Why you should thank a teacher this week, and always

Editor’s note: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We’re honored to have the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, as today’s guest author (and Doodler), who shares more about his journey and all the ways we’re celebrating teachers this week and beyond.

I went into teaching to honor my first teacher: my mother, Sylvia Robinson. Growing up in rural Virginia, she dreamed of becoming  an educator but was denied the chance due to poverty and segregation; instead, she ran an in-home daycare center for all the neighborhood children, where she made each of us feel like we were the most important person on earth.

My mother always said, “every child deserves the proper amount of love to get what they need to be successful in life.” My sister, who had cerebral palsy, often needed more of my mother’s love and care than me and my other siblings did. Through her parenting, I learned what it meant to create a culture of equity—where every person gets the right amount of support they need to be successful—which has proven critical in my own teaching journey. 

Today I teach social studies in a juvenile detention facility in Virginia, where I work to create a positive school culture and empower my students to become civically-minded social advocates. When I was selected as Virginia’s Teacher of the Year, and then National Teacher of the Year, I was elated—mostly for my students. Their stories don’t often fit into the typical educational story in America, but they represent the power and possibility of second chances. They deserve a great education to take advantage of that second chance, and I’m eager to advocate for what they—along with other students from underprivileged backgrounds—need to be successful. That’s also why I’m so happy that Google is showing up this Teacher Appreciation Week, including a new $5 million grant to DonorsChoose.org, to make it easier for us to build classrooms that reflect the diversity of our students.

Google Doodle for Teacher Appreciation Week
Today’s Doodle was co-designed by the 57 2019 Teachers of the Year, representing each U.S. state, extra-state territories, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Google’s homepage today is a tribute to teachers, and I feel proud to see the contribution I made—alongside my 56 fellow State Teachers of the Year—up there for everyone to see. Since Google is a sponsor of The Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year program, we had the opportunity to spend a few days at Google’s Bay Area headquarters where I learned a lot about technology and using storytelling, advocacy and leadership in my practice. I am glad to see companies like Google have teachers’ backs.

The Teachers of the Year gather in San Francisco
While at Google, I got to engage in meaningful discussions with my fellow 2019 Teachers of the Year about how together we can advocate for solutions to some of the biggest issues in education.

A $5 million investment to bring teachers’ ideas to life

Today Google is making one of its largest teacher-focused grants to date, through a $5 million Google.org grant that will unlock over $10 million for teachers through DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that helps teachers get funding for classroom resources and projects. For every dollar you donate to a teacher’s classroom on DonorsChoose.org today, Google will put in an extra fifty cents to help teachers get funding, from 8:00 AM EST on Monday, May 6 until 3:00 AM EST on Tuesday, May 7, up to $1.5 million total.

Later this month, the remaining $3.5 million of this grant will also go toward supporting underrepresented teachers and those looking to create more inclusive classrooms. Representation means so much to my students, which is why it’s so important to have teachers  who value their cultures and look like them .

Free resources and trainings for educators, by educators

Google is also launching free online and in-person resources and trainings. In the Teacher Center, you’ll find a new section with teacher guides and lesson plans—created for teachers, by teachers—made to help create classrooms that best reflect our students. And throughout the week, you can attend free in-person trainings for educators in the new Google Learning Center in New York City, led by teachers like me(!) and 2015 National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples, as well as teacher-focused organizations like TED-Ed. I’ll also be doing an Education On Air session later this week, so you can even tune in virtually.

Making it easier for teachers to learn from one another

As teachers, we often learn from each other. That’s why all of the 2019 State Teachers of the Year have recorded words of insight and encouragement to share with our fellow educators as part of CCSSO and Google’s “Lessons from Teachers of the Year” YouTube series.

As part of our work with Google, we also received early access to TED Masterclass, a new TED-Ed professional learning program they sponsored that supports educators in sharing their ideas in the form of TED-style talks. You can now check out several of my fellow educators’ TED Talks on the newly launched TED-Ed Educator Talks YouTube Channel. More than 5,000 educators, including Google Certified Innovators, are busy developing their Talks.

