Lee Ann Yonker helped start the #MiniGoogleMasters movement in her school in K-3rd grade, demonstrating littles can be tech-savvy too! Now having moved to 5th grade, Mrs. Yonker is continuing her tech encouragement with the #MakingGoogleMasters. We talk about what students of all ages can do. She also shares her micro-credential badging approach that has her fifth graders excited to learn.
Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.
Google Masters for Kids of All Ages
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Vicki: Today we’re talking with Lee Ann Yonker @leeannyonker. Now, she has taught Google from first grade up through fifth grade, and has a really fantastic program that she created. On Twitter it’s #MiniGoogleMasters for the younger kids and #MakingGoogleMasters for the older kids.
And we’re actually going to talk about what is realistic to expect that kids can do in Google, by age.
What can K-2 students be expected to do in Google Tools?
So, Lee Ann, let’s start with your #MiniGoogleMasters. What are the things that kids can master in G-suite, let’s say from kindergarten through second grade?
Using Google Tools to Help Improve Behavior and Increase Engagement
Lee Ann: Well, when we started this last year, it was started out of a place of necessity. I had a special education classroom, and I was the Gen Ed teacher. My co-teacher and I really needed something to help curb some of the behaviors that we were seeing.
We knew that engagement had to increase, and so in came our G-suite tools. We were inspired by Christine Pinto and the work that she had done with the #GAfEforLittles. We just started very slowly introducing our first graders to the G-suite apps. We started with Google Sheets, and it was right around this time of year.
- Check out the interview with Christine Pinto on episode 142
Using Pixel Art in Google Sheets
We created a pixel art in Google Sheets and gave them an outline of a pumpkin. We showed them how to use the paint can tool to put color in the cells, and we told them to create a jack-o’-lantern. We just wanted them to get familiar with using those tools because we knew that we wanted to implement those into our math instruction and things like that later. And they took off! The things that they did just with that simple pumpkin was so amazing and impressive.
- See Alice Keeler’s tips on Creating Pixel art in Google sheets
So, from there, we had our pixel art. For math we had kind of translated over into our hundreds chart pictures. You know the cool hundreds charts that you can color in and create those mysterious pictures. We transferred those over into Google Sheets as well.
So once we had our feet wet a little bit, and we got a taste of how that was curbing some of the behaviors in our classroom, we just started branching out and giving them more tastes of the G-suite apps.
Voice Typing in Google Docs
Working in Google Docs, the kids thought it was amazing to be able to see how they could type with their voice, using the Voice Typing tool. They could say what they wanted to type, and they would have a model so they could type it themselves. The independence level went through the roof.
Compound Words in Google Slides
We did the same thing in Google Slides. We were working in compound words, and one slide would have two pictures that would create a compound word. But they didn’t know how to spell the compound word. We showed them how to use the Voice Notes in the Speaker Notes to type the word. So, they could create their answer because it provided them that model for them.
The level of independence, and the kids being able to dig around and find tools. We had our little keywords, “Use your ‘mountain’ to insert pictures,” and “Use your ‘T’ if you want to type,” and things like that. Just fostering that independence and letting them go with it.
Telling them, “There’s nothing that you can break. You can’t do anything that we can’t go back and fix for you using our magic Undo button and our versioning histories of course.”
And the kids just blossomed with it, and we noticed that our behavior problems started to decrease because engagement was so much higher with them when they were using the G-Suite tools.
Words to use to teach younger students about G Suite
Vicki: So you’ve given us some words that you use because sometimes the challenge when we’re teaching –especially with younger kids – is the word. I like the magic Undo button.
Lee Ann: (laughs)
Vicki: And the “mountain” picture, and the “T” for typing. Are there any other words that you can give us for the younger kids before we move on?
Lee Ann: Of course all of those were keystones in our classroom. Of course, we talked about our line tool, how you can use that to create shapes and things like that. Just having those icons up there at the top of the toolbar as places for them to reference. They know that they can go there and kind of dig around, even if they weren’t really sure what they were looking for, they could go hunt in those places.
The day that they learned to copy and paste (laughs) was a magical day because they were able to use that Ctrl-C and the Ctrl-V. Even now, even in my fifth-grade class, I have that as an anchor chart in my classroom. It’s such a handy tool that even some adults don’t utilize to its full potential. Just having those shortcuts for them was super helpful.
What can third through sixth graders do with Gsuite?
Vicki: OK, so let’s look at third through sixth grades, #MakingGoogleMasters.
What are the things that this grade level can start doing that maybe the younger kids couldn’t?
