Using G Suite for Education to Capture the Whole Learner
Authentic Pedagogical Documentation
When we discuss pedagogical documentation we immediately think of capturing a child’s learning through photos, videos, audio and anecdotal notes. This documentation is then looked at, discussed between teacher and maybe posted on a blog or around the classroom somewhere. What educators often forget is the next two important phases of this process. We need to remember to move beyond the “observation” phase into the “document” and “interpretation” phases. Phase 2 of this process asks educators to not only individually reflect on the child’s learning, but to bring the learning back to the child to co-reflect and co-construct new learning with that child. Phase 3 is one step that educators often forget or leave out of their own process. This phase is asking educators to look beyond their reflection and the student’s reflection on the learning by tapping into outside voices or other stakeholders. This brings more insight and different perspectives to the child’s thinking, learning and to help create next steps for the student. With the demands of the classroom and of education as a whole bearing down on the everyday educator, I asked myself, is there an easy to use technology that could support phases 2 and 3 of pedagogical documentation? I then made the connection between Google Apps for Education and its easy to use interfaces and connective features as the way for educators to authentically go through this process.
Setting Up Google Drive As Your Digital Filing Cabinet
The next step in my learning journey was harnessing the storage capabilities of Google Drive to act as my digital filing cabinet. A week later I actually asked the school’s custodian to remove my old, falling apart and clunky filing cabinets from my room. The storage features of Drive allowed me to have a place to organize and put all of the documentation that I was collecting. Before making this leap, my own personal phone, as well as my classroom teacher iPad, was full of photos and videos. It got to the point where it was almost too daunting a task to organize all of the media. I started by creating a classroom folder. Within my classroom folder, I created a folder for each student in my class. This was great because at the end of each day, I would take a few minutes to push all of the media from my devices into their appropriate student folders on Drive.
Using Slides Or Docs As Digital Portfolios
So I realized I had managed to get myself organized. The media and documentation were in the correct folders in Drive, but how did I further organize the evidence of learning so that it was chronological, easy to understand and also space where I could add my own reflections on the student learning. I created a template within Google Docs and Google Slides, that allowed me to easily add photos into a working document where I could comment, make notes and also use a presentation tool for parents and any other stakeholders in this child’s learning journey. My goal was almost complete; I had my digital filing cabinet and I created individualized digital portfolios for each of my students. I was proud of myself because I was able to really do Phase 1 and 2 of the pedagogical documentation process successfully. However, I was still missing that final piece. Phase 3? How could I use Google Apps for Education to ensure that it was not only the student’s voice and my voice guiding the learning journey? How could I bring in many voices to reflect upon and develop next steps in learning for a child?
Connecting It All Together With Google Keep
Finally, Google Keep was the glue that truly held this vision altogether. This tool allowed me to take photos, videos, audio, and notes in real time and take those artifacts that and push them directly into the student’s folder from the interface of the app. I created a template containing assessment information and key questions for reflection that I would just “copy” and attach any media to. Once this was done, I would often record some audio onto the Google note. Another quick tip is to create “labels” in Google Keep, one of each child’s name. That way you label the correct documentation with the correct name. This makes it easy to search for all of that child’s documentation within the app itself. The final step was the one that saved so much time for me as an educator. I no longer had to sift through countless photos and drop each media item or note into the correct folder one at a time. I could just “send” all of the information from one note, directly to a child’s Google folder. This was a game changer for me as an educator and it allowed me to have more time for reflection on the child’s learning.
The Results Of This Digital Learning Journey
My journey through the 3 phases of pedagogical documentation led me down a technological journey like no other. I was able to really see the power of Google Apps for Education in regards to my own practice and my ability to “authentically” document student learning. These apps afforded me a process which eased me into the 3 phases and created a digital world where I was able to reflect, plan and provide next steps for the learners in my classroom. These apps opened up a world of new insights into each of my students by allowing me to “share” their thinking to parents, other teachers, administration and other stakeholders who began reflecting on the child’s thinking. This not only pushed me to plan differently and better for each of my students, but it also managed to benefit the most important aspect of education, the students themselves.
K-12 Learning Coach