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February 14, 2013

Google: Going the Extra Mile

I recently connected with Ann Bevan H., a middle school leader at a great school in Chestnut Hill, MA. She let me in on how her school takes Google usage to a whole new level. What Beaver Country Day School thinks is so cool about technology is the way it is used to support teaching and learning outcomes—and the “togetherness” aspect is a nifty side benefit. Isn’t that how it should be? Being Together is not the ultimate outcome; getting good results with students is where it is at. . .

Now onto some neat tricks used at Beaver. . . I see PLENTY of schools use a school-wide Google (or Outlook) calendar, but oftentimes, it’s not viewed, not used and / or not kept current. But that’s not the case at Ann Bevan’s school. Why?

She named three Googlicious practices:

  • Digital school-wide faculty calendar? Keep it current and incentivize usage. If you keep a school-wide calendar electronically, be sure to push it out regularly. Ann Bevan sends an email every Friday to all faculty with a link to the middle school site. Teachers want to click because she summarizes the upcoming week. Better yet, Ann Bevan doesn’t have to create yet another document and her consistent email reminds folks where to find the information they need.

Faculty Shared Calendar

  • Student assignments? Keep them all in one place! Okay, we’re kind of drooling at this one. Check out this middle school student’s Google calendar with all of her assignments in ONE PLACE! To keep this system up and running, each teacher maintains a Google calendar of his/her class assignments. Students have access to each of their teacher’s calendars. Teachers are required to post all assignments by Monday for the week ahead. At any point, this student can check her Google calendar and see everything coming her way. Bonus: if they wanted, her PARENTS could check it too! Double bonus: This student also uses Google Tasks to stay organized.

Student Calendar

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*We know access to technology varies heavily per school and this is often an equity issue. At this school, all students have laptops and regular Internet access.

  •  Managing Multiple Digital Calendars? Check and uncheck as you wish! This 6th and 7th grade teacher keeps her entire calendar in Google. You can see her class schedule, duties, and preps. Additionally, as she needs to see more or less information, she can check or uncheck the Assignment Calendars, the all-school calendars, and the other calendars listed on the left-hand side of the screen. This lets her ingest just the right amount of information she needs at any one time.

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Wow! Thank you so much to Ann Bevan, and the whole Beaver community, for sharing how you use Google to be even more efficient. We know this gives you more time to focus on the key issue—student learning—and less time to spend tracking deadlines, searching for emails, or reminding students about assignments. Love it!

Together Teacher Discussion Question: What ways has your school used Google to communicate, share information, and align with students?

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