Google Apps: A Teaching and Learning Ecosystem
Not Just Email
1 Google Plus Community Collaborations
Google Apps provides opportunities for teachers to find and collaborate on resources through Google Plus Communities.
An example is Educator Innovators Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration through the CLMOOC Community. Sponsored by the National Writing Project and Educator Innovators, this community offered educators the opportunity to understand connected learning through application, not lecture or activities. As part of the support team, I helped support participants and helped with the planning, all completed through Google Hangouts and Google Docs, with participants from all over the US and the world. That means that the Google document is shared with facilitators and the support team -- one document, and we all add and revise until the document is ready to create for the course. One document. Editable simultaneously and with comments. Many collaborators. A team effort, one of the requirements of the Common Core State Standards.
2 Collaborate through Google Docs
Examples: CLMOOC Facilitators [private] Planned in Google Docs; here are screenshots:
[Click image to enlarge]
We also planned our Twitter Chats in Google Docs, and even opened it up to the 1700 participants to add questions for the chat. Now that's collaboration!
Nespelem School District has a private teacher community for collaboration, planning, and sharing resources. If you are a teacher at NSD, please join.
3 Collaborate through Google Hangout
Google Hangout is a free video chat for up to ten people from anywhere in the world which can be recorded and shared via YouTube for others. It includes a chat area, the ability to share screens and Google Documents, and allows for others not in the hangout to view and ask questions. This is a very powerful tool for meetings, planning, and collaboration. Here is an example from CLMOOC . The YouTube version is here. A GHO that is known for it's varied topics on teaching, learning, and student voice is Teachers Teaching Teachers: http://edtechtalk.com/TeachersTeachingTeachers [usually each Wednesday at 6 PM Pacific ].
The Google Hangout has been invaluable to my teaching and learning, as I watch others and question them, or as I am a participant in the GHO to plan and share curriculum and projects. My students and I have connected with experts to learn from in our classroom. It is a powerful way to connect, and entire communities for educators to connect with experts have developed. Connected Classroom Workshops set up virtual field trips and Mystery Location Calls connects classrooms.
Our middle school enjoyed a mystery call to Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, using our map skills, questioning skills, and collaboration skills. Each student has a task during the call -- each class attempting to figure out where the other class lives. A very engaging learning activity through Google Hangouts, part of our Google Apps for Education.
4 Google Docs Planning and Collaboration
Sometimes things need to be done, but there's no time to meet. That's the beauty of Google Docs. Here are two examples that save time and provide information for school supplies.
Classroom Supply Order
Student Supply List (Viewable to the Public on District Website under Family Links and linked to in Wall Mart). This shows that a document can be public for viewing, but shared for editing with only a few. Documents are private in our district by default. Sharing must be chosen.
In working with our Instructional Coaches, Google Docs allows the coaches to view and offer feedback within a shared document:
Action Plan (Mine are public, but they can also just be shared with coaches)
5 Google Apps and the Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards expects students to write online, edit online, and collaborate online. That's exactly what we do at Nespelem School. Here's one of many such writing activities I use for teams, this one to learn introductions and conclusions [to use, just go to File--Make a Copy and you can edit for your purposes]:
Google Apps and the Common Core
For more information, see Michael Graham's book and look at his resources or those of Andrea Cartwright.There are many more resources available for Google Apps, or just read my blog and the blogs from my blogroll. Join the Google Apps Common Core community [this is one of many].
6 Student Work and Feedback
Student work is monitored through Hapara Teacher Dashboard. All student sites, email, and docs can instantly be previewed by the teacher who may then enter feedback with a mouse click. We do pay for this service. Here are two blogs with information about Teacher Dashboard: here and here if you want more information on how it works.
Feedback is more important than grades or scores for student learning. The use of Google Docs [documents, presentations, spreadsheets] allows for direct feedback to each student in a timely manner that encourages success.
One of the students' favorite Doc is presentation, Google Slides. Students use Google Slides for notes, poetry collections, online journals, photo essays, etc. Two students created and implemented a project for our class, and that project has been written about in a book by Barbara Hamilton who commented on the blog! Read about it here.
