Through the use of Google Drive, students can find their documents (Google Docs) and slideshows (Google Slides). Teachers can easily provide feedback through comments on these documents. These comments are then sent to students' Gmail accounts.
Each student at Wairakei Primary School has a Gmail account. Email accounts are used for feedback, as stated, as well as allowing senior students to connect with their Kōtui Ako teacher, previously known as VLN (Virtual Learning Network). Google Classroom is also used by some teachers, usually to share a document to a whole class so that they have easy access to it.
Google Sites is also used to share learning tasks with students. The teacher is able to upload files needed so students can open these on their own device. They can then refer to it for help or make changes to the document (after they have made their own copy). This is particularly useful in writing when the teacher will give sentence starters as prompts, and students add their own ideas.
Google Docs has a special feature called Voice Typing. This tool lets students speak into their Chromebook, recording their speech. It is not perfect. It does allow students to get their thoughts down in a timely way and can be used as a planning tool, quickly noting our ideas before they disappear. It is particularly helpful for dyslexic students.
Hāpara Classroom Management is a new addition to the digital tools we use at Wairakei Primary School. This tool is used by senior teachers to send out tasks and to ensure students are engaged in their learning. It ensures students are using Chromebooks in a safe and sensible way. Hāpara tools provide extra security and a watchful eye to make sure students are making safe digital choices. Hāpara gives teachers the ability to see students' screens from their own teacher laptop and to remotely shut down any sites that are not related to the task at hand.
Senior students’ learning is supported by being able to find information online. For example, students learn about native birds by watching Department of Conservation videos, visit the Wingspan website, and get ideas from Kids Greening Taupō. Writing information reports is much easier and interesting when we have online tools to support us. We recently used our Chromebooks to take part in the Census At School, allowing each student to enter their data themselves.