Google Certification Level 1 & 2

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The Google Education Suite is a powerful resource that can engage students, enhance curriculum, and foster the 4Cs (Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, & Critical Thinking). If you use the G Suite with your students or would like to sharpen your G skills, preparing for the Google Educators Certification exam will ensure you are proficient with using the G Suite apps.

I have developed and curated some resources that will help you determine if you are ready for the exams and prepare you to take them. Here are the steps that I recommend you take:
1. Complete this self-assessment that I created. The assessment begins on page four. There are sixteen pages, so make sure you scroll all the way through the document. This resource includes links to tutorials and the WCPSS Boot Camps.
2. Once you complete the self-assessment you can explore the tutorials to help you with the performance tasks you need to master.
3. Google has extensive training units that you can complete. They are very long and require much time. I recommend you skip the lessons and go directly to the review questions. If you answer all of the review questions correctly, move onto the next unit. If you missed several of the review questions, it may benefit you to read through the lessons for that unit.
4. The WCPSS has created boot camps for level one and level two. I recommend you complete the boot camps. They are very similar to the scenarios you will experience during the exam.
5. If you need support in any way, feel free to contact me.

Digital Coaching

Got Google?

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Use this Google Drawing to demonstrate what Google apps you know, love, and want to learn about. This activity will give you some experience with Google Drawings. As you participate in this activity, think of ways you can use Google Drawings with your students.


  1. Drag each Google app, that you are familiar with, to the board.
  2.  Describe how each app can be used to engage students, enhance your curriculum, and integrate the 4 Cs, or simply describe what the app does.
  3. Note your favorite apps.
  4. Add question marks next to the apps you need to practice using.
  5. This G Suite Presentation will go over some of the most common apps and their features.

Would you like to become a Google Certified Educator? You can prepare for the Google Level 1 & 2 exams by completing this self-assessment. In this resource, you will find links to the WCPSS boot camps, Google practice questions, and tutorials.

Digital Coaching


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I produced this video to demonstrate that K-3 students can log into Chromebooks and Google. They can also use Google to create digital portfolios. If you would like PD about #KindersCan, contact me and my team will be happy to support you.

Digital Coaching

Developing Math Websites

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Step 1: Set Up In this step, you will get set up to build the website. 1. Open up the Google website for the grade level you are working with. Navigate to the unit page you are working with. If it does not exist yet, you will need to create it.  2. Navigate to the […]


Open Up Math 6-8

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I am working with math teachers to help enable the success of students with the Open Up Math curriculum. Here are a few resources that may support you:

Open Up Community Resources
Open Up Facebook Community
6th Grade Math Slide Shows Units 1-9 
7th Grade Math Slide Shows Units 1-9 
8th Grade Math Slide Shows Units 1-9 
6th Grade Teacher Files
6th Grade Padlet
Grade 7, Unit 2 Quizlet
6th, 7th, & 8th Grade Slides for all units and lessons



Universal Design, Chromebooks, & Actively Learn

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As an ITF and instructional designer, I take into account learners with disabilities. “When considering learners with disabilities, the instructional designer must be aware of three major factors: the presence of disability, the impact of disability on learning, and the technology used by individuals to overcome barriers presented by the disability ( Reiser & Dempsey, 2018).  I have been working with a special needs teacher that has three very old desktops in her class of ten students. We discussed the presence of the disabilities her students have, the impact it has on their learning, and how technology could be used to overcome some of the barriers. We came up with a list of what would benefit the students:
1. One-to-One – if every student in her class had their own device they could all participate instead of having to share among three dinosaur desktops. This will help with some of the emotional issues student have when they can not participate or control the device themselves.
2. Audio – the students would benefit from having a device that would read the text to them.
3. Agility /Motor Control – some students have a hard time using a keyboard and mouse.
4.Visibility – having what is being presented to the class in front of the students, on a device, would be more beneficial than the content being projected at the front of the room.
5. Reading Program – having a reading program that will help differentiate texts for the various reading levels would be beneficial.
6. Dictionary – being able to define a word on demand would increase comprehension.
7. Digital Annotation – students that have difficulty writing manually could annotate using a computer.
8. Discussions – having a way for students to discuss and participate without having to be verbally would increase participation.

After collaborating with the special needs teacher, I came to a conclusion/recommendation. I recommended that she purchase ten touchscreen laptops and purchase and use the free version of Actively Learn. The touchscreen devices and the reading program would meet every item on the list that we created. The problem is that she had no funds to purchase the devices. I reached out to some community members and was able to secure a three thousand dollar donation. I purchased ten touchscreen laptops. I was also able to provide her with a lockable charging cart.


Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. V. (2018). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. New York: Pearson.