I hope you’ll join us in celebrating teachers everywhere who go the extra mile to help every student succeed. You can start exploring classroom projects eligible for today’s match on DonorsChoose.org, and of course, remember to #thankateacher—because we deserve it. 

Redefine reading practice with Rivet

Reading is one of the most important skills students will learn in their lives. After the third grade, students who have mastered reading use it to learn just about everything else. Struggling readers, on the other hand, are unlikely to catch up and four times less likely to graduate from high school. Unfortunately, 64 percent of fourth grade students in the United States perform below the proficient level in reading.

Rivet is a new reading app from Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental projects, that addresses the most common barriers to effective reading practice through a free, easy-to-use reading experience optimized for kids. Evidence shows that one of the major differences between poor and strong readers is the amount of time spent reading, so we’re introducing Rivet to make high-quality reading practice available to all.

Improving access to books

With a rapidly growing digital library of over 2,000 free books, Rivet makes it easy to find interesting reading material at the right level. There are engaging books covering a wide array of topics, from planets in outer space to Harriet Tubman. Every book in our library is carefully reviewed and leveled by content quality experts to ensure young readers are shown appropriate content at the right level of difficulty.

A screenshot of the Rivet app, showing a library collection of books to choose from

A knowledgeable reading buddy

Rivet uses advanced speech technology to provide support on every word and give kids feedback on their reading, so they can practice independently without getting stuck. Here are a few Rivet features you can try out during reading practice:

  • Tap for Help: Stuck on a word? Just tap to hear it pronounced.
  • Say the Word: Kids can practice reading a word and the app will show them exactly which parts of the word were said correctly and which parts they need to work on.
  • Definitions and Translations: Definitions are available for every word, along with translations into more than 25 languages for non-native speakers.
A screenshot showing the Definitions and Translations feature in Rivet, showing the word "start" defined and pronounced on the screen.
  • Follow Along: Rivet can read full-pages aloud on a selection of books, highlighting each word as it’s read so kids can follow along. (Parents have the option to disable this feature.)
  • Real-time Feedback: On Android (and coming soon to iOS), Rivet can provide even more real-time help. Just tap the microphone icon and read the page aloud—the app will follow along and proactively offer support if it detects a reader struggling. At the end of the page, readers can see which words were read correctly, and try again on the words they missed. All speech processing is performed on-device to respect your child’s privacy.
A screenshot depicting the Real-time Feedback feature, where a paragraph is read out loud to the reader.

Motivation and encouragement

It takes hard work and plenty of patience to master reading. Rivet rewards dedication with points and badges, and personalizes the experience with avatars, themes and recommended books based on each reader’s level and interests. Surprises designed to encourage more practice, energizing games and a playful interface keep kids engaged in the reading experience.

A screenshot showing the "rewards" page after three days in a row of reading practice, with a cat in sunglasses and the words, "Yay! You did it! You've read 3 days in Rivet!"

Our goal is to deliver high-quality reading practice to children everywhere, along with peace of mind for the busy parents accompanying them on their reading journey. In the upcoming months, we’ll introduce features to support reading practice in classrooms, add new content for a wider range of reading levels and expand to more countries around the world.

Rivet is now available on Android smartphones, tablets, iPads, iPhones and Chromebooks in eleven countries worldwide. If you know a little reader who could benefit from better reading practice, check us out in the Play Store or App Store today.

Affirming the identities of teachers and students in the classroom

Editor’s note: In this post, Kristina Joye Lyles from DonorsChoose.org shares about teaming up with Google.org to launch the #ISeeMe campaign.

I joined DonorsChoose.org in 2013 and have long been working with organizations like Google.org who share our belief in the power of teachers. To date, Google.org has provided over $25 million to support classrooms on DonorsChoose.org, and last week, they committed an additional $5 million to teachers, with a focus on supporting diverse and inclusive classrooms. Together, we’re kicking off #ISeeMe, a new effort to celebrate the identities of teachers and students in their classrooms.

