I had a difficult time coming up with my own topic for this blog post and finally decided to dive further into Google Apps for Education. This is the second year that my district is using gmail but it is the first year that my students (all of them even my UPK) were given their own email account. A few of us had been advocating for email accounts for our students in grades 3-6 because it would give us greater access to so many of the different online websites that require an email address to register. But alas, the Tech Dept. did not fully trust the teachers’ ability to provide adequate training on accountability so the student accounts are restricted to receiving emails only from someone with the school district extension. This sort of defeats the purpose but it is better than nothing. In addition, students cannot change their password to something they might actually remember which causes delays in getting logged in.
I decided to use Google Presentation instead of Microsoft PowerPoint because it allowed students to work in groups on the same project. After several mishaps with students not understanding that all group members were working on the same project at the same time, the students enjoyed having all group members participate. All was going well until we tried to upload pictures that had been taken by the students; the pictures were too large. Every picture we tried to upload was too big! The solution: the students had to download the Google Presentation into PowerPoint. This defeated the whole purpose.
What I learned:
1. Google Apps are easy to use if students already know their log in information.
2. Use really small pictures and hope that they are small enough.
3. There is a short learning curve for students who have never used a website that allows synchronous usage.
4. I loved that the students could share the file with me and I could check it when there was time.
5. Students work really well together when given a chance.
This video provides 32 ways that Google Apps in the classroom:
I would love to hear how others have used Google Apps and if they had more success with it than I did.