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North Colonie uses online “classrooms” to help communicate with students

| October 27, 2015

It’s a virtual classroom that students can access anytime, anywhere, and 57 percent of North Colonie teachers are using it. Google Classroom, a tool in Google Apps for Education, helps teachers create and organize assignments, provide feedback, and communicate with their classes.

Shaker High School English teacher Hope Dils is in her second year of using it. She says seeing her two sons, who are also North Colonie students, use it in their younger grade level classrooms motivated her to try it on her own.

“I realized I needed to learn this, if this is what students are going to be used to as they get older.”

Student works at a computerDils says Google Classroom has become the “chalkboard.” When she posts something, whether it’s an assignment or a reply to a student’s post, students get a notification from the app they download.

“I can post all of the assignments there and attach PDFs and handouts, so when I have a student who is absent, he or she can log on wherever they might be,” says Dils. “Especially with the seniors, when they’re gone for college visits or college interviews, this is really helpful.”

The goal is to improve communication inside and outside of class, since Google Classroom allows students to directly communicate with their teachers and peers.

“It’s easy to access,” said Abby Burkhard, a senior in Dils’ Creative Writing class. “I have the app on my phone and I’ve been using it since tenth grade. It’s helpful because I always know what’s due the next day.”

Student working at computerGoogle Classroom also helps students to work collaboratively outside the classroom in a group project setting, allowing communication after-school that teachers can monitor.

“It’s a fantastic tool for teachers who wish to create a paperless classroom environment that allows the teacher to have instant access to student work, and manage every aspect of the classroom workflow digitally,” said Gary Cimorelli, North Colonie’s K-12 Instructional Technology Specialist.

Teachers in every building in the district are using the technology, with the greatest amount at Shaker High School, with almost 50 percent.

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