As a military brat, I attended many public schools across the U.S. but only had two teachers of color from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My teachers and professors of color had a particularly strong impact on me as mentors and role models; I was encouraged to see them as leaders in our school community, and their presence alone showed me that diversity and representation matter.

My story is like those of so many others. Research shows that students benefit from seeing themselves in their teachers and learning resources. For example, black students who have just one black teacher between third and fifth grade are 33 percent more likely to stay in school. Girls who attend high schools with a higher proportion of female STEM teachers are 19 percent more likely to graduate from college with a science or math major.

With this support from Google.org, teachers who are underrepresented in today’s public school classrooms—like teachers of color and female math and science teachers—as well as all teachers looking to create more inclusive classrooms will get the support they need and deserve. Teachers from all backgrounds can take steps toward creating classrooms that reflect their students, whether they’re selecting novels with diverse characters to discuss or taking trainings to meet the needs of culturally diverse students. And we’re eager to help them bring their ideas to life so that more students can see themselves reflected in their classrooms.

I’m thrilled that many teachers on DonorsChoose.org are already coming up with inspiring ways to foster classroom environments where every student can feel important and included. Mr. Yung sees the power of food to bring his students together across different cultural backgrounds. Ms. McLeod is determined to bring her students from Lumberton, North Carolina, to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Toro-Mays aspires to bring her bilingual students books with culturally relevant heroes and heroines.

We hope you’ll join us and the philanthropists of various backgrounds who have lit the torch for #ISeeMe today. If you are a public school teacher, you can set up an #ISeeMe classroom project right now at DonorsChoose.org. You can also access free inclusive classroom resources and ideas created for educators, by educators at any time in Google’s Teacher Center. And for those of you who have been inspired by a teacher, we invite you to explore classroom projects that are eligible for Google.org’s #ISeeMe donation matching—we would love to have your support for these teachers and classrooms.

Building for all learners with new apps, tools, and resources

Everyone deserves access to a quality education—no matter your background, where you live, or your abilities. We’re recognizing this on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, an effort to promote digital accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, by sharing new features, training, and partners, along with the many new products announced at Google I/O.

Since everyone learns in different ways, we design technology that can adapt to a broad range of needs and learning styles. For example, you can now add captions in Slides and turn on live captions in Hangouts Meet, and we’ve improved discoverability in the G Suite toolbar. By making these features available—with even more in the works—teachers can help students learn in ways that work best for them.

Working with our partners to expand access

We’re not the only ones trying to make learning more accessible, so we’ve partnered with companies who are building apps to make it easier for teachers to communicate with all students.

One of our partners, Crick Software, just launched Clicker Communicator, a child-friendly communication tool for the classroom: bridging the gap between needs/wants and curriculum access, empowering non-verbal students with the tools to initiate and lead conversations, and enabling proactive participation in the classroom. It’s one of the first augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) apps specifically created for Chromebook users.

Learn more about Clicker Communicator, an AAC app for Chromebooks.

Assessing with accessibility in mind

Teachers use locked mode when giving Quizzes in Google Forms, only on managed Chromebooks, to eliminate distractions. Locked mode is now used millions of times per month, and many students use additional apps for accommodations when taking quizzes. We’ve been working with many developers to make sure their tools work with locked mode. One of those developers is our partner Texthelp®. Coming soon, when you enable locked mode in Quizzes in Google Forms, your students will be able to access Read&Write for Google Chrome and EquatIO® for Google that they rely on daily.

Another partner, Don Johnston, supports students with their apps including Co:Writer for word prediction, translation, and speech recognition and Snap&Read for read aloud, highlighting, and note-taking. Students signed into these extensions can use them on the quiz—even in locked mode. This integration will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

Learn more about the accessibility features available in locked mode, including ChromeVox, select-to-speak, and visual aids including high contrast mode and magnifiers.

Tools, training, and more resources

Assistive technology has the power to transform learning for more students, but educators need training, support, and tutorials to help their students get the most from the technology.

