- Why Google?
- What is the benefit of learning something new, that is so similar to other platforms we have?
- Is it really beneficial for our students?
So to answer these questions and to fully appreciate what a GAFE environment can do, you almost have to retrain your brain. Change your thought process on how you achieve your goals and objective. Here are just a few ways this can be done.
Share instead of Handout
Why waste time in class handing out copies of the notes, rubrics for projects, or digging for one additional copy of a paper that was handed out two days ago? Create a shared folder of all your handouts, notes, projects, syllabus, or items that you would normally hand out to your students. Then train your students to look at the shared folder, instead of you for those materials. Such a time saver.
Use Gmail as a way to communicate
Each student now has an email address that is available wherever they may be. Send out reminders of due dates, get a hold of that one student that needs an extra reminder to bring his grade up. There so many times that I would want to get a hold of a certain student and now I can. This of course will take some training for the students to start thinking about using this email instead of their own. Send out emails to all your students for reminders of quizzes and due dates. Then word will spread that these emails exist, and the students will begin to look for these emails. Also, encourage them to add the Gmail account to their personal mobile device. I would see this as a valuable use of class time, if it allowed that one struggling student to come in for needed tutoring.
Keep you students informed with Google Calendar
I found this tool of particular use to me this year. I felt so much more prepared when I started planning on my Google Calendar. Normally I would plan my lessons using a notebook and paper. I would then have to get out a calendar, see where certain activities lined up with school events, and then go back to my notebook to change my plans as it seems that the big labs or activities would never line up with an upcoming pep rally or all school event. When I started using Google Calendar this was all simplified. I would add each days lessons as a new event. I could add attachments, and link directly in the calendar event. No more did I have to use multiple resources to plan out what and when I was going to do my lessons and activities. A final benefit of using Google Calendar, one that I did not anticipate, was being able to then share these plans with my students. Now they could see what we did when they missed, and what they would be missing if they were not going to be there.
Let Google Help with Collaborative Process of Learning
This is strength of the GAFE environment. All work can now be shared, collaborated, discussed and edited from multiple devices. No more, will I need to set 3 students around one computer to show what they learned. Now I can have each student on their own device, working on one project, peer editing, and sharing in the learning. It was proud moment this past year when my students were working on a research and design project and every student was on task. There was talking, but it was about how they could improve their design. There was work on the computer, but each partner was working individually in collaboration with their other partners. What a great feeling I had, when I can walk around the room and see true ownership of their work.
There are a lot of tools that are available in the GAFE environment. They can be great to help enrich the learning environment, make the planning and collaboration of lessons easier, and be used to develop more engaging and enjoyable lessons. So try one new item at a time. Develop your lessons with collaboration in mind. Develop your time management with could it be done more efficiently with the tools that are now available. It just take a little bit of changing the way you think to to truly appreciate the GAFE environment.