Google Apps for Education (GAFE): A Powerful Tool for Educators… Honest!

Google Apps… If you asked me a year ago if Google Apps for Education (GAFE) at the CBE  would make a difference at all, I would have, at best, been on the fence. Now, the potential of where we can go is huge! First, a bit of background information…

The CBE, as of early December 2013, is now offering additional Google Apps for Education as a choice of productivity and collaboration tools for students and teachers.  Google Apps is widely used and allows users to work in an environment that is safe, collaborative and engaging. 

Why did the CBE choose Google Apps?

  • Lower infrastructure costs — Material will be stored securely on Google’s servers…
  • Lower support costs — Google hosts the email and calendar services…
  • Innovative solutions — We can leverage the ongoing creative and technical solutions of the Google Apps platform to provide employees with powerful, easy-to-use tools for getting their work done
  • Highly scalable environment — With Google Apps, our capacity will grow automatically as our organization grows, and we’ll avoid the complexity of internal systems
  • Access to services from anywhere, at anytime — A key benefit of the Google-hosted solution is that we can access email, contacts, documents, and calendar from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection, from anywhere in the world

All students and teachers will have access to the following Google Apps: Google Drive, Sites, Groups, Gmail, Calendar
Enough background… Kids and teachers are beginning to use these tools in phenomenal ways! But, as a principal, can they help me…?

A School Google Calendar…

We have just begun to test utilizing these tools as a school staff. We now have a Google Calendar that all our teachers can view and add to and make changes to… It is accessible at home and at school, and is always up to date rather than me emailing changes out or updated docs as, shockingly, the calendar is changing all the time. Now, staff knows where to go to get the most up to date information.

Shared Staff Google Documents…

In the last week, we have set up a number of Google Docs, one of which is a document that all staff can access, which has the agenda items, notes, links, questions, comments, etc. If a staff member is absent, they can find the info easily. If they have a question or a thank-you or an information item, they can add it in to the document…

Capturing Thinking…

The doc also provides the ability for group discussion notes, ideas, and thinking to be recorded in one place and for everyone to see it live as it is added. No more having people email me notes on their group’s discussion and thought…

No More PowerPoint…

Best of all, the staff does not have to sit through any more PowerPoints, and I do not have to put together any more Powerpoints on the Tuesday evening at home while watching the newest episode of Arrow… And that, my friends, will be good for everyone!

Stay tuned for updates on the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) experiment at Keeler School. I am loving it so far… 🙂
Work hard, learn tons!


5 Responses to Google Apps for Education (GAFE): A Powerful Tool for Educators… Honest!

  1. Claire, Vanessa, and Heather says:

    The Kindergarten team took their CILO time to Vanessa’s humble abode to watch two separate educational videos. One was a movie called “Tomboy” which touched on the topic of a child strongly identifying with the opposite gender, and how he dealt with day-to-day life in his community and at home. We also watched a Webinar hosted by Dr. Valora Washington from Walden University titled, “Crossing Boundaries and Building Bridges: Leadership Lessons for All of Us”, which discussed the Child Development Association, the education level of pre-school/day care teachers, and gave some insight into the percentages of students coming from low income areas that start school with a lower range of words than those who do not.

    We chose to watch the movie “Tomboy” because we have a student in our class who is also strongly identifying with the opposite gender. We have been trying to be the best support system we can be for this student, however it is a new topic to all of us. After the movie, we discussed how important it was to always use gender neutral language, and provide a wide array of gender neutral activities in class. For instance, instead of saying “Boys and Girls”, we will say “Friends”, or “Kindergartens”. We will continue to develop our knowledge around this area, seeking out a variety of available resources, and continue to support and encourage all of our students to feel confident to express themselves as an individual.

    While watching the webinar, we were all amazed with the fact that students coming from a low income area start school with 3,000 less words than those who come from an area without income issues. We discussed the importance of creating a safe environment for our students so that they always feel confident to express themselves. We talked about how the classroom environment can influence a student’s confidence, and by consciously constructing a classroom that encourages expression, students can use and learn words at a fast(er) rate. We want to continue to encourage rich discussion during our daily carpet/story time, as well as in a one-on-one setting while the students are independently learning at centre time.

  2. Lunnin and Polok says:

    The grade 5 team spent some time reflecting on student progress and discussing ways to support students performing below grade level.

    We finished organizing our Electricity and Magnetism Unit centers, and brainstormed ideas for a student inquiry project for Mechanisms that Use Electricity. There was also some discussion about our upcoming Chemistry Unit, and plan to have students complete Science Fair Projects.

  3. Tsay, Arruda, Meyers and Thibeau says:

    The Grade 1 Team planned innovative activities for the 100 day celebration, which will take place next Thursday. Students will practice counting up to 100 by 10s using manipulatives and engage in various centers that involve literacy, math, kinesthetic and creative skills.
    We then looked at the next objective in science and planned activities around the sense of hearing.

  4. Grade Two Team says:

    CILO – January 29, 2014

    This week the grade two team has been busy planning for our new science unit. We have been working on creating centers, and inquiry based projects that focus on magnetism. We connected with our learning commons teacher, Mike, to assist us in planning interactive lessons that will engage students. We also discussed how best to accommodate all our learners during centers times. Mike assisted us in creating a plan for literacy centers that would allow students to completed inquiry based activities that can be left in the learning commons for other students to learn from and enjoy. As a team we discussed scheduling and how to best share resources, planning our day so we can both benefit from learning resources and assist each other in planning lessons and providing feedback. As a team we will be meeting with Mike again to discuss our plan and provide feedback and also to set up science centers. Students will also be working in the learning commons for literacy and will be working on building their understanding of expository writing and non-fiction texts.

  5. Sonya, Megan and Lisa says:

    The Grade 6 Team has found using Google Docs extremely useful in the classroom. We use it to compile anecdotal notes, particularly for small group work and research projects. We have also used it successfully to simultaneously comment on student presentations while they are presenting. It is interesting to see 3 different points of view pop-up in real time, we each notice different things. We are introducing the collaborative presentation program to our students to use to be able to include more students in making slides and presentations, instead of just having one student on the computer.

    This afternoon, the Grade 6 Team worked on developing and refining the rubric for our future story writing. We are trying to start sourcing examples of each level for each area of writing. Mike has a great idea about making videos of ourselves editing the examples in real time and pointing out the specific parts that we are focusing on.

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