In January of this year, Superintendent Robert Hunt of the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools challenged all of his certified staff and administrators to obtain their Google Educator Level 1 certification. The certification aligns perfectly with two of the major technology initiatives in the district. The first initiative is to move to 1:1 computing with Chromebooks and utilize Google Apps in all grade levels in the 2016-17 school year. The second initiative is the district’s plan to move to Gmail and Google Drive for email communications and file storing needs in December 2016. “This move further down the Google “path” will provide additional features and accessibility to staff without any additional costs,” said Technology Director Mike Daugherty. “In fact, we will save money by not replacing aging servers and by using Google’s free tools for email filtering and archiving. Achieving the Google Educator Level 1 certification ensures that the district’s staff will have the skills needed to be successful in this new environment.”
The Google Educator Level 1 certification is an accurate assessment of a teacher’s ability to use the Google Apps for Education suite of tools. The exam is a combination of traditional multiple choice questions and eleven simulations where test takers are required to perform tasks such as building a playlist or sharing a file with students. Participants have three hours to complete the exam.
Teachers have three options when it comes to preparing for the exam. Most teachers have elected to do a weekly study session with Tech Integration and Instructional Coach Nancy Kevern. The session groups, teachers by grade level or content area and they last eight weeks. This route provides the teachers the opportunity to get one hour of credit through Ashland as well for a fee. A second option is a day and a half boot camp that occurred the week of June 6. Day one is a review of the material followed by taking the exam on the second day. The third option is to simply take the exam on his/her own. “We provide those folks with access to the study material and they can take the exam when it fits their schedule,” said Kevern.
As of June 14, the district has 100 teachers who are certified Level 1 Google Educators. In the fall, similar options will be available to those teachers who have not yet completed the exam. According to sources at Google, Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools is only one of two school districts in the country that has mandated this training. “The staff could not be more pleased as they see direct benefits to their students,” said Kevern. “It is extraordinary how our staff embraces change and sees it as an opportunity for amazing growth.”
Two years ago, the district only had Chromebooks in sixth grade. Two years later, the educators in Chagrin Falls have incorporated so seamlessly in this technology. “The growth is incredible and now our students in grades 2-12 are learning with their own Chromebook. Several classrooms of kindergartners and first graders just completed a pilot year with Chromebooks,” said Daugherty. Starting this Fall, all students in grades K-12 will utilize a Chromebook as part of their daily education. Chromebooks provide an efficient, affordable, and effective avenue for students and teachers to keep pace with how technology is rapidly changing public education.