The new Accessibility section on our Google for Education website has information on Chromebooks and G Suite for Education, a module on our Teacher Center and printable flashcards, and EDU in 90 YouTube videos on G Suite and Chromebook accessibility features. Check out our accessibility tools and find training on how to use them to create more engaging, accessible learning experiences.

Canada Uses Civil Anti-Spam Law in Bid to Fine Malware Purveyors

Canadian government regulators are using the country’s powerful new anti-spam law to pursue hefty fines of up to a million dollars against Canadian citizens suspected of helping to spread malicious software.

In March 2019, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission(CRTC) — Canada’s equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), executed a search warrant in tandem with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at the home of a Toronto software developer behind the Orcus RAT, a product that’s been marketed on underground forums and used in countless malware attacks since its creation in 2015.

The CRTC was flexing relatively new administrative muscles gained from the passage of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), which covers far more than just junk email. Section 7 of CASL deals with the alteration of transmission data, including botnet activity. Section 8 involves the surreptitious installation of computer programs on computers or networks including malware and spyware.

And Section 9 prohibits an individual or organization from aiding, inducing, procuring or causing to be procured the doing of any of the above acts.

CRTC Director Neil Barratt said this allows his agency to target intermediaries who, through their actions or through inaction, facilitate the commission of CASL violations. Businesses found to be in violation of CASL can be fined up to $10 million; individuals can face up to a $1 million fine.

“We’re dealing with a lower burden of proof than a criminal conviction, and CASL gives us a little more leeway to get bad actors off our networks in Canada and to ultimately improve security for people here and hopefully elsewhere,” Barratt said in an interview with KrebsOnSecurity.

“CASL defines spam as commercial electronic messages without consent or the installation of software without consent or the intercepting of electronic messages,” Barratt said. “The installation of software is under Section 8, and this is one of the first major investigations under that statute.”

NY Investigates Exposure of 885 Million Mortgage Documents

New York regulators are investigating a weakness that exposed 885 million mortgage records at First American Financial Corp. [NYSE:FAF] as the first test of the state’s strict new cybersecurity regulation. That measure, which went into effect in March 2019 and is considered among the toughest in the nation, requires financial companies to regularly audit and report on how they protect sensitive data, and provides for fines in cases where violations were reckless or willful.

On May 24, KrebsOnSecurity broke the news that First American had just fixed a weakness in its Web site that exposed approximately 885 million documents — many of them with Social Security and bank account numbers — going back at least 16 years. No authentication was needed to access the digitized records.

On May 29, The New York Times reported that the inquiry by New York’s Department of Financial Services is likely to be followed by other investigations from regulators and law enforcement.

First American says it has hired a third-party security firm to investigate, and that it shut down external access to the records.

The Times says few people outside the real estate industry are familiar with First American, but millions have entrusted their data to the company when they go to close the deal on buying or selling a new home.

“First American provides title insurance and settlement services for property sales, which typically require buyers to hand over extensive financial records to other parties in their transactions,” wrote Stacy Cowley. “The company is one of the largest insurers in the United States, handling around one in every four transactions, according to the American Land Title Association.”

News also emerged this week that First American is now the target of a class action lawsuitalleging the Fortune 500 mortgage industry giant “failed to implement even rudimentary security measures.”

Take your kids to Warhawk Air Museum

I visited the Warhawk Air Museum, with my son — and four busses full of field-tripping middle schoolers.

As we entered the museum, we were greeted by a friendly staff and lots of volunteer veterans. The students sat on the ground and listened to the museum’s co-founder, Sue Paul, explain the importance and impact the armed services has had in shaping our country. She took time to recognize each student who had a family member who served, or is serving in the military. Then she introduced the veterans who had come to share a bit of their past with the students.

The students divided into small groups and listened to individual veterans talk about their experience. They each shared pictures and memorabilia from their time in the armed services.

One veteran, who served in the Air Force, explained how the Cold War had began and ended. He displayed parts and pictures from the planes he worked on. He said the Air Force had helped prevent a third world war, by flying planes over Russia; 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, for nearly 40 years!

