5 Reasons why I use Google Apps in my 1st Grade Classroom

I have a confession to make, never in a million years could I have imagined the capabilities of my first graders until I experienced them myself.  Google has proven to be one aspect of learning that I have put off and avoided for years. This past year they proved me wrong! 

5 Reasons why I use Google Apps in my 1st Grade Classroom

In the Fall,  I decided it was time to explore all the avenues that I could to help my first graders gain knowledge using the amazing technology they had at their fingertips.  I took it in baby steps, and by the end of the year I was so happy I had explored all of it.  Truth be told, my first graders were too!  So I want to share with you the 5 reasons why I DID and will CONTINUE to use Google Apps in my classroom.

I differentiate as much as I can in my classroom and technology is the EASIEST way to do so!  When you have activities that are multi-level, you can reach all of your learners.  Google Classroom is AMAZING.  It reminds me of Facebook with posts that continue on your feed.  It is also super EASY.  It lets you select which students you send an assignment to.  In math, I can send out the same kind of assignment, but at different levels. When teaching greater than, less than, or equal to, I can send out an assignment with numbers up to 10, 100, and 1000.  While they are working on their computer, they have no idea that they may all be working on completely different assignments. 

We all know children are more engaged with technology.  In my classroom, I try to change the activities throughout the day to keep their attention.  Technology is one way to do this.  Everyday we used Google Slides to work on math practice during math rotations.  I quickly send out the assignment via Google Classroom.  When they get to the technology rotation, they log into our Classroom and began to work on the assignment.  Believe me, I strongly feel they need paper pencil in the primary grades as well.  However, when you offer instruction in multiple ways you are sure to have student engagement.

 In our school we have something called CORE PLUS.  During this 30 minutes, we ability group the children amongst our 5 first grade teachers. We work in smaller groups on specific skills that children need extra help with.  For the children who are at benchmark, we enrich them by sending them different research projects through Google Classroom. They work independently or with a group of students to research, create their own Google Slides or complete given assignments.
Sometimes children dont get a concept right away and may need extra help.  After reviewing and re-teaching, I can simply send them the assignment again for extra practice.  

Although creating things for Google Classroom can be time consuming, once it is done I have it forever at my fingertips.  The BEST part is... it's paperless ~ no copying. Once you have the activities, you don’t have to print them, collect them, or pass them back out.  You simply send them out, and then they are turned back in digitally.   I have taught my first graders to "turn in" their assignments and NOT email or share them with me. I don't want hundreds of extra emails each day.  I simply go to my classroom to see who is done and who is still working.  I can add comments to their assignment all from my computer at home.  The BONUS~ I don’t have to take anything home with me.  If I feel an assignment needs more work, no problem.  I  taught my students how to unsubmit an assignment, read my notes, and complete it again.  Yes, in 1st grade!

 We all HATE testing but lets be honest, it isn’t going away any time soon.  In my district, K-2 teachers do as much as they can to prepare our students for testing which begins in 3rd grade.  In my school district, the state testing is all done online using Chromebooks.  So why not help them prepare by working on skills such as dragging and dropping, typing, and logging onto computers using passwords.  Of course we work on the academic piece too, but moving them forward with technology while they are young can only help. 

This year I have learned to never underestimate my first graders with technology.  I also learned to push my self to learn new things.  Yes it was uncomfortable and scary at times but I learned so much.  My students left my room with fantastic technology skills that they can continue to use in second grade. 

They love it so much, they asked me to assign them things over the summer.  To make things fair, I opened up a Google Classroom for our entire first grade.  We are taking a trip around the world to the 7 continents.  So far they have been to Australia.  Next up is Asia~ I'm still working on those resources.  It has been a fun way to connect with them over the summer too!  

I hope you take the plunge if you haven't.  If my first graders can do it, so can yours!  Also, there are so many "How To" videos, there is no excuse!  

I am just beginning my journey of creation, but there are already so many wonderful things out there for you to explore.  Teachers pay Teachers is filled with rich activities that you can use with your students. Click Here!
 If you would like to peek as some of the things I have shared with my students, click HERE.

As always, thanks for listening~ love what you do and do what you love!


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