Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The View from a Google Classroom

The other day, I overheard a student refer to my classroom as a Google Classroom, which is a fairly accurate name for it these days.  I can hardly remember what life was like before Google became part of my life as a teacher. To honor my district's recent adoption of Google Apps for Education, here are my top three favorite ways that Google Apps has improved my teaching and enhanced student learning in my classroom.

1.  Google Sites - My students' learning hub
Instead of a one-dimensional website, a Google Site can be completely interactive once you embed Google docs such as forms, slides or sheets.  The interactivity has given my students a place to contribute and learn from one another.  Learning objectives, rubrics, and assignments are all posted on the site so that students have one place to go for anything related to my class.  Oh and it looks pretty too, so that's an added bonus.

2.  Google Drive - Live document sharing
It is hard to imagine what life was like before Google Drive.  Students can collaborate on the same working document and automatic saving means that their work is never lost. I am especially grateful for the incredible script written by Andrew Stillman named Doctopus, which interacts with a Chrome extension called Goobric.  I can now assess students' writing in record time and use it as formative data to help students improve their writing.  It. is. amazing.

3. Blogger - A stage for teacher and student voices
Not only do I blog as a way to share my thoughts with others, but I am encouraging my students to do the same.  Journaling in a notebook has become rather archaic.  Why not blog about your views and opinions where an authentic audience awaits?  My students love to blog whenever they are given the opportunity. Wait, boys begging me to write!? With Blogger, they actually do!

Obviously, Google Apps are only possible with access to technology, which can be tricky at times when I have to share devices with other teachers.  (Here's the part where I beg my district to bring a one-to-one computing initiative to our school.)  Even so, Google has transformed my classroom and I am never looking back.

Have you noticed any changes in teaching and learning since Google came to town?  Please share them.

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