The second veteran spoke of the importance of getting a good education. He disliked school when he was young and didn’t believe he was very smart, until a teacher took the time to help him. When he joined the armed services, he was encouraged to get a college degree. His education gave him the opportunity to work on highly classified assignments. He expressed his great love for our nation and the positive impact the United States has had on worldwide innovations and democracy.

The third veteran was drafted to the Navy during World War II. He shared pictures and stories of his ship and fellow soldiers. He also served in post-war Japan. He was profoundly impacted by the starvation of the post-war Japaneese people and the generosity of the United States in rebuilding Japan.

Each vetran’s story was moving and powerful. The students explored the museum and learned more about veterans from all over Idaho. The field trip ended with a Q&A with the veterans.

One seventh grader asked “What was your favorite thing to do in the military?”

Their answers included jumping out of airplanes, traveling the world and playing a football game on an aircraft carrier. The quarterback threw a long pass and as the receiver jumped to catch the ball, he fell off the edge of the ship!

If you haven’t had a chance to take your kids to the Warhawk Air Museum, I highly recommend it. It’s also an ideal way to spend Memorial Day, May 27.

Google to buy unified data platform Looker for $2.6 billion to strengthen Cloud analytics

The acquisition will bring Looker’s business intelligence to Google Cloud.

Earlier today, Google announced plans to acquire unified data and analytics platform Looker for $2.6 billion in an all-cash transaction. Once the deal is complete later this year, Looker will join Google Cloud.

“Google Cloud is being used by many of the leading organizations in the world for analytics and decision-making. The combination of Google Cloud and Looker will enable customers to harness data in new ways to drive their digital transformation,” said Thomas Kurian, chief executive officer of Google Cloud. “We remain committed to our multi-cloud strategy and will retain and expand Looker’s capabilities to analyze data across Clouds.”

Why we should care

As martech investments continue to grow and digital transformation catches on, the need for data and analytics is highlighted more than ever. However, one of the biggest analytics challenges digital marketers face continues to be the underlying martech infrastructure and pulling the different pieces together to create meaningful, actionable insights.

“The data analytics market is growing incredibly fast as companies look to leverage all of their data to make more informed decisions,” said Frank Gens, Senior Vice President & Chief Analyst, IDC. “Google Cloud is one of the leaders in the data warehouse market, and the addition of Looker will further strengthen their ability to serve the needs of enterprise customers while also advancing their commitment to multi-cloud.”

The addition of Looker to the Google Cloud ecosystem could afford users the ability to strengthen their analytics, which in turn should lead to better decision-making and improve digital execution.

More on the news

  • Looker is a unified data platform that integrates data into the daily workflow of users and enables organizations to extract value from the data.
  • The acquisition builds on an existing partnership between the two companies where they share more than 350 joint customers, including Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, Sunrun, WPP Essence and Yahoo!.

Learning Analysis of Social Networks

This is my first look into social network analysis for learning.  We are starting with the idea that there is value in understanding how interactions happen during learning regardless of the context.  This sets the stage for digging in deeper and conducting analysis on the social networks that learners participate in such as twitter or a blog.Dragan (our instructor) mentioned that researchers have often thought social networks may be the most important component of learning. And the analysis of social networks is based on various research fields. He mentioned some key characteristics that will be of focus include density, centrality, and modularity.

Network ElementsSocial networks have some key structural elements that can be identified in order to establish a common language and conceptual model. This allows us to analyze them.  In this mooc we discussed three key elements, the actor, relations, and data sources.  
The actor is a node or vertex within the network. In social networks this is typically a person or learner, but I don’t think it would necessarily need to be a person.

 Relations The relation in the network refers to the ties, edges, arcs, and links that connect the actors. Relations can be undirected and weighted or they can have a direction, meaning that an actor can be the sender and any actor that receives data can be the receiver. So, actors can be senders or receivers or both.

Additionally, the relation between two actors can also be labeled or categorized.  This means they can represent something, such as friendship, advice, hindrance, or can be a form of communication. I would imagine this could be a very interesting component of network analysis to try and identify and define these relations for the purpose of understanding the learner, the network, or the context.

