“Littles” & Google Apps: They Can Do It!

by Nancy Carroll

Lately, as a Digital Learning Coach I have had the opportunity to spend time with kindergarteners and 1st graders. I forgot what it was like to be with 5 & 6 year olds as I was formerly a grade 4 teacher (for 27 years).  So when teachers share with me that the little ones can’t do this or that, I have to respect their expertise. However, I am always pleasantly surprised and impressed by what these young students ARE able to ‘do’ when it comes learning.

After purchasing Christine Pinto’s “Google Apps for Littles“, I was excited to try some of her ideas with the younger grades. I approached a couple of teachers who have the “I CAN” attitude and asked them if they’d help me. Getting the green light, I worked with their first grade classes. I started by engaging the students and appealing to their sense of challenge: “Do you know that some people don’t think Grade 1 students can use Google Drawing to make pictures and add sentences?” or “Can you believe I’m hearing that 1st graders can’t use Google Sheets! What do YOU think about that?”  The gauntlet had been thrown and soon the challenge was accepted! The teachers and students assured me they were up for trying something new and maybe difficult.

While some of this was about seeing if students COULD use the tools, it definitely related to what they were learning in class. In one class, students had been writing “Spring Poetry” so they created a “Google Drawing” to compliment their writing. They were given a template with blank shapes on the sides. Learning how to drag, resize, layer & recolor those shapes, they were able to create some wonderful and unique pictures. Their teacher reported: “I thought this lesson was going to be too hard and wasn’t sure the kids were going to produce what you wanted…I am delighted with the results!” Students were able to add their poems and some dialogue without instruction!

Another AHA moment for me with the ‘littles’ came when I introduced them to Google Sheets. While they did not fully grasp the concept of cells & formatting, they were at least exposed to this terminology using Sheets. To complement their unit of measurement lesson with non-standard units, students measured various objects in Google Sheets using this template by Alice Keeler. They were also able to use Google Sheets for graphing with templates created by Christine Pinto. Students were not only graphing and creating equations, they were also learning how to fill in cells & recognize certain rows and columns. This enabled them to analyze data in a new way. There were other lessons that these first grade classes participated in. Of course there were glitches along the way, but the students, their teachers and I persevered!

Great success!  There was a sense of pride in the smiles and reactions of students as they shared their projects with classmates. Teachers proudly displayed student work in the hallway.  Students came up to me and said “We did our own Number of the Day in Google Sheets!”  It was great to see how teachers and students alike were able to ‘show off’ the CAN DO attitude! (