I love that Margaret Simon has started a Sunday Link Up for posts about digital literacy at her blog to challenge us to share our technology journeys.
I spent my second week of summer break going to my district's Google training. We laughed about now easy it is to sign up for something like that in April and it hit you like a brick in June. However, our in-house trainers were great. They made it easy, fun, and taught us a ton about how to use Google effectively in our classrooms.
Our district went to Google about a year ago and started investing in Chromebooks. They are organized in carts and can be checked out through Google calendars. We are fortunate that new Chromebook carts are being purchased frequently, so though we are not a 1 to 1 school, we have many computers available to our students. Each student and teacher was given a Gmail address, and we went from Outlook to Gmail for our e-mail correspondence. As more and more teachers take the Google training, the more they realize how much they like it.
The first day we started with the basics involving Gmail and calendars. We moved on to how to make forms, quizzes, and documents. I was familiar with Google Docs since my writing partner, Megan, and I use them to work on our potential book. We love how we can collaborate on one document and use the chat feature while we work in our separate houses. David Etkin and I used Google Video Chat to plan our #ReadWalkWater project with several other teachers. I also used Docs this past school year for writing and reading workshop and loved that my students could share their writing with me and each other, and we could comment, edit, and revise together. I'm a big fan of how it reduced lugging around notebooks and papers. In training, I learned a great new feature - the research option in which students can pull up research beside their documents, include it in their work, and cite it instantly. How exciting! It is also fun to explore add-ons. I'll be looking throughout the summer into which ones would be helpful in my literacy classroom.
The last day was my favorite because one of the things that bothered me about students sharing their documents with me is the mess it created in my drive. Hundreds of shared documents started "piling" up. You can sort them into folders, but that is somewhat time consuming. I loved learning about Doctopus. a Google add-on that helps you create a template for your assignment, sent it to students (we learned how to instantly gather e-mail addresses through a form at the beginning of the year), and then when they share them, they are instantly gathered in a folder. You can include Goobrics, differentiate easily and privately, and more. Yay!
I'm excited to apply what I learned in the fall with my students. I know I have a lot more to learn - Google is constantly updating and adding new features, but I know enough to know it will continue to be a great tool in our classrooms. Tara Smith at Two Writing Teachers wrote a terrific blog post about using Google Docs in the writing workshop. Please stop by and read it!