Data SourcesThe third element discussed in the mooc was the area of how the data was collected.  I think the idea of how you gather your data will have an impact on what filter you use to analyze the data.  Is it you own data such as email or is it from twitter?  This collection process impact what you can look at and create a potential bias on how you analyze the information and what conclusions you may be able to make from that analysis.  As a reflection, I don’t think this third element is well articulated within the mooc materials.

AnalysisThere were three key areas of analysis that we are looking at which include density, centrality, and modularity.   

Density is the degree to which actors are connected to all the other members in the network.

Centrality is the extent in which the actors are organized around a central point.

Modularity is the way that you quantify the modules within the network or community, by counting and analyzing the ties between the actors. (It can get more complicated quickly, but this is the core.)

Potential BenefitsMy first approach to considering how studying social networks might be beneficial to enhancing learning, is impacted by traditional classroom instruction. As a facilitator you often lurk about your classroom or learning environment and just listen.  What are they saying, who is saying it, who is dominating the conversations, and do they have a grasp of concept?  Should I step in and correct something that has been miss-communicated?  Do I need to provide clues to a small group to get them headed in the right direction?  Did they understand anything I said?

I would think if you could monitor a social network of a group of “actors” all with similar learning goals (i.e. a class or group of employees) you could begin to get a sense of how their learning was/is progressing. I would also think that it meet even create a safer environment for learners who struggle with social settings.  

Salesforce Object Relationships: Master Detail

You can think of Salesforce as a large database. You can think of Salesforce objects as spreadsheets within that database. In order to be able to relate on spreadsheet to another spreadsheet or really one object to another object, you need to build a relationship. 

Salesforce has created a formal way to establish those relationships with the following areas.

  • Master-Detail
  • Many to Many
  • Lookup
  • External Lookup
  • Indirect Lookup
  • Hierarchical

These are detailed here.

Let’s take a closer look at the first one.


This relationship “closely” connects the two objects that you are trying to relate. It establishes a parent – child relationship between the two. This is important because it extends the relationship to the sub-detail.  This means there are certain behaviors that you need to be aware of for this type of relationship.

In this diagram, there are two custom objects, States and Cities. If you wanted to closely relate each City to the state that it was included in, you could build a Master (States) – Detail (Cities) relationship between the two objects.

Deleting Behavior
Deleting a detail record moves it to the Recycle Bin but leaves master record intact.
Deleting Master also deletes the child.
Undeleting restores the master and the child. (and sub-child)
Deleting a detail (child) then deleting master you cannot undelete, because the relationship is gone.  

In our example, if you deleted West Virginia, then all of the cities associated with West Virginia record would be deleted.

By default, records can’t be reparented.
Admins can allow it when defining the relationship.

This would be if you would want all the cities that were associated with West Virginia, to be re-associated with Ohio. Doesn’t make a lot of sense here, but in some cases it might. 

The detail record is automatically set to the parent owner and it not available on the detail record.
The detail can’t have sharing rules, manual sharing, or queues because this requires an owner field.

Every City associated to West Virginia in our example would have the same record Owner as the Owner of the West Virginia record. This means if I share West Virginia, I share all the cities. 

Detail records inherent the Master security settings.
If you have access to West Virginia, you have access to the City records.

Page Layouts
The field linking the objects is required on the detail record.

On the Cities object page layout, you might have the field that allows you to associate the parent. In this case, it associates to States.

Standard Objects
Standard objects can be a master.

Number of Records Related

Less then 10,000 child records is best practice

Number of Relationships on Custom Object

Each custom object can have up to two master-detail relationships and up to 25 total relationships

The Related To entry can’t be changed after you save the relationship.

There are some additional benefits of using the Master-Detail relationship within Salesforce, including Roll-up Summaries that allows summaries of the detail records to be displayed on the Master record.  This would allow you to see how many cities that there are associated to West Virginia (3 in our diagram). 

If you are new to Salesforce, you will be using the Master-Detail relationship a lot and it is good to really spend time understanding these behaviors.