Saturday, September 20, 2014

How to Use Google Classroom for Professional Development

This article was first posted on Daily Genius

Image courtesy: Edudemic
Last month I wrote a post on 3 Different Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.  Soon after, I received several emails and Twitter messages from people who read that article on Edudemic, and are interested in ideas and ways Google Classroom can be used for Professional Development.  During the last month, at my school, Plato Academy Clearwater, we are experimenting with different scenarios and settings for using Google Classroom for PD.  We have generated several workflow examples and experimented with almost all of them. The ones that seem to be working the best for us are the following:

1    Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) & Google Classroom
The Team Lead in every grade can create a course, and invite/register the rest of the team.  He/She can create as many courses as there are subjects he/she teaches/leads.  If the school is departmentalized, the Team Lead can create one course per subject.  For instance, a Math & Science Team Lead can create one course for math and one for science.  A Language Arts Lead can create a Reading course a Writing course, and a Social Studies course.
The Team Lead can choose to either use the Announcements, or the Assignments, to initiate discussion on a subject. He/She can attach the agendas before every meeting, which can be edited by all the members at any time AND in real time, upload instructional and “how to” videos, and even share and co-create common assessments in real time, even if the team members are based at a different location. 
2    Trainings & Google Classroom
A teacher/trainer can create a course in Google Classroom, which is going to be the training session he/she offers, and invite teachers/participants to join the course.  The trainer shares with the participants the PowerPoint slides of the training via the Announcements tab, and handouts of the training via the Assignments tab.   Here, the trainer can use the option “Make a copy for each student” from the menu that appears at the right side of the attached document, so that the teachers/participants can have a clean copy of the attachment, which they can then use in their classroom with their own students.  In addition, the trainer can post questions about the training, which the teachers/participants can answer individually or collaboratively in groups, or even collectively as a whole group.  The collaboration can happen in real time, or at the trainees’ leisure, if the trainer chooses to set a due date and/or time for the question/assignment.   At more rigorous trainings, ones that require the participant to produce evidence of the knowledge they gained during the training, the trainer can assign real assignments to the teachers/participants, which he/she can grade, using Doctopus and/or Gubric.  Here is a video that explains how this is done.

      Principal – Teacher Collaboration with Google Classroom

Principals and administrators can take advantage of the power of Google Classroom to guide and lead instruction, or to share with their faculty certain information of key importance.  For instance, in my school, my principal decided to use Google Classroom to create a secure and private online place to share with her teachers important information on Florida Standard Assessment (FSA).  She created a course named FSA, and she uses that course to curate and organize information the Florida DOE publishes on FSA.  Every time she adds an item, the teachers/students in this course receive an email.  If the item is of great importance, the principal then creates a short assessment for the teachers to complete.  Since all teachers are in the course as “students”, they can communicate with each other, exchange ideas, and offer support, under the Announcements tab within Google Classroom.  During Professional Development Days, teachers can collaborate in real time and conduct vertical planning sessions, build common assessments collaboratively, and support each other in multifaceted ways.

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