Digital Portfolios

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Link to Slide Show
A portfolio is a showcase of work samples and artifacts. You would use a portfolio to help you get a job, get into college, or get an internship. A portfolio would contain a wide variety of artifacts that demonstrate your skills and abilities. A digital portfolio is in a digital format and includes reflections about your artifacts. Here is an excellent example of a college student’s portfolio.

All student Portfolios will require the following components:

You will create a page for each class – English, Math, Health/PE, Arts, Extra Curricular, etc
Types of Learning (Artifacts)
Variety of photos of work, audio clips, videos, embedded documents (essays, presentations)
Describing your artifacts, discussing your accomplishments, your challenges, your learning
Formal Document ( High School)
A cover letter and resume

Sample Digital Portfolios and Evaluation Activity
Here are several digital portfolios. Take a look at some of these samples and evaluate them using the provided rubric.

Start Your Digital Portfolio
1. Write your Bio
2. Create a Weebly or Google site. Sign in with Google and use your student login.
3. Create your pages
4. Add your bio to your home page
5. Begin adding artifacts and reflections
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NC TIES 2018

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I am at NC TIES, in Raleigh North Carolina. I am having a good time learning from these awesome workshops. Here are a few notes for myself. I went to a workshop on personalizing PD. The presenters were technology coaches that work with many schools. For each school they work with teachers on an individual level. They use the NC Digital Learning Competencies to guide individual teachers through reaching their personalized goals. The presenters had a course and assessment tool developed for each major competency.

My plan is to create a spreadsheet that includes: both schools I work at, each individual staff member,email address, website, the NC Digital Competencies they wish to target, and notes about discussions during planning.

The presenters used a tool called Class Flow. It helps engage the audience. I will test it out and create a review for it. Here are a few important links I came across:

Class Flow

Power School Courses

NC Digital Learning Competencies

NC  Digital Learning Competencies PD and Assessments 

There are four competencies. DPI has developed a course for each of the competencies. There is an assessment, for each one, that will earn you 1.0 CEU credits in technology. I can work with teachers in groups or as individuals to complete a course and its assessment. I will walk them through each step of the process. Teachers can contact me to schedule a time to discuss the direction they wish to head.

Leadership in Digital Learning –Teachers will demonstrate leadership in accelerating their integration of digital teaching and learning pedagogies.
-Engage in virtual and face-to-face learning communities to expand mastery of technological applications for professional growth and student learning.
– Take initiative with own professional growth to inform practice.
– Demonstrate leadership for technology innovation beyond my own classroom.
– Engage in peer collaborative problem solving through continuous planning, designing, testing, evaluation, and recalibration of teaching methods using appropriate digital technology.
– Promote open, lifelong learning as an iterative process of success, failure, grit, and perseverance.

Digital Citizenship- Teachers will model and teach digital citizenship by the ethical, respectful, and safe use of digital tools and resources that support the creation of a positive digital school culture.
– Demonstrate understanding of intellectual property rights by abiding by copyright law, intellectual property, and fairuse guidelines.
– Teach and require the use of copyright law and fair use in student work and creation.
– Engage in responsible and professional digital social interaction.
– Integrate digital citizenship curriculum into student learning.
– Demonstrate global awareness through engaging with other cultures via advanced communication and collaboration tools.
– Ensure full, equitable access and participation of all learners through high-quality technology tools and resources.

Digital Content and Instruction- Teachers will know and use appropriate digital tools and resources for instruction.
– Design technology-enriched learning experiences that encourage all students to pursue their individual interests, preferences, and differences.
– Lead all students in becoming active participants in setting educational goals, managing learning, and assessing their progress through digital tools.
– Identify, evaluate, and utilize appropriate digital tools and resources to challenge students to create, think critically, solve problems, establish reliability, communicate their ideas, collaborate effectively.
– Immerse students in exploring relevant issues and analyze authentic problems through digital tools and resources.
– Evaluate and appropriately modify the form and function of the physical learning environment to create a conducive digital learning environment.

Data and Assessment- Teachers will use technology to make data more accessible, adjust instruction to better meet the needs of a diverse learner population, and reflect upon their practice through the consistent, effective use of assessment.
– Integrate digitally enhanced formative and summative assessments as a part of the teaching and learning process.
– Use performance data and digital tools to empower student metacognition for self-assessment & self-monitoring their own learning progress.
– Utilize multiple and varied forms of assessment including examples of student work products.
– Utilize technology and digital tools to synthesize and apply qualitative and quantitative data to:
● Create individual learner profiles of strengths, weaknesses, interests, skills, gaps, preferences.
● Inform, personalize, and calibrate individual learning experiences.
● Identify specific plans of action related to weaknesses, gaps, and needed skills as identified in the learner profile.
● Reflect and improve upon instructional practice.

