Tag Archives: States

Georgia schools revamp old processes and innovate using Google for Education

Editor's note: Georgia schools are seeing great success with Google for Education. We talked to educators and administrators in Georgia to reflect on how technology has helped them innovate and create more efficient processes. From creating more efficient ways for parents to pick their children up from school, to enabling more efficient coaching on the baseball field, technology has improved the student, teacher and parent experience across the state. To learn more about Google solutions for education, join us for a Hangout on Air focused on the next phase of content in the classroom on February 23rd at 2pm ET / 11am PT.

Many schools are replacing former processes with more efficient ways to personalize learning and provide students with the skills to be successful. That level of innovation requires teachers and staff to think about how they can use technology in new ways. Schools in Georgia are using Google Apps for Education to drive innovation in small areas that ultimately inspire new ways of thinking across the district. We’d like to shed light on how schools have transformed their old processes using technology.

Transforming lectures into project-based learning 

Old: For many students, elementary and high school involves listening to a teacher lecture, reading a textbook and taking tests. This common approach to learning leaves out the interactive elements that often help students learn best.

New: The Center for Design and Technology, a project-based STEM program at Lanier High School in Gwinnett County, gives students real-life experiences to apply the skills they’ve learned. Every student works on six team projects per year, and every team creates a website using Google Sites, with links to Google Docs, Sheet and Slides used for team planning and collaboration. “Google Apps helps students learn communication skills, collaborate with teammates and think creatively,” says Mike Reilly, technology teacher at Lanier High School.

The program has helped teachers and students learn outside of the classroom and expand the skills they’re most interested in developing. For example, a team of four students worked with video editor Walter Biscardi to create a 3D model of a disease spread by flies, which appeared in the PBS movie “Dark Forest Black Fly.” They shared ideas in virtual brainstorming sessions via Google Hangouts and collaborated in real time using Google Docs.

Bringing instant communication to an ineffective system 

Old: Picking up students from school is often a slow, disorganized process since schools often have thousands of students to manage and communication isn’t always the smoothest between all staff involved.

New: At Forsyth County Schools (case study), teachers and staff are using Google Apps beyond the classroom to help make the after-school pick-up queue more efficient. In the past, parking lot attendants who escort students to their cars and cafeteria attendants who supervise students didn’t have clear lines of communication. The principal turned to Google Sheets as the solution to increase communication.

All students are assigned a number in a shared spreadsheet. When a parent picks up her child, she displays the student’s number on the windshield, and the parking attendant uses a tablet to flag on the screen in the cafeteria that it’s time for the student to go to the pick-up area. Introducing new technology improved real-time communication and inspired teachers districtwide to talk about innovative ways to use Google Apps to improve processes.

Creating a more streamlined, collaborative process both in the classroom and out on the field 

Old: Monitoring and recording sports team performance can be a time-consuming and tedious process when it’s done the old-fashioned way with a notebook and pencil.

New: With Google for Education tools, coaches at Jeff Davis County Schools (case study) can record and keep track of the high school baseball team’s pitch speeds and number of pitches to make sure a pitcher isn’t throwing too many pitches. A member of the tech staff reads the pitch speed from a radar gun and enters the number into a Google Sheet using a Chromebook. Another Chromebook is connected to a TV in the dugout, so the coaches can monitor the speed and number of pitches thrown. With the sharing feature, the tech staff and coaches are able to view the same information that’s being edited in real time.

Coaches now have more information to make more informed decisions about their players. “If a pitcher has thrown too many pitches or hit pitch speed begins to decrease, the coach can determine if the pitcher needs to be taken out of the game and a relief is sent in,” says Keith Osburn, technology and special programs director at Jeff Davis County Schools.
Coach at Jeff Davis keeping track of pitch speeds on a Chromebook

Schools are continuing to reinvent old processes to provide students with a 21st century education. Check out more inspirational stories from schools.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ll head next. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.

Illinois admins share 5 tips for rolling out Google for Education tools

Editor's note: Schools across Illinois are seeing great success with Google for Education. To highlight some of their achievements, we’re featuring Chicago Public Schools, Community Consolidated School District 59 and Waukegan Public Schools. To learn more about Google solutions for Education, join us for a webinar on January 28th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT.

