Monday, October 19, 2015

Google Mystery Hangout - Geography Style!

Story provided by +Kelly Koonce, Third Grade Teacher, Elementary School North

Our class put our geography skills to work as we "hung out" with a mystery class from California! During the Hangout, each class took turns asking yes or no questions using geography skills. We asked where the mystery class was located in relation to the oceans, other neighboring states and countries, and nearby mountain ranges. Even without a working microphone, the other class improvised and wrote their questions to us on paper. Each class was able to successfully guess the location of the other and the kids had a blast!

The students absolutely loved meeting another third grade class from different state and it was the perfect way to put our geography skills to use in an authentic way. It was very easy to set up and it took very little time to prepare the students for it. I'm looking forward to using Google Hangouts to meet with other classes around the nation and discuss everything from reading to math!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Engaging Students in Mathematics through Google Classroom and Beyond!

Story provided by +Christy Stewart, Elementary Math Specialist, Barbers Hill Elementary South

Google Classroom has given me a different way to approach individualized instruction for my elementary math students, grades 2-5. This on-line container allowed me to create announcements, assignments, and add a multitude of resources that engaged my students as they work to obtain mastery performance on their specified goals. 
We have used Google Slides to create personalized "Road Maps" where each student has rated themselves on targeted goals that are scaffold to obtain grade level student expectations. These "Road Maps" keep the learner focused and accountable as they progress toward their goal. It keeps me focused on the individual goals for many students that expand across four grade levels. Periodically, or as the student's performance level increases, the student's will review their "Road Map" and adjust their rating to reflect their current level of performance. This self-reflective formative assessment tool has helped to create a sense of ownership in my student's learning. 

Google Slides has been beneficial in not only creating the student's "Road Maps", but it has also been an efficient way to share graphic organizers to support vocabulary development. The Frayer Model is a common template that has the student unfold distinguishing characteristics that revolve around specified mathematical vocabulary. My students have enjoyed learning how to use the Research tools to collect examples and non-examples of the specified vocabulary words. In a most recent lesson, my fifth grade students were working to master the different ways to represent positive rational numbers through the thousandths place. They were given four vocabulary words to focus on as they created a slide for each word. After they created their Google Slide, they were to use their examples and non-examples to support them as they distinguished the similarities and differences between expanded form and expanded notation. The research tool even gave them a glimpse at a future vocabulary word, Scientific Notation. 
Many of the students were able to apply their knowledge of the base ten numeration system and make connections to expanded form and expanded notation. This lesson had each learner connecting mathematical vocabulary to various content standards, as well as process standards, that were acquired through the support of technology, the use of place value dice to create numbers in two of the three forms, and the opportunity to organize the information into another thinking map, a tree map. Google Classroom made putting these essential components of the learning process together efficiently, and in a manner that engaged the learner. My third and fourth graders did a similar lesson, but the place value was adjusted to meet the needs of their grade level student expectations. Fourth grade was asked to type their responses to four or more six digit numbers, and then submit their work to me through Google Classroom. This work was graded and returned to the student for them to reflect on their learning. If they improved in their learning, feeling more confident, and proving that through their score on the assignment, I asked them to adjust their "Road Map" rating accordingly. 

Numbers and Operations is the primary focus for grades K-3, 4 being a transition year to algebraic thinking. My students have been given multiple opportunities to create numbers using base ten blocks, and represent their models in different ways, demonstrating mastery of the exchange process of the base ten system. After proving their mastery at this skill they were asked to create a pictorial model for the various ways using place value stamps. During this lesson they were given many opportunities to loop back to practice counting on, and then given the opportunity to use on-line base ten materials to create numbers. These math tools were easy for the students to find and accessible for them at school and home. They enjoyed the different learning modalities to practice this critical concept. I have many more visions of how Google Classroom can be used to enhance my student's learning through a variety of learning experiences, and self- reflective opportunities. I can't wait to try them! 

It has been amazing to watch them grow mathematically and as active participants who want to go above and beyond! The list could go on and on, as to how Google Classroom has been helpful to my students and I. I have been able to make this the "one stop shopping" experience, having all web links, downloads, and other resources available for through their Google Classroom. This also gives those who have access to the internet at home the opportunity to practice math in an engaging manner. 

I look forward to seeing how their on-line portfolio continues to grow, not only in quantity, but in quality, as the year progresses!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Amazing Chromebook Challenge

Story provided by +Brittany Wood, Science Teacher, Middle School South

As 6th Graders, my Science classes were the first group of students to be exposed to all the wonderful things that Google has to offer. Though the learning curve was steep, we faced the challenges day by day together, and by the end of the year, I had a classroom full of Google Pros! 

When I learned that I would be moving to 7th Grade with this group of students, I was thrilled! Not only did I get another year with some awesome kids, but I was going to be ahead of the Google Game! I knew the students I had last year would be familiar with Google apps, but I also knew that they had had a lot of time off (and did a lot of sleeping) and would definitely need a "refresher." It was because of this that I started thinking of quick ways to get the student's hands back on Chromebooks and into multiple Google apps without spending entire class periods talking about something that they already knew. On the opposite side of that thought, I did not want to spend entire class periods explaining the apps because they didn't remember how to use them. 

So was created the "Chromebook Challenge." The challenges were composed of instructions that I had "hidden" throughout the Google applications. Instructions would lead the students to open different apps, edit documents, then share these documents with myself and/or their classmates. Some challenges were group tasks, some were individual. In a matter of 10 minutes, students were logging into Chromebooks, locating documents, editing, and sharing them. The challenges were made into races, and the first three people to successfully complete and share their documents would receive a prize. 

At the end of three challenges, my students had used Classroom, Docs, Forms, and Slides quickly and efficiently. They had so much fun doing them, and it didn't take up much class time at all! This was a wonderful activity for the first week back-to-school to get my students using Google again. I will definitely be using these challenges for many years!