Thing 6 – Google Apps

Google Drive and Dropbox may have been the best thing to happen to me in my teaching career. I remember the days of working on a document at home that I planned on using at school the next day in the hopes that 1. the email would be at school on my big bulky classroom desktop computer 2. the document would not end up in a new format that I would have to rearrange and resize before rushing down to the printer/copier. So here’s why I love google drive…

1. In the Cloud…

Saving items to my google drive makes that same document, powerpoint, or whatever available across all platforms and devices. Besides the fact that I can now access the files saved on my laptop from my iPad or iPhone, I can carry a document and its info in my pocket without ever having to print it. Let me give you an example…

The other day I rushed to the grocery store on my way home from a long day of teaching and football practice to get items to make dinner AND to pick up materials I was going to use for a Biochemistry lab the next day (this way I didn’t have to hit up the Walmart at 11 at night with the REALLY interesting crowd). As I walked the aisles I knew i was missing two items I needed for the lab but couldn’t remember and of course didn’t bother to write them down earlier (my wife is laughing as she reads that part). As I was about to walk out dejected and resigned to the fact I would have to get to school before 6 to find the lab and then run to the 24hr store before school started, it dawned on me… I Have The Lab Saved On GoogleDrive! I popped open the App on my iPhone and sure enough there was my beautiful pdf with all the lab materials listed! GOOGLE TO THE RESCUE!

2. Collaboration…

If you create a document IN Google (not uploading a .doc you made in word), you can have multiple collaborators! Meaning that students can all be typing on the same document AT THE SAME TIME! They go wild the first time you do it (especially if you project the document on the board as they add to it) and the see their words ‘magically appear’ along with their names. So if students are working together in a group, they can be collaborating in the classroom, in different classrooms, and even at home! You can use the same concept of a Google Doc as a closing activity and have students write down questions they still have from the lesson, or things they had learned from the lesson.

3. ‘Links’ to knowledge…

Once you have created or uploaded a Google document, Google provides you with a weblink that you can give to students so they can view the document at any time. These are especially useful if you want to provide the kids with a. access to past documents or b. answer keys! This is why Google is soooo great for me. My kids always want to be able to check their work AS THEY GO. They don’t want to turn in something if they aren’t confident they are correct. And as long as you create a class culture that the key is to be used as a resource and not for copying, I have found that kids respect that and appreciate that you provide it for them.

4. Ease of use…

The really nice thing about Google Drive is that you can connect it to your desktop or laptop. What that means is that when you connect your drive to your computer, it creates a Synced folder that you can simply drag and drop items, or save documents to that folder. This beats the heck out going to  the google drive website, pressing upload, finding the document, etc..

So if you would please Collaborate with me by clicking the link below and tell me what you think of Google Drive so we can help each other! Hooray for Collaboration!

Click Here to Add to Our Live Google Doc

Thing 4 – Notability

In my Honors Biology class the students are required to take their notes for my class twice. Once as a “messy” version that tey can doodle on and make mistakes on, and then another clean and well organized version. I don’t check this, rather, its on the “Honor” system… get it. But seriously though, I encourage our students to use notability one of the two times. Most choose to do it as the clean version because of the ability to highlight and color code their notes. On my end, I always provide a ‘pdf template’ for them to take their notes on. This usually means Cornell Notes (if you’re unfamiliar with Cornell notes, let me know and I’ll send you info, otherwise I’ll post on here about them soon)…

Cornell

Cornell notes organize the notes into “Key Ideas” and allow the notes to be the answer to the Key.

The advantage of using a ‘pdf template’ is that the students can easily download them directly to notability and write over the top.

Notability may be great for notes… but it’s even better for graphic organizers. Using the iPad, notability, and a predetermined graphic organizer allows for an opportunity to collaborate with fellow students and share ideas causing the graphic organizer to grow (Talkboard is a great app for collaboration too!). The key is to start with a simple shape, and let the students decide what should go where. There is no right answer when it comes to graphic organizers because it is based on the way the individual student, or group of students, thinks.

Example of a simple graphic organizer from our cells unit

Example of a simple graphic organizer from our cells unit

So download that app and crack it open. If this post helped you, or if there are other ways I can be of assistance, please contact me and let me know.