Googlize Your School

I am so excited. And I just can't hide it. Google Apps is a-comin' to Chicago Public Schools! Hooray! As we gear up for this amazing cloud-revolution, I wanted to share a few ways you can Googlize your school. Consider these ideas to improve efficiency, collaboration and communication. Since I have today off (Happy Birthday America!), I wanted to get these ideas on "paper" while I had some time. More to come soon :).

#1 Let Google do your Job!
I always say that I hate grading, but I love assessing. What I mean by this is, I hate wading through 93 exit tickets, papers or tests... but I love knowing more about my students as learners, mathematicians and innovators. Google can help by slicing your grading load to a fraction of what it is now. While it can't grade essays or projects, it can give you real-time, in-the-moment information on what your students are struggling with. As a result you can differentiate the same day you assess. Yup, you heard that right: same day assessment/differentiation cycles! To illustrate more fully, consider the average assessment/differentiation cycle: You teach a lesson, you assess (exit ticket, etc) - you take home all the exit tickets (~30 for a self-contained teacher, 90+ for departmentalized teachers). You take the next night to grade them all. You come back the next day and put kids in groups to support their learning or challenge them. Imagine that you get the data back as soon as the students turn in their exit tickets - color coded, and ready to use. You could differentiate in that same period. No one would have to walk out of the room confused or frustrated. How, you ask? Google Forms, Conditional Formatting and a script called Flubaroo. Read more on how to do this here.

#2 YouTube for Learning
Start a YouTube channel with your team/cycle/PLC/school. Upload videos to help each other learn (i.e., model lessons, videos of practice, screencasts, etc.) and/or flipped lesson videos to share (think your own Khan Academy). Don't feel comfortable putting it out into the universe for all to see? Set it to "private" and only invite your PLC members until you feel comfortable enough to share with others.

#3 Googlize your Forms!
Room requests? Equipment requests? Supply requests? Field Trip requests? Use Google Forms!
Make sure the person whose responsibility it is to approve these requests turns on their notifications for the form's spreadsheet. Here is great video on how to do this.

#4 Blogger for a PLC!
Have teachers create and contribute to a blog - together! Don't think of this as necessarily the type of blog with others outside of your PLC read (although they can and this can be great support/feedback), but more of a virtual meeting space to discuss practice and learn together. They can upload video, pictures and text to share ideas, challenges and solutions. This helps alleviate the, "When can everyone meet?" or lack of common planning time. Another great outcome is that all of your "meetings" are automatically archived. So all learning and brainstorming can be referenced throughout the year - and years - to come. Here is an example of a virtual PLC we did this year around our technology integration. In our first year, we set it to private - just for us to learn and collaborate - but are now considering opening it to learn with the world.

#5 Google Calendar for All!
Use Google Calendar to organize and support:
- room reservations
- school events
- homework for students
- administration / leadership appointment planning (know where your colleagues are and when)
- vertical lesson planning (have each grade level add in their units to the calendar - then see vertical alignment, see picture below)

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