Once again, we had a great discussion at our recent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning! Our focus this month was on the use of Google Calendar to keep up with assignments and projects, particularly in Middle School.
For an overview of Google Calendar (and especially the recent update with the “new look”), watch this short video:
This session was about a new process we just started in grades 6, 7, and 8, which we think will help students, teachers and parents kept track of the ongoing projects and assignments that students are working on. Basically, we have created a shared calendar for each tutor group, where teachers will record all major assignments on the due date. This means all assignments for each tutor group are recorded in one calendar! Each of these calendars are also embedded on the teachers’ blogs. Here’s an example from Ms. Cofino.
Not only is it great to be able to visit your child’s tutors’ blog to see the upcoming assignments, but you can do so much more!
Students and parents can:
- subscribe to this calendar, and have it display on their own Google Calendar, laptop or phone, and
- set up reminders by e-mail, pop-up message, or phone alarm for each individual assignment!
Last month we got started by creating a Google Account (to subscribe to teacher and student blogs through Google Reader), and we can now use this same account to subscribe to the new assignment calendars in middle school.
To subscribe to selected calendars:
- Go to the your child’s tutor’s blog on The Learning Hub
- Click on the Calendar tab along the top
- Click on the +Google Calendar button at the bottom of the embedded calendar
- Follow the steps from Google here
We are just in the initial stages of this process, and will be introducing these calendars to students in the near future. Please ask them about their assignment calendar in a few weeks and have them help you subscribe too!
In addition to our discussion about Google Calendar, we also discussed how the Connected Learning Community is going for our middle school students. A few of the key points that came up were:
- Students are learning how to collaborate effectively on their computer, often this is a support to their homework, through chatting. Although this may initially seem like casual conversation, students are regularly talking about their work, sharing tips and understandings, and helping each other stay organized.
- In the first few months of the program, students had an increased amount of homework that needed to be completed on the computer, which may have been surprising, especially to grade 6 parents. Although they are using their computer more for homework, this does not mean they are using the computer all day in school too. We use the laptops when they are needed, just like we would use a pencil and paper.
- Students are being supported in learning how to balance both on-screen and off-screen time. Students are not allowed to use their laptops at break, and may only use them at lunch in the (supervised) CLC Workroom. Our goals are to ensure that students have enough time to interact socially with their peers, and that they start developing healthy habits.
- Often when students are “playing” on the computer, it seems like they are “wasting time”, but actually, research has shown how much students are learning when they are perceived to be playing. This recent study conducted by Mimi Ito through the MITPress highlights the different types of playing, and how students are learning: Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out.
We really enjoy all of these opportunities for informal conversation with parents. Looking forward to seeing you again in March!
Our next Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning will be: Wednesday, March 7th in the Loft. We will be talking about one of our most frequently used tools here at YIS: Google Docs. Teachers and students are regularly collaborating on documents, sharing their work via collections, and publishing finished pieces on their blog. Come to this session to learn how Google Docs work, how we use them here at school and why we find them so valuable! Bring your laptop for a hands-on experience.