Try Google Classroom: A new tool for formative feedback

In education we love a fad! I’m the same! We can’t wait to try out the ‘next big thing’ and rush off and tell other teachers about it. This is perhaps even truer in the use of technology. Just take a look at the electronic white board that’s sitting in just about every classroom in the country being used as a projector.

With this in mind I’m determined to try and take a sceptical perspective on new ideas is education. However, here I want to really emphasise the potential of Google Classroom as a new tool in education that everyone should at least have a go at.

If you don’t know what Google Classroom is…

At its most basic level Google Classroom is a private webpage for your class, where you can share information and resources with your students. Sharing announcements, worksheets and videos. It is specifically designed for teachers and is very simple to use. A great tutorial can be found HERE.

However, if you want to get the full out of Google Classroom then it can be a fantastic environment for collaborative learning.

Formative Feedback?

What I really want to take a look at is how Google Classroom can enhance formative feedback.

Since the work of Black and Wiliam on Assessment for Learning, AfL has become the big buzz word in education. This has materialised in various ways. The latest incarnation of this seems to be the OFSTED push on marking.

I think that this emphasis on marking is a move in the right direction. However, realistically the traditional model of getting students to complete some work, providing feedback and then hoping they adopt that feedback  in their next piece of work, just isn’t up to scratch.

Even if DIRTy (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) feedback is given, at the end of the day this isn’t ideal as, it is coming after the students have completed their work.

So how does Google Classroom offer a solution?

What Google Classroom allows you to do is provide on-going feedback. Through creating a document which you share with students in your classroom individually you can provide feedback while they are completing this assignment. The benefit of this is that the feedback I am given is being immediately used by the students and I can see if this feedback is being implemented.

Recently I have done this with a Year 12 group. After setting up a Google Doc shared through Google Classroom students were set an exam question. As they completed this task I was able to enter their work and write comments in the same way comments can be written on word documents.

Through doing this I was able to give students personalised feedback on the content and structure of their essays. This led to their best essays by far this year and some great feedback from my students.

What else can Google Classroom do?

Rather than giving a comprehensive account of what Google Classroom can do I wanted to give you an insight into how I’ve been using it. Nonetheless, it can do a lot more.

For starters you’ve got the discussion board. There is obviously lots of ways this can be used. For my fellow History teachers the way I’m interested in using it is as a discussion board for readings students have completed to get them discuss their opinions.

Another interesting feature is that documents can be shared collaboratively. With this, students can all work on a document together. Again there are lots of ways to use this. One possible option here is to create a Wiki were students can work collaboratively to produce a summery on a topic.

A word of warning!

None of this has an impact immediately. It takes some time for this practice to become embedded so don’t give up. Set up your own Google Classroom and try out some different ideas.

Let me know what you come up with!

Further Reading:

https://historytech.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/7-ways-you-to-use-google-classroom/

http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/01/teachers-guide-on-use-of-google-sites.html

http://ditchthattextbook.com/2014/08/21/12-great-ways-to-start-using-google-classroom-now/

http://www.engadget.com/2014/05/06/google-classroom-preview/

https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6020279?hl=en&ref_topic=6020277

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