Using Tablets and Google for Education to Support Early Elementary Learning

The right mix of technology and activities can help to establish foundational skills in grades K-3

At the Challenge to Excellence Charter School (C2E) in Parker, Colorado, educators are using tabletsand Google tools in surprising ways to foster creativity, collaboration and content creation in gradesK-3, while also establishing a foundation of knowledge-seeking skills that students will use in latergrades. In this web seminar, educators from C2E discussed how the school is using Android tabletswith Google Play for Education both inside and outside the classroom for research, projects, fieldtrips and more, how these tools have helped students take ownership of their learning, and the keysto a successful implementation at any school or district.

Kristin Kahlich: The Google for Education team providesyou with a complete solution across the platform ofGoogle Apps for Education, across devices that you canuse on that platform, and then strong educational contentthat you can use on those devices.There have been a few exciting changes at Google recently.

First, schools now have unlimited storage in GoogleDrive. That’s the place where you store your documents,presentations and pictures. Second, Google Vault, which isour archiving and e-discovery tool, is now free and availableto all Google Apps for Education domains. Finally, welaunched Google Classroom, which is now included aspart of the Google Apps for Education suite. It helps teachers
manage their classroom workflow and helps studentskeep track of announcements and assignments for each oftheir classes.

In addition to the platform, Google also offers schools achoice of devices through both Chromebooks and Androidtablets for education. While Android has been a householdname in the consumer space for a while, the Google forEducation team worked with schools to build a specificeducational offering that was truly designed for learningand made specifically for the classroom. We designed aprogram that makes it easy for schools to deploy devicesinto the classroom, to discover strong educational contentfor their teachers and students to use, and then made iteasy to deliver those apps out to the right users.

At this point, there are six different approved tablets.There are seven-inch devices, 10-inch devices, tablets withkeyboards, tablets without keyboardsÑbut all of themwere designed to be affordable, durable and easy to scale.Whichever of these devices you choose, you also need asecond piece, which is a license for Play for Education.

When it comes to set-up, one thing that we heard fromschools was that it can often be difficult to deploy new devices.With the Android management license, we give youan easy way to set up anddeploy your tablets. To do so,you simply configure a few controls in your admin panel,then you pick a tablet to be an admin tablet and you installan app on that device. Then setting up all of your studentdevices is as simple as taking that admin tablet and bumpingit to a blank student tablet. That creates a student tabletthat is equipped for everything they need in the classroom.

Also, if you are not quite ready to go 1-to-1, you can set upeach tablet with up to five unique usernames and thosestudents can share the device.Play for Education is a site that houses Android appsand Chrome apps that have been specifically vetted by ed-ucators and approved for classroom use. Any school thathas purchased a Chromebook license or an Android tabletlicense will have access, and any teacher or admin canmanage the apps available to their students from a simpleweb page. There is no need to collect devices, take themto the tech department, or mess with a bunch of cords. It’ssimply a matter of finding an app on a website, adding astudent, and clicking submit.

If you are interested in getting started on Google Appsfor Education, you can just go to our website, Google.com/edu, and click on “Get Google products.” You won’t have topay anything, because Google Apps for Education is 100percent free and 100 percent without ads.

Beth Mossholder: We have over 700 tablets and Chromebooksin our school that we manage with a very small ITdepartment. We have one full-time system admin, a contractadmin, one part-timeperson, and myself who aremanaging all of these. Everyone has as a device that ismanaged through the Google Apps admin console, andalso every teacher has access to Google Play for Educationto be able to disseminate content to their students.

We adopted Google Apps in 2010, and since then haveadopted a lot of unique ways to use it, from paperlessplanners to using tablets and devices. Google Apps for Educationis at the heart of how our students learn every day.

Julie Stewart: I love the fact that my students can moveaway from the traditional learning spaces where they areat desks all day long to actually being able to take their deviceto an area where they learn best and collaborate withtheir peers. My students are using apps that make themthink outside of the box, which gives them such a greatopportunity to be able to try new things that they mightnever have been able to do before.We have many families whose children have to traveloutside of the country for an extended period of time, sovirtual field trips have become a highlight of our students’days. Traveling students used to take a composition bookto journal about their trip and then report back to the classwith an oral presentation. Now I’m able to send a tabletwith these students, and they chronicle their journey andthen share it with the class via email and photos. The classcan research the places visited by a traveling student, andthen they can all share what they have learnedwhen thestudent returns.

Beth Mossholder: We’re also using some Generation 2Nexus 7 tablets with Dash robots to teach robotics in ourelementary classes. We’re encouraging kids not only to getexposed to robotics, but alsocoding skills. The robots wereused by all of our elementary classes by the end of the lastschool year. The creativity and problem-solving I was ableto witness made each of these classes so much fun.

Julie Stewart: We also love Google Hangouts. Recordingthe history of a survivor of three major wars, for example,was a truly amazing learning experience for my students.The learning went deeper than a textbook could have evertaken them. My students researched about this three-warveteran and then came up with questions to ask him, andshared their questions with me via Google Docs. And thenthe actual day of the Hangout we got to ask him their questionsand they got a live response, which gave them a truly authentic experience of history.

Beth Mossholder: We asked some of our students abouttablets and how they played a role in learning. A studentnamed Laura said: “They helped me learn by opening anotherworld to tech. I learnednew and cool things by funapps that were like games but make your mind smarter,too.” And another student named Katie said: “They helpedme learn because I’m a visual learner and I like getting to figure it out.”

I have also found that my life has totally changed byusing tablets and Google Play for Education in the classroom.I am excited to come to work and share in these adventureswith Julie and our other teachers and students.