Friday, December 30, 2016

The top 5 reasons I love using Google Classroom

If you have Google Classroom and you haven't tried it out yet- Now is the time! It was this time last year that I decided to take the jump and try something new.  My biggest obstacle was where to begin.  Everywhere I turned I was looking at another Pin for another app or online program that I needed to try in my classroom.

I am not yet 1:1, so I don't have access to devices everyday for my students.  I wanted to make sure the time that was available for my class was spent on something meaningful.  A year later, I'm still using Google Classroom with my students.

If you haven't tried Google Classroom with your students, here are the top 5 reasons why I love using Google Classroom with my students.

It's Paperless

Everyone I know has a limit to the number of copies they have for either the year or for the month.  I remember the days where I would cut out images, tape them to paper, and then shrink them down even further until there wasn't any white space left on the paper!  Not anymore.  I can share multiple pages (IN COLOR) with as many images as I want without having to worry about copies.

(Images from Mixed Numbers Digital Task Cards available here )

No More Lost Work!

The work that your students are doing is saved onto their drive.  If they don't complete the assignment in class they can complete it at home, or the next day in class by logging into ANY computer.  (Can we say, NO MORE LOST PAPERS or RUNNING TO GET ANOTHER COPY!!!)  I can quickly find out which students need to complete their work.

No more sifting through papers, asking students to stand or sit as you call out names trying to find that 1 student who hasn't bothered to check their binder.  No more frustration about students losing papers in their desk, or leaving it at home.  No more accusations that “I” lost their work.  Everything is saved to one place, and I always have examples of student work for when I need to show parents or the math coach.

Use over and over again

Regardless of what type of Google App you are using (Google Forms, Google Slides, etc), it can be used over and over again.   For instance, I didn't have time to make a study guide for my students for the test they were going to take the next day.  I uploaded the test on Google Classroom and called it their "study guide".  The students could review it, practice taking it, and share it with their parents.  The next morning I cleared all the results (with 3 clicks) and the students were ready to take the test!  (I can also re-name the assignment and make it a review homework assignment for later)

(You can find self-grading Google Forms to download directly into your drive here.)

Grade from anywhere- or better yet don't grade at all!

Another great feature for using Google Classroom is that you can monitor assignments from any device anywhere.  Download the App to your phone or tablet and you can grade on the go without have to lug around your heavy teacher bag or take out a million papers.

 Instead of grading 70+ tests,  Google Forms does the work for you.  Your time can now be spent doing more important things, such as analyzing student results and creating opportunities for re-teaching or review.

Here are the results from a test I gave to my class 
with 10 questions.

Once students turn in their work, Google Forms collects and shares the data with me.  As soon as I open the Google Form, I am able to see a snapshot of how the class did as a whole.  (see the graph above) This data can also be sent to a spreadsheet for even more analysis (down to the percentage correct for each question!)

It's engaging

Students love using Google Classroom. Look at all the COLOR that can be incorporated without having to print any paper.  In this assignment students interact with moveable pieces and type correct responses.

(These Google Slides are a part of this NO PREP Rounding resource for 3rd and 4th grade)

They love logging into their account and finding the assignment on their class feed.  They actually cheer out loud when I tell them we will be logging onto Google Classroom.  (I can't think of any other time my students cheer when I tell them they are going to do work.)  

Ok so maybe their favorite part is turning in their assignment and sending me a private comment about their thoughts on it, but as long as I don' have to chase them for lost papers that's alright with me.

What are your favorite features of Google Classroom?

Want to learn more about Google Classroom?  Make sure to follow me for updates and tips on how to make Google Classroom work for you!

Here is a link to the Google section in my store.  In this section you can find NO PREP 
Google Forms, Digital Task Cards, and Google Interactive Practice.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What I did right in 2016.

What I did right in 2016

As 2016 comes to an end it’s only normal to reflect on the highs and the lows of the year.. Especially as you make plans for the upcoming year.  If I had to come up with a word to describe 2016, it would be CHANGE.  Everything about teaching seemed to changed for me and it left me feeling very unstable.  Testing, curriculum, textbook, benchmarks, RTI, my principal, and of course technology.  

One of the biggest struggles I was having was keeping up with grading (surprise right?) I also wasn’t able to truly assess my student’s level of understanding because our benchmark testing had changed and we lost our online assessment tool.  I felt like I was on a sinking ship without any direction.

With that being said, the first 5 months of the last school year were pretty rough with all the change going on around me.  So over Christmas Break I decided to try to create MY OWN change for 2016.  

My list started out like this:  

I had been to a PD over the summer about Google Classroom, but hadn't had a chance to implement any of it yet. (Anyone else been there too?) I created a few Google Forms to try out. If I could get Google Forms up and running in my classroom IT would be my answer to 1, 2, and 3 and I could accomplish ALL of my goals!

When school started back up in January, I was determined. I had a plan, and it was going to work! I was going to grade less, know the answers to all of my student's problems, and be prepared for online testing.

Ok, so maybe the first time I took the kids to the lab it looked like this....

But, I was going to stay the course! (No pain, No gain- right?) This was going to be the answer to all of my problems! No more papers, no more copies, no more grading... THIS HAD TO WORK.

and guess what...... IT DID!
(Well... it did the second time, the first time I forgot to make the first question "What is your name?" So I had a lot of data, but didn't know which student was submission 1 to submission 74! Learning curve..... So, if you are taking notes, learn from my mistake. The first question must be: What is your first and last name?)

With Google Forms, I was able to give a meaningful assessment to my students without
making copies. I was able to have an image for every question without shrinking the size to save paper! Instead of grading 74 papers

I was analyzing the results of 74 submissions based on percentages of correct and incorrect answers! (Even better- It was on a spreadsheet... but that's another story. They have also updated Google Forms so you can quickly see a snapshot right on the Google Form.)

After trying out Google Forms (and falling in love), I was ready to learn more about other ways I could use Google Classroom with my students. I quickly found this tool kit and I was creating online interactive practice pages that my student's couldn't get enough of! 

So, what did I do right in 2016?

I started small and I started with WHAT I needed most.

If you are looking for something to try in 2017, I highly suggest you try using Google Classroom with your students. It doesn't matter if you are not yet 1:1 (I'm not) or if you teach Kindergarten. Google Classroom will save you time, energy, PAPER, and your kids will love it! What will you try in 2017?