Since the last time I wrote about using Google Drive in the primary (elementary) classroom, things have moved on - as they always do in education ;) We've made improvements to the login system that the children use, have done lots of collaborative writing in literacy using Google Docs, have set avatars up for the children, made presentations with Google Slides and have started to use Google Sheets for practising basic operations in maths. The great thing about Google Drive is that the children can go home and show their parents what they've done at school today.
Google Sheets for Maths
One of my colleagues showed me a really cool way to use Google Sheets last week with short division. She'd set up a sheet which she shared with a group of children. The sheet had tabs at the bottom for each child's name and contained numerous dvision sums for year 3 children. The children simply filled in the sums on their sheets and then, when they'd finished, the teacher was able to look through them and mark them in front of the children.
The sheets looked like this, with spaces for the digits on the top and the digits that were carried too:
There's no reason why this approach can't be used with all the maths operations too - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - even numberlines can be drawn and manipulated.
We've also used Google sheets for working out the distances between cities (for understanding measure using Google maps) and data handling; both reading and creating graphs and charts based on different learning objectives.
Making Google Drive easier and more fun
As I mentioned earlier, we've also made some other improvements to the setup at our primary school to make things easier and more fun for pupils to use Google Drive.Google needs each individual to log in with their school domain (e.g. email@example.com) which is a little difficult for primary school children. With this in mind, we've tried to simplify things as much as possible. Instead of logging in with year of entry into the school, firstname, second name we've simplified each child's login to year of entry to the school and initial so now they login as firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, we've assigned computers to each pupil so that their login details are saved and they only need to remember their passwords. We've modified their passwords too, ma king them the same as for other systems, including our primary assessment tool.
We've also added avatars for each child which the children love as they can see each other's faces when they collaborate. We did this by using an online app called Face Your Manga which allows children to create avatars. They then printed the screen, pasted it into paint.net and I uploaded them to Google Drive using the admin account.
Using Google Docs for collaborative writing
As well as using Google Sheets for maths, we've also been doing a lot of collaborative writing using Google Drive. I do this by splitting the children into groups and then sharing a specific document with each group. The document is broken up into sections and each section clearly identifies where each child is to write. (If you don't identify where each child needs to write it can be chaotic as they're all typing in the same place.) The children then all start typing at the same time, collaborating with each other on chat. I then keep bringing different groups to the carpet, looking through their work and making suggestions (using the comment tool) for how it can be improved. I was observed doing this recently by the local authority and was told "I'm completely blown away - I've never seen anything like that before!"
Using Google Sheets for presentations
Lastly, I just wanted to mention Google Slides as we now use this instead of Microsoft Powerpoint to create presentations. The benefit of using Google Slides is that the children can collaborate on a presentation, and when they're done it can be shown on the school website (for some) and to parents (for all) at home.