Monday, June 15, 2015

Google Apps for Collaboration & Feedback

As we began the "Google Drive" journey last year, I don't think any of us could have predicted the incredible possibilities and capabilities of Google Drive and other Google Apps. I mean come on, ya'll. A Google form for parents to fill out that answers every question that you need to know in order to make every child's year a fabulous one ( that you can send out even before the first day of school) - all laid out pretty in a nice little spread sheet? You had me at spread sheet...

Yes, making folders for each student was time consuming. And no, Google Drive is not perfect. Nothing really is. But I don't have to click "file save," each time I make changes anymore. I can share my files with anyone at the click of button. And I can organize all my files into nice little organized folders.

The greatest thing of all is that I can collaborate with teammates when I'm laying in bed in my pjs. Just the other night. Cindy and I worked on creating a template for next year's newsletter. We used Google Slides. I created a variety of templates before-hand just for fun (actually I have been dealing with a kidney infection, so I needed a project to take my mind off the pain). So she picked one that she liked. I opened it and there she was looking at the same file as me. Google slides and docs has a chat feature, which makes collaboration a breeze! Cindy was typing away in the chat box asking me to change the font and color. "Can you add some tiger stripes behind the title?" she asked. "Sure!" I replied. This was SO COOL to me. Obviously, she can edit at the same time as I can. But just the simple fact that we were both looking at the same file together as we sat at home in two different places, blows my mind! If we weren't able to collaborate together at that moment, no problem. Google docs/slides also allows you to highlight text and add comments to places where you see changes that need to be made. Or maybe you just want to highlight and comment with, "Awesome Job!" or "I love this!"

This also presents HUGE possibilities for providing feedback to students (especially in writing). Last week, I attended the GCISD Humanities CIE Institute. I was lucky enough to attend an awesome session on Writing in Google created by Meredith Burns and Christina Rainwater. They both use Google Docs (along with Google Classroom) to collect student work and provide immediate feedback to students. The idea of being finished with an assignment (and the dreaded "What do I do now?" dilemma) has been TOTALLY thrown out the window now. In using Google Docs, students will be consistently revising and editing to make their writing better and better every day.

I'm so grateful that our district is on the cutting edge of technology and is constantly pushing us to learn and grow every single day! We may not always see the benefits right away. But we have to trust that if it's best for kids, then it's worth it in the end!


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