Taking Badging to a Whole New Level

Sometimes I really think my teammates say to themselves, “How can we really throw Dan a curve ball?”

That’s what I think was going through Kim and Jess‘s heads when they described an idea they had that needed a little help from me. I’ve written about badging ideas in the past (please check out my past posts if you haven’t read them before); because what I’m about to describe is so far above any of the past workflows. They are both positioned at the high schools and are prepping the 9th grade teachers for the 1:1 chromebook program. So as a kickoff to their training they wanted to see where the teachers were but also recognize what they know. So they created a Form to check their understanding in three different areas: Drive, Classroom, & Chrome. The Form uses Google’s Quiz feature to auto-grade and provide feedback based on their answers. There is also a task component built into each area which Kim and Jess have to grade by hand in the accompanying Google Sheet. If they get a perfect score in any or all of those areas they receive a badge recognizing their knowledge of the respected area(s). But that wasn’t the challenge!

They also want to give out leveled badges based on their overall score. But in addition to leveled badges, the Form is being used between two different schools, so their leveled badge will also be dependent on which school they are from. Wow! So utilizing add-ons for Sheets, copyDown and formMule, I helped them create a system for awarding badges to their teachers. I think my hardest aspect was figuring out using a formula like this: =IF(AND(X2>=1,X2<=6),1,0) which helps determine a level based on overall score falling between a 1-6. formMule is setup with four different templates; the first two are specific to go to Kim or Jess dependent upon which school the submitter selected in the Form, to notify them that someone submitted so they can go in and ‘grade’ the tasks. The second two templates are the emails which go out to the participants with their badges.

***Note: all items embedded are copies of the original so to not disrupt the functions of the  system described in this post***

Below are the Form, Sheet, and an example .pdf of what a potential email looks like.


Have you created any systems for your workflows which at first seemed daunting? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

Tips for Transitioning into a Teaching Career

There are many reasons a professional in one industry may decide to transition into a teaching career. The two most common tend to be having more time with their family and an ability to share their passion in a particular field with a new generation. For those who have already received a degree and are started on a career path in a specific industry, it is often possible to leverage those skills to transition to a career in education. As you work towards becoming a 21st century educator, take advantage of substitute positions to further develop teaching and classroom management skills.  

Focus on Your Skillset

Anyone who has received an undergraduate or graduate degree in one of the core academic subjects has the potential to transition into a teaching career with relative ease. It may be necessary to go back for classes on classroom management, child psychology, or principles of education but with an existing degree, it typically takes much less time to actually begin teaching.

First, find out what the requirements are in the state and ensure you have the minimum required to be legally hired as a teacher. If so, it is time to create a CV that will focus on the skills you have developed in your first career and how they can be beneficial to students.

Real world experience, publishing in the field, and teaching in the corporate world can all be used as examples of academic qualifications. If it has been awhile since you have needed to apply for a new job, a modern CV guide can make the process much easier.

Start with Substituting

Substitute teaching is a fantastic way to gain real world teaching and classroom management skills.  It is also a great way to become known by the other teachers and principals at the schools in which one wishes to eventually teach fulltime.

There is a chronic lack of highly qualified teachers in many areas. Schools are understaffed to begin with and finding qualified substitutes is equally challenging. Anyone who is interested in making a transition into the field of education should sign up for the substitutes list in their area. Some schools create their lists individually while others pull from a countywide database. Be sure to inquire about which is in effect in the area and then place yourself on all applicable lists.

While this is somewhat of a gig economy job, once substitute teachers are well known in a school they receive repeat requests. Considering how many teachers there are in each school, it isn’t unusual for a substitute to receive multiple requests for a single day. In order to ensure there is enough work to fulfill one’s financial needs, it is important to be registered with as many schools at possible at first.

To ensure teachers want to have you in their classroom again there are a few things to remember. First, it isn’t a baby-sitting job. The students have academic needs and it is imperative that the teacher’s instructions are followed. It is important to remember teachers, even those who are substituting for the official teacher, are not there to be friends with the students. Yes, one should be polite to students but it is inappropriate and unprofessional to focus more on developing a situation where the students like you. It isn’t a teacher’s job to become friends with their students, it is their job to educate them. Far too many substitutes will focus on making students like them to the detriment of their objectives and then wonder why they didn’t receive requests to come back.

There are many alternative teacher certification options, depending on the state in which one wishes to teach. If a career in education is something someone is truly passionate about, there are ways to make it happen far more quickly than returning to school for a new degree. Contact the department of education for the state and begin preparing for a transition into teaching today.

Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article

About the Author: Jenna B.

