It’s NOT About Google, It’s About the LEARNING (ISTE Empowered Learner)
Using Google Tools to Support the ISTE Standards for Students
If you have followed this blog for very long, you know that I frequently share Google-related content. I also have a podcast with my friend Matt Miller, The Google Teacher Tribe. But despite the sometimes Google-centric ideas, I am a firm believer in a focus on learning, not tools. I have a presentation that I have been sharing across the country this year, It’s NOT About Google, It’s About the LEARNING. In this presentation, I share the new ISTE Standards for Students, which have a major focus on learning; and I share how to use Google tools to support these new standards in the classroom. It’s actually turned into quite a massive presentation and I’ve decided to turn it into a blog series.
In part one of this blog series, I will share just a few ways that you can use Google tools to support the Empowered Learner ISTE Standards for students.
Be sure and check out the other parts in this series:
ISTE Standards for Students
In 2016, the ISTE Standards for Students received a very valuable update! I think these new standards will be able to stand for several years. The focus, as mentioned above, is squarely on the learning and not on specific applications or how-to skills that change every day. Click here to see the ISTE Standards for Students.
“The new standards lead with learning by focusing on encouraging students to engage in deeper learning–to take ownership of their learning, becoming more effective learners in and outside the classroom.”
Work in concert with content area standards, but can stand alone when necessary.
“In this new iteration of the standards, the focus is squarely on LEARNING, not tools.”
Watch this AWESOME Flocabulary Video About the Standards
The 7 Strands of the ISTE Standards for Students
1. Empowered Learner
2. Digital Citizen
3. Knowledge Constructor
4. Computational Thinker
5. Innovative Designer
6. Creative Communicator
7. Global Collaborator
Part 1: Empowered Learner
“Student leverage technology to take an active role in the choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.”
– Student choice that allows students to take ownership of their learning.
– Student’s choose the learning goals they want to pursue.
– Autonomy in determining how to solve problems.
1. Student Choice of Digital Tool
Using Google Classroom is a no-brainer! Consider using Google Classroom to support student choice. Allowing students to choose a digital tool to complete their assignment gives them more ownership while helping them learn how to purposely use digital tools to demonstrate learning.
List the Choice of Tools in a Google Classroom Assignment
There are several ways to do this. Usually, I give students a few tools to choose from. These are tools that they are familiar with–tools we have used at some point during class. Using Google Classroom, you can simply add the choice to your directions and add links to the choice of tools to the Google Classroom assignment (see screenshot below). Of course, G Suite for Education gives us a wonderful toolbox to choose from, as well as providing outside tools as options. Tip: Be sure to include a rubric to help set the guidelines for the activity to ensure students are working toward learning goals and not just using technology for technology’s sake.
Students Propose Their Own Tool
One additional option you could give students is to allow them to propose their own tool outside of the provided list, that must be approved by you, the teacher.
Students Have Complete Choice of Tool(s)
Take it one step further and open this up to complete student choice. You could ask students to complete the task or assignment, “using the digital tool of their choice.” Now, I wouldn’t do this on day one. This is something you have to work up to so that students have their own digital toolbox of ideas. Be careful not to dismiss tools because you think it won’t work. I have been surprised by many alternative and creative uses of tools that I didn’t think were the right tool for the job. But this is also a great learning experience! Not only choosing the digital tool but learning when to shift gears and go another way is something that takes time and practice, both on the part of the student and the teacher. These options and teacher approval can easily be detailed in the assignment in Google Classroom (see screenshot below).
3. Student Choice of Topic
In a very similar way, Google tools can also help support student choice of topic. There are many ways we can give students choice in reading materials, research projects, Genius Hour, PBL, and more. Obviously, Google Classroom can also help support this idea. Especially now that we can differentiate assignments in Google Classroom, this makes it easier to manage assignments when students are working on different ideas, topics, projects, etc. If you haven’t tried out this feature, check the drop-down of students when you create an assignment. You can select one, or groups of students.
You may also consider creating a special Google Class for something as different as Genius Hour. Since the process is very different than the traditional type of assignments and evaluation, it may make more sense to organize it differently.
3. Student Choice with Learning Menus
Learning menus (aka Choice Boards) are one of my favorite ways to differentiate and offer choice to students. Learning menus are a form of differentiated learning that give students a menu or choice of learning activities. Learning Menus can be used at any grade level and in any subject area. My favorite learning menu is the Tic-Tac-Toe menu. If you have never tried menus before, this is an easy way to dip your toes in the water.
Choice with learning menus gives students options for demonstrating their learning. As we know, students learn in very different ways and each path to the learning goal could look different depending on the student. Menus allow you to tap into learning styles, interests, and even offer some hidden modifications. And from a lesson design standpoint, you have complete control over the activities so that students cannot find the easiest route. One way I control this design is by making the middle space a non-negotiable. That way they have to complete their tic-tac-toe with one from yellow and one from blue. I use yellow for exploration and blue for creation.
Below is an example of a Tic-Tac-Toe that I use in professional learning on Google Chrome. Teachers are my students these days, and I have many levels of expertise. And if you know much about Google Chrome, you know that the beauty of it is how it can be a customized learning environment for teachers and students. Therefore, I try to give teachers the opportunity to explore and find the best apps and extensions for what they teach. Hopefully, you see how easily this can translate for your classroom.
The other great thing about a Tic-Tac-Toe is that is just a table in Google Docs. You can easily create one for your next class project. The one above is actually a “published Google Doc.” (Click on the image to view.) To learn more about publishing to the web, check out this post: Turn Your Google Doc into a Web Page.
Of course, you could also use a myriad of Google tools to create learning menus: Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Drawings, etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg!
Now the conversation with Learning Menus could go on and on. I’d love to hear how you use learning menus, so please leave a comment and share!
4. Student Goal Setting
Last, but not least, we can help students learn how to set learning goals and track those. Google has many tools that can help with that. One of my favorites is Google Keep! Students could set their goals, along with a reminder and track progress with notes and reflection along the way.
To learn more about the power of Google Keep, check out my Google Keep Resources page which includes a Google Keep Cheat Sheet, How to Personalize Google Keep, and 15 Ways for Students to Use Google Keep.
Another logical Google tool for goal setting is Google Calendar. Of course, we use Calendar to track assignments and many other important things, but did you know that the mobile version has a really cool little feature that helps you set goals? Watch the video below to learn more.
Since, at the time of this post, this is only a mobile feature, it may not work for your classroom. However, I love the example in the video for setting personal goals, including learning how to code!
As I mentioned, this topic is a blog series. I am still learning and developing more. Look for more ways to use Google tools to support the ISTE Standards for Students coming soon. Please feel free to share your ideas and lessons in the comments below.
Be sure and check out the other parts in this series:
- Be Disruptive and Shake Up Learning (keynote)
- Geeking Out Over Google Classroom
- How to Get Google Certified!
- It’s NOT About Google, It’s About the LEARNING!
- Digital Differentiation with G Suite
- and many more!
“Thank YOU for an outstanding presentation this morning. I received so many wonderful comments about your keynote at our conference. These attendees didn’t just say they “liked” it; they each offered a specific point from your presentation to share with me that impacted their thinking about “change” or the integration of technology & instruction. Now that’s an effective presentation!” – Jane McKinney
“Great session. Loved the ‘treasures’ theme throughout. Great, quick overview of tools and classroom applications for Google Apps.” – Chad Kafka
“Best session I went to…..So much wonderful information and every bit of it useful!” – Luanne Rowland
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