If there’s one thing that still resonates from my time at Google Teacher Academy, it’s this: teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Everything we did was collaborative and team-based. Every. Single. Thing. And while I pride myself on facilitating hands-on trainings with staff and students, the lovely folks at Google and CUE showed me that I can be doing a better job. With that in mind, when I worked with a few teachers at Lake Forest to help plan a Chromebook introduction for freshman students (all LFHS freshmea have been given Chromebooks this school year), I tried as best I could to emulate the spirit and structure of the activities from GTA. Our result was an “Amazing Race: Chromebook Style” challenge. Check it out below:
We made it as collaborative as possible and included tasks and functions that are important to the device itself: sharing files, snapping screenshots, taking and inserting pictures, and filming and uploading videos. Students also dropped pins on a shared Google Maps Engine Lite and shared their expertise via linked text (a relatively simple task, but an important skill to have). We stressed that it’s okay if you aren’t awesome at this the first time…you’ll get better. And now you know other students in your group and the class that can perform these Chromebook functions – AKA, class experts have been established from the get-go, and students know who to go to for help.
What else was cool? The teachers I worked with really liked Google Maps Engine Lite and we were soon discussing ways to integrate it into their curriculum (what an awesome added bonus). But all in all it was just so cool to watch the students working together and being 100% engaged to get things done.
So what’s next? Students received valuable practice time, they’ve identified experts amongst their peers, we’ve compiled resources for them to review if they desire a refresher, and my school has a Genius Bar-like place in the library for students to come to if they ever need help with anything tech-related. It’s a pretty nice system.
One final note: I’ve always pondered the delicious irony of professional development where someone comes in to teach about collaboration and good teaching….and then they lecture at you for 2 hours and hand you printouts of a 72 slide powerpoint.
This activity was a 180 from that sit-and-get mentality. One of the teachers I worked with brought up the same thing – and he remarked how great it was to have the students learn and practice collaboration in an activity that WAS ACTUALLY COLLABORATIVE. Seems so simple, yeah?