March 14, 2018

Innovative Uses of G Suite Edu in Medfield Public Schools

EdTechTeacher has been working with the Medfield Public Schools in Medfield, Massachusetts for the past five years through our year-long Teaching for the 21st Century (T21) Program.  Through the development of their 1:1, BYOD and Chromebook cart model, Medfield has increased their adoption of G Suite in a variety of both practical and creative ways.  With the 11th and 12th grade in a 1:1 Chromebook model and Chromebook carts being available in grades 6-10, approaches ranging from digital portfolios to collaborative data collection and virtual travel adventures are being executed with various G Suite tools.  Below are a few highlights of the effective use of G Suite tools being used in the Medfield Public Schools from a variety of disciplines and grade levels.

Digital Portfolios with Video Reflections:

Sixth grade students in Marjorie Heim’s science class are creating digital portfolios with Google Sites that consist of student-uploaded artifacts along with a written reflection.  With a shift towards standards-based grading, students also upload video reflections to their portfolio site that address their growth towards meeting the standards and exemplary learner profiles.  The long term vision for this work is to have student-led conferences where students thoughtfully reflect on their growth and to archive these reflections as evidence to substantiate their personal assessment.  While this work may be possible without the use of G Suite and Chromebooks, the implementation of these tools provides a distinct advantage when attempting to capture student thinking that can be archived and revisited.  Student video reflections can be created with Chromebook-friendly screencasting tools such as Screencastify or Loom and can then easily be embedded into a set of Google Slides or directly into a Google Site digital portfolio.

(Student’s in Mrs. Heim’s class are contributing to their digital portfolios)

Digital Travel Plans:

Student’s in Greg Keohan’s 6th-grade geography class are completing a “Travel Adventure Project” where they are using multiple Google tools to research and plan a trip to a foreign country.  Through a combination of Google My Maps, Google Flights, Google Earth and Google Drive, students are investigating and compiling their research on all aspects of their proposed journey.  Google My Maps provides a distinct advantage for student creation because it not only allows for students to drop pins on a Google map to document their travel adventure, but they can also customize the content of each pin and even collaborate with other students when creating.  From including research around the beauty, history, culture and geography, Google tools are the technology foundation to make the project possible.  The ultimate goal is to empower students to develop the skill and ability of planning a trip using technology in an effort to truly appreciate the geography and culture of their selected destination.

My Maps Video Tutorial

Collaborative Data Collection in Science:

In the biology classes at Medfield High School, students are collaborating on cross-class data collection using Google Sheets. Over a fourteen-day cycle, students conducted measurements of the impact of different concentrations of fertilizer on height and percent increase in mass on Brassica rapa plants.  With approximately 200 students collecting data from 11 different classes on one Google Sheet, there is a richer data set for students to work with.  Once the data is collected, privacy settings are switched to “view only” for students, and they copy any necessary data to their own lab group spreadsheet.  Finally, students create appropriate graphs and charts which become a component of their lab report.

(Students in Cynthia Bloom’s class collaborating on data collection)

(Collaborative data collection being displayed live in class.)

Lessons Learned:

There are two common threads amongst the three examples outlined: student voice and collaboration.  Student’s voice is being addressed specifically in video reflections through digital portfolios, through choice to satisfy project requirements through independent choice, and via group discussion based on data collection.  There is a sense of ownership in the work and student’s voice is a major contributing factor to the meaningful use of technology, G Suite, and Chromebooks.  Collaboration is on display In the science example, where the level of collaboration is explicit in the form of data collection.  Collaboration is also evident in the first two examples and presents itself in unique ways.  Student ownership of work via video reflections will ultimately lead to student-led conferences which will require a high level of collaboration between student and teacher.  While not as overt as collaborative data collection, the impact of this level of collaborative feedback and assessment of student understanding is powerful.  While the overt purpose of the blog post is to highlight the effective use of G Suite and Chromebooks, the underlying objective is to shine a spotlight on a truly meaningful use of these tools in a way that facilitates a need, goal, and objective that is ultimately bigger than the platform and devices themselves.

EdTechTeacher is a Google Certified PD Partner that provides year-long professional development courses around the use of G Suite and Chromebooks to schools and districts across the country.  With a team of Google Certified Trainers and former classroom teachers on our team, we focus on practical, innovative and transformative uses of technology in the classroom to support student engagement, collaboration, and creativity.  To learn more about how EdTechTeacher can support the thoughtful use of technology in your school, explore the various year-long professional development courses we offer.

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