Jenna is a freelance writer who got into blogging in college and copywriting upon graduation. Jenna has usually written about topics that mean a lot to her such as health and medicine when applied to family and loved ones. Jenna is an avid runner as long as it’s not a marathon distance jog! She’s on twitter (she still hasn’t fallen in love with and doesn’t use often) @JennaFromDaBlog!

An Add-ons Extravaganza!!!

***Update Part Deux*** K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

We eliminated the event title column in the Google Sheet and modified the multiple choice question on the number of kits needed so the Event-o-matic would not have to rely on the copyDown formula to create a title. We found that it initially would create an event with ‘no title’ until the one hour re-sync would replace the text.

***Update*** It’s only been a couple of days and we already have made adjustments.

The embedded items will be updated to reflect the various changes.

  • Yes/No question added to Form with the answer going to a specific section. This way if a teacher says, “I don’t know which breakout I want to do” they can still reserve a Breakout kit(s) and edit the Form submission later with lock combinations.
  • With the question above, another section is created to describe what happens next. The intent will be that either an email is sent with the link to edit their Form responses or an email will be sent sharing the Doc created by autoCrat. With this in place, response receipts can be turned off.
  • Another column is created for the unique Form URL to go back in and edit. This was setup through a script discovered here.
  • Google Doc template is altered to include unique Form URL in case of changes. Update autoCrat to recognize the new tag as a hyperlink. [One drawback, the Doc will not update to reflect any new changes submitted]
  • Trigger is set in autoCrat for creating & sharing the Doc to the submitter. It is activated by text appearing in the 4-digit lock (NOT NULL).
  • formMule add-on is setup to send email template with the link to re-submit the information when they know which Breakout they want to do.

One of my colleagues, Kim Lowden, recently received some Breakout Edu kits for her building. She wanted to create a means to manage it so teachers could see how many are available and sign them out for use as well as give them a document of what they receive (locks, box, hasp, etc.) w/ the combinations set. We developed the system below (the components are all a part of a Google Site).

***Note: all items embedded are copies of the original so to not disrupt the functions of the  system described in this post***

The Form below is used for teachers to sign-out kits as well as submit the combinations for the various locks and request extra features (key lock, invisible ink pen/flashlight, etc.). This Form is crucial to the rest of the system.

The data collected is dumped into the Google Sheet below. Within the Sheet I have the following add-ons copyDown, autoCrat, & Event-o-matic running for various tasks. copyDown repeats any and all formulas located in row 2 when data is submitted through the Form (since a Form creates a new row of data in the Sheet). One sort of formula is creating the event title for the Calendar, pulling together the number of kits and who they are for into a cell via =E2&” kit(s) for “&B2

autoCrat takes a formatted Google Doc with tags (<<referenced to Form questions>>) associated from the Form data to create a new document so each requester gets a copy to keep track of what they will receive and to what the locks are set. One of the coolest features they offer is the ability to set how the <<tags>> respond. Typically, when set to ‘Standard’, what ever is submitted through the Form will be included in the Doc as text. But autoCrat also offers ‘Hyperlink’ or ‘Image’ which is useful in this case for the extra features. We are able to take a URL to the image of a key lock and have that inserted to the Doc as an image.

Finally, Event-o-matic creates calendar events from each Form submission. Underneath the Sheet, I have embedded the Google Calendar associated with this system as well as an example created document.

How do you manage materials within a school? I would love to read about it in the comments below.

COPPA & Change… #EdublogsClub

***Update*** I am re-posting this as part of the #EdublogsClub week 8 prompt.

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about student privacy.
Some helpful notes:

  • Should student work be public on the web? Why or why not?
  • How do you evaluate the tools that you use in your classroom when it comes to student privacy?
  • Do you have a favorite resource or video that discusses this topic
  • Do you have tips or rules that you use with your students relating to identifiable information?
  • Do you have any other ideas, rants, or questions about student privacy you wish to discuss?
Originally posted: Dec. 1, 2015
***Disclaimer – I, in no uncertain terms, claim to be an expert on Federal Law and Regulations***

COPPA which stands for Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is meant to protect students online from knowingly or unknowingly giving out personal information (full, formal name; address; etc.). It went into law in 2000 and is designed for websites to either not allow users under the age of 13 or parent permission must be given for their services to be used. Some great webtools have been removed from students’ use or teachers have had to create accounts with no identifiable student information (i.e. google +1 email hack)

One tool which I find useful but fell into the category of users under 13 were forbidden was Screencastify.  Working in a 1:1 middle school with chromebooks, the Screencastify Extension would be easy to use tool for students to create multimedia presentations. Their Privacy Policy stated:

Our Services are not intended for and may not be used by children under the age of 13. We do not knowingly collect information from children under the age of 13 and we do not target our Services to children under the age of 13.

