Google Sites has recently had a complete overhaul and is now available for everyone in our Highland domain.
Google Sites is essentially a drag-and-drop website builder for creating websites. You can easily insert documents from Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and the rest of the G Suite tools into any site. The new sites now also allows multiple users to collaboratively edit a site (using the same tech the company also uses in Google Docs). Some schools have used Google Sites to explore ePortfolios.
Admins can choose whether users are able to publish to the web or only able to make their pages available to users on their own domain. Explore Google Sites further by searching on YouTube for 'New Google Sites tutorials'.
I would like to give you an overview of how using digital technology allowed me to cut my assessment and marking workload and spend more time creating engaging lessons and teaching my classes.
I am a teacher of Computing Science and before you think, ‘he is an expert and this won't apply to me’ please take the time to read this and reflect on how this could improve your practice as the tools I mention are very simple to use and could potentially save you time.
Bill Gates said, “whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it”. I liked the idea that there must be an easier way to tackle the issue on workload and I will happily admit that I can be lazy. Before any backlash, I am not portraying teachers as lazy people. My point is that I believe if we equip educators with the skills, confidence and knowledge to know when and how digital technology can be used to enhance our learning and teaching, then it will allow us to exploit these skills to improve our practice - as I have.
I looked at many different online assessment tools that would allow me to assign homework and be able to carry out in class tests electronically. I decided the best tool for assigning homework was Google Classroom and making use of Google Forms. Google Forms is an online tool that allows you to create assessments/quizzes/homework and the computer will automatically mark them for you. I used a mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions for tests and homework. Multiple choice questions are marked instantly saving me an enormous amount of time and gives pupils instant feedback. When creating the assessment/quiz you just select the correct answer, so the computer knows this and will be able to mark this automatically.
Short answer questions submitted electronically gave me a significant time saving as well. Answers are returned to the teacher in an organised spreadsheet with all pupils answers. I’m sure we all know the hassle when marking prelims of moving papers around and looking back and forth at the marking scheme. When the answers are in a spreadsheet the question is at the top of the document and every answer for that specific question is organised underneath it. This allowed me to quickly work your way down the answers and mark them correct or not.
Another tool that is very similar to Google Forms is Socrative. I used Socrative for in-class tests to gauge pupil understanding on certain units of work. One benefit I found with Socrative compared with Google Forms is that learners do not get to keep a copy of your questions which was beneficial for class tests. Socrative allows questions to be asked in a random order which was useful so that pupils sitting close to each other did not see the same question simultaneously. Socrative works by pupils entering a room code and the teacher assigns an assessment to all pupils in that ‘room’. When I used this for class tests it allows me to see in real time the answers pupils give on my teacher device. Having a holistic view of the class results allowed me to quickly identify questions pupils were struggling with and needed more clarification on. Feedback from pupils was tremendous and with instant or significantly quicker feedback they told me they preferred doing homework and assessments electronically.
Another great assessment tool that I have used with junior classes and shown to primary colleagues is Kahoot. This is an online assessment tool which has millions of already created assessments/quizzes/games that you can use with classes. I ran training on Kahoot with teachers of all curricular areas and they were able to find an assessment they could use with class. Again, this potentially could be a time saver.
Another great benefit of using electronic assessment tools is the fact you have them available whenever you need them. For revision purposes, I would run the old class tests in Socrative using the 'Space Race' feature. This feature allows groups of pupils to work as a team and race against each other to complete the questions. As the pupils work through the questions their progress was shown live on the smart board. Pupils really enjoyed this and I found it made revision engaging and competitive. Usually, pupils would say to me they found revision boring but this was the first time I had pupils asking if they could do an old test again to try and beat their peers.
To come back to the Bill Gates quote about finding an easy way to do something difficult. I found using digital technology cut my marking workload and at the same time enhanced my learning and teaching. Having the assessments stored online saved me time from the admin of printing out tests, filing them away into folders and storing them somewhere. Tools such as Google Forms is incredibly powerful and I challenge you to think differently about how you gather information from pupils, staff and parents. Think about subject choice forms, parents night sign up, clubs and extracurricular event sign up and one great example recently has been permission slips. Google Forms allows users to attach a photo or document using the ‘File Upload’ option. Could this be used to return a parent/carer signed permission slip taken with the pupils/parents smartphone?
