Last year I learned while introducing a lesson that our school received access to google classroom. Our school district has paid for Discovery Education (DE) for many years, and I have increased my use of DE since I was introduced to it. Last year I was determined to have all my quizzes on DE along with using the tech book and boards for stations/centers, re-teaching and accelerating my students. At the beginning of the year, I created my classes and my first few assignments and their first quiz.
It was the second week of school and my lesson was teaching them how to access Discovery Education, exploring it along with taking their first quiz on classroom procedures and organization. I had directions written on the Smartboard and was walking around helping students after I had read them a couple of times. As I walked around, I noticed a couple of students who could not get into Discovery Education. Then all the hands began raising. They had followed my directions perfectly, and DE was not letting them in. I was baffled as it had worked the day before. I admitted I did not know why it wasn’t working and had them switch over to logging onto Brain Pop and Safari Montage and writing down how they logged in on a page in their Agenda. Then we reviewed the learning/ study strategies they had written down and all the other things we had put in our notebooks and played a name game.
During the class change, I emailed the person in our district who was in charge of Discovery Ed and asked her what had happened. She informed me that the district connected the students’ new Google accounts to our Discovery Education (DE) and the way that students will log in and she was working on an email to everyone explaining the new way we would have to log in. She informed me that DE was now connected to our ASPEN account (how we record grades and have our web pages) so it would automatically create and update classes for us as students enter and withdraw our classes. It took me about a half hour during my planning period to assign the quiz and other activities I had given the classes I created and delete the old ones. As frustrating as it was that day the change was very good and helpful for me. I love not having to create or update my classes on DE.
For the first year, I only used my students google accounts to access Discovery Ed while I researched google drive and classroom. Then over the summer I began exploring google classroom and realized how much it would help me. Now I am challenging myself to switch over to google classroom for a handful of reasons. I still use my interactive notebook for mini-lessons, warm-ups, notes, foldable, writing labs, homework, studying, classwork that isn’t graded, etc.
In the second year with a google account, I have dived in with using google classroom and google drive. As a science teacher, I love the idea of saving paper, and as someone who has been teaching for 17 years, I like not spending time making copies, so google classroom was very appealing. I have placed all their reflections, surveys, open-ended test questions, and many of their IB MYP (International Bachelorette Middle Years program) tasks on google classroom.
Google classroom has given me the opportunity of a conversation with my students and their assignments. It is the same as writing on the side of their paper, but I now have evidence of their corrections on every draft. This has allowed students who desire to improve their work have that opportunity. I am very thankful for the support of my media specialist and my science coach who are well versed in google classroom and are willing to help me anytime I am stuck or want to try something new.
My back has really appreciated not carrying home all those papers or my school computer since I have a Mac book at home. I have put all my files on my google drive and moved our department docs to a team drive so I can access them whenever I need them. The use of google drive is helping us collaborate and making meetings more effective and efficient. When we were surprised with a snow day on a Monday, I didn’t freak out because I could access the work I needed to grade on google classroom. I highly recommend using google drive and classroom to eanyoen that has the opportunity. Change can be difficult, but it is oh so beneficial.