing out on something and before I knew it, I signed up to do the Level 2 exam (I decided to skip Level 1). “How hard could it be?” I thought.

Prior to the exam, I perused the Level 2 Training modules, tried some of the unit quizzes, and felt like I was ready to go. I clicked “Start the exam” and 3 hours later, I clicked “Finish”.

Within minutes I received this email:

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I was crushed. Despite my confidence with Google Apps, my level of expertise was obviously not what I believed it to be. And then the real self-debate began: To re-try the exam, or just accept defeat? Exam rules stipulate that you must wait two weeks before re-taking an exam so I had 14 days to get ready. I decided to go for it. This is what I did to prepare for the retake of the Level 2 exam:

  1. I reviewed the modules for Level 1, took the Level 1 exam and passed (much easier!)
  2. I revisited the modules for Level 2, reviewing every section in finer detail. I did all of the lesson checks and all of the unit review quizzes. I took screenshots of the review questions I didn’t answer correctly, and went back and reviewed the material. Then I did all the lesson checks and quizzes again. And again. Until I got every answer right.
  3. I created a folder on my Bookmarks bar and loaded it up with links to topics that I wasn’t feeling confident about for quick and easy reference during the exam (all the links are from the Training Centre.) Tip: put these bookmarks in alphabetical order for easy retrieval.

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NOTE: When you take the exam you have to sign out of your Google account (they will give you a temporary account for the exam), so your bookmarks might not be available, especially if you’re on a Chromebook. So I recommend that you have two computers open during the exam: one for the exam itself, the other to access your bookmarks.

Hardest part of the exam? The multiple choice questions. They were tricky; some questions were confusing and appeared to have several answers. Some questions were difficult to understand. There’s definitely a skill involved in doing multiple choice questions, a skill you can hone by doing (and re-doing) all of the lesson checks and unit review quizzes in the Training Centre.

The practical part of the exam was fun. I can’t divulge specific information, but be prepared to demonstrate your working knowledge of everything GAFE (Docs, Sheets, Forms, Add-ons, Sites, Blogger, Classroom, Google Scholar, Google Play for Education, etc.) The best way to prepare for this part of the exam is simply to use GAFE (in every aspect!) on a regular basis. If you’re not, you’re going to find this section very challenging. Reviewing the tools that you don’t use often in the Training Centre is highly recommended.

I am happy to report that minutes after I pressed “End Exam”, I received this notification:

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Bottom line: these exams are definitely worth while taking. You will learn so much about GAFE, even if you feel like you already know a lot. The process will help you see what areas you have a good working knowledge of and what areas you have more learning to do. BONUS: if you pass, you get to proudly display your badges wherever you want. And who doesn’t love badges?!

If you are a teacher who prefers to have support while preparing for the exams, the EdTechTeam offers Bootcamps across the USA and Canada. Or, you can contact them to come to your school/board to provide a personalized, in-house Bootcamp.

In western Canada there will be a Level 1 Boot Camp in Alberta, September 1. In Eastern Canada, consider coming to the fall 2016 GAFESummit in Toronto which will offer full day Levels 1 and 2 Boot Camps on Friday along with an iPad workshop and Admin Console Tech Retreat. On the weekend, you can expect the usual awesome GAFE sessions with an iPad strand as well. And it’s at MY SCHOOL!!!! (Crescent School). There will be something for everyone, so don’t miss it!

Do you have more tips for passing the Google Certification exams? Please leave your ideas in the comments below!

Sylvia

NOTE: I found this great resource after: Take a look at the checklists that Eric Curts put together: fabulous!

 

How to Win a Demo Slam

(Note: Previously posted on the EdTechTeam blog)

My heart is racing, my breaths are quick, my palms are sweaty, and I feel like I’m about to faint. “You can do it, Syl” I say to myself over and over again, as I await my turn. “And now….. Sylvia Duckworth!” the announcer says, and I force myself up to the podium, placing one shaky foot ahead of the other. I am filled with dread but walk purposefully to the front of the stage, and start my Demo Slam.

The Demo Slam is one of the highlights of an EdTechTeam GAFESummit that takes place at the end of a full day conference. This is a quick-paced, high-energy session where presenters have three minutes each to demonstrate something Googly in front of the crowd, who will vote for a winner at the end.

After watching and participating in many Demo Slams over the past three years, I have become a keen and curious observer of the sport, mentally taking notes about what works and what doesn’t work. What became clear to me from the beginning is that winning the competition has very little to do with technical expertise and everything to do with delivery and maximizing entertainment value.

Here are my top 10 tips for a winning Demo Slam.

  1. Choose something fairly easy to demonstrate. Nerves can trip you up if there are too many steps.
  2. Everyone loves a good story. Try to tell one during your Slam. String a few ideas together in a cohesive way.
  3. Be original. If you use a Demo Slam that people may have seen before, put a unique twist to it.
  4. Perform your Slam beforehand in front of your friends and ask for honest feedback and suggestions.
  5. Time your Slam while performing it out loud and make sure that it does not go over 3 minutes.
  6. Practice is key. Practice your Slam over and over again until you can do it without thinking.
  7. Trash talk the competition: they love it and the audience loves it, too.
  8. Play up the home court advantage if you have one. Remind the audience that you are from their home town and that they should vote for you.
  9. Play up the foreigner advantage if you have one. Throw in flattering comments about their city. Bonus: attempt to speak in their language if different from yours.
  10. It’s all about attitude. Try to exude confidence even if you are not feeling it.

After my turn at the microphone, the audience is applauding, and I stumble back to my seat, the other competitors high-fiving me as I pass. Regardless of the outcome, I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone for three excruciating minutes. After all, how can I ask my students to take risks in my class if I don’t take risks myself from time to time? It’s the only way to learn and grow, and to discover your true potential.

“The greatest failure is the failure to try” (William Ward).

NOTE: For inspiration, check out Google Demo Slam: Live on Air.

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