Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using Google Drive for Collaborative Planning

Most teachers these days are involved in collaborative planning of some sort- whether it is collaborative grade level planning, or planning collaboratively with a co-teacher or specialist. Usually this means all the required participants must sit in a room together for an 45 minutes to an hour during a planning period, hashing it all out. If someone's out for a workshop or sick day, the  everyone else has to take up the slack.

But, why not let Google Drive revolutionize your collaborative planning? Teammates can easily input their information into a shared Google Doc, and everyone can see at a glance what everyone else is doing or planning for the week. This means mainstream classroom teachers who are departmentalized (as was 3rd, 4th and 5th at my last school) can easily plan cross-curricular connections into their lessons because they know what everyone else on the team is teaching at all times. Specialists can always come to classes prepared, because they know from the shared planning document what you will be doing. Planning a shared lesson that everyone teaches is a breeze as team members can easily add their portion of the lesson to the shared doc.

Even better, if your plans change because of an unexpected assembly, or because you found kids weren't getting it and you need to reloop instead of moving forward, then that information can be noted in the shared document, and is instantly available to all participants, so they can adjust their plans accordingly. If team members have a question about something that someone has input into the shared document, these questions can be asked, answered, and resolved via the "comments" feature. Lesson resources (videos, websites, links to activities) can be easily linked to.

For some of the teachers that I've worked with, this has transformed collaborative planning from a rushed, poorly executed activity to a truly streamlined and effective component of instructional planning. The hour spent together in a room is now a chance to explore and outline effective cross-curricular or shared lesson planning, while teachers can add their piece to the shared document later in the day from the comfort of their home. A few minutes nightly to update the document to reflect the day's accomplishments and any adjustments to the next day's plan keeps everyone up-to-date and on the same page.

Here's what some real, live teachers say about using Google to collaborate:

  • "I love collaborating with Google Drive because it is an easy way to stay immediately up-to-date, and split the workload between teachers. We can share information and stay up to date on student data and behaviors with input from several teachers on a live document. My co-teacher can go in and add modifications, or copy and add a different version of a document."- Science in the City
  • "My entire social science department uses Google Drive to share lesson plans and teaching resources. We organize them by subject and unit so they are easy to find. We also use Google Docs to write down our weekly collaboration minutes and we also have included a list of common formative assessments. This will make it easy for teachers in the future to access all the information as well as our principal."- History Chalk Talk
  • "Having a shared Google Drive allows our PLC to share resources that we might not have time to share otherwise. It also gives us a chance to share our strengths and learn from each other!"- Teaching Teens in the 21st
  • "For our PLCs, I create a Google document in Google drive and type the standards that we'll be covering the following week. Then each person on my teams goes into the document and "signs up" for a standard and brings ideas and lessons to share directly related to the SOLs."- The Teaching Oasis
  • "It would honestly change my world as at ITRT at 4 different elementary schools if I we didn't have access to the collaboration feature within Google Drive. Since I am at each school once a week, Google allows for me to plan quality lessons with my teachers so we are both on the same page about the lesson we will co-teacher together. Being able to collaborate with other ITRTs on my team is extremely helpful, especially since we don't get to see each other often."- The Techie Teacher 
  • "Through using Google Drive my co-workers and I can share lessson plans, to do lists, student data, and pass notes during professional development .  We use this tool to share activities easily even when we are home with a sick child or out of state at a conference."- Learning Ahoy!

Are you using Google Drive as a tool for collaborative planning? How is it going? Tell me in the comments.

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