Teacher-Driven Tech Learning and Application

My district became a Google district this year. To be honest, I knew about a few of the Google tools (drive/docs, Google+) but every time I go on-line to learn more about it, I find so much more. GAFE (Google Apps for Education) has so many possibilities and I am loving learning about it.

But here is the best part… No one has officially sat me down and said, “Here is what you have to do and here is how to do it.” And that is just how I like it. Of course, my campus has discussed what our “first steps” will be as we implement and our Instructional Technology Dept has made available some amazing resources. In fact, there is a district initiative to put technology teacher-leaders at each campus. But after years of super-scripted, admin-driven implementation of instruction and curriculum, the teachers are the ones truly on the front line of learning and applying!

Maybe that’s just the point… GAFE (or any other technology, for that matter) is simply a tool. It is a way to communicate and connect about the learning that the students are doing. It can’t be scripted or it loses its very essence.

My self-driven learning about GAFE has kept me energized and enthusiastic this school year. I have watched YouTube, searched blogs, been in Twitter chats, etc. But more importantly, my students are excited about their learning!

As kindergarten students, I am still trying to figure out exactly what they can/cannot handle. But major wins include:

  • students logging into their own Google Drive account (not always easy, but they are using little cards I made them and getting better each time)
  • students accessing a document I created and then shared with each one individually
  • students writing their own stories in the Doc
  • me giving feedback (written communication with the comment feature for my readers and highlighting in the doc for my non-readers)
  • students responding to feedback
  • students sharing their writing with the class as we use the projector for everyone to see
  • students logging-in from home to share writing with their parents

Here are some things I hope the students will accomplish in the near future:

  • students navigating more than one document in their drive
  • QR codes for each student linked to their doc so parents can view at Open House
  • sharing a doc with more than one student at a time so my more proficient writers can collaborate on a story

If you need some resources, the instruc tech specialists in my district rock! Find them here:

  • @LeahPendleton
  • @NancyWTech
  • @TechClara

What about you? Do you have any hints/tips for working with young learners and GAFE? What are some other GAFE features that will make my life easier and/or engage my students? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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