In 2015, Roses in Concrete Community School opened in East Oakland, California. With a name inspired by a book of poetry written by Tupac Shakur, the school aims to create a model for urban education that prioritizes the needs of youth and families in the community it serves. It’s founder, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, believes education is the way to help young people understand that they can transform not only their community, but the world. By creating the conditions for our youngest change-makers to flourish, this education model can be a pathway to building healthy and sustainable communities across the U.S.
In the school’s first year, Google.org provided $750,000 to help launch its unique vision. And last Friday at Google’s San Francisco community space, teachers, students, artists, education advocates, Googlers and Oakland-native actress Zendaya celebrated the announcement of our additional $650,000 grant to help the school build a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) curriculum, which will serve as a model for other schools across the U.S. The curriculum will be culturally and community relevant, building on Duncan-Andrade’s philosophy that education shouldn’t push students out of communities, but should instead help students transform them.
Research shows that Black and Latino students are interested in learning CS, but are underrepresented in the field due to limited access to learning opportunities, coupled with the lack of relatable role models. Through this new program, Roses in Concrete helps students see the connection between CS and their communities, and hopes to equip them with the skills they need to solve real problems, starting in their own neighborhood.
The purpose of education is not to escape poverty, but to end it. Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade Founder of Roses in Concrete Community School
During the evening’s events, Roses students shared dance, art, and poetry performances for the crowd, which included Zendaya, an avid supporter of the school. Growing up in Oakland as the daughter of two teachers, she has fond memories of spending time in the same classrooms that now make up the Roses in Concrete campus, and credits pretending to grade papers as some of her earliest acting experience. During a student-led interview, Zendaya shared her appreciation for organizations like this progressive community school that are thoughtfully closing equity divides in her hometown. She encouraged the students to “Always lead with your heart and chase the happiness that fuels you,” and reminded them that technology is one possible medium for them to express themselves and make a positive difference.
Jeff Duncan Andrade
Roses founder Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade shares his philosophy that education shouldn’t push students out of communities, but should instead help students transform them
Actress and Oakland-native Zendaya was interviewed by a Roses student and his mother
Zendaya joined teachers, students, artists and education advocates to celebrate the announcement of a $650,000 Google.org grant to help Roses build a first-of-its-kind computer science curriculum
The night concluded with a moving performance set to Alvin Ailey’s ‘Revelations’
As a lab school, Roses in Concrete will share this new curriculum with national school leaders, policy makers and researchers. And alongside Roses, we can identify more ways to provide meaningful CS experiences to students of color, and by doing so, provide pathways for them to grow, thrive, and create change—in their own communities, and around the world.
Editor’s Note: Many of us on Google’s Science Journal team are huge fans of OK Go, the popular rock and YouTube sensation. Their music videos are a spectacular blend of science, engineering, and creativity—a great formula for engaging classroom activities. So when professor AnnMarie Thomas approached us about the OK Go Sandbox, a collection of materials for K-12 educators, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. OK Go frontman Damian Kulash tells us more in this guest post.
I’m always so proud and excited when I hear from a teacher who uses an OK Go music video in the classroom, and over the years, I’ve heard it more and more frequently—from pre-school teachers to grad school professors. We know our videos are joyful and nerdy (we’ve done a Rube Goldberg machine and a dance in zero gravity, for instance), but we didn’t plan them for the classroom environment. It’s a wonderful surprise to hear they’re sneaking in there on their own, and we want to support that in any way we can.
Last year I met Dr. AnnMarie Thomas, who leads the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Together we brainstormed ways to open up our videos for classrooms, and we set up a survey to ask educators for their ideas. Within just a few days, nearly a thousand teachers sent us their thoughts, and, with support from Google, we took this feedback and together developed our new OK Go Sandbox. It’s a collection of materials created for and with K-12 educators: design challenges, educator guides, and more.
Here’s Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and me meeting with teachers to go over OK Go Sandbox materials.
It was especially cool to work with Google’s Science Journal team to develop tools that allow students to explore the world around them through music. Their new pitch detection feature makes it possible to make sounds using glasses of water (like we did in the Rube Goldberg machine for “This Too Shall Pass”, and in the musical performance of a robotic car for “Needing/Getting”), and there’s now an option to play data values as pitches which lets students use their phone’s sensors to compose new sounds and interpret their data in a new way.
So whether we’re exploring frame rates by making flip books, or using a light sensor to make music (with Google’s Science Journal app), we hope that the challenges in the OK Go Sandbox help stoke curiosity and encourage learning through joy and wonder. And we particularly look forward to learning more from educators as this stuff gets into the world.