Digital Coaching

Quality Texts, Rigorous Questions, Digital Annotating & Paired Texts

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I taught Language Arts for over 12 years. I know what it is like to be in the trenches. I know how challenging teaching is and the amount of time it takes to plan. As an ITF, I seek technology resources that can help lighten a teachers workload. Common Lit is an amazing resource. Common Lit provides free texts and discussion questions. These texts can be downloaded for free. There are a variety of ways students can access these texts. Upload them to your website, have students read the texts on their devices, convert the text to a Google Doc so students can answer the questions directly into the Google Doc.

Schedule a time with me to collaborate, develop, and implement Common Lit. Here is a brief video that will demonstrate the features and benefits of Common Lit.


Solutions for Live Streaming School News

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Old Broadcasting verses New Live Stream Technology Old technology required hardware, television sets, and wiring. The hardware connected the television studio cameras to a switcher. The switcher board allowed the tech to select the camera angle and add text and graphics. The wiring connected the output to the televisions across the campus.  Both schools I […]


Help Save the Northwestern Pacific Tree Octopus

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Help save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. You can donate money to help build tree houses that will protect the Tree Octopus from weather and predators. Here is a reliable source about this fascinating creature. Here is a report about the future of the PNTO.

Website Evaluation Activity ( Check out these website and determine how reliable they are)
All About Explorers
Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus
Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie
The Jackalope Conspiracy
Dog Island

Reliable Resource Presentation
Here are a few search engines that provide reliable resources for academic research.
2. Google Scholar
6. Refseek

Additional Activities and Lesson Plan


BTV Episode 3

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We are very excited about BTV. We do value class time and try to make the BTV episodes as brief as possible. We also watch our stats to see how many views BTV gets on Thursdays between 10:15 and 10:45. Episode 3 currently has 53 views. We want to ensure BTV is being viewed and is worth the investment of student and staff time. We will record our next episode on November 29th and it will be posted to this website on November 30th.


Exploring How Matter Changes

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There are several ways to incorporate pre-recorded lessons. The blended learning model is my favorite. The students consume the instruction on their own personal device, at their own pace. The teacher is free to work with students individually or in small groups. The following video is a perfect example of how an instructional video can be used for blended learning. For example, all of the students could watch and listen to this video on their own personal devices. The video prompts the students to pause the video, in between each station. During this time, student complete activities and resume the video when they are ready for the next video segment. This allows students to work at their own pace and the instruction is free to assist students instead of presenting the lesson to the entire class. Pre-recorded lessons also benefit students that were absent.


At Your Fingertips

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Here are a couple of samples of “At Your Fingertips” resources. These resources can serve a wide variety of functions, contain an array of content, and be housed in many different formats. The purpose of an “At Your Fingertips” resources is to provide staff members with everything they will need for a particular unit of study, lesson, or job function.

1. Math 7 & 7 Plus Course Content

2. Unit Content for 6th Grade EL

3. University of South Florida Technology Integration Matrix

4. Google File Job Aid



Science Myth Podcasts

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Ms. Connor’s science class has been working on creating podcasts about Greek myths that explain the weather. They are currently studying weather and are discussing how the weather was originally explained through myths. They looking at the scientific explanations of weather but having fun with producing podcasts about mythologies explanations about the weather.
Group 1: Faith, Dabney, Dulaney, Aya, & Zoe
[audio mp3="http://mrzirkle.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/pcg1.mp3"][/audio]
Group 2: Tamara & Aron
[audio mp3="http://mrzirkle.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/pcg2.mp3"][/audio]
Group 3: Cooper & Justin
[audio mp3="http://mrzirkle.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/pcg3.mp3"][/audio]
Group 4: Sean & Ananiah
[audio mp3="http://mrzirkle.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/pcg4.mp3"][/audio]


The Hour of Code

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We are participating in the Hour of Code on December 5th. We will mostly all be participating in the “Hour of Code” website activities, but there are many other coding activities students can participate in. Here are several they can choose from. Open this post to read more.

