Liz Maclennan from Breens Intermediate shares how she is using Google Apps with her students to raise literacy levels, particularly for Māori and Pasifika students, in her classroom. Through the use of Google docs, Gmail, and blogger students are able to share their work with parents, their teacher, and their peers.Allowing students access to lesson plans enables students to refer back to learning intentions, assessment rubrics, and key ideas whenever they need them. Using Google spreadsheets allows teachers to share and access assessment across their team.
The student literacy goals for my classroom are to raise achievement, particularly for Māori and Pasifika students, and I just really want to raise the achievement over the whole class and get them up to level four.
We are using Google docs and Gmail a lot, and we’ve also just started using Blogger as well to help with writing. The tools have been absolutely amazing for teaching and learning. The children have responded to this really quickly. They use Google docs every day, they go home and they use Google docs, they send me emails at all different times of the day and night, they love writing, they love collaborating, and yeah it’s really helped boost their writing level.
We had weekly reflections last year and we used to do that at the end of the week on a Friday in their writing book or in their reflection book, and this year we’ve changed it so they are actually doing that on a Google doc. And they share that Google doc with me and they share that Google doc with someone that they can trust, and they reflect on that every week. So it went to about maybe half of the children writing their reflections to 100 percent writing their reflections, sharing their document, commenting on each other’s document, and it actually brought their goals to the forefront of their mind. Now every week they are reflecting on their reading, their writing, their maths, and their Breens value goal and how they can improve that.
If you share a document with someone that you trust, there’s a link where you can comment on their work. So say that they’ve written a reflection and put in a statement about, “I had a fantastic writing class and I wrote the best story I’ve ever written before,” and they explain the story, you can highlight part of the story and you can comment on what you liked about their piece of work. So if my partner wanted to read my story they’d highlight and they’d comment and say, “Wow! I really enjoyed this sentence,” or “Maybe you could use some different adjectives here,” or “Can you tell me a bit more about what you’ve been learning?” So that’s been really good.
All of my planning is online now and I share a lot of my work with the children. So if I have the children for a lesson on writing and they needed to do some independent work, I can share that document with them all and it’s all there ready for them to refer back to. So say that you’re in the class and you were talking and they forgotten what you were saying, the sharing allows them to go back and really double check what they need to be doing or even have a look at the rubric and see what is expected of them. So it’s all there, it’s rewindable really, and they can go back in and have another look.
Assessment has been huge, we’ve been working as a team this year so we’ve been working with a team of around 90 children. So instead of having your own class of 30, the children have been working with all the different teachers, and it’s allowed us to track the children a lot better. We use a Google excel sheet and we’ve got all the children’s names down the side, and say that I took a child from another class for the lesson, I can comment on how that child went in my lesson and track them across the whole term. It has really affected student achievement. The children are really enjoying this. They are waiting for the next opportunity if there’s a computer available. The computers are used all the time. The children are, if they haven’t finished any work in class time, they are going home straight after school, they are getting online, they are collaborating, they are writing, they are sharing, and they are just wanting to really improve their work. Like I said, I get emails at, I don’t know, five, six o’clock at night, I get emails on the weekend of documents that have been shared so they are really working well to push themselves.