Saturday, April 5, 2014

Overlooked Opportunities

I had to opportunity to take in Rolland Chidiac’s (@rchids), “Chromebooks in the Hands of Grade 2 Students” session at the Ontario Google Apps for Education Summit in Kitchener and what blew me away was the opportunities I’ve missed over the years to make use of the Drawings tool in Google Apps.  I sometimes struggle with finding an entry point for primary students and teachers in Google Drive (my go-to tool is usually Slides/Presentations) and I picked his session specifically to look for strategies to use with primary students and teachers.  

What I learned from Rolland (and his students) is that, sometimes it’s best to let the students explore the tools and tell you what they’re good for.  As a starting point, Rolland gave his students 20 minutes to explore and create with Drawings and learn to use the tool.  What the students picked up on what that they could use the various tools, and shapes to create simple drawings to communicate their thoughts and ideas.  They’ve added text and used the sharing and collaboration features of Google Apps to give and get feedback on their work.  

Before I saw Rolland’s students work, I saw Drawings as a somewhat rudimentary tool; a tool that you might use to create simple mind maps or embed images that you wanted to create mashups with.  Now, they’ve redefined my vision of how to use Drawings.  One of the best things about the tool: it’s accessible throughout all of Google Apps.

It was also great to see all of Rolland’s anchor charts in which (I don’t think) Google Apps was mentioned once.  His learning targets and success criteria were all anchored in the curriculum, and students had the freedom to choose the tools that worked for them to get the job done.