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Using Google Apps to facilitate communication

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Duration: 4:2

Nikki Clarke, Deputy Principal at Breens Intermediate, talks about introducing Google Apps into the school. She explains the benefits of using Google docs to engage and collaborate with staff, students, and to engage with parents. The e-Learning Planning Framework was used to identify the strategic planning goals, the purpose of the tools, and plan the implementation process. 

Nikki Clarke – Deputy Principal
A big turning point for us was when we went as a staff a group of us up to a conference in Hamilton and we discovered the whole Google App world up there as well. We had staff excited saying, “We want to do this in our classroom. This is what we need. We don’t want to be held back," and, "This is what our children are telling us. This is what our students are saying," and, "We think it’s going to make a difference to literacy,” which, was really exciting. And we’ve seen that, we’ve seen children being more engaged with their learning. It’s taking some of the barriers away for our reluctant writers, for example, children are able to collaborate together on a document and help each other out, and the information that’s giving teachers in terms of assessment is pretty empowering as well. Even the way the teachers are using the Google Apps, the Google docs, to work together on assessment, on formative assessment, it’s now a collaborative thing within their team of three, and I’m really excited to go to team meetings or to see their team meeting minutes and see that now conversations around progress and achievement are up at the top. It’s around who are the students, what are we doing to move them, what can we do next. And we talked early on after looking at the data around having a real unrelenting focus on achievement and progress, and we were going to do whatever it takes to move children. And we also talked about there being no excuses anymore for why children, you know, historically sometimes there had been a little bit of talk about, “Well we can’t move this child because they’ve got other things going on outside of school and that’s why,” and we said, “No, no. We get these children in each day for five hours a day. We’ll make a difference”. So that was a bit of a shift in thinking. Working with the facilitator around the e-learning framework, things started to kind of fall into place and makes sense. So we discussed as a staff the fact that we were not perhaps connecting with our families and our whānau as much as we wanted to, and that perhaps some of the families that we really wanted to connect to were not coming into school for whatever reason so we needed to do something different.

Student
Yip, so we’ve just recently started up a blog and I’ve emailed my family saying that I’d like them to come and view my blog so they can understand what I’m doing at school and see what I’m learning, and so I’ve got pictures of maybe the books I’m reading or my writing piece up on there.

Nikki Clarke – Deputy Principal
So one of the next steps for us is looking at how we are reporting with our families and discussing learning with our families, and in the last few years we’ve had student led conferences. This year in the next few weeks our student led conferences will be a little bit different in that the tools we’ve been using, the e-learning tools, will be guiding a lot of that discussion. So the students have been writing reflective journals at the end of each week based on their goal setting and their targets for literacy, and that’s on a Google doc which is being shared with their teacher and their parents. So that’s a cumulative document, a really long document that’s reflecting all the time on their learning. Some of the conversations that happen in the student led conference will be around those reflection sheets that they’ve done and we know that the students, because they are so excited about what they’ve been doing on the computers, on their devices, have been sharing that with their parents already, which is quite different to when we think about how it used to be where things were on paper in clearfiles tucked away and then presented at this conference. So, I’m quite excited to see how those conversations are going to go.

Tags: Secondary, GAFE, Collaborative tools, Collaborative learning, eLPF, Strategic planning, Whānau engagement


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