Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Google Apps for Education Review

This year I piloted Google Apps for Education in the classroom at
I bought a domain at GoDaddy and it took me about a week to figure out proxies,domain, etc. It probably wasn't the best way to configure everything, but it worked! I decided to block their access to Gmail and Talk because it was more than I could handle for the first year. The students had access to everything else.

They had Gmail addresses, but they were only used to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms. Creating accounts was easy, I created a spreadsheets and the Apps team created all of the accounts for me. Let me tell you that when ealing with middle schoolers, that spreadsheet was the key to survival! I can't tell you how many times I looked up usernames and passwords!

The first marking period of school, I felt like a computer applications teacher, showing my 6th graders how to login, manage their Google Docs, share Docs, create a Google site, etc. Not to mention how easily 6th graders forget passwords! It was exhausting.

After laying the groundwork, I started to see everything coming together.

By the 4th marking period, they were so adept that they figured out how to do things I never even knew about such as transitions and animations in Docs Presentations and creepy crawly spider gadgets in sites. They were using Google Apps for all their classes, not just mine, and they were even creating their own websites at home for fun! Some even organized end of the year parties and made digital yearbooks of their own.
I am so proud of my students from last year. To check out some cool projects we did, check out HartmanHoopla, a blog co-authored by my students and I.

Above everything my students learned last year, they possess 21st century technology skills and tools that will help them succeed in the future and tools to discover their passions, such as the Hannah and Cailin who have their own YouTube Channel, website, and Twitter account. These two young ladies are just getting started! It's unbelievable what 6th graders can do when you give them access to tools such as Google Apps for Education.