Spicing Up Note Taking….With Google Drive!

Yes, a computer can be used as a replacement of paper and pencil for taking notes, but I would love to see a regular piece of paper do what we did in class for the past couple of days (and as quickly)!

Yesterday my Constitutional and Criminal Law class started to delve into the 5th Amendment. As we “unpacked” the amendment (thank you for the help, Teaching Civics/Civically Speaking and the Minnesota Center for Community Legal Education – both have great civics resources), my students took notes on a Google doc. After we discussed “indictment,” they learned about the news search feature on Google and they found two news articles involving indictments, added the links into their notes, wrote a brief summary of each story and then shared their findings with a neighbor. We repeated the process with the term grand jury.

Today I wanted the students to further explore details about a grand jury. Using some of the content from long ago and a source that I can no longer find online, I created this Google Doc with fact sorting and photo identification activities for my students to complete. They added the content from this activity to their notes page from yesterday’s class. The categorizing of bullet points was impressively effective at generating thought and discussion (I will certainly use that strategy again in the future), and the photo exercise went so well I am trying to find other places the concept could be used.

A great day in the classroom. Cheers!

A busy first quarter…

So our school is now a “Google school.” It has been a good experience so far. All of our students have their own email now, and according to our recent stats check, just over half of them are using their email accounts daily. Our faculty seems to have taken to the Gmail-format email, and Google docs are permeating the landscape. With few exceptions, things have been smooth for such a broad-scoped endeavor. Our technology class (a new endeavor for our Tech Dept) is blogging, some with greater fervor than others, but several have amazing blogging voices and are truly fun to read. Some students from International Marketing/Business used Google Sites for a hypothetical business project, and one of our English teachers is piloting threaded discussions with his English Classes through Google Groups. Unfortunately I can’t share the discussions as they are private groups, but their teacher is encouraged about the depth of discussion he is seeing, especially with his seniors.

The seniors taking to the threaded discussions is interesting to me as they are (collectively) the class least likely to check their school email accounts (ninth grade is the most likely).  Students using the Google Docs has greatly freed our Tech Department to focus on things like training, professional development and strategic planning as opposed to converting files and flash drives that were put through the wash or run over in the parking lot. Refreshing.

We held our first (and successful) training for our staff during lunch last week, addressing some “beyond basics” points on our email and Google Docs. We were pleased with overall attendance. We will be doing a second training in two weeks on iMovie and FLIP cameras (more on that later). I hope that training is well received also.

Busy but good.