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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Are you smarter than a sixth grader?

If you've been watching my tweets and especially if you're using my Diigo outliner about Google Apps for Education (GAFE), you know that I've been shepherding a GAFE pilot at Traders Point Christian Academy (TPCA). In anticipation of a 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative in grades 7-8 next school year, I asked Lisa Mais, our 6th-grade English and language arts teacher, to use GAFE during the past semester. Needless to say, I have been thrilled with the results so let me explain why!

Personally, sixth grade is very special to me because I attribute much of my subsequent academic success to MY sixth-grade learning experience and the amazing teacher (Mr. Nitta) who I was so fortunate (including the FOUR times he paddled me during the school year :-P) to have. Hence, I wanted our sixth graders to have a transforming learning experience as well!

I shared some of their work samples with my daughter who just finished her freshman year in college and who also attended TPCA until the eighth grade. She saw the Google Slides presentations and claimed that she also learned how to make PowerPoint presentations in school. What she failed to realize is that she did not possess the same degree of information literacy in the sixth grade, but she may not even currently have the same degree of information literacy as a high school graduate who did not have the opportunity to use the bibliographic citation tools like EasyBib which were so easy to provide to the students with the administrative console of Google Apps. Of course, Ms. Mais deserves even more credit for asking me to make EasyBib available to her students and for teaching them how to use it to judge the reliability of their sources and to cite them correctly.

Furthermore, the students learned the valuable lesson of collaboration because it was so easy for them to work on their presentations together. I'm sure there's so much more that Ms. Mais can say about the advantages of using Google Apps so I will encourage her to share that. I'm sure that among what she shares will be her gratitude to no longer have to deal with flash drives due to the unlimited space provided to her students by Google Drive!

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