Educators! Please reach out to us at hello@OKGoSandbox.orgwith your input and ideas so that we can grow and adapt this to be maximally useful in inspiring your students. The best part of a sandbox is that we can try building lots of new things, even if we occasionally have to knock some things down and start over.
Editor’s note:This guest post is authored by Danielle Arnold, a School Media Specialist at Belmar Elementary School in New Jersey and a Ready to Code librarian. She shared this post, a version of which was originally published here.
At the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting earlier this month, I spoke about how Applied Digital Skills—a new digital literacy program that is part of the Grow with Google initiative—helps me address some of the challenges my learners face. The curriculum uses video-based lessons to help learners create projects with digital applications and is free for everyone. As learners build projects, they practice the new skills they will need for future jobs, as well as other practical skills such as financial literacy, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. The curriculum includes more than 100 hours of lessons that can be used in a library or classroom, independently or in a group.
As Belmar Elementary School’s school librarian, I’ve been using Applied Digital Skills with fourth through eighth graders. I’m also Belmar’s School Media Specialist, which means that I’m always looking for news ways to support my school’s learners. I’ve used the Applied Digital Skills units to help learners improve in a few areas:
The If-Then Adventure Stories unit allows my learners to develop interactive projects both independently and in teams. As learners collaborate in shared documents, they work together to solve problems and motivate each other to stay on track. At Belmar Elementary, we also use the Research and Develop a Topic unit to help learners conduct research more effectively. One seventh grade ELA teacher described how “learners have a hard time deciphering what is important and should be included, and what is not. They have a tough time putting the research into their own words…” In the unit, my learners identify credible sources, evaluate bias of digital information, write about their research, and get feedback.
Many of my colleagues are also using Applied Digital Skills as well, using the curriculum to help our learners develop resumes, search for jobs, plan events, explore local history and more. Our technology facilitator at Belmar noted, "Devising real world scenarios that are relevant to the learners while also being able to teach them specific skills is often difficult. I love the format of the lessons and how the learners can follow the prompts and videos to work at their own pace.”
These are just a few examples of how librarians and educators like me are using the Applied Digital Skills curriculum to offer learners of all ages free, engaging lessons that teach the essential digital skills they’ll need for their futures.
Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. Last week, the Grow with Google tour—which brings workshops, one-on-one coaching, and hands-on demos to cities across the U.S.—stopped in Lansing, Michigan. Emily Hanley, one of our very own software engineers and a Michigan native, taught introductory coding classes at the event. We spoke to her about returning to her hometown to teach, exposing more kids to computer science, and how her Google Home helps her have more dance parties with her kids.
What was your biggest takeaway from Grow with Google in Lansing? It was inspiring to see so many people excited about the opportunity to not only interact with Google products, but to try out programming.
What was one memorable moment of the day? Seeing the “ah ha” moments when people realized they had actually written code and produced something on their own. The classrooms were packed all day long, and it was so neat to interact with people who realized the potential of what they had just learned to do. People shared their stories of how they were already using technology in their fields, and this class helped them think about how they could do even more.
Lansing Grow with Google event was close to where you grew up.What was it like to go back to your hometown? It’s amazing to see the investment in towns like Lansing, and to witness the revitalization that’s happening. People are bringing new ideas and technology to industries that have existed in Michigan for decades.
How did you get your start at Google? I started as an intern in 2007 and have been here ever since—you could say I’ve grown up with Google.
How do you explain your job at a dinner party? I’m a software engineer—I speak the language of computers. I work on the Chrome browser and make sure that other engineers who write code for Chrome don’t make it slower.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be engineers? Don’t be afraid to dig in. Sometimes that means failing, but failure is a natural discovery that helps you figure out what you’re good at. Always ask the question that’s on your mind—chances are half the room is thinking the same thing, and more importantly, it’s how you grow.
Tell us about your path to computer science. I didn’t learn about computers until college. I was more into physics and chemistry, and computers seemed like a black box. That’s part of why I’m so passionate about computer science education—if I can pass on what I’ve learned to the next generation, they can make something even bigger. They’ll do it tenfold.
When kids are exposed to CS at a young age, it becomes a crucial tool for them. It’s not just a platform for playing games. And you can use CS no matter what your passion is. If it’s fashion or journalism or something else, CS can be a part of it.
Who has helped you along your journey? My mom always told me there’s never a dream too big. She was always an advocate and a dreamer. Whenever I’ve felt intimidated, or had less technical experience that others in the room, I thought, “Dang it, I’ll work harder and find the next door to bang down.” My mom taught me that.
