As the 2016-17 school year comes to a close this week, I am finding myself reflecting on the journey and the growth that has occurred for me as an educator, as well as how my classroom environment has changed. At Enumclaw High School we have committed to the innovative journey to put a one-to-one device in the hands of each one of our students. We will start the 2017-18 school year with ALL students having a Chromebook to aid them in their education journey. However, the groundwork in my classroom has been set this year, as my freshmen were already equipped with these 21st Century devices. The mere presence of these devices in the modern-day classroom is a game changer in education, but the biggest impact for me was the use of Google tools for education, most specifically Google Classroom. Google Classroom is one of many Learning Management Systems (LMS), but has made a significantly positive impact on the structure of how my classroom functions each & every day. As an educator who is always looking to improve & push myself to be at the forefront on educational opportunities for students, I was exposed the concept of SAMR throughout this journey. This is the idea of how we can best implement modern technology (i.e. Chromebooks) into our daily learning. SAMR is referencing the use of technology and the journey from Substitution, to Augmentation, to Modification and the end goal of Redefinition. In other words, while we may start with simply using this technology to substitute for a textbook, we eventually want to get to where we are redefining how our lessons are structured. There are many ways that Google Classroom helps enhance this move to Redefinition.
As I begin to plan a new lesson in 2017 I know view that lesson through the lens of Google Classroom. In other words, one of the first considerations for the lesson is to ask how I can create a collaborative learning experience for ALL of my students. One great way is to use the Question posting that is available. The Question option provides a great opportunity to start the class with an introductory blog-type discussion or to end the class wth an exit task to check for understanding. This could be done using traditional methods, but the opportunities to see & hear each class members thoughts are limited using traditional methods.
Additionally, Google Classroom is able to be set up to provide students with the ability to contribute learning materials (i.e. articles, videos, links, comments, etc.) to our learning stream. This feature can be turned off, but I have found this to be a pleasant surprise, having had students add instructional videos to help their classmates learn or to simply contribute a current event that connects with our content.
Bottom line, I’m a better & more thoughtful teacher as a result of implementing Google Classroom into my physical classroom. I feel that I have just scratched the surface of how to fully integrate Google Classroom into my daily teachings, but I am excited to continue to redefine education in my classroom. We continue to have traditional style lessons, but the addition of Google Classroom and 1-to-1 devices has modernized the learning environment & helped require skills that are necessary for the modern workplace. I’m excited to see where this journey will continue to take me & my students!