Although teachers and staff access separate domains, they are connected for teachers and staff to collaborate.
What are the benefits of GAFE? It is free for schools, is a powerful set of collaborative applications, and is so easy to use. GAFE is so much more than email.
The first thing we did was create a school website with Google Sites. We are a small school district, so saving costs of even small things like a school website is important. You will see at that site everything we need to present for different entities as well as for the community. We use public and team calendars, plan with collaborative documents, and share data in spreadsheets. Notice some links are private and some are public. That is the beauty of GAFE: it's secure with options for sharing and collaborating. For more information from Google, read here. I blogged about the website development process here.
For the classroom teacher and students, GAFE is so powerful for its collaborative features. This blog is part of GAFE. It's a newsletter for our families to keep up with our work. For students, Google Sites provide the start page on their computers with our Language Arts WebSite. I can place all assignments, links to resources, tips, etc. all in that site, which is essentially a wiki and very easy to use, share, and maintain.
How do we use Google Apps in the classroom? I can maintain a transition to the kind of learner this world needs-- a learner who can consider, critique, communicate, collaborate, and create, and a learner who can combine the digital, artistic, oral and written components of literacy.
Thinking as writing teacher, I know students need to learn traits and styles of quality writing from ideas and word choice, to introductions and conclusions. I know to guide them in these. In teaching traits, styles, organization, etc., I include the social and thinking traits of learning: consider, critique, communicate, collaborate, and create. For example, after analyzing and practicing group models of introductions and conclusions to establish the criteria for excellence, we apply our learning as a collaborative experience.
Here's an example: The Cove Assignment
I created these directions in Google Docs, making digital copies of the document and sharing with students teams online -- no print out necessary. They just go to File--> Make a copy and start working from the template. Students work in pairs on one of the documents. First, the pairs read the body of an essay. They consider the main ideas of the essay and brainstorm ideas and examples that would best introduce and conclude the essay. They critique their own ideas and collaborate on writing the introductions and conclusions. They self-evaluate their work. As a class, we critique each piece, considering the pros and cons of good introductions and conclusions, offering compliments to the traits and styles of writing shared by the pairs of students in their documents. The conversations — the listening, considering, and critiquing — enhance the learning while the tool — Google Docs — allow the conversations and composition to occur seamlessly: no difficulty reading handwriting, no one waiting while another wrote by hand; everything is accessible and visible for analysis and input on the ideas in the Google Document at their computer and later projected on-screen in whole class discussions (no need to transfer files). When students now create their own essays or photo essays, the art part will also be included. However, the conversation and composition will be paramount.
We've created many collaborative projects, our favorite including: Digital Citizenship, Veterans Day, and a Thank You for our Outdoor Day, Owhi Lake Day. Remember: students created these online, at the same time, commenting, and discussing through the application. Very powerful.
Feedback is so essential to learning -- it's what drives us to get better. A coach watches their players and provides tips and practice for each kids need to help the team get better. GAFE allows the same. We can carry on a coaching conversation, guiding each student to success through tips, links, review, etc.
Google Forms allows for quick prompts, quizzes, and daily starter activities [works with Scholastic's Daily Starter].
When discussing a video or speech, we use Google Docs as a backchannel so every one can participate. One document: each students chooses a space to claim and adds their notes. Great for class notes, discovering questions, clearing up misconceptions.
Finally, GAFE plays well with others. We can share our Google Documents in Edmodo and Kidblogs!
Hapara's Teacher Dashboard provides the management system to monitor and offer immediate feedback with a quick click to add comments to each student’s work. It’s a lifesaver for busy teachers. We have even collaborated with two classes in Iowa to create lessons for other students in the Parts of Speech. Some students created skits and movies and some created Google Presentations. Last year the two schools worked on persuasive ads, deciding who would do what and uploading to share to put the ideas/videos/presentations together. [Here's one video part]. All that collaboration was completed through team Google documents using an ongoing dialogue within the document and within the chat/comments. These were amazing experiences we need to recreate for other collaborative projects this year.
Want more information about GAFE, and why we love it:
ABC: Apps Based Classroom
As a classroom teacher, I am moving with my students from a traditional style teacher into a transitional teacher. And new traditions are forming… How could Google Apps transition you and your students?
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