Becoming a Google Innovator is a great accomplishment and was life-changing for me. I want to help other experience this so...
Here are 10 honest, opinionated tips to help you become a Google Innovator!
1. Make sure your Level 2 certificate can be seen (the sharing settings). Also, make sure to put the links to your social media instead of your social media handles (@educatoralex). In other words, FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY!!!! Read everything in the directions and follow them!
2. Speaking of social media...if you do not already have a Google+ and Twitter account, create both now! Start posting to them (new content and sharing others content). That way, you will have content on your accounts before you fill out the application. You may also be pleasantly surprised that you start to learn and interact with other educators and begin to build your PLN.
3. Look around...what do you have that you have created that you are proud of? If you do not have anything, make something. It could be a blog, a website, or a tool for educators/students to use...just make sure that YOU created it.
4. Make sure that the video shows your personality (if you are boring, steal someone else’s personality for the video). Do a skit with other people, have fun, show why you are unique and show your googliness. Please do not just talk to the camera...also stay away from PowToon--even though I love and teach PowToon-- and videos where you show pictures as you speak...nothing is wrong with doing this...just so many people do these! You want to STAND OUT! Your video does not have to be Hollywood quality by any means...just show your personality...make me care about this...it should look like you spent more than 10 minutes on this video!
5. The Innovator application has changed! Please make sure to read it carefully! It's no longer you discussing what you want to accomplish to change education, but it's more concentrated on what the problem is in education that you would like to solve. So concentrate on the problem and not the solution just yet. So if you have applied before, you need to rethink your answers and your video. Concentrate on the problem, why is it a problem, why does it need to be solved, and why is it such a big issue that you should concentrate on it.
6. Don't try to impress Google with Google! They know you love Google! Choose a problem that is a passion for you instead of one that can be solved with Google products.
7. Don't name-drop! It is not impressive. If you want to, get those people to do a nomination form for you instead.
8. If you don't get in, try again! Many Innovators applied MULTIPLE times before getting in.
9. If you know any Innovators, get them to look at your application and your video to give you honest feedback about what they think you should change (make sure that they understand that the application process has changed less toward a solution and more towards the problem).
10. You want the problem you choose to be something that you are passionate about finding a solution to. That passion needs to show in everything you write and the video you produce. You don’t have much space or time, so make every word and every frame count! If the problem is not a universal problem, make sure you are explaining it well.
So there they are...my 10 honest, opinionated tips! If I can ever help you with your application, definitely reach out and let me know.
Guest Blog for EdChange Global May 13, 2018
Guest Blog for Hoonuit May 22, 2018
Guest Blog for EdCamp March 28, 2018
Guest Blog for Hoonuit February 8, 2018
Guest Blog for EdTech Team February 10, 2017
It was so much fun presenting at the Texas Library Association Conference.
Librarians, Teaching Librarians, Library Media Specialists, Media Specialists, or whatever title is used are some of the most passionate, hard working people I have ever met. And some of the most taken advantage of and disrespected. As a former school librarian, I know firsthand the work that goes into being a librarian. Becoming a librarian taught me so much about leadership, about dealing with multiple different stakeholders, and about programming and planning events.
However, even though they are such hard workers, I heard over and over again about the mistreatment they get and how many of their positions were being cut. I don't understand education sometimes. You have an expert in literacy, in literature, in technology, and in programming on your campus and you dismiss their value and worth at every turn. Now, I know I have someone saying...that doesn't sound like my school librarian. Well, there are people not good at their job in every profession. And I have definitely seen some librarians that needed to be replaced pronto because they gave all of us a bad name. But I have seen SO many more excellent, caring professionals that just get a raw deal.
So many that supervise them don't really understand what a librarian is supposed to do. Well, let me tell you. A librarian is there to support instruction, to support the curriculum, to teach digital citizenship, to teach research, to foster a love of literacy and reading, to create programs and so much more!
If I ask you who knew about Hoonuit, I am not sure how many people would raise their hands. That may be because it used to be called Atomic Learning...now it is Hoonuit by Atomic Learning. I, who am sometimes late to the train, found out about Hoonuit a little while ago and I love it!
