Google Certified Educator!!! Or Taking Risks

I've had some issues with having loads of ideas. Some good, some really bad. Really bad. The biggest issue is that the ideas stay in my head or in my notebook and they never get acted on. There is a definite aspect of failure, even with ideas that I think are pretty darn good.

Well, I decided to start acting on some ideas.

The first one was Google Educator Certification. This one is timely because I'll be searching for and interviewing for a new position this spring for the next school year.

I've looked at the training materials. I've studied. I've talked with teacher friends. But I've never moved beyond that. In fact, I spent $10 to register for the exam and then never took it. Yep, wasted money.

Well, I registered again. Then I took the test.  After a three-day wait, there was an email. I passed!!!

Then, I explored the Level 2 Certification. I decided to go for it. I spent the money and immediately registered knowing I only had 8 days to take the test.

I texted my friend @wwolfe105 and she sent me a checklist from a friend that might be covered. I also spend a couple hours with the Google training.

Then I took the test.

Then I waited.

Then I couldn't wait any longer. I logged into the certification site and it listed my exam as passed!!! A couple days later, I got the official email.

I'm so excited!!! I'm a Google Level 2 Certified Educator. I'm glad that I finally took the plunge and just did it.

Now, on to Google Certified Trainer certification...

Or my next idea from the notebook...

Teacher Cars, Introversion, and Extroversion

It's pretty amazing to watch introverts and extroverts teach.  More interesting is watching these same teachers without students.  

And I think a teacher's car is the best way to see this play out.  Watch the parking lot when teachers leave. There are teachers who are on their phone talking to someone before they close the door with them in the car. These teachers crave sharing their day with someone. They talk, they listen, the chat, they have conversation.  

Then there are the introverts. The ones that turn on the radio and watch the scenery go by. They listen to NPR or play some music. They watch the trees go by. They might be thinking about the day or they might be planning a nap on the couch. Or replaying a conversation with a student. Or planning their next lesson. Or what to make for dinner. 

Notice that an introvert's mind isn't empty, It's just working differently than extrovert's.

I totally fall into the second scenario. Some days, it's NPR, some days it KFAN, some days it's blasting 90s hip-hop. 

My brain would explode if I tried to talk to someone after teaching all day. It's an exhausting thing and having to tell someone about might just kill me. 

But, is the teacher you see in their car at the end of the day, the same one that see in the classroom during the school day?  How many teachers try to be someone they aren't to try and fit into what a teacher should be?

I've given up on that. I can't be an extrovert teacher. I struggle with whole group, direct instruction. I've set up my classroom and teaching to allow me to move around and work with small groups, individuals, or partners. The direct instruction happens with screencasts, mini-audio podcasts, or written directions. Once students have that part, then we start working. 

The drawback is that it seems to take longer.  However, I also feel like students are going deeper because I'm able to give them academic feedback multiple times during an activity. 

Don't be what you think you should be in the classroom. Learn who you are. Explore your personality. Be true to yourself in your classroom. Explain this to your students. Help them understand you and, in turn, themselves.  

Lift Bridge Cowlaboration

As promised: The second beer of the Red Cow-North Loop trip.

Lift Bridge came through. I haven't had many beers from Lift Bridge that are outstanding. They are good but not amazing standouts in a crowded field. I wouldn't turn them down though.

This was one that was simply delicious.  

Lift Bridge Cowlaboration #3: Chocolate Milk Porter.

It appears that this was brewed just for Red Cow as it is only listed on their menu and I couldn't find it on the Lift Bridge site.  

This is most definitely a dessert beer and I'm glad that I didn't order it first. It would have ruined the sandwich and the Pyres Miraculum that would have come second.  

I can best describe this beer as a pretty standard porter, right on style. But this is where it gets interesting. I wish I had watch them pour this beer because then I could say without a doubt that no one just dumped in a chocolate milk and it was truly brewed with this flavor.  

I was blown away at how much these flavors mixed and melded but were also distinct enough to really set this beer apart.  There was a decent amount of sweetness to knock this out of the park as a dessert beer. There was also a enough porter to make it stick to you.  It's a really dark brown that doesn't let any light through. The carbonation is low but is perfect for what this beer is. 

Chocolate milk, porter. Goodness all around.  Well done!!!

Pyres Miraculum

Dinner at the Red Cow in downtown Minneapolis included an amazing Grilled Cheese sandwich with BBQ chips in the middle. I could go on but this is a beer blog.

This was one of the times that I needed to search out a brew I had never had. Even with the Surly Tap Takeover that was happening, I was still searching.  I found two.  The first was Pyres Miraculum. Pyres calls it a MN IPA.

I was out with a few friends and didn't feel comfortable taking a picture.

Mirauclum has a deep malty redness but clear enough to let the light shine through.  There is a wonderful hop aroma. It's fresh and light.  It hits you with the citrus hop flavor, then a sweet malty flavor.  On the back end, I got more the citrus finish but wasn't a traditional hop citrus. This is a very smooth beer and it paired well with the smoked gouda in the grilled cheese.

Cheers. Oh, I mentioned two beers. Your can read about the other one here.

10K Brewing


The boys went to 10K Brewing last night. It's in downtown Anoka in a cool old building. There was a band playing and the there was a good crowd.  There was a decent mix of older folks, music lovers, hipster-types, and beer snobs.  There was even a brew dog lounging at the bar.