How do you pass that advice onto your own (five!) kids? The biggest thing I want to give all my children is confidence in themselves and their abilities to pursue their passion (I always say “pursue your passion, not a paycheck”). So often people internalize criticisms and roadblocks as indications they aren't good enough to keep going on that path, instead of seeing those roadblocks as opportunities to grow.
What role does technology play in your family life? I have five kids under the age of 7. I try to make technology part of our everyday life, but not the main focus of it. We utilize our Google Home for things like dance parties and measurements when cooking. We use Google for school projects, printing coloring sheets and buying birthday presents. We take tons of photos and make Google Photobooks from our phones so we can have them on our coffee table. I want them to use technology as a tool to aid in their lives, but I don't want it to replace human connections.
Editor's note:This week our Google for Education team will be joining educators and edtech enthusiasts at SXSW EDU in Austin, Texas. Join us as we talk G Suite for Education and Classroom integrations during our SXSW EDU sessions. Follow along on The Keyword, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and updates.
A few years ago, we launched the Classroom API to make it easier for developers to integrate their applications #withClassroom, and to help teachers and students easily use Classroom with the apps they love. These applications enable educators to customize teaching and learning, bringing endless possibilities to their classrooms. Today, hear from teachers about how they use some of the many Classroom integrations available to engage and excite students.
Work with WorkbenchProject-based learning (PBL) is a powerful way to teach core concepts, but can be time consuming to plan. Workbench lets teachers create, browse, and modify PBL projects, and assign the projects to students all in one platform. Kyle Nunn, a STEAM teacher at Parsons Junior High School in Redding, California, uses the Workbench integration with Google Classroom to search existing projects on the platform and quickly assign to students in Classroom, making his planning process faster and easier.
Through a hands-on project, his students use code to steer robots through a maze. Workbench guides students through the step-by-step project, resulting in more autonomous learning for them. Teachers like Kyle can track student progress and are automatically notified when students complete projects. “The result was a streamlined experience which leveraged several different technologies to achieve a highly engaging, standards-aligned, and robust programming project,” continued Nunn. Implementing project-based learning isn’t a daunting project with Workbench and Classroom.
Be a Quizizz wizGamified learning can be fun for both students and teachers alike. For example, Quizizz, a platform where teachers can create, modify, share and assign interactive quizzes, is a great gamification tool regardless of subject or grade level. Since integrating with Classroom, we’ve seen teachers use Quizizz in amazing and creative ways.
Norm Peckham, an Educational Technology Trainer for the Mesa Public Schools Educational Technology Department in Mesa, Arizona had each student in his social studies class write a quiz question from the unit they were studying and submit them in Forms. He and his co-teacher then uploaded the questions to Quizziz, and assigned it to the class that same day. Once the students took their own quiz, their grades uploaded automatically to Classroom. “It was so easy and the students were amazed that they were taking a quiz that they just made themselves!” said Peckham.
The grade integration between Quizizz and Classroom wasn’t the only time saver for Bria Stacy, a teacher at Knott County Central High School in Hindman, Kentucky. Teachers at her school are required to report student progress data, and manually grading and tracking was time intensive. Quizizz automatically generates reports to track both individual progress and class-wide understanding. Being able to track, report and analyze progress more efficiently allowed her to spend more time teaching. “You can't go wrong [with Quizizz] and it works so well with Classroom. Best of all, it collects all the data you need and saves it as reports," said Stacy.
Classroom integrations support the needs of teachers and students, and expand what’s possible with Classroom. Explore more apps that integrate with Classroom and follow @googleforedu on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about what you can do #withClassroom.
Code Jam is back for its 15th year! As Google's largest and most challenging programming competition, Code Jam gives developers a chance to use their favorite programming languages to solve algorithmic puzzles. Our new platform gives you the option to code in the browser, offers server-side code evaluation, and challenges you with interactive problems. Plus, more contestants will advance to Round Two this year. Whether you’re a coding novice or a programming professional, we invite all levels to compete in multiple online rounds for the coveted title of Code Jam Champion and a cash prize of up to $15,000.
Code Jam’s 15-year tradition keeps the world’s best programmers coming back for more. Here’s what you need to know about the competition this year:
The problems.A team of Google engineers meticulously designs our algorithmic puzzles to challenge and inspire contestants year after year. They are no strangers to competitions—most of them were Code Jam competitors before working at Google. Pablo Heiber, a 2005 Finalist and current Google engineer, notes the steep ability curve, “Every year the contestants get significantly stronger and the problems need to play catch up.” For the first time, contestants can look forward to the added complexity of interactive problems in this year’s competition.
