Gaggle is here! With those
words we launched a
new educational tool for
our faculty and students
to use here at James
Weldon Johnson College
Preparatory Middle School.
JWJ is a dedicated magnet school
for gifted and academically advanced
students. We have consistently earned
an “A” grade from the state of
Florida and we are a “Nationally
Recognized Blue Ribbon School.”
With our reputation on the line,
so to speak, our first task was to
find out as much as we could about
The first thing we learned was that
Gaggle offered a filtered email opportunity for our students. But upon
further research we learned that students and teachers have access to
a safe, controlled environment that also offers:
• Assignment Drop Boxes to assign, collect, assess, and return
• Digital Lockers to store and share files.
• Gaggle Tube to search for videos and add them to assignments,
blog posts, etc.
• Social Walls can be used to keep up with what’s happening with
your students, colleagues, after-school events or groups, etc.
• Blog areas where students and teachers can create multiple blogs
with different themes and share them with others.
• Message Boards are nice to create class discussions and
• Chat Rooms can enliven class discussion in a whole new
• Instant Messenger allows communication with students or
• Calendars can be set up, managed, and shared.
• My Classes integrates all the great
Gaggle tools into every class.
• Training Videos are available
All of these are filtered, secure, and
compliant with Federal Student
On September 20th we had our first
meeting with Andrea Keith, Director
of Client Engagement with Gaggle.
She gave the Gaggle administrative
team an up-close look at how Gaggle
works and the many things that can be
done. Gaggle has worked with the district to help us use the
same type of portal page that our faculty, staff, and students
are used to. They even allowed us to add our own school
logo or image file at the top of the Gaggle page and they have
several color schemes that can be used to make the Gaggle
online screens seem more unique to our school.
After setting up the pages, we had our first mini-introductory training
session. I was able to show the faculty and staff the Social Wall that I had
set up, complete with pictures of my new puppies, and my new friend, our
Instructional Coach, Mary Browning. We looked at many of the other
tools available and immediately the faculty was starting to think out loud
about the possibilities of using these with the students. We talked about
how some of these tools could be used as a way of starting to flip the
classroom and extending the lessons beyond the four walls.
Our principal, Sharwanda Peek, sums it up this way: “Technology is
not only transforming the way teachers provide instruction, it is also
greatly impacting the way students learn. Gaggle will open the doors
of communication with the teacher and the student in a safe and
By Richard Fair, Teacher, Computer Science and Gaggle School
Administrator, at the James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory