Using Google Apps in the Classroom

Please read my full article here: The Use of Chromebooks and Google Apps in Education

There are multiple reasons why we decided to head down the Chromebook and Google App path. While I do not wish to delve into all of these, some of them include:

  • Google Docs automatically Saves – having to remind students to save their work was horrendous, let alone the fallout when documents weren’t saved when the device crashed..
  • Searchable Drive – Needless to say, even if the student saved their work, there was no telling if they saved it in the right place, or that they could find it later where they saved it. Being able to search the Docs makes this easier, as well as the fact that each student has their own drive, and does not need to save into a Class Folder on a Windows Server somewhere.
  • Comments & Editing – By sharing their work with the teacher, teachers can provide almost instant feedback, that the students are able to view and address the next time they come to work on their work, or adjust while they are working.

From the outset, I encouraged students to share their work with me through my work email address. This enabled me to check on their progress of their publishing at the end of the day. It also established an expectation and some excitement as the students rose to this new responsibility of being able to email their teacher.

During my experimentation with Google Docs, I eventually realised that you can see others editing in real time. I already knew that I could comment on a document, but this new realisation enabled me to work with James on his Maths problems. I created a very short screencast of this process as it happened. Once again, this is timely feedback, with additional support and encouragement for a learner who otherwise struggled to remain on task, let alone be motivated to work at home.

Throughout the video I have made notes as to when I used any of these acts of teaching, and by the end of the three minute clip, I realised that each and every of the seven Deliberate Acts of Teaching had been used. It made me aware that not only had I just been helping a student out with some homework, but that the process had enabled me to offer some additional teaching with sound pedagogical base. Not only that, but by the end of this online session, James had completed the worksheet, and had shown how he accurately uses different strategies to solve subtraction problems. These are what we have currently been learning in class, but now they were being practised and solidified at home.

For a long time I saw the motivation of technology to be more of a surface feature that was more bells and whistles than anything worthwhile. By seeing the value of real-time feedback, the ability to provide next steps along with examples, all completed seamlessly while checking emails at home, it is impossible to ignore this as a viable learning possibility. The potential within Google Apps is difficult to comprehend, as more and more ideas are developed and utilized within the classroom. Teachers will need to find themselves not only having to be technologically savvy, but also technologically creative in the way they are able to use technology in their classroom; not just as a gimmick or a reward for early finishers, but as the foundation for further learning in any and every curriculum area. As we continue to move into a world where technology is becoming ever more integrated into everyday life, it is only fitting that schools become a place where this is not only enhanced, but innovated, and become places where tomorrow’s citizens begin their technological journey.

Depression: When You Understand

I used to think suicide was a way to get attention. I’d threaten it to get someone, anyone, to notice me; to take me seriously.

Then I experienced it. A mate I’d spent time growing up with hung himself. His funeral still leaves an emotional scar on my heart; hundreds of young folk with an amazing outpouring of love that was unknown to him, but also too late.

It made me sad; but also figured it was an easy way out, cheap, nasty, and so unnecessary. It made me see those who end it themselves as selfish, wasteful, ungrateful, and almost ignorant as to the pain they impart on those left behind. I didn’t have much time for people like that.

Then I began fighting depression. The murky black fog that consumed my entire world suddenly made suicide a reality. Not in the sense of going out and measuring a length of rope, but in the sense that I finally understood. To me, every conceivable option to usually simple problems was way out of my reach. I could hardly see across the room, let alone deal with the next day, next week, or even contemplate how to get help or get better. It was completely crippling; physically, emotionally, mentally. But it made me see how suicide becomes the only option for some people.
>During my fight; three celebrities took their own lives within a year of each other. Charlotte Dawson, publicly ridiculed and berated; but also suffered from depression. Philip Seymour-Hoffman; one of the best character actors in my lifetime, overdosed whether on purpose or by habit, was relentlessly plagued by both addiction and depression. Both can fuel each other.

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This week the world reels in shock from the death of Robin Williams, one of the most eccentric and eclectic, yet incredibly versatile comedic actors this world has ever seen. He too was plagued by addiction as well as depression.

Each and every time I have felt more connected to these peoples fights and plights; I’ve been able to empathise on a level I never could before; because I completely understand what they must have been going through. Whilst I of all people know that every case is different, and come with different triggers, emotions, and outcomes, having experienced this I can at least understand the type of pain that afflicts them. While the rest of the world is plagued by black and white portraits and famous idyllic quotes from their acting days, I can only sit and hope that one day there will be a day where people are so much more aware of others around them, that they are able to show love, show care, show kindness in such a way that suicide is no longer the only option left for those who are troubled by these demons.

And these are just those who have made it in the public spotlight. No doubt there are countless more who have taken their own life; in this country and worldwide, in similar circumstances. It made me realise that if this can happen to the rich and famous; to those with the world at their feet, but also the ways and means to get help, then it can happen to anyone, no matter how well they think they can cope or how strong they think they are to hold it together.

It made me realise that suicide is not a selfish option. To those people at that time it is the only option. It is a reality that no one wants to face, but has become so intensely real for them that they are left with no other choice. I can no longer blame anyone for taking the easy option out through suicide; because I know what they have already endured for them to get that far gone.
It has made me realise the need for people to be more open and real with each other. There are those that want to help out there; but they can only help if they know and if they are enabled to help. There are those also who are too petrified to ask for help because it puts them in an incredibly vulnerable position of complete humility. Don’t abuse that trust if it’s given to you. If you can’t help because you too are struggling; reconsider. You will find that actually, someone who understands what you’re going through because they too are going through it can be the best help both of you will get.

Those with mental illness; We’re not dark. We just feel intensely inadequate. We’re not untouchables. We just feel out of touch with reality. We’re not scary. We just feel scared and alone. We’re not some other being. We are just human; just like you; except we’ve stood in a torrent of darkness for so long, that shadows have become our friends and the light is just another shade of black. Sure it is hard to overcome depression, but I firmly believe it is possible, I recently started learning about the benefits of CBD honey, I’ve heard of a lot of people using cannabidiol, depression is a mental trap. And it takes time and patience to rewire a depressed brain but I’m willing to do what ever it takes to get passed it.

Be a brighter shadow for us; one of flesh and blood. One of three dimensions and not a flat silhouette on the wall. Be a friend to those who need it most.

CBD oil for depression

CBD for depression

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CBD Oil Side Effects

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