Google Classroom…Yay or Ney?

Google Classroom is the LMS platform my group and I are thinking we are going to use for our project. When asked to review a platform this week for our blog post, I naturally chose it. After sitting down with my coworker who uses Classroom, and having her show me how she uses it, I was really excited about it. That was until I read Audrey Watter’s piece Beyond the LMS. I agree with her in that these LMS systems will be what others think education technology is. Google Classroom won’t revolutionize my classroom or make me a better teacher. It is a closed system, but for me, it is a start, and a reminder to keep pulling in those outside resources that will add to my lessons and provide my students with multiple ways to gain new understandings. From here, I can see myself moving toward student blogs and sharing and recreating in the world wide web.

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Classroom also provides an opportunity for me to add a different type of organization to my to my life and the lives of my students. Thanks to my smartphone, I don’t remember anything (perhaps Socrates was onto something)! Students, I feel are the same way. This system offers them a way to rewatch that YouTube or PPT that they may need for clarification or to deepen their understanding. Having that opportunity and a place where much of the important information for a course is posted without having to haul a textbook or binder around with them, could be helpful for many students. Below I have outlined what I learned about Google Classroom this week. All the stuff I learned seems pretty great!

Our school division is allows us access to Google Classroom and have made it easy for our students to use Google Docs. All the students have logins and there is no lost work or worry that they didn’t save their documents properly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a student lose all their work and have to start again, or just give up out of pure frustration. That is why I love that Google Classroom allows one to effortlessly transition between using it and Google docs, slides, or whatever else one can create in their drive. The drive integration is AMAZING!

It is definitely easy to get started using Classroom. You simple click on the + sign and select ‘Create class.’ Once you’ve named your class you can add assignments, announcements, a poll, questions, etc. You can organize your stream (assignments, etc.) by putting them into different units/topics to make it easy for students to find things. This also eliminates a ‘scroll of doom’ if everything is left uncategorized. The endless scroll can also be limited by the ability to bump assignments to the top.

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When teachers are posting assignments they have the option to supply one assignment to every student, or have students view or edit the same material. If you’ve given every student their own copy, you can view what everyone is doing in real time. I like this option a lot so I can keep my students on track. I can also make comments on their assignments while they are working on them. When students are finished, they simply click ‘Turn in’ and they’ve handed in their work. As a teacher, I can see how many assignments have been turned in and how many I’m still waiting for. Teachers can add due dates to their assignments as well. If students haven’t turned their work in by the due date, it tells them it’s late.

When adding assignments, teachers have the option of attaching files from their drive, an outside document, linking to a website, or adding a youtube video. You can even search for your video within the program. Teachers can also save a draft of a post they’ve been working on and schedule when they want it to be viewed by students.

Using the calendar option students can see all upcoming and past due dates. Teachers also have this option. Teachers can get a summary of who’s done what assignments in all their classes. Students are able to view a complete list of assignments. It even categorizes them into  done and to do, and lists the ones with no due dates.

“Google Classroom seems pretty user friendly and has a lot of options I love.”

My coworker is using announcements to make discussion boards. Students could comment on what she’d posted and on other classmates’ comments. You can control students’ messages

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and comments in the class stream by setting permissions for individual students or for the whole class. You can also see any comments and messages that a student made and then deleted. This system was working for her, however, I found this site that allows you to create a discussion board using Google Sheets.

When you are done teaching a class you are able to archive it so it clears off your home screen that shows all your classes. As with other Google Drive things, more than one person can edit a classroom at a time if it’s been shared with them. This is great for teachers that team teach. Classroom also makes it easy to navigate between classes if you have more than one.

One of my questions would be, if you’ve created and archived a class, can you reuse when it when you teach that class again? Is it a lot of work to set it up again? Do you need to delete things you don’t want to show right away?

My classmate, Roxanne, had this video on her blog and I thought it would be a great addition to my post.

Google Classrooms seems pretty user friendly and has a lot of options I love. I don’t have a lot (or any) experience with LMS platforms, but this is definitely one I will start using.

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Blending Social Justice

How can I use online or blended learning as a teacher? How could either of these options enhance the learning experience of my students. How can I change my pedagogy to use technology to change and enhance student learning? Diana Oblinger and Brian Hawkins argue that if teachers implement technology to enhance a presentation, but everything else about the lesson remains the same, the learning will not change.

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All of these questions are floating around in my head while trying to plan a blended learning opportunity. My groups members (Benita Struik and Megan Weisbrod) and I began by trying to come up with an idea of a class we could use for this blended learning assignment. We all teach different subjects and different ages of students so we needed something that would be useful for everyone. What we came up with is not a class from the Saskatchewan Curriculum but more of a resource package on social justice using the blended learning model that could be accessed across grades and subject areas.

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I’m not entirely sure how this will look yet. Any suggestions and/or feedback is welcome. We thought we would offer three modules:

  1. What is Social Justice?
  2. Types of Social Justice – Global Issues
  3. Get Involved – Local Issues – What can you do?

Although our plan is for these modules to be used by anyone, we will be planning with our students in mind. We all teach at risk, disengaged students, from lower income families.

So far, we are thinking of using Google Classroom as our platform. I have never used any blended learning platform at all so I would like to do a little more research to see if it is the best one for our needs.

The module I am going to plan is ‘What is Social Justice.’ I have ideas on how to I would teach this in a face-to-face model, and even how I could use technology to improve engagement, but I’m having trouble imagining how I will my implement the instruction part with a video or podcast, and how this would further engage or increase learning. Any ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Another kick at the can…

Here I am beginning another education technology class with Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt. After I finished  EC&I 831 I stopped blogging and never gave it another thought. That class almost killed me. In hindsight perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to take a class with a 3 week old baby and a 22 month old toddler. I see many of my classmates have babies and I wish you good luck. Everything technology was new to me in that first class. I had never used Twitter, or WordPress, or even remotely thought about having a blog. Although I learned a tremendous amount in that class, there is so much more I need to learn and remember. A couple of goals I have for this class are:

  1. Gain a better sense of how to build an online or blended course and how to use it to effectively with students. One of my colleagues has started using Google Classroom. I can see some of the potential benefits, but I also wonder how well it will work with our limited access to computers.
  2. I want to continue to build my professional learning network through this course and Twitter. I also abandoned Twitter when 831 ended. I definitely saw the benefits of it and the opportunity for professional growth. I’m hoping now that I am back at work and I’m able to put some of the things I read about into practice I’ll be able to stick with it. Check me out on Twitter @jannaebridgeman
  3. My final goal is to finish my master’s! This is my tenth and final class. As excited as I am to start this class, I am even more excited to finish it, and finally have a M. Ed degree. Now this will be no easy feat; starting back to work at Scott Collegiate after maternity leave, planning and teaching all new classes, taking this master’s class, and adjusting to working life with two small children will definitely be a huge challenge. I CAN DO IT. I need to keep reminding myself of that!

I have learned so much on my journey towards a master’s degree, but I am looking forward to the extra time I will have when it is over.
What will I do with all that time you might ask? I’ll probably spend the majority of it watching TV! I’ve missed so many shows. Jokes aside, I am looking forward to spending that time with my wonderful family. My

My family
My family

husband and two little girls have had to make sacrifices for me to be on this journey and I am so appreciative.