Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear Google, I love you. Will you marry my iPad?

As I first began to use my iPads in the classroom, I found that there were a few issues. First and foremost was getting content on and off of the iPad. To solve this, I tried many avenues:
- iDisk
- Dropbox
- Syncing
- Emailing
- Google Tools

I'll go through the pros and cons for each of the first four methods in a later post, but this post is purely a love letter to Google.

Oh Google, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

1) Google Sites. It's free, it's fun, it's easy. Need I say more? Okay, I will. I use this platform to share almost all of my content with my students (with the exception of the mini lesson videos I create or find... again, another post another time). This is one stop shopping for my kids - here they can find exit tickets, do now prompts, pictures, webquests, announcements, weblinks, resources, calendar, our math blog, my contact info, and more! But wait - there's more! It's so easy to use that my residents (full year student teachers) can get a quick tutorial and they're on the site adding content, checking student work and navigating this virtual learning environment themselves! See www.msmagiera.com for more Google Site fun.

2) Google Forms. Hello, where have you been all my life? Gone are the days of post it notes all over my teacher bag. Gone are the days of half sheet exit tickets with student handwriting I can barely read. Gone are the days of passing out and picking up papers (sadly, I had to downsize and retire the second of two "paper passer" classroom jobs. It will not be missed). Google Forms allows me to create open response, multiple choice, check box, scale or grid answer questions to pose to my students. Responses are automatically and immediately generated into a Google spreadsheet (much like an excel spreadsheet). Then I can use this data to create differentiated math groups for same day or next day targeted instruction. I can use the "sort" function to quickly sort answers, then read student explanations to understand more deeply their misconceptions. So cool.

I also use Google Forms to take student surveys, pre-assess and do our morning mood check in. The students in our community often come to school upset about something that happened at home, on their way to school or a more prolonged personal issue. By checking in on their emotional state first thing, I am able to put out fires before they get out of hand (ie, student-to-student conflict, a child feeling ill, someone who is dealing with a troubling issue at home, someone who is in need of wellness support, etc.). Students also are taught that teachers want to know how they are, and are safe to speak to. I have kids writing in about all sorts of issues, both happy and sad... which makes my relationships with each of them even more rich.

3) Customized Search Engine.
Want to do a web-based research project with your kids? Want to make sure that students don't get into inappropriate or "junk" websites? No worries! Just use the Google Customized Search Engine -- a customized Google search where you specify the sites that will be covered with your search term. How simple yet how useful....

So, yes, I love Google. It makes my iPadding in the classroom a more wonderful experience. My only qualm with Google is that it isn't intrinsically embedded into the iPad iOS... So come on Google & Apple -- why can't you marry and become an omniscient computer superpower? Imagine the possibilities....

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