Gaggle has really taken root here at James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School. We deployed it for the students at the beginning of the second nine weeks and almost immediately students were setting up their Social Walls and many of them were experimenting with creating blogs. This was all without any teacher prompting.
I am the computer science teacher, as well as the Gaggle school master (or administrator), and I was eager to try many of the options that were available. One of the most useful was being able to collect assignments via the Gaggle Assignment Drop Boxes. As a teacher, I can create a folder for the assignment, include any special directions, have the students submit their completed work to the folder, and when I have completed the evaluation process, I simply mark them as ready to be returned and they are sent back to each student – complete with grade and any remarks that may have been included on the assignment. This saves a lot of time over having to collect or return work the “old fashion way.”
Our media specialist, who also teaches television production, had students use the cameras built into their phones or other digital cameras to take specific examples of studio or camera shots. These were then submitted through their Gaggle email. At this point our students are limited in the use of their personal cell phones on campus, so this was a unique work-around the problem.
Many teachers are experimenting with the various options available in Gaggle. I have had numerous requests for individual help in setting up Chat Rooms, Assignment Drop Boxes, Discussion Boards, and Digital Lockers. As with many new ideas, it sometimes takes a while for the faculty to “jump on board,” but as they have seen the students’ interest grow, so has theirs. I am working on setting up some special workshops to give specific examples of how different subject areas can integrate the various components of Gaggle into their curriculum. As we are moving more toward the Common Core Curriculum the use of technology and the ability to offer a diversity of learning opportunities will become more of an issue and Gaggle seems to offer at least one of the solutions.
Richard Fair teaches computer science at the James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School in Jacksonville, FL.