Though I have been using Google products in my language arts classroom since 2006, this is the first year that ALL of my students are starting the school year with their own Google Apps accounts. This means that we can get started using Google right away to complete the all-important tasks of setting goals, reflecting, and self-directing student learning.

First of all, the students will become familiar with Google apps – and just how intuitive and easy-to-use they are – as they utilize Google Drive for all of their compositions.  To get the ball rolling and to set the example for them, I’ve created – or updated – all of my handouts through Google Drive this year, and I’m sharing them electronically with my students as links on my classroom blog.  By accessing my materials through Google Drive, students will see the layout and get a good idea for what they can do within Google Docs.

Also, we are using Google Sites to create student-managed, electronic, customizable, free portfolios.  These portfolios will house examples of their work from each of our units of study, the goals they set for themselves, their reflections as they make progress toward achieving those goals, data from all sources of assessment from throughout the year, and other artifacts that pertain to this work.  We already have the first few features set up, and as we get further into our curriculum, we will set up and add to the rest of it.

After each unit of study, the students will also use their portfolios as they practice their presentation skills.  Students will present their work – as well as how it connects to their future work and the world in which they live – at the end of each unit.

We will also be utilizing Google Reader as we delve further into our independent reading, so that students can customize and individualize the reading material available to each of them.  Students will self-select the blogs which they would like to follow and read on a regular basis.

There are tons of other ways we are already utilizing our Google accounts this year (Groups, BrainPop, Images, Forms, etc.), but Drive, Sites, and Reader are the ones I plan to focus on most here on the blog.

I am so happy to say that the first few days of school have been a great success, the portfolios already look fabulous in their initial stages, the students are enthusiastic, and I am excited to see just what they will be able to create with these amazing Google tools this year.

What did YOU do in school today?  

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