Hour of Code Activities–These activities will help introduce you to coding and computer science.  Play around with them until you find something that interests you! Happy Coding.

https://code.org/learn (a lot of great coding activities for students to choose from independently)

https://code.org/educate/teacher-led  (in depth coding lessons with detailed activities–teacher directed)

https://code.org/athletes  (athletics based coding activities)

https://code.org/educate/resources/inspire  (resources about coding, videos, posters, etc…)

https://blockly-games.appspot.com/maze  (easy coding activity, no sign in required)

https://studio.code.org/  (computer science fundamentals for all ages, not login required)

http://csisfun.com/  (simple computer activities for younger students, additional coding activities available that require free trial)

http://www.crunchzilla.com/code-maven (basic, step by step coding activity, no sign-up required)

https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/editor/?tip_bar=hoc  (popular coding program, no sign-up required)

https://scratch.mit.edu/scratchr2/static/pdfs/help/MusicCards.pdf (students use scratch to create a musical card)

https://code.org/curriculum/algebra (for you math folks out there…coding activities that deal with algebra)

http://csunplugged.org/activities/  (coding activities that do not require devices)

https://www.codeavengers.com/  (requires free trial sign up)

https://www.khanacademy.org/computing/hour-of-code/hour-of-drawing-code/v/welcome-hour-of-code (Khan Academy resources on the Hour of Code)


Persephone & Demeter

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I enjoy working with students that want to go above and beyond what is required of them. These students were originally assigned to record a podcast episode. They wrote their own script and recorded their podcast, but they wanted to take it a step further. These students wanted to perform their script and have it recorded. They created their own props and prepared for their performance. Here is their video.


DSAP, TPACK, SAMR, and Technology Matrix

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The TPACK framework is an excellent way to look at how technology plays a role in lesson and student activity development. It has been a couple of years since I dove head deep into the TPACK framework. This brief video does an excellent job ob explaining and illustrating TPACK.

TPACK helps us with the theory of instructional design and the SMAR model can be used to evaluate the use of technology. I see many uses of technology and most are not transformative. It can be a challenge to reach redefinition level. This video will introduce or refresh your memory of the SMAR framework.

The University of Sothern Florida has created an awesome “At Your Fingertips” resources for ITFs and teachers. I like to search the matrix by subject and grade level. Here is the link to TIM ( Technology Integration Matrix).


Active Learning Spaces

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My goal is to create active learning spaces that use pedagogy, technology, and space to engage students in self directed learning experiences. I have been able to build one that houses fifteen students. I was awarded two grants to fund the project. One was from the Wake Ed Partnership for $3,000 and the other $3,000 grant came from Wake Electric.The following video showcases students using the active learning space I created in my classroom.

The space is small but jam packed with technology. The learning spaces seats fifteen students. It has the following equipment and technology:
– 13 laptops
– 2 desktops
– Adobe Creative Cloud software
– Podcasting equipment
– Canon T6i Camera
– Lighting
– Green screen and other backdrops
– 2 Breakout EDU kits
– Apple TV and Chromecast
– Reason recording studio software
– Collaborative and lounge seating

I worked on securing funding for these active learning spaces from two sources. I wrote the grant for FVMS and was awarded $50,000. I also wrote the rough draft for CCMMS grant application.I worked with a team of teachers there to finalize the grant application. We were also awarded $50,000. Lastly, I worked with the PTSA at FVMS to determine how the technology fundraiser funds should be spent. I advocated the funds be used to create an active learning space in an area we call the Fish Bowl. They provided us with $10,000 to convert the space.


Cross Platform Matrix

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Welcome to Convergence. Today we will work together to collaboratively create a matrix that will help teachers know the various platforms that digital tools are compatible with. For example, digital tools that use flash will not work on certain platforms. I have create the matrix and entered in several digital tools and the platforms they are compatible with. The majority of today’s session will be spent on us working collaboratively to add more digital tools to the matrix.

Here is the link to the cross platform matrix.



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    I am so happy to work Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School because we get to collaborate with the staff of NC State. We worked with the engineering department for the STEM Expo.We used the same STEM challenges that the engineer students at NC State complete for their coursework.Our students chose one of the projects listed below. As teachers, we could not offer them much imput or direction. We had to oversee their projects and ensure they stayed in the guidelines. For example, the students could not spend more than $30.00 on their projects. The students used the engineering design model as they collaboratively built their solutions to the STEM challenges.

Here are copies of the rubrics that were used to judge the student STEM projects.
Engineering Design Model
Bubble Machine
Fabric Bucket
Precision Launcher
Rube Goldberg Machine


Read Across America

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I was amazed to see how successful Fuquay Varina Middle School’s Read Across America Day was. Various members of the community and WCPSS participated by reading a rigorous text with our students. Students also were engaged in activities that allowed them to incorporate a variety of literacy skills.


3D Poetry in Motion

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I have taught Language Arts for over 12 years and I have never seen a Language Arts lesson like this before. I was blown away by Ms. Hartnett and her Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School students. They transformed the lines of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” into a 3D version of the poem that included STEM connections and a robotic speaker, in motion. I filmed Ms.Hartnett and her students presenting their poetry projects and sharing their reflections. It was exciting to see how this learning experience engaged the students.

I would love to collaborate with Language Arts teachers to create and implement learning experiences that incorporate STEM, technology, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative products that enhance learning and engage students.