The people. The global Code Jam community connects current competitors, former participants, and fans of the competition across Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Facebook. We encourage members to discuss challenging problems and learn from one another. Petr Mitrichev, a 2005 Finalist and current Google engineer explains, “Competitive programming helped me find friends all around the world who share my interests and my values.” We’re proud of our continuously growing community, welcoming over 60,000 registrants from over 130 countries last year.
The prize. Each year, the top 1,000 contestants receive limited edition t-shirts. This year we’ll also invite the top 25 finalists to the World Finals in Toronto, Canada for a chance to become the Code Jam Champion and win a cash prize of up to $15,000. Aside from the prizes, Sergio Sancho, 2004 Code Jam Winner and current Google Engineer adds, “Code Jam’s competition space gives you the motivation to improve your programming skills, and a way to actually measure them.” Code Jam pushes you to think quick, test your abilities, and challenge yourself to be the best programmer you can be, whether you end on the leaderboard or not.
Register today. As Tiancheng Lou, 2008-09 Code Jam Champion, advocates, “I really do urge anyone who is interested in coding to compete! It is a great way to learn new skills, improve existing ones, solve challenging problems, get involved in a great community, and have fun.” Check out his advice on how to come out on top in Code Jam and register today.
Start working your way through previous problems to prepare for the Online Qualification round coming Friday, April 6. See you on the scoreboard!
We started Chrome Music Lab to make learning music more accessible to everyone through fun, hands-on experiments. And we’ve loved hearing from teachers who have been using it in exciting ways, like exploring music and its connections to science, math, art, dance, and more.
For this year’s Music in Our Schools Month, we’ve added a new experiment to the website called Song Maker. It’s a simple way for anyone to make a song, then share it with a link—no need to log in or make an account. Anyone can instantly hear what you made, and even riff on it to make their own song. It lives on the web, so you don’t need to install any apps to try it. And, it works across devices—phones, tablets, computers.
At Google, we believe in technology's ability to unlock creativity and create opportunity, but it’s our duty to equip our users with the tools and resources to make safe choices online.
Last year, we surveyed more than 200 teachers in the UK to learn about their experience with online safety in the classroom. We found that teachers believe children should start learning about online safety at age seven, and 99% of the teachers we spoke to felt that online safety should be part of the curriculum. More than one in three teachers also reported that they’d witnessed an online safety incident (sharing personal information or cyberbullying, for example) in their classroom.
However, the majority of the teachers we spoke to said they didn't feel they had the necessary resources to teach online safety to their students.
To help teachers empower their students to navigate the online world safely, today we’re launching our Be Internet Legends and Be Internet Citizens educational programs. We’ll visit primary and secondary schools across the UK where we’ll train 60,000 young people face-to-face through assemblies and workshops, and aim to reach one million young people through our free training resources created for teachers and youth workers. Both programs have been awarded the Quality Mark of accreditation by the PSHE Association, the national body for Personal, Social and Health Education in the UK.
Be Internet Legends
In partnership with family internet safety experts at Parent Zone, we created the Be Internet Legends program for Key Stage 2 primary school students to help them be safe, confident explorers of the online world. And UK primary school teachers can download or order their free Be Internet Legends teaching resources packs to bring the program to their classrooms. Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of Parent Zone says, “We’re delighted to be working with Google on Be Internet Legends because we know how important it is to provide children with the knowledge they need to stay safe online and we have to inspire them to want to act on that knowledge.”
Be Internet CitizensBe Internet Citizens, which is part of YouTube Creators For Change, teaches 13-15 year olds media literacy, critical thinking and digital citizenship with the aim of encouraging them to have a positive voice online. Created in partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), the program empowers children to produce online content to express their identities, share their stories, make social impact, and bring communities together. “We’re incredibly excited to be working with Google to scale Be Internet Citizens in 2018,” says ISD CEO Sasha Havlicek. “As online spaces play an increasingly vital role in our social, cultural and political lives, it is vital young people feel confident to make their voices heard, stay safe and play a positive role as digital citizens.”
Starting next week, our teams are excited to hit the road visiting schools across the UK.
Since 2013, Google.org has given more than $4 million to Pratham Books to build and grow their StoryWeaver platform which today includes thousands of stories in over 100 languages. We’ve also supported their offline tools—making it easier for students without access in remote communities to read and learn—and hundreds of Googlers have volunteered their time to help add new stories and languages.
We’re proud to support organizations like Pratham Books who use technology to create more opportunities for students to learn in their own languages and contexts. We believe that no matter what language a child speaks, they should be able to learn, grow, and give back to their communities.