Resolving a Struggle with Google

For months, I have been searching for a way to ensure my students have been doing thier homework without having to take in copious amounts of paper.  Google Forms has come to my rescue!

Photo by Liz Halina CC-BY-NC-ND

Photo by Liz Halina CC-BY-NC-ND

Not only can I send all of my students the concept questions via Google Form, their answers are convieniently placed on a Google Sheet with a date/time stamp for me to see when they completed the assignment.

Three key pieces of information were quickly determined: some students did NOT do thier work (nothing but blank where their response should have been); some students were completing their work after midnight (clearly a problem with getting adequate rest and balance); and misconceptions were easilty identified.

The more I use Google Apps for Educators, the more practical applications I can see for my students, my department, and myself for constructing meaning and communication.  Next week during our professional development afternoon, I will give my department a demonstration of a site that I constructed and how I am using it in class.  #excited


Google Drive

How did I make it through Coetail and not know some of these features of Google Drive? Imbedding a Doc right into a blog post so everyone can see?  Who knew?  Not me.  I tried imbedding  course outline on a page on this blog, and while a tad on the ugly side (could be the theme’s fault – couldn’t be mine, of course!) it’s there!

I am only using Google Drive with my physics class (as opposed to all of my classes) and the students are all brand new to using Google beyond searching and email, which I am sure most users are familiar with. So far, I’m the owner of all the documents we have been using as the class learns to collaborate and add to the docs.

This week, the students are required to hand in a lab report by creating and sharing a doc with me for commenting only. Its a start, but I am hopeful that the students will eventually create and share thier own docs with each other. Each time I do part of a unit, I plan on teaching the students another feature to gradually scaffold them into independent use of Google Drive.

Baby steps – for both me and the students!

Searching for Something

I thought I knew how to search Google for something. Meaning searching and locating information.  Meaning finding meaningful information.  Meaning doing it efficiently.  Meaning searching effectively.

After reading Jeff Utecht’s article “Why K-12 schools are failing by not teaching SEARCH“, and watching several of the videos from Google’s “Power Searching“, I started asking questions.  Am I a good searcher?  Do I ask good questions?  How do I go about researching information?  If I am not searching efficiently or effectively, how are my students searching?  Am I failing my students by not teaching them search?  How do my students go about searching?

I can be doing better.  I managed to get through the Coetail program without really thinking about how I search.  How was that possible?  Perhaps I am so used to doing things in one way and  got really good at doing it that way.  But to learn and grow, we need to add new information and ways of doing to the old information and ways of doing.

One of my goals for my Physics class is to do a research project.  I now know I should spend time with them learning how to search effectively and efficiently to scaffold them in beginning their project.

What now?  Learn to search more effectively and efficiently and share those skills with my students.  Share tips and tricks and knowledge so we can all find what we are looking for.

GAFE Class, Day 2

In the past hour, I have learned more about Google Chrome than I have in the past… well, forever.  Thanks to one simple, little 12 minute video.

So far, the GAFE class has opened my mind to a new way to manage my online browsing and use of apps, and it’s only been two days.  Where the Coetail program left off, the GAFE class is taking over.  I can’t wait for my week of professional development next week to “play” with all these new (to me) ideas.

I am excited to learn and share, to hopefully help my students broaden their learning to the online, global world.

Now if only the Olympics weren’t on, I could maybe get some work done! (Go Team Canada!)


I’m super excited to start another university course, especially one that has to do with integrating technology in the classroom.  Ever since learning about the GAFE class (that’s Google Apps For Educators) I’ve wanted to take it.  Well, the time for me to do it has arrived.  Yikes!  What have I done?!

Yikes in a good way though! It just means a lot of work in addition to the mountains I already have.  Next week, I have five days to complete professional development and guess what I will be doing?  Google-ing my butt off!  Learning how to use these amazing apps to help not only me, but my students develop their knowledge and skills.  Nothing better than a challenge to inspire growth.

I’m excited as this semester offers some challenges for my grade 12 Physics students.  A week of PD for teachers, Arctic Winter Games for some of my students in Alaska, two weeks of spring break, and I’m willing to bet, an Arctic snowstorm or two,  this semester is full of interruptions.  I’m hoping Google Apps can help offset all the time off we have this semester.  With a massively challenging Provincial Diploma exam looming in the distance, we can use all the help we can get.

Using Google has helped me communicate to my students my expectations, communicate assignments and due dates, collaborate with the entire class, and provide video examples of physics when I don’t have the resources to provide them with a lab, and to search for supporting information.  I can’t wait to see how the course can help me streamline this process.

Let the Google-ing begin!

I think I’m Becoming a Physics Teacher!

We are one week into our new semester and I’ve begun teaching another new Physics class: Physics 30.  A grade 12 course with an Alberta Diploma exam at the end, there is a lot riding on this course for some of my students who want to get into university.  thankfully, I’m staying ahead, creating solutions keys, locating links, and posting it all in my Google Drive and blog.  The students can have access to my notes anytime and the are expected to contribute and collaborate, not just consume.  Wish me (and my students) luck!