As an English Language Arts (ELA) secondary educator, one aspect that I hope is taken into the future of education is the use of Google Classroom (or a similar tool that offers similar features). Overall, Google Classroom is an easy tool to navigate in terms of organization, keeping track of assignments, and editing student work. One major reason that I appreciate this program is when it comes to grading. It is easy to grade student work and it also labels the work as ‘missing’ for those who have not turned in their homework. As someone who spends a lot of time editing final drafts of secondary essays, this program also allows me to quickly make comments and suggestions to help my students reach their target score. Another area where Covid-19 has helped open my eyes in terms of technology is how there are so many different applications that can be used as tools in the classroom and I would also like to be able to take some into my future room.
Without the use of technology this year, what would the school year have looked like? The platform Zoom gave thousands of schools the ability to function as smoothly as possible considering the circumstances. I am not suggesting that Zoom be taken into our classrooms when the pandemic is over, but I am saying that it was technology that aided and that technology does have a place when used appropriately. Technology is in the classroom allows students the opportunity to, “compromise, work toward a common goal, and think critically as they dive into course content with their peers…open-ended creation tools give students a space to demonstrate their understanding. They can capture their voice, record video, and tell the story of their learning” (Burns, 2018). Moreover, technology in the classroom allows students to be able to have more personalized learning, especially in an ELA classroom. An example of this can be seen with the use of audiobooks. Some students comprehend better by listening to the novel, or by listening to it and following along. Ergo, audiobooks, and other technological tools are features that I hope can be appropriately used in future classrooms. Another part of education that was not really there when I was in school was the idea of being an architect in my education.
One aspect of my internship this year has shown that it is okay to ask students their opinion on what they want to do (within reason). I think that this was done in part of the distance. For example, we wanted students to read five hundred pages by the end of the quarter and write reports on it. However, we did not choose what books they ‘had’ to read in order to attain the word count. Another example of a choice that was given was to the students that had already written a research paper. They had the choice to create an Adobe Spark Video, Blog/Website, or write another paper. This was to help motivate them to stay engaged with the class. I was never given choice growing up. Ergo, in my future classroom, I would like to continue to offer choices to students.
Burns, M. (2018, February 6). Putting Learning First With New Tech Tools. Edutopia.
I love google classroom! I use it with my kindergarten students both in the classroom and when we have been sent into quarantine. In class, I mostly have used it to get them comfortable with it for a quarantine situation, but have done some matching activities and have done some assessments on there as well, I like all the same features you mentioned. Plus it really is easy for the students (more so than the parents at times). I am happy to hear that you found ways to provide choice for your students. I believe you work with 11/12th grade? My son is remote this year and that is one thing he has struggled with is the lack of choice. He finds the material very boring and I sympathize with him at times, because even I wouldn’t want to read it (and I LOVE to read almost anything). He reads, then writes, reads then writes…..No creativity involved and he is super creative, he plays with graphic design on his computer, play multiple instruments, etc. So it is a struggle for him to remain engaged at times. The saddest part for me is that he loves to read and has been reading since he was 4, now it has become a chore for the first time.
I like Google Classroom, too. My students appreciate the way they can directly see feedback in comments or immediate scores on a Forms Quiz. We currently use Google Classroom while bouncing back and forth between in-person attendance and remote learning, and I don’t imagine it disappearing anytime soon.
I think one of the most difficult things with high school is finding creative activities that actually meet the standard requirements. Even in 5th grade, the emphasis is on writing standards and less so on speaking ones. I definitely include choice options for projects (it’s required for us), and I try to make the choices equally challenging so there isn’t an “easy” one that everyone automatically selects.
For creative expansion, I’m just going to hit my “happy idea pinata” since I really have no idea about your standards:
Are you able to have the students create public service announcements that could be posted on school or district websites? Maybe ones that integrate personal narratives that teach younger students what to do?
Are you able to have students read a drama and record a readers theatre performance that would be viewed by other classes? This could even develop into a (friendly) grade level competition within the school, whereby there is some reward for the winning grade level.
Are you able to have students record their analytic response to a piece of literature in a podcast style where they are the subject matter expert and another student takes on the role of the interviewer?
I thought I had posted but it doesn’t seem to be here ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ maybe I forgot to hit post…lol.
I love google classroom. I used it both last spring and this year anytime my class went into quarantine. Since I was not in quarantine with my students most of the time and had to still run a classroom at the same time, I was able to use it as a way to keep those students up with what we were doing in class. Last spring, I also included at least two video responses each week using Flipgrid. It worked out beautifully. It got to the point last spring that student presented projects using Flipgrid, so we were able to meet the speaking standards!
I lie Deni’s idea of public service announcements. I was thinking of news report from home. Maybe have them pick a topic and present it as a news broadcast. This would open the door for all sorts of topics from current events, historic events or even use it to report on events in stories!
I think it is really phenomenal what we have been able to do given most teachers have little experience with utilizing these different technologies. I will admit I am glad I already had a decent knowledge base to work from:)
These are some great responses. I am also thinking about the term you used, which I really like, of becoming “an architect in my own education.” When I read this, I think of empowering students, helping them feel like they CAN be architects. In addition to giving choice, I think this calls for reflection on the choices made so that students get some self awareness about what they are building. Are they choosing the option that caters to their strengths? Or one that pushes them in new areas? Something new they want to learn?
In addition to offering choice, you might also ask students to participate in other ways. Could students pitch a project to you (with some guidelines given)? In addition to having individual choice in assignments, could you work with the class as a whole to make higher level choices? You might vote on a book to read together, or on a topic for a future learning unit …
Looking forward to see what you create!