After hearing that one of our primary schools has moved completely away from Microsoft, no servers, no Windows, no Word or Excel or Powerpoint, I was very interested to go and have a look. This ‘new’ way of working is so simple and easy to use, that all staff and children have embraced it. We are talking about Google Classroom.

Each child is given a low cost Chromebook (roughly cheaper than an iPad) and their own gmail address. Each morning they log in and check their email, and see if their teacher has assigned them any work. The morning that I was there to observe one class had a writing task to complete, that the teacher had shared with the class using Google Classroom, and the children were to work on this using Google Docs. At various points throughout the lesson the children accessed their writing partners work, and made comments towards the learning objectives. This effective feedback is all tracked, so the teacher can view any changes made after the comments by other children. The teacher can also give feedback from their own computer, and see what each child is doing as they type. The teacher is able to highlight and edit their work, giving them praise and providing next steps.

This writing session was completely different to one that I had seen before, and the ability to provide instant feedback meant the children had a real purpose for writing. The teacher was then able to take all the pieces of writing home, without carrying huge amounts of exercise books, and without the need to break out numerous different highlighters while marking their work.

Going completely Google is a very brave thing to do, but using Google Classroom with your class is simple and effective, not just for writing, but to fully engage your class and even their parents, as children can log in at any point during the day to make changes, changes are tracked so the teacher can see what was done in school and what was done at home.

Have a look at the video below from Google, and think about giving it a try. For more information, or assistance with setting up Google Classroom in your school, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Johnathon Martin