But, it did have this key line after it: “If you have questions about our Service, please contact us at info@screencastify.com So I thought, why not? I reached out to them and found Manuel, or Manu as he signed his emails, very responsive and wanted to make sure their tool worked for schools. We communicated back and forth for about 2½ weeks till they had an updated policy which included the above statement, plus:

Educators that have the authority to act on parent’s behalf, may allow students under 13 to use our Services, if such use is for educational purposes, and if this use ensures that students will not provide any personal information and will not share or otherwise distribute recordings containing personal information of a student.

Thank you, Manu & Screencastify for being willing to allow your tool to be used for educational purposes while remaining COPPA compliant.

So my big takeaway from this experience, reach out! I sent an email and asked a question which had two potential outcomes: no, we won’t change our policy or yes, let’s explore this!  If Screencastify said no, I would have been in the same position I was before sending the email.  Yet, they said yes and I now have two grade levels in my building which can utilize a tool for creation purposes.

Do you have a tool which you can’t use with your students? Have you ever tried reaching out to them? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section. 

“What Is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act )? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” SearchCRM. 1 May 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. <http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/COPPA>.

12 Podcasts to Check Out (The Listicle)… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a listicle.
Some helpful notes:

  • Write about any topic at all that interests you
  • A list can be as short as 3 entries
  • Be helpful, make the list a resource your readers may want to bookmark and come back to
  • If you aren’t up for a list, write about lists, list keeping tools, or tools to embed lists
  • Marketing tests prove that putting a number in your title will often increase shares and clicks

Another timely prompt. I have a ThingLink which I use to share out the podcasts I listen to, as a recommendation tool. Well it was overdue for a much needed update, so here is my list of podcasts I currently listen to with a ThingLink embedded below so you can get the links to each one.

Note: the numbers are not indicating any kind of ranking
  1. The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe
  2. House of #Edtech – Chris Nesi
  3. The EdTechTV Podcast with Brent Warner
  4. The Wired Educator Podcast – Kelly Croy
  5. Always A Lesson – Gretchen (Schultek) Bridgers
  6. Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers
  7. The Cult of Pedagogy – Jennifer Gonzalez
  8. Check This Out with Ryan and Brian
  9. Teachonomy Talks – Chuck Poole
  10. My BAD – Jon Harper
  11. Google Teacher Tribe Podcast – Kasey Bell & Matt Miller
  12. The EdTech Take Out – Jonathon Wylie & Mindy Cairney

Challenging Situations… #EdublogsClub

This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and educational technology enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it (via social media w/ #edublogsclub or posting a link as a comment to that topic’s posting on the Edublogger site) to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Prompt: Write a post about challenging situations.
Here are some ideas or topics you may wish to include:

  • Share your biggest teaching challenge and explain how you overcame it
  • Write a motivational “how-to” for overcoming a common challenging situation.
  • Do a review on a book or website that has helped you overcome a challenging situation. What was the challenge? How did the book/website help you?
  • Discuss any thoughts or experiences you have about challenges in education.
  • Talk about a time when a student was facing a challenge and you provided strategies to help the student. What were they? How did they help?

I’m a technology coach (my district loves long titles, so I’m really a Teacher Resource Specialist for Technology) which many people expect to mean I know everything about technology and how to operate/use all the digital tools available. With technology constantly changing, new tools coming out each day, that is an impossibility. At times it is beneficial that many tools utilize the same icons and I can get a handle on something quickly. But the expectation to “know it” can be daunting.

So when a teacher friend of mine, from the south, who knows what I do, scoffed at me not knowing/using Instagram; I felt challenged.

“You use technology all the time, how are you not using Instagram? I needed you to explain it to me and why my students want me to use it?”

Well, maybe this can be a social media tool that could come in handy. So that night I opened an account. Started to use it to share one of my hobbies. I’m slowly getting a handle on it, might not know all the ins & outs, but getting there; it’s a work in progress. I even added a new page to this blog to embed a ThingLink which will share each of the posts.

The main thing is this, when provided a challenge, make it an opportunity and jump in (feet first is best, diving is not approved because we don’t know the depth). Challenges, as someone once described to me, are the speed bumps which keep us from increasing our velocity and loosing control of our vehicle.

What’s a challenge you’ve had to deal with lately? How did you ‘jump in’ and tackle the challenge? I would love to read about it in the comments below.