Can I just say, I AM LOVING Google Classroom. Having access to Google Apps for Education (GAFE) has improved my class in so many ways.
- It is easy to assign students their work. Students know exactly where to find assignments and instructions can be clearly laid out for students to access as a reference point. It’s quite slick after as well because when students submit an assignment Google moves it into a folder for you. So it is very easy to find all of the files if you want to in your Google Drive. They can even submit ORAL RECORDINGS, which as a second language teacher is a huge benefit. Some people argue that I am creating more work for myself, however I feel that the benefits truly outweigh the negatives. My students are able to record their voice and listen back to their work before they submit it. Everything they uploaded to the Google Drive, they can access throughout the year. The quality of evidence that I am able to collect now is amazing. Students record almost on a weekly basis, even short sentences expressing what they did on the weekend or talking about themselves Then submit them on Google classroom under the specific assignment.
- Announcements and extra help activities can easily be posted (and students can easily access) . I use this to post extra help activities that students can do from home (i.e. links to the Quizlet lists that we work on if they need extra help). I can also post screenshots of the Smartboard that I want them to access during class on the iPads while working in small groups or independently.
- Students have more opportunity to work at their own pace. When we are doing listening activities independently or in small groups for practice, I post videos\oral recordings that I want students to access onto our ‘classroom stream’. In small groups or independently they are able to access the files and it is great for them to be able to go at their own pace, to I was, play and listen back to as they need to.
- Immediate and better feedback. I can send students comments under a specific assignment that gets posted under their ‘classroom assignment’ so only they can see it. I can make ‘comments’ on their Google Documents that they can review and mark as ‘resolved’. I can send a quick email as a reminder to complete a task or with the feedback this way.
- Students can provide each other feedback. They can share documents, oral recordings, videos, etc. with others in their class. I often have them to give each a ‘star’ and a ‘wish’ based on the success criteria. Finally, they go back in, make any necessary edits and submit their final work.
- It holds students accountable. When I login, I can easily see who has and who has not submitted a specific assignment. I no longer get the excuse ‘I gave that to you already’ or ‘it must be on your desk somewhere’. They can also see on their account when they have something that is ‘not done’, ‘late’, or ‘upcoming assignments’.
- It gives students a chance to take initiative. I have students who have completed assignments from home while they were sick, and others who logged on in the morning and started or did assignments before school even started. For me (teaching French) that was pretty cool and a big #eduwin.
- Connecting with other classes in our school board. There has been so much talk recently in Core French about creating authentic action-oriented tasks for our students. A couple of teachers in my board and I decided that we could try to get our students to introduce themselves to one another via a shared Google Classroom. On the stream students will post ‘Je me présente’ videos and oral recordings. Then they are going to watch each other’s videos and respond with questions for the one another. We are hoping to actually get our classes together near the end of the year as well.
- Students can use one log-in for many different apps. (https://www.google.com/edu/products/productivity-tools/) With their login, they can access Google Drive, docs, sides, sheets, Google classroom and blogger. That just graces the surface. While I encountered many frustrations the first week trying to get my younger classes on, I know that it will pay off in the future because by the time they reach grade 8 they will be GAFE – experts. To me, the troubleshooting of the technology was worth it because what better life lesson and to show them the resiliency and persistence it sometimes takes to finish something. I also see be able to use things such as Google drive as a valuable skill for their future employment.now that my grade fives have figured out the login process, I can start introducing different apps, such as blogger.
- Students are creating a year-long digital portfolio. Every time they upload an oral recording to Google Drive, or create a new document they are adding to their digital portfolio. This portfolio will only continue to grow as the year continues. Students are generating evidence of what they are capable of doing. They will also be able to look back at the end of the year and see the progress that they have made since the beginning of the year.
- Students can share with their parents anytime from anywhere they can access internet. What better way for parents to get involved in their children’s education. The walls to our classroom have become transparent as their children can show them at any point the activities that are being completed in class. Very cool.
Just because I love it, doesn’t mean that everyone will. I understand that there are other platforms out there that can do the same thing. I have just found this very user friendly and feel very lucky that our board invested in GAFE. I also realize that these types of things don’t come easy to everyone, however I encourage you to try. I encourage you to show your students persistence and resilience. If you don’t know what to do, don’t give up. Keep trying to find the answer. Ask Google, ask a colleague, ask your students, ask your PLN. Someone will help you! Trust me, it will be worth it in the end.
PS: click on the images to see a bigger picture of it.