Updated: Jan 14
That's me! Integrating technology using the Google Classroom platform enhanced my teaching. Hands down. And COVID helped me do it.
While this may seem like an unlikely scenario, I would like you to close your eyes and go back with me. Imagine a classroom bursting with energy, hands-on projects, student collaboration, boisterous read alouds, quiet reading time, and engaging content with deep conversations and enriching extensions. There was art, music, and movement swirling in the air like leaves twirling on a breeze in autumn. The energy was intoxicating and up lifting.
Now envision the lonely desktop computer, sitting in the corner, gathering dust. Sad, sad technology. Nobody touched them for their glorified "educational" games unless there was an AR test that needed to be taken. The options for learners were limited and not really worth it for the teeny, tiny gains. So the computers sat (to the great dismay of administration). If you really wanted computer time, you signed up for the computer lab. What fun! All in all, it simply was not a viable alternative to the vibrant face-to-face learning environment.
Then, COVID came and closed those vibrant classrooms doors. We in turn, opened up our Mac Books and dove into navigating a new classroom, the Google Classroom. And as it turns out, when you open its door, it's just as vibrant. With seemingly endless possibilities, those Google colors are no joke! There's an excitement of turning what used to be a techy dream world into an educational reality. You see, even after the shut down, reopening, restrictions, etc. every child finally had their own device! And so many companies became internet friendly! Now, we already overcame the tumultuous learning curve and the investment into technology and infrastructure, so the next step was easy- just keep it up!
A book that quickly became my best friend was, The Google Infused Classroom. I found it accessible for every level of teaching, and my favorite part- it uses pedagogy! Well-planned instructional design is exactly what's needed to be successful with not only teaching online, but teaching in general. I found that when I used distance education theory (TD shout out to Dr. Michael Graham Moore) and blended it into my face-to-face classroom, I discovered the golden ticket.
Over time, I noticed a pattern in my teaching. I call it the Four Focus Areas for Teachers. They are: Design Online Classroom, Use Online Instruction Methods, Consider Student Attributes, and Set and Maintain Consistent Communication. These focus areas are a combination of strategies that incorporate sound educational theory and practices. They are the golden ticket into the vibrant classroom we all want our students and children to be in. The swirling lively engaged environment that lifts children up to shake hands with their potential.
It's a different world out there on the education front. Keep expanding and growing to shake hands with your potential too. I can hear you saying it now, "I'm so glad we're here."