So, I must let you know about my experience if you are thinking of using Hoonuit!
First, I love learning. I do several types of presentations, but you cannot be effective at presenting if you are not continuously learning. Second, because of my busy schedule, I really need to learn at my own pace in my own time. So, I was looking for a way to do that besides the ways I was already using. Someone suggested Hoonuit to me. I was pleasantly surprised that they had so many different topics, including technology topics I have been wanting to learn for years, but could never get to a class (I am looking at you Adobe Suite). I was still skeptical about it though…I wanted to see if the teacher’s voice annoyed me, were the videos boring, did they teach at a snail’s pace, was the content relevant and up-to-date and so forth. I wanted to test a class to see if I agreed with the content and liked the style. So, I chose something I knew I already knew: classroom management.
And, again, I was pleasantly surprised! I liked that the content was broken up in five minute or less (many of them less) videos. That was helpful when I needed to stop it…I could come back directly to where I left off. I also liked that the speaker’s voice was very clear and easy to follow (professional). The images were stock images or bullet points of what the speaker was saying. The bullet points really helped me over stock images because I am partly a visual learner. The only thing that I did not like was that the videos did not keep playing if I wanted them to continuously play the whole playlist. I had to manually start each video (1st world problems, I know).
And as for as the content, the teacher/presenter was spot on! I even learned some classroom management examples that can work for lower grade levels (which is never my strength). I am so pleased that this is a product that I can add to my own personal learning plan (and suggest to others)! It is great to have something that I can use on my own time that is professional and no-nonsense (get straight to the point with me).
And I do like that they have added other steps if you want to get a certificate for the course. If you want the certificate, there is the Do-It, Share-It, Prove-It model. This is where you do a small project with your new skills and share that project. That is good because others can see it and give you feedback on it (I plan to use this A LOT with the Adobe Suite I am about to start learning).
So…if you could not tell, I am very satisfied with Hoonuit! I believe in the product so much that I decided to get certified in it. I love learning about things that are just no-nonsense! Educators don’t always have time for the cutesy things…sometimes we just need to learn what we want to learn and start using it. Hoonuit allows that for me!
Participation. Connection. Inclusion. Engagement.
We all want our students to enjoy their school experience inside and outside of the classroom. However, if our tweens and teens are not a part of the obvious clubs and groups at our schools, sometimes they really have no way of getting involved. I propose that is where teen programming comes into play: creating programs where teens can be involved and feel that connection with others. We all know how important this is because many of our tweens and teens feel hopeless with no connection to others. Offering diverse types of programs before, during and after school can help attract those teens who may not be into band, sports, academic clubs and the like. So, here are 12 programs I have planned/hosted to consider at your campus. Most of these events are completely free or you may want to offer some snacks that can cost under $20. Also, even though some of the programs have “night” in the title, many of them were immediately after school.
1. Before School Game Shows
If many of your students hang out in one area before school, create some game shows to host during that time. You can have your students sign up to participate and all you need is some organization and a mic with speakers. To get you started, you can play “Are You Smarter than a Teacher?” putting students against teachers in trivia, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” where they try to say the next line to popular songs, “Last Comic Standing” where they can try out their best jokes while trying to make the other person laugh, a rap/signing competition, a poetry slam, and anything else you and your students can think of! Let them start creating and hosting the events too.
2. Book Clubs
Some of your students that you would never think of are avid readers. The thing about this book club is you let them choose and vote on the book they want to read. And it does not have to be traditional literature…open it up to Manga and comic books and the like! You can get copies of the books from the local school and public libraries, from online resources/electronic copies, from book publishers (sometimes all it takes is for you to ask), and using grant money/donations.
