|Students in my class working on their Chromebooks|
Copyright 2013 Alice Chen
Why? Because Google Apps and Chromebooks are truly a winning combination. First of all, Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is entirely free for schools and districts. Secondly, Chromebooks are inexpensive and with the Management Console, very easy to manage. Paired together, it is a good solution for schools on a tight budget. For me, it gave me the means to put a device into the hands of all my students and the ability to bring my classroom into the 21st Century.
Yes, I understand that Chromebooks are largely Internet-dependent and are not laptop equivalents. At the same time, everything I need my students to create in an English language arts classroom could be accomplished with web applications - and the 10 seconds it takes to boot up these devices are probably less time than how long it usually takes for students to unpack their backpacks and take out their learning materials.
We've only been using Chromebooks for a couple of months, but here are some ways in which Google Apps have made my classroom more efficient, collaborative, and rigorously demanding.
My students use Google Docs to...
- Work on a project together - Its real-time, group collaboration capability is fantastic. Students love seeing their contributions fly across the page alongside their peers.
- Brainstorm and organize ideas together - Students use one document to build on each other's ideas and knowledge.
- Peer edit each other's work - Students invite their peers into their documents, and these extra pairs of eyes are extremely helpful in pinpointing simple grammatical and mechanical errors.
- Collaboratively annotate a text together - Students read short texts in groups and insert comments as they read, asking each other for clarification and posting analytical questions to scaffold each other's understanding.
- Motivate each other - All my students' work are "public" within my classroom. By expanding beyond a one-teacher readership, my students have learned to step up their game. I regularly ask for peer nominations on assignments, and students love to be nominated and recognized in this way.
My students are using Google Slides and Google Drawings to...
- Create multimedia presentations
- Design their own computer graphics for projects
- Publish digital books
- Generate mind maps and organize information
- Create flow charts and understand organizational structure
My students are building Google Sites to...
- Showcase their work and share it with their friends and families
- Write to an authentic audience
- Embed multimedia on webpages
- Learn digital citizenship and create a web persona
With Google Apps, my students are far more prolific than those from previous years. It is very motivating for students to produce work for a larger audience. The collaborative nature of Google Apps is what sets this suite of web tools apart from the competition. It's only been a couple of months, but my students and I are having a great time. And this is just the beginning.