Life in the Google Classroom

It has been far too long since I updated this blog – but, fortunately, this has been due to being busy with cool new things, rather than giving up on trying to make myself more computer literate!

The first, most exciting thing, is that – somehow – I became a Google Certified Teacher.

If you ever get the opportunity to take part in this programme, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I spent a fantastic two days during October half-term at Google HQ in London working with some intimidatingly techsavvy educators. It was an eye-opening experience to see all the possibilities for using edtech in schools: I think I’ve taken more from those two days than I have any other CPD event.

Perhaps nothing sums up the event better than the idea of ‘the moonshot’

I’m still nowhere near on top of all the things I promised I was going to do when I returned from this experience – but I am typing this blog on my shiny new Chromebook … so, there’s that.

The biggest impact that I think this event has had on my teaching, though, has been embedding the use of Google Classroom in my normal practice – which I mentioned in my last blog post.

I cannot believe how effective it has been in streamlining my workflow – nor how easily my classes have taken to using it as a matter of course. (which is perhaps the most important thing!)

Things were a little slow to get started – I’m the only teacher at my school using Classroom and, thus, getting students online with the system has been quite a challenge. (I’d suggest that there must be a more efficient way of doing this – I literally added every girl to the system one by one and then invited them individually to join the Classroom – but I couldn’t find it!) However, what I currently have is a fantastic way in which to share information quickly, paperlessly and without fuss with my pupils.

As an example, my Year 11s are currently in exam meltdown – this means looking at past papers, completing responses, getting them marked – wash, rinse, repeat . . .

Every year, I cringe at the number of trees that are sacrificed in the photocopying of past papers, in the reams of A4 paper used in response or the frenzied printing off of essays that takes place.

Using Google Classroom ensure that there’s a clean and efficient transfer of info between myself and the class. They are in the habit now of bringing a device with them to every lesson – this can be a smart phone, a tablet or a laptop – classroom works on any device.

Then, rather than printing off huge amounts of paper for them, I make the information accessible in Classroom for them, which they can then access by clicking on the appropriate link.

So, if we are planning to complete the 2012 English Language past paper, all the class needs to do is click on the link and will be taken to that paper – no need to print off. They can then complete that response on their device and post the response in Classroom – and I can see in real time how they are doing on the work and offer feedback. (I’ve blurred out their names: it’s not broken!)

Genuinely, this has been a game changer in the way I control my workflow – especially as I do not have my own classroom this year. No mounds of photocopying, no piles of marking, no leaving essays here and there. A nice, clear and efficient way to manage work. It’s been equally valuable when sharing critical essays with my Sixth Formers or in sharing notes made for homework.

Generally, an all-round useful tool!

It’s worth saying that I’ve managed to get all of this up and running independent of our IT department – and if I can do it, I’m sure anyone even mildly proficient with computers can!

Please drop me a note if I can offer further thoughts

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