This time last year we were training. We were learning about Vision and Google and blogging and all the different ways we could implement the technology. We were studying up on terms like PBL and Flipped Classroom. Honestly, my head was spinning. I was starting my nineteenth year of teaching and I felt like a first year teacher again.
As I look back, one question I want to address is this:
What part of technology made the biggest difference to you? That's easy...Google.
Ahh, Google...where do I begin? We used Google everyday in English class. The ability to be on the same document with a student, in real time, while they are composing or revising gave me the opportunity to conference with students during writing time. I also conferenced with them at home, on the weekend, whenever I could. My students shared documents with each other. They provided valuable feedback and gave each other an authentic audience that made their writing better.
I've been an English teacher forever, and one complaint I hear from teachers is, "How do I get them to go back and revise?" This year with Google, it wasn't an issue.
I asked the students how technology changed them as writers. Here's an answer:
Google forms made it possible for me to collect information. My favorite story about Google forms is about Sarah. We had just started blogging and the focus of her blog was reading. She wanted to make book recommendations and get book recommendations. Look what she made...on her own, with no instruction from me...
Here is the live form...
She figured out how to create a Google form and asked for input from her blog readers. That shows creativity and initiative. Sarah started a community of readers using Google.
Organization is another aspect of Google that impressed me. The students created folders and found ways to organize their documents so they could be found easily and quickly. Sixth graders typically need so much help with organization, and many reported feeling organized because they learned to use Google and create folders.
It turns out, I'm not the only one who feels like this. Tara Smith another teacher blogger, teaches sixth grade. She blogs for Two Writing Teachers and wrote an amazing post called Google Docs + Writing Workshop = Happy Writing Teacher (And Happy Writing Students) . She writes in detail about the success of Google Docs in her classroom. The 37 comments documents teachers (from around the country) discussing ways they are using it in their classrooms.
I, myself, used Google Docs and Google Hangouts to participate in an online workshop called TeacherPoets sponsored and led by author and Teacher's College Staff Developer Chris Lehman.
Google is a tool being utilized by students, teachers and schools around the country. It's changed me as a teacher. It changed my students. I'm excited to continue my learning!