Gaggle has taken root and is growing here at James
Weldon Johnson College Prep Middle School. As
spring approaches, we are very busy getting our
students ready for the FCAT state testing exams.
So much of the students’ and faculty’s time is spent
on last-minute preparations. Parts of these tests
are done online so the time students have spent with Gaggle has
been a good background for this preparation. Since our spring
break occurred at the end of March, we especially didn’t want
our students to zero down during their time away from class.
I sent out a reminder to all faculty
members to share with them that a good
way of helping students over the break
was to send them reminders and reviews
I have been using the Gaggle discussion
boards to start some of the topics that
I will be bringing into the classroom
for further development in the next
quarter. This helps my students
to start thinking about real-world
situations and see how other class
members feel about the same topics.
During the last quarter, I taught my
students to use the skills that they learned from challenge-based and
problem-based learning to explore possible ways to solve real-world
problems. These situations range from sustaining the environment
to developing a brain user’s guide.
Another positive advantage of our Gaggle adventure is that it
encourages our students to actively use their email accounts. In class,
when we need to register for Web 2.0 tools, they can use their Gaggle
email accounts without compromising their home accounts. Also, many
students automatically use their email accounts to communicate with
their teachers. I have had to be sure to check my account on a daily basis
because students will send me email there rather than to my school
account. Many students take advantage of blogging tools to maintain a
presence in the Gaggle blogosphere. Some have some very thoughtful
things to say and receive comments in the same
One of the favorite Gaggle tools among students
and faculty is the Gaggle Tube videos. When
I pointed out to faculty members that there
is an abundance of videos already catalogued
according to subject or discipline, they were
initially surprised. Later on, they were excited
because they were able to find things that
complemented their class lessons. These videos
are also great to differentiate class work for students who may need
additional visual aids for review and practice.
I am looking forward to what the faculty can do once the pressures of
state-mandated testing are over. Then we can really focus on being
more creative with our lesson plans during the final quarter of the
year. I am planning to really push including Gaggle in those plans on
a weekly and daily basis. The teachers who have been able to really
explore it and use it have done so with excitement and creativity.
There is no reason why the rest of the faculty can’t learn to do so as
Richard Fair teaches Computer Science at the James Weldon Johnson
College Prep Middle School in Jacksonville, FL.