Kettle Moraine High School Students Take Ownership of Learning with Google Apps for Education

Editor’s note: Which teacher inspired you? Was there an educator that went out of her way to see how you were feeling? It’s Teacher Appreciation week, so we wanted to share a story about a teacher that has inspired us. In 2012, we filmed first-year high school teacher Andrea Kornowski two months after she began using Google Apps for Education as an avenue for students to share what was happening in their academic and personal lives. Today we’re following up with Miss K. about her success at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin, and how Google tools have helped her and her students.

How did you come up with the idea to use Google Forms with your students?
I had been using Google Apps a bit for a few months when I attended a Google Apps for Education Summit. The presenter, Hank Thiele, asked us, “Do you know what’s going on with students outside of the classroom?” That question really made me think. It inspired me to find a way for students to communicate with me. I believed that if students could open up about what motivated them and what they were struggling with personally, they might feel more comfortable coming to me about academics, as well as issues outside of the classroom.

The video about the Forms you created to connect with students received a lot of attention. What was the reaction of students and teachers at your school?
Students were very excited, especially those involved in making the video. The video started a Google Forms revolution. Everyone, from the school nurse to other teachers, wanted to use Forms to connect with their students too. There was a learning curve for faculty, and so we held EdTech Challenge Site Days, personalized professional development, and an Annual KM Technology Day to support school-wide learning.

How has your classroom changed since your students began using Google Apps for Education at school?
Google Apps has opened up the walls of the classroom because teaching and learning can now happen outside of school, too. Last year, my Physical Science students needed extra support writing blog entries. One student who had a lot of trouble with writing, emailed me at 3:45 p.m. before I even had a chance to leave school, right after classes let out, eager to review his blog post. We worked on revising his blog in a shared Google Doc together in real-time using Gchat. This scenario has happened multiple times.

I also have more flexibility with Google Apps. My workload is more manageable because I’m not confined to finishing everything during the school day. I can access lesson plans, student work and email after school hours from home.

How has your role as a teacher changed in the time since you started using Google Apps for Education in your classroom?
With Internet-connected devices in students’ hands, the teacher is no longer the sole owner of knowledge. Students consume Internet content voraciously, but I teach students that they can be creators and sharers of content, as well. I don’t always deliver new content — my Advanced Placement Environmental Science students each research specific topics and add content to class-shared presentations. We also recently created Google Sites to demonstrate the difference between renewable and nonrenewable energy. Fifty out of 53 students had never created a website, so this was the first opportunity for most students to publish digital content. As content-creators, students take greater ownership of their learning.

I see how technology is affecting teaching everywhere, and teacher training. I have visited my alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, to share what teachers have to look forward to when it comes to technology.

What is the biggest impact you have seen from using Google tools?
My students are more prepared for college and the workplace because they are using the tools they will eventually use in these environments. I tell students they are allowed to have devices at their desks as long as they are in “Classroom Safe” mode, which means that devices are face-down until they are permitted to use them. Classroom management is a whole different world with the introduction of technology.

What do your students think of using the Google tools?
Using Google Forms, I asked my AP Environmental Science and Chemistry students in grades 10-12 how Google tools have helped them learn and work better. Here’s what they had to say:

  • On Google Drive: “I really like how Google Drive gives me access to all my work wherever I am. I can type a paper on my phone, on the school computers, and at home without a flash drive.”
  • On Google Presentations: “Google Presentations are extremely helpful when it comes to reviewing chapters together because we are able to collaborate and split the chapter into small chunks and share it with everyone.“
  • On the use of technology in class: “The classroom is engaging and we learn a lot about applying things we learn in class to the real world or real life situations/current events.”

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About Author

Colin Cooper is the CEO of Boost Your Business, the leader in marketing and business development for both large and small scale businesses. As one of the most innovative marketing specialists for over a decade, Colin and his team of business and online experts collate their years of know-how and experiences with the Boost Your Business: Body Armour for Business, an online magazine created to provide a holistic resource avenue for everything business, health, and wellness.