I really hope that reading this has given you some motivation to explore Socrative, Kahoot and Google Forms to see how it could cut your workload and allow you to spend more time on teaching. All of the resources mentioned are completely free and I would recommend you signing up using your Highland Google account.
Sutori is a great way to create and share your story. In a few clicks you can add any type of media to your story and create with your friends and colleagues in real-time. All stories can be shared and embedded onto any website or blog.
Whether to present a Shakespeare play, or write a visual essay, whether to introduce graphing rational functions or demonstrate the nature of science, more and more educators are using HSTRY as a presentation tool to better engage their students.
We also noticed users have used HSTRY to tell other stories - from travel logs to a blossoming romance. Businesses have also adopted the tool and have created product roadmaps,onboarded clients and shared their team strategies.
Video below shows how to get going with Sutori. Note that Sutori used to be called HSTRY but has been rebranded.
As a class we use Quizlet a lot to practice vocabulary. It's a great interactive tool that allows pupils to compete against one another and against other classes on the leaderboard. As a class teacher I can see how much progress each pupil has made on the individual activities. I takes minutes to create a foreign language game and it's easy to add photos too.
Quizlet live is the activity that we tried last week just to change things up. It takes the same vocabulary list that you've already created and makes it into a team work game. The class is divided up into teams so they have to get up and join their randomly assigned team mates. When each question comes up only one person in the team has the correct answer so they all have to help each other out. On the board I can see the progress of each time like a horse race, the first team to get to 12 points is the winner but if 1 person answers 1 question wrong the team goes back to 0 points!
It got very loud but the pupils loved it, in one lesson we played it 4 times and they would have kept going if I'd let them. I even used it as a teaching tool with the senior pupils and since the programme chose the teams there was no bias from me as a classroom teacher about who was teamed up together. It was great to see Quizlet being used as a team tool instead of as an individual activity.
Thanks to Joy at Kingussie High School for sharing.
A quick intro presentation to highlight how digital technology can enhance learning and teaching, the tools available in GSuite for Education, rollout info and where to get access to support.
Computing Science and Digital Literacy are a growing focus across Scottish education with HGIOS 4 and completely revamped E’s and O’s being published in the new year.
The global initiative the Hour of Code is coming up the week of the 5th of December so we felt this was a good time to promote the work done so far on Computing Science across the region. Within seconds any age pupils can be doing fun but valid programming activities online no matter their prior experience using systems like Code.org. There is also a new free initiative being pushed by Education Scotland called Barefoot Computing that even has lesson plans to teach Computational Thinking “unplugged” without the need of devices.
We now have a specific Computing Science and Digital Literacy Site tile on the Highland section of Glow. It has definitions of the keywords that appear in HGIOS 4 QI 3.3 – Computing Science, Computational Thinking and Digital Literacy and short starter packs with video tutorials to help any teachers do some Computing Science. In Term 4 we hope to offer a hands-on Computing Science CPD day in different areas of Highland for Primary colleagues and any interested Secondary colleagues from any subject.
Any questions or queries contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Work has begun on our Makerspace at Inverness High School using the Inspiring Learning Fund.
What is a Makerspace?
A place where learners can come together to try new technology for learning, share knowledge, see technology in practice and develop their skills. It is a hub of positive activity in a friendly, laid back, can-do manner. The ethos is one of being creative, make things, and try to inventive, innovative, test theories and be curious!
More photos to follow as we start to get kit installed
Twitter is a fantastic source of information for educators. You can connect with colleagues, follow national announcements from Education Scotland, Scottish Government, SQA and others, take part in engaging conversations about learning and share the work of your school.
Instructions on how to set up an account can be found here.
Thanks to Charlie Love (ACC) for allowing us to adapt the document for Highland.
We have developed our own automated self-service support desk for our Highland Google setup.
This will allow staff to carry out various administrative tasks such as...
All of these operations will be completed instantly and the user who completes the form will receive an email with confirmation details.
For Highland staff to access this you have to be logged in to the Chrome browser using your Highland Google account (watch the 'Sign into Chrome' video if you are unsure how to do this).
You should see a Highland Bookmarks option on Google Chrome. Inside that is a link to the 'Google Self-Service Support Desk'. From there follow the instructions and when complete click to open GMail.
The Digital Learning Team will add news or examples of good practice on here so keep checking back for up to date info.