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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

GAFE App Smash #DitchBook Collaboration: Docs, Keep, Classroom

This blog post was originally written as a part of a series of post featuring an 'App Smash" using Google Apps for Education on Matt Miller's blog, www.ditchthattextbook.com. You can view the entire post here

Thanks Matt for including me in this collaboration. I've been blessed to be connected with you and the entire #DitchBook PLN community on Twitter.

Within the past year, my school corporation has gone 1:1 with Chromebooks, Android Tablets, and Google Apps for Education. What I quickly realized is that while I have ditched textbooks and continue to infuse more technology into my classroom, I was still handwriting my daily agenda on the oversized poster copy of the student issued agenda book and requiring my students to copy it down to help communicate with home what the class work and happenings were for the day.

Why? Students despised having to write down the agenda, so after the first few weeks of school students struggled to complete this task. Agendas started getting lost or left at home. Many agendas weren't getting signed by parents or guardians at home to acknowledge they have reviewed it as required.

Again, why was I still doing this? It was a battle that was not worth fighting. I needed something Different, Innovative, Tech-laden, Creative, and more Hands-on to help keep students organized & communicate class work with home.

So I thought of this Google Apps Smash to solve some of the issues with the student agenda books and after following the How-To steps, you will have a system in place to help ditch those outdated agenda books.

  • Using Google Docs, create a template that will serve as your daily agenda to be shared with students. Use tables, colors, and images to help organize your subjects or class periods.
  • Place your Google Doc agenda in the “About” section of Google Classroom to be viewed by your students.
  • When students open the Doc, they need to click the Drive icon and Save it to their own Drive.
  • Click HERE for step-by-step screenshot directions!
    Every day or week you'll update your shared agenda Doc for your students which will be viewable to them through Google Classroom or Drive.
  • In Google Keep (keep.google.com) a new note needs to be made for each student. This note will be shared with you and your student so it doesn’t matter if you create it or the student creates their own.
  • Give the note an appropriate title. For me I just did something simple like “Johnny’s To-Do List”, but you may want to have something more specific especially if you have multiple subject or class periods.
  • Enable the checkbox feature for the newly created note.
  • Once created, share the note with your student or if the student created it, have them share it with you.
  • After sharing the note, an email notification will be sent or if you go directly to Google Keep you'll see the note on the home screen.

Application: Some of the benefits of using this Smash to replace the agenda are:
  • It saves time! No more wasting class having students write down notes for their own agenda. It’s already done and everyone can view it.
  • Everything in one place and accessible anytime, anywhere. By having students add the Agenda Doc to their Drive it will automatically sync for offline viewing. Also, Google Keep does the same thing! So this way whether or not students have internet access outside of school, they will be able to view the agenda and check off or add items to the To-Do list.
  • It's Interactive! For me, there is something satisfying about being able to check off something on my to-do list and see it become crossed out. Students will get a thrill out of it too!  
  • Student Accountability. Your students' To-Do list is shared with you so you can help keep student accountable in real time and this also means you can add to the list or mark things off. This could be really helpful for when students are absent!
  • Share with parents! Change the share setting of your Agenda Doc to “anyone w/ link can view” and give it to your parents in a shortened URL or a QR code. Also, not only can the note on Google Keep be shared between you and your students, but it can also be shared with a parent that has a Google account. Another option would be to just notify and instruct parents how to access these two things on the student’s device.
  • It teaches 21st century skills. Ok, let’s be honest. How many of you still use some sort of physical planner book, whether for personal or work use? Probably not many. If you are like me, my school uses Google Calendar and my personal schedule is on my smart phone. This way of scheduling and organization is not going away, so what better way to prepare students for their future than to have them start using these type of tools now!
  • Get organized. Some of the features of Google Keep that can be more beneficial to both teachers and students are: being able to color code your notes, add a label (which I liken to a hashtag) to help with sorting, set reminders, or with the checkbox option selected in the note, reorder the to-do list to reflect order of importance by just a quick click and drag.
  • Go Mobile. Like almost every other application in the digital world, there is an app for Google Keep for all popular platforms. Go to www.google.com/keep to find out more.

Although Google Keep is not a GAFE “core app”, it is still accessible with your Google account and can be a great tool for both teachers and students. Replace those student agenda books with this Google Apps Smash to help keep students organized and help communicate class work with parents.

BONUS! Need help getting started using Google Keep? Check out Matt's post - Meet Google Keep, and 6 ways it can help schools

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