Lee Ann: Moving from first grade last year to fifth grade this year, I knew that Google was going to be a cornerstone in my classroom. I was inspired this summer. I was at a conference, actually with my husband, and he is in the hotel business. Something sparked me. There were these bags that we had been given, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be so cool for the kids to earn pins or badges?” And I thought, you know I could buy pins, and give them little pins if they achieve a certain task or whatever in a G-suite tool. And then I thought, “No! How cool would it be for kids to have digital badges, the same way that we have (some) that are attached to our e-mails and things like that, for when we achieve our Google Certified Educators and things like that.
I went on the hunt, and I created – just using Google Drawings and Canva – these #MakingGoogleMaster badges. They’re very simple. They just have the G-suite icon, and it says “Sheets” and it has our hashtag at the bottom.
I was so inspired! “I have these great digital badges. Now what do I do with them?”
How Lee Ann creates and awards the badges in her Google Classroom
Well, I want my kids to become masters of these G-suite tools because we’re going to be using them in our classroom. The more familiar they are with them, the (more) higher order thinking we’re going to be able to do in class.
Then I also noticed that in their Badge Tracker they had this disclaimer that you can only use images from the internet. And I was like, “No! I have these great badges.”
So – simple fix? I went into my Google Drive. I filed and published it to the web so it was instantly a picture on the web, and then I was able add those into my Flippity.
So I created one for each of my fifth grade classrooms, and they know that in the About section of our Google Classroom, I have posted for them — in a sheet – links to all these different tasks.
Independent learning about Gsuite
So for early finishers, and I’ve even had kids work on this from home that’s how excited they are about it – they can go into the About section of our Google Classroom. They can access these different assessments (tasks for them to do) in each G-suite, and they can complete that.
They send me a notification (tag me in a comment or whatever within that document or slide or whatever it may be), and I can go approve that they’ve done the task or not. If they have, then I just go back to my Flippity sheet and I check them off that they have earned that badge.
And then, of course, we take a picture, and we Tweet it out, and they’re recognized in their Morning Meeting, and things like that.
So really just being able to develop familiarity with all of the G-suite tools, and then learning different tips and tricks… and the beauty of this is that they have the task, but no directions. They may have to go into a doc and create a table and format it a certain way, but I don’t tell them how to do it.
And so, so many different kids have completed this task, but there’s more than one avenue to get to something. Especially in the G-suite tools, they might know keyboard shortcuts, or they might find it in their toolbars.
Just them learning how to use all these G-suite apps has opened the door for us to do so many more things in our classroom because they have that knowledge of the apps and how they work and shortcuts and things that they can do within them.
Vicki: This is really almost micro-credentials in some ways.
Mistakes Lee Ann says not to make when implementing Google Classroom
So, Lee Ann, is there any mistake that you have made that you would love to warn everybody about so that they don’t make it?
Lee Ann: In our classroom, we talk a lot about growth mindset, and how you’re not there yet.
Tip 1: make sure To have a Buddy System
And even some of my fifth graders now, some of them don’t come from technology-rich environments, so they might become frustrated or overwhelmed, and so I think offering the ability to have a buddy (is a good idea). I know that was huge with our first graders as well.
Tip 2: Don’t Stereotype children
And please do not stereotype your kids as, “You are a high academic performing child. You’re probably going to be very tech-savvy.” The highest technology-savvy kid we had was one of our lowest academic performing students. So don’t have that misconception that just because it’s one of the kids who might be really high in academics, they may struggle with technology. But provide them with the support system, a buddy in class that they can rely on.
Vicki: So much great advice!
So you’ll definitely want to check the Shownotes for this, and we’ll also give you links to Lee Ann’s work so you can learn more about it.
Take a look at #MiniGoogleMasters and #MakingGoogleMasters. Look at all the resources and things they’re doing.
These are some fantastic ideas. I love this idea of micro-credentials and having kids explore and learn on their own, so that you can focus on the content teaching as well, as they explore and learn more about the tools.
So, fantastic ideas, Lee Ann. Very remarkable!
Lee Ann: Thank you!
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford
Bio as submitted
As an elementary teacher, Lee Ann has a passion for teaching kids not only about content, but life lessons as well. Previously Mrs. Yonker has spent the past 5 years in first grade where she and her co-teacher began the #MiniGoogleMasters movement, demonstrating littles can be tech savvy too! Now having moved to 5th grade, Mrs. Yonker is continuing her tech encouragement with the #MakingGoogleMasters to empower her older students to master G Suite tools, much like the Google Certified Educator Task for Level 1 & 2 certification. Mrs. Yonker teaches in South Central Kentucky, and is a 2016 KY Teacher of the year nominee.
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