3. Straight Talk
One of my most popular programs was called Straight Talk. I gathered topics that my students told me they were interested in and got speakers to talk on those topics. It was not only a way to get my students “real” information about what they were interested in, but it was a way to bring the community into the school to get involved. I would tell our speakers that there were no canned speeches…everything they presented had to be straight talk—honest and open communication. We hosted admission officers from different colleges come and speak about what they really look for on college applications and how to avoid pitfalls. Local business managers came to discuss how to get jobs at their locations (and some students dressed up for this one to make a good impression). A local bank came to discuss money issues, how not to get into credit card debt (especially for our seniors going to college the next year), credit scores and such. Personal trainers came to discuss the right ways to stay fit and nutrition/eating disorders. Manga publishers came to discuss how to break into the Manga to write and draw. Mary Kay came to give makeovers and Men’s Warehouse came to tell them how to dress for success (and brought coupons that could help with prom). We had so many students attending these (and parents for some of them) that we had to start having sign ups or saying first come, first serve until the seats run out.
4. Movie Nights
Just having a safe, fun space to come to watch a movie that they probably have already seen is a nice haven to offer your students. Think about days when they may feel extra lonely, like Valentine’s Day. We had an Anti-Valentine’s Day scary movie night (right after school) where we showed an appropriate scary movie. So many teens showed up to just hang with friends or to have something to do. Or showing that popular teen drama as soon as it is released is a nice touch!
5. Game Nights
You would be surprised how board games bring people together. Most of us have a stash of board games, so get with a couple of other people to bring their games too and you have a party! We had special game nights for teachers and some for students. Then, we decided to combine them and have a student versus teacher game night. It was great to see students from diverse backgrounds and social cliques sit at the same table to play Uno or Jenga! We also had throwback games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. We also set up a TV and had someone bring their Wii system to play sports games. Throw each game on a table and have the rest on a cart and the program took care of itself!
6. Trivia Nights
Think of all the different topics you can have a trivia night for and the different students you would attract! Have sports trivia, popular book trivia, TV/Movie trivia, gaming trivia, cooking trivia, and the list goes on! You can attract so many subsections of your population and have fun while doing it. Prizes can be free items such as jean days or homework passes or small items such as things from your school store or candy! You don’t have to break the bank to have fun! And you can find all your trivia questions online.
7. Get Fit Nights/Lunch
Pop in a Zumba DVD and let the good times roll! Letting your students get active and do it in a safe, fun environment is key! Do it in the gym, cafeteria or library where you have space to dance and have fun.
Do you have that group of Manga/Anime lovers? Get them involved with a Cosplay event. Let them come together to meet their favorite characters in person (each other dressed up as their favorites) and give a prize for the best costume (box of theater candy is $1 at some big chain stores). Of course, you would have rules of appropriate dress, but let them have fun and show their creativity (and have some events for them to do when they are there).
9. Poetry Slam
Let your creative writing students and rappers have their moment to shine. It will shock you how some students that you never hear from have such deep thoughts! Have them sign up, but also have some time for them to come up to do a poem if the moment hits them. Maybe even invite some local poets as well.
I did not know how much tweens/teens loved Do It Yourself (DIY) projects! Whether it was making mason jar banks, duct tape wallets, snow globes, paracord bracelets, or melted crayon art, it seems that different students were into making different things, so this program brought in many types of students. For the supplies, sometimes your students have their own, you can get them donated, or you may have to buy them. If you must buy them, know your budget and put a participation number on the event (only 10 students can sign up).
11. Physical Competitions
Think The Hunger Games! You can have students competing in teams in several different challenges! They can test their intellect (trivia), aggressiveness (musical chairs), memory (putting random items on a table and letting one team member see it for a minute and then they have to act out the items on the table so their team can write down what they saw), creativity/speed (trying to put jelly beans in a bag using a fork), teamwork/speed/creativity (have them work together to complete a task such as each person has to do something different with a hula hoop and also do what each person did before them), self-preservation (eating dirt-Oreos and pudding-without using hands), and alliances/teamwork/speed (having them hold hands and try to get a hula hoop from one side of the line to the other without letting go of hands). There are so many different examples of games online, but just have them form teams and be competitive and have fun!
12. Murder Mystery Nights
Read more about how to do these in my previous blog here: https://www.educatoralexander.com/honestly-desiree-blog/murder-at-the-library.
So, there you go! 12 programs you can plan to get your students more involved at your school and to reach all your diverse student population. Try holding events at different times since all students may not be able to stay after school. Also, you can contact for more information about any of these!