It's a small brewery. We only saw one fermentation tank. It looked like a 5 bbl, 3 vessel system. We didn't see any bright tanks and heard from another brewery that they were carbing in the keg (which isn't horrible but not the best way). Also, just because we didn't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

As per usual when trying a new brewery, a flight was ordered.  Here goes:

Belgian Hefe. I thought this was decent. Not a true hefewiezen but good. It's a wheat beer and has Belgian hops. It was drinkable and light.  One of the boys was disappointed and said it wasn't a hefe at all. I could be persuaded to drink this again.

Northern Honey Blonde
The cool thing about this beer for me is that it uses local honey from a family farm. I'm a big fan of local ingredients and keeping things local in general. It's light, but not really a lawn-mower beer, which I was expecting.  It was decent cold but as it warmed a bit, there was a buttery smell and taste. This is an off-flavor called diacetyl and not something you look for in a beer.  

This might have been the most disappointing of the group for me. Generally, I like ambers and reds. However, the first taste had a sour note to it which is not characteristic to the style.  If it had been labeled a Amber Sour, I may have thought differently. I also got a small note of smoke flavor, which was very strange in this style. The carbonation on this one was very low. However, I think there is a good base to this and could be a great beer.

Smoked Porter
This was the best of the lot. Perfect low carbonation for the style. A hint of chocolate and light roasted nut flavor. The smoked malt was just enough without being overwhelming. I saved this for last in the group and it was really good. Generally, I'm not the biggest fan of smoked beers but this smoked Baltic porter had just enough of the subtle hints of a few flavors that made it quality.

A Tale of 3 PD Sessions

 It was the best of times, it was ... Wait. You know what is shocking? Two of the sessions really were the best of times.

Tuesday was a district-wide PD day. Most staff members were at their schools. I don't know what happened in those sessions. I only know that it was all data related.

Session #1
I attended the Media Specialist PD at the district office. This session started with whole group introductions. I'm not usually a fan of these because generally everyone already knows each other. This group doesn't get together very often and I had never been with this group, so it was beneficial for me. 

Everyone gave one thing that had gone really well for them this year as an introduction.  I came away from the introductions with 4 really cool ideas that I hope use soon and will write about.

After introductions, we broke into grade level groups and chatted. Simple chat about what teachers were doing in their classrooms with technology. I shared some of what I was doing and showed my website, lesson plans, and projects. Then I listened to 3 other teachers talk about their classrooms and their projects.

Time to simply chat with other teachers, listen to their ideas, and get feedback on your ideas is by far the most beneficial PD that I can attend.

Session #2
My second session was with the 5th grade team that I work with around AVID strategies. Our team requested an hour and half to backwards plan from the next set of assessments and how to incorporate Costa's Levels of Questions. The team included 3 fifth grade teachers, a reading resource teacher, 2 special education teachers, and me (AVID coordinator). The teachers figured out 5 areas that they need to focus on. From there, we found or created resources for each area. Lastly, they created a pre/post assessment for students to self-assess with.

We did all this in a Google Doc that we were all collaborating on at the same time. I wish that I could have video taped the whole session because it could be a commercial for Google Docs.  The main doc had 5 or 6 links to other docs and a couple links to outside sources. In my eyes, it is a super powerful document.

There are a couple of things that stand in my head from this session. First, the power of a focused team is pretty amazing. Second, teachers need a person that can provide technology integration training on a regular basis. I, being the most knowledgeable at Google Docs, taught this group how to share documents, how to make links in a document, and how to set some simple permissions.

The concept of teaching teachers technology might help shape my decision on a position for next year.

Session #3
Sitting, listening, being talked at.

My afternoon was spent listening to PDPLC groups their cycle 2 data. The only good thing about this was that each group presented their own data. 

The second part of this session was listening to a PowerPoint about bullying. Sitting, reading slides to me, and listening. No discussion, no classroom teacher feedback.

The third part was how to teach to the test. We were told strategies to increase success on standardized tests. Teaching to the test. I just can't stand this.

Eastlake Brewing & Tavern

You've already read about the Nicollet Mauler Black IPA and you should go get one.

Well enjoying the beer, I tried to snoop around a bit and get some pictures.  I didn't need to do much snooping though because it's just not all that big of a place, which makes it so cool.

The tap room is roughly double the size of my classroom. The bar wraps around the taps in an L-shape. There are plenty of long tables for sitting and window seating that looks out over  Lake Street.  If you sit next to the windows, you can turn and see the whole taproom.  The bar back is all black tile with black chalkboards listing all the beer and swag available. There is also eye-popping white letting under the taps.

Behind the bar wall is the cold room.  The cool part of the cold room is the that there is a glass door so you can see some the kegs and lines. I was intrigued because the kegs are 1/6 barrel and a few 1/2 barrel and just a step up from homebrewing.

The brewery area is really just a garage stall. There is a glass garage door that lets wanderers see what is happening in there. Unfortunately, I wasn't there on a brew day. I would be dollars to doughnuts to that it makes the whole Midtown Global Market smell amazing. It's pretty amazing to see how much stainless steel they packed into this small space. 

Being there on a brew day and seeing how the brewers are able to make the space work would be fun to watch.