The following post is one I wrote for Synergyse, a company that specializes in Google Apps training, and their blog. Check them out!
Increase Student Engagement With Google Apps
Technology integration can become stalled when teachers and coaches focus solely on the subject area. Further, by necessity, many professional learning sessions are given to the entire, multi-discipline staff, and either the content becomes too thin or subjects get left out. It can become very easy for some teachers to say Google Apps is not a natural fit with what they teach.
But there are topics that are applicable in every classroom and I am going to focus on one of those: Student Engagement.
I subscribe to the idea that engagement is defined as “students speaking, writing, creating...DOING!” In other words, being polite and compliant does not mean the student is engaged. When students are actively involved in the learning, and it is visible, then it can be said that they are engaged. According to John Hattie, in his book Visible Learning, engagement has been identified to have an effect size of .48 on student achievement. Anything over a .4 is considered “significant.”
So how can Google Apps be used to increase student engagement? As it turns out, quite simply and powerfully! I am an instructional coach in a Google Apps district and I am going to share with you a few practices I have seen in our classrooms.
I have found the creation of Graphic Organizers to be one of the best use of Google Drawings. I, and many of my teachers, still utilize lecture for some instruction and like to have a slide deck as an accompaniment. In order to get students taking notes (writing) and understanding how the pieces fit together, graphic organizers are tremendous tools! I will go through my slide deck and create a flow-chart, using Google Drawings, with headings that match the presentation.
Below, you can see a simple graphic organizer that I made for an instructional theory class I teach.
Now, it is very easy to just print it off and let students put pen to paper, and that is just fine! However, if you have the technology, you can utilize less paper and have students complete it using a device. Here’s how:
- The student will open the view-only document and make a copy of their own by selecting “Make a Copy” from the “File” menu.
- Now, in the student’s copy, they will be able to double-click in the boxes and type directly into the document. There is no need to add text-boxes! Just click and type!
The best part of Google Apps is the simplicity in sharing documents. With Google Slides, teachers can make available a copy of their slide deck so that students can follow along with the lecture. However, just clicking along is not enough to be engaged. Here are three methods I have seen in my teachers’ classes:
- Students then make an editable copy for themselves (from the “File” menu) and take notes in the “Presenter’s Notes” at the bottom of the window.
- Students then make an editable copy for themselves (from the “File” menu) and use the “Insert Comment” feature to add notes to the slide deck.
- Students then make an editable copy for themselves (from the “File” menu) and simply fill in the blanks as the teacher lectures.
These practices can be applied to other Google Apps as well and all get the students DOING something during a lecture. Get kids involved and active and they will learn more and enjoy learning more!