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Justine McClellan

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Thanks for sharing. I have been using Google Classroom for years, but I do not think it was synced with Google Calendar until recently. It is so convenient for students to be able to go to their calendar and see all their assignments for classes in one place. I am not sure all my students are even aware of this feature, as I myself was not until recently. I think I will point it out to students in the first week of school and have them check out their Google Calendars and set up notifications.

I like the idea of sharing with parents, however I wish students would do this for all their classes on Google Classroom, not just mine. Question, Google Classroom now has an ¨invite parents¨ feature, and I am wondering what parents see on their end. Can they see the Google Calendar for their child? This would resolve the need to ¨share¨ the calendar with parents.
I can definitely see myself using Google Calendar to improve efficiency and become more productive with my students and their families. Since I currently use Google Classroom with all of my classes, adding Google Calendar will be greatly beneficial. Linking assignments from Google Classroom directly to the student calendar will alleviate many of the problems when students forget to add an assignment to their planner – or “didn’t know” something was due. An added benefit is that I can attach a link to the assignment to the calendar – which will give even absent students access to the work. Since many of my Middle School students tend to misplace, lose, forget or “never had” their student planners, this will definitely be a game changer. The Google Calendar will eliminate the missing planner problem, since all students have a school issued Chromebooks (or can “borrow” one from me if necessary), and the Google calendar is cloud-based, they can access their calendar anywhere. I intend to enlist the help of parents with keeping track of assignments as well, by having students “SHARE” their calendar with their parents. One of the first assignments during the school year will be having students “SHARE” their calendar with their parents, and having parents acknowledge that they are able to access it. I am still devising a plan on how to make this happen; perhaps through my Google Site or having them take a Google Form survey to answer a few questions about their student’s calendar as well as personal information that will help me service them and their student throughout the year (i.e, internet access, devices available to them, best phone number to reach them at, etc). Using Google Calendar this year is going to an incredible time saver, and will make both me and my students more productive and efficient.

Although I use Google Classroom, I find it not the best place to post and keep organized things like Slides, handouts, and study materials. because things can get buried in the stream. I know you can post things in the ¨About¨ section, but if you the same course every year, you have to repost every year. Exploring the new Google Sites has made me think about making a class website for each course I teach. I can post all the notes and slides and handouts in an organized way, making a page for each unit. This way if a student is absent, or is reviewing for a test or quiz, they know where to go to get materials. I can still post things to the Classroom, but having things on Google Sites will help me to organize materials more efficiently for my students and I can keep the same website from year to year and simply build as I add new materials. I look forward to starting that this year!

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¨Talk and Comment¨ is a Chrome extension that adds a little circle to the side of your browser. At any time you can click this button and your microphone will be turned on and you can record something. The extension then saves your recording to a web address and will give you the link. You can copy and paste the link anywhere you can type. The extension then will automatically turn this URL into a little box with a play button. If you click it, you will hear the recording.

This extension is extremely beneficial because many of us can speak faster than we can type. In addition, it puts a human touch on things. Especially when a student is getting feedback on an assignment, it can be easier to accept a critique when done with a human voice, with a warm and positive tone, than simply reading words on a screen. Finally, some people are auditory learners and being able to hear something may help it to ¨stick¨ for some people better than simply reading text. What is also great about this extension is that it can work in virtually any place you can type, such as a comment box, or directly into a Google Doc or any box where you can type, such as a Facebook post. It is versatile and easy to use.

For teachers this extension can be very helpful for grading, for the same reasons I mentioned above. It can be used in any content area for nearly any type of assessment. It can be done in Google Docs, Google, Sheets, but also Google Slides, Google Drawing, or any G-Suite app where students and teachers can collaborate and comment. I see myself using this in both the feedback process for students. If I am reviewing a draft of some work, I can speak directly into a comment box, and then students can ¨resolve¨ the comment after they have listened and addressed the issue. I also see it as a way to provide some more personal feedback after filling in a rubric and giving a final grade.

I already use Google Slides and G-Suite apps, but I think I could be doing more creative things with Slides and Docs and Forms. Traditionally I would use Slides for notes and lecture, and Docs to assign questions in Google Classroom, and Forms for surveys. But now I am seeing that I could be doing much more creative things here.

One specific way I could use Google Docs is to assign a blank document through Google Classroom to my class and telling students that all work must be done in the Google Doc. The power of assigning a blank document is that it allows you to check on student progress at any point in the progress and provide feedback. This is particularly useful for long term assignments. For example, if I give a week to write a lab report, I might say, the introduction has to be done by the second night, the data table and graphs posted by the fourth night, and conclusion by the final deadline. Without requiring students to ¨turn in" an assignment on the Classroom, I can now check work and give formative feedback. One powerful tool our instructor showed me is the Chrome extension ¨Talk and Comment.¨ This allows you to speak directly into your computer microphone and paste a link into the Google Doc with oral feedback. For some of us speaking is faster than typing, but also it puts a human voice to things. Sometimes just typing out feedback can be time consuming, and can seem harsh. Your tone of voice can sound encouraging, and provide a touch that is more personal than simply reading text off a screen. This was one of the big benefits I liked about, but I stopped using, because I liked having access to all my student work in the Drive, and also the power of checking the revision history really helps curb plagiarism. You can see how long a student spent on a paper or assignment, and also if they did revisions.

I also have started allowing students to work together in pairs or groups of three on lab reports. Checking the revision history allows me to see how everyone contributed. I tell students that the writing should be split, somewhat 50/50, with each student writing at least one full paragraph. Checking the revision history gives me a quick way to see if that is the case. In addition, I can ask them to do peer edits, and see if they did that using revision history as well. Are they reading each otherś writing and providing feedback and edits? The revision history will tell you.

It may seem sneaky to be checking the revision history and peeping on student work. But this is not the case if you are up front about it. You can even build it into part of the grade. You can say something like, ¨I will be checking to see that lab partners are reading each other´s work and providing feedback and edits. I want to see at least three comments or edits on the Google Doc.¨ Or ¨I expect that both partners will have a draft done by Wednesday night, I will check for completion on Thursday morning, and will provide feedback by the end of the day." If students submit something on Google Classroom, they can lose editing rights, but for something like a draft, or a long term project, you want to be able to give feedback and have accountability, while still allowing them to continue working on their project. Google Docs gives you that power.
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