Another school year is about to start, and this year I will once again be implementing a blended learning environment. I’ve always used a variety of resources to enhance my students’ learning, and this year won’t be an exception. My Google Site is updated, and after an “unplugged” summer away working as a Division Leader at sleep-a-way camp, I am slowly reintegrating back into the Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest communities.
I have previously worked in a 1:1 iPad environment, and used iTunes U in its infancy to disseminate handouts and class notes, post information about assessments and share videos and other resources with my students related to the curricula. I got so “into it” that an Apple iTunes U manager picked up my work, and invited me to join a small cohort of teachers who were considered first-movers in the iTunes U community. We collaborated online and shared ideas about teaching with iTunes U. Colleagues I met through that group continue to be inspirational in their uses of educational technology.
Now, working with 1:1 laptops, I no longer use iTunes U, but have shifted to begin using Google Classroom. I am so impressed so far, that I am working towards converting to completely “GAFE” (Google Apps for Education). Since my school uses Google products for email, calendars, and storage (Drive), it is proving to be a seamless transition. Currently, I created contact groups of my students and invited them to their specific section’s Classroom page. Course descriptions and outlines for my courses are already posted, as well as my first homework assignment with a due date! I recently read that Google Classroom will soon utilize a calendar to organize all assignments, which is exciting, as I already use Google Calendar on my Site so students can keep track of homework assignments.
Assignments and showcasing work will definitely get an upgrade in my courses this year. A cool feature is the ability to review and grade work through Google Classroom, as students are able to upload Docs, Spreadsheets or Slides from their Drive right into an assignment in Classroom. This presents an opportunity to integrate more literacy and writing in the math classroom, because I can ask students to submit write-ups or presentations, or even have my Business Math class submit spreadsheets. Google Photos is the newest Google feature to impress me! A longtime Picasa Web and Google+ user, transitioning to Google Photos was easy. Photos are automatically saved and categorized, so I hope to use this feature at some point during the year, as well.
With the help of GAFE, I am looking forward to a wonderful new school year full of successes, learning opportunities, technology, and fun. I also welcome any suggestions, tips and tricks in using these awesome tools.
Have a great year, everyone!