Through Google Apps, students easily share their work with the teacher and the teacher easily adds immediate feedback. Students often work on their projects at home, and teachers and students have access to that work wherever they are connected to the internet. It has simply revolutionized both reading and writing.
But there's more. We can create a backchannel in Google Docs to simultaneously take notes on a class document. Here's a blogpost about how that worked during a video about bullying. You can watch a screencast of the backchannel and see how we can all see who's typing what. The sharing and discussion afterwards about our class notes provides feedback to the teacher and the students. This is an amazing advantage for assessment and student engagement. Motivation is high.
7 Google Calendar
Calendar — Shared events for district and staff, or private. Available at any computer connected to the internet.
All events for the district can be added and shared publicly.
A staff events calendar lets all staff know the events occurring in each class and for each team. It comes in handy because conflicts could arise for scheduling subs, bus drivers, rooms, labs.
A sub calendar allows staff to plan days away so that we can find substitutes without being overwhelmed.
The middle school has a calendar, and each student can track their assignments and events in their own calendars.
Resources, such as vehicles for district use, can be checked out via a resource calendar. This would make the transportation supervisor's life much easier.
8 Google Websites
Soon, Google Sites will get an upgrade, and now they are already powerful ways to share information and communicate with the public, the community, and with students.
Calendars and documents can be embedded into websites. Our District website has both.
Each year I duplicate my teacher website to archive it, and revise the new one to fit this year's work. The students login to their site [private] and check their assignment work on our public site: LA Goals. In addition, we have Digital Eagles Safety Lessons, which Jenny and I both incorporate as one of our many types of online safety lessons.
We created a Personal Persuasive Project for science and language arts using a website.
Our Genius Day Website gets students started on their own interests and passions.
We have several templates for student portfolios, including a Digital Learning Portfolio created by Andrea Cartwright.
Last year, the eighth grade created a researched website to share information about tornadoes after the horrific tragedy last spring. Visit their information and find links to tips to be safe here. The students researched, cited their research, and designed the site and pages, editing and revising as a team. It will be one of the community service projects they will be able to share as they enter grade nine.
One of the many requirements schools have is to share information with the community and families. Our websites are one such way. Blogs are another. This blog [nsdedwards] shares our learning activities with families as a newsletter. This blog [nsd21] shares technology information.
Besides the Google Plus Communities for teacher research and collaboration, our teachers and students can login to Gooru Learning, a platform that allows students and teachers to create CCSS aligned lesson collections with videos, inter-actives, charts, text, etc. Its founders believe that education is a human right and are continuing to develop this platform. Gooru Learning is integrated into our Google Apps for easy sign in.
I create collections based on content goals and student interests; students can search to add to their collection. Search is an essential 21st Century skill.
10 Planbook and Gradebook
These are paid additions to our Google Apps.
Planbook with CCSS Standards
Engrade Gradebook — with CCSS Standards and Standards-based / Rubric Grading
11 Charts / Infographics / Graphic Organizers
Another free addition to our Google Apps is Lucid Charts. Create infographics, charts, diagrams, graphic organizers. Here's a chart I created about questioning during reading.
Here's what Lucid Chart looks like in My Documents. Find it under the apps icon by your name and choose "more."
As you can see, Google Apps for Education is not just email. It's not just typing on a document. It is all about collaboration and openness, within a district, team, or for the public. It is a well planned and organized ecosystem for learning, collaboration, sharing, feedback, assessing, teaching, and reporting.
Here at Nespelem School, we are well ahead of many schools. We have established a 21st Century platform that allows teachers to share, collaborate, and teach the Common Core State Standards. It allows teachers to share their goals and growth. It provides a vehicle for sharing with the public and families. It allows students to be safe and civil as connected learners in a connected world. We are providing students the skills of the Common Core and more -- the skills of research, collaboration, citation, presentation, digital footprints, etc. that they need now and for their futures, and it is Google Apps for Education that provides the foundation tools to make this happen.
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