There isn’t a playbook on how to introduce new technologies and online tools in the classroom, but we know that admins and teachers often learn the most from talking to each other. We recently spoke with instructional technology administrators and superintendents in Illinois who use Google for Education tools. Here, they share their recommendations for everything from rolling out hundreds of devices to introducing a new solution to thousands of students and teachers: 

1. Get teachers involved 

Whether teachers help evaluate technology solutions or introduce new tools, getting their buy-in can reduce the strain and resources required from IT. Community Consolidated School District 59 (CCSD 59) wanted to increase literacy, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, but didn’t yet have the right solution in place. The district formed a technology committee of staff from every school to lead its “Innovative Learning Implementation Timeline” and decide how to use technology to amplify learning. When teachers are involved, they can make sure technology and policies are designed to make planning lessons, providing feedback and collaborating more powerful and effective for all learners. Technology adoption will spread like wildfire once they see how it benefits both students and staff.

The educational technology team at Waukegan Public Schools took a similar approach. After the schools introduced Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks, “Lighthouse Lead Learners” were identified at each building to help with professional learning at the building and district levels. “Since the instructional technology staff can’t be at every school all the time, this group of teachers is instrumental to making sure teachers and students get the support they need,” says Mary Mlinar-Stephens, Director of Educational Technology Innovation at Waukegan Public Schools.

2. Let students choose 

Students are more excited to learn when they get to choose how they learn. When CCSD 59 introduced new devices, they gave students the opportunity to use Chromebooks and Android tablets, since each device has different strengths. “We saw the potential of creating a 2:1 program, where students could choose the tools they need, depending on the learning experience,” says Benjamin Grey, Assistant Superintendent for Innovative Learning and Communication at CCSD 59. Watch this video to see how CCSD 59 is using technology to amplify student’s ability to learn.
Schools don’t need to offer students two devices to put this idea into action. Provide students different ways to learn, for example, by letting them choose between a video, slideshow or article. Says Anne Truger, Director of Educational Technology Innovation at Waukegan Public Schools, “Students are paving their own learning path and are choosing the resources that help them learn best.”

3. Look at the district’s culture 

Introducing new tools poses an opportunity for schools to look at organizational culture. Ask admins, board members and teachers what they think the district stands for, and use technology to address those cultural goals. With Google Apps for Education, Chicago Public Schools (case study) created a more collaborative environment across the organization. “By leveraging Google for Education tools, we created a culture of collaboration, open communication and transparency,” says Margaret Hahn, Director of Technology Change Management at Chicago Public Schools.

Jennie Magiera, a Google Certified Innovator, formerly a CPS teacher and now the CIO of a neighboring Illinois district, embodies a spirit of sharing and collaboration. In her Education on Air keynote, she discusses tangible steps to empower students to help transform classroom culture. Jennie and many other CPS educators participate in trainings at peer schools and speak at conferences like Education on Air to share their expertise.

4. Provide technology professional development for teachers

Technology opens new doors for teachers to be innovative and cater lesson plans to different learning styles, but many teachers don’t know about all of the opportunities. Chicago Public Schools organized and hosted a two-day professional development event, Googlepalooza, which featured more than 200 workshops for teachers to learn more about Google for Education tools.

After the free summit, teachers introduced new tools to engage students and collaborate with peers outside the classroom. For example, a civics class used Hangouts to connect with a class in North Carolina and engage in a debate on the civil war. Another teacher incorporated Google Draw in her lesson plan to cater to students who prefer to express their ideas in artistic form. When teachers have the opportunity to learn and practice using new tools, they see even more ways to take their use of technology in the classroom to the next level.
CPS Educators demoing Google Expeditions at Googlepalooza

5. Be patient 

Many schools expect teachers and students to embrace new tools the week they’re adopted, but often it takes months or even years. Getting used to a new way of teaching and learning takes time, and it’s important all stakeholders know that impact can’t be seen overnight. “Explain to boards and superintendents that this is a process,” Grey says. “Don’t expect everything to change in two months. And support your staff on this point  they need to know you’re not keeping score.”

Ross Vittore, Director of Innovative Learning at CCSD 59, captures these schools’ sentiment when he says: “Don’t adopt technology for technology’s sake. You want to create an environment for 21st-century instruction.”

Check out more schools’ stories and join us for a webinar on January 28th at 3pm ET / 12pm PT.

We’ve heard great stories from many of you about how you’re using technology to do amazing things in your schools, so we're going across the U.S. to see for ourselves! Check out the map below to see where we’ve been. We’d love to hear what’s happening in your state, so please share your story on Twitter or Google+ and tag us (@GoogleForEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.