Note: this is the first article about my experience implementing Google Drive. The second article following on from this is using Google Sheets for Primary Maths

We're in the process of moving the children at school onto Google Drive instead of storing all of their work on the local network. The benefits are that the children can collaborate together on projects, they can store work created on ipads on their drive and I can mark their work from anywhere at any time :) They can create a digital portfolio of their work which they can share with their parents/carers.

I've put together the steps that we have taken so far to get this up and running, along with our experiences of things that have worked/need improving.

Background

The school already uses Google for Education for the staff. We have a shared calendar and the staff have their own Google Drive/Gmail accounts. We decided just to allow the children access to Google Drive and Google Sites initially. (The Google Sites is for them to create their own websites, only viewable when logged in with a school Google account.) We may move them onto email in the future, but not at this moment.

Setting up the children's accounts

The first step was to set up a Google Account for each child. We started with Years 5 and 6 and the plan is to roll it down the school to years 4,3,2 and 1 in that order. We used the year that the child entered into the school, first name and last name for their login. For example, 09FredSmith@myschool.co.uk. We allocated them all the same password and then I created a Google Sheet to store their names and passwords in which I shared with the staff using the Google Drive share facility.

On first login, the children changed their passwords. They then came across to me, told me their new password and I updated the Google Sheets username document. This was quite time consuming and laborious but it allowed the children to personalise their experience a little. The main problem was entering their login details correctly (we need to look at a way to simplify this.)

Setting up the folder structure

Next the children set up their own folder structure. They started with the year group that they are currently in (eg. Y5). Inside that folder they created a Literacy folder. ie. Y5 -> Literacy. The idea is that as they progress through the school, they will have a folder for every year that they've been in, which contains all their work for all of their subjects.

Sharing the children's work

Each child then shared the Y5 folder with me. That means that I can see all of their work, and can comment on and mark it. I simply choose a child from the "Shared with me" link and then choose the files that I want to view.

Sharing templates with the children

Next, I created a Google Docs file as a template for their writing and shared it with each child. For the first time, my template only had a date and learning objective but, as Google Docs has similar functionality to MS Word, it can contain anything.

I then shared the Google Docs file with each child. I did this by cutting and pasting the children's login details from the Google Sheets into the share box.

The children then created a copy of my Google Docs file and saved it in their Literacy folder. They then proceeded to write their own Mystery Stories.

Collaborating on documents

After about 20 minutes of writing, I brought the children to the carpet and I selected a child's work (which had been shared with me earlier). I then showed them how to comment on their work using the comment function. We had a conversation about how to do this appropriately. The children then went back to their computers and shared and commented on each other's work.

I then marked the final piece of work using the "tickled pink and green for growth" method. I found two positive things and changed the font colour to pink and one thing that needed improving and changed its font colour to green. At the bottom of the piece of work, I then summed up my comments in pink and green.

Using Google Drive at home

The children are only allowed to view documents that they create at school outside of school. They are not allowed to make changes at home. All changes are tracked so we can see manage this. However they do have a homework folder, and any work they create at home (such as optional homework) is stored in there. We were intially concerned about children deleting work by mistake but their trash is saved for 30 days so it can be retrieved.

Things to do

There are many opportunities for this technology and here is my current To Do list:

  • Find a way to simplify login - maybe by having an allocated computer that stores their login details
  • Allow the children to change their avatar image
  • Find a way of doing maths on the ipads and then upload their work to Google Drive
  • Add a text to voice plugin to allow them to listen to their own work

The more we use Google Drive, the more opportunities we can see for it in the classroom.

Positive experiences

Although it has been time consuming to plan and set up, the experience has been very positive. The children love the idea of having all their work in one place and keep coming up with ways in which we can digitize all their work and store it in Google Drive. Parents also love seeing their children's work every day - not just once a term, at parent's evening!


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Gary Hall Gary Hall is based in East Yorkshire, England, and has a background in education, marketing and technology. This site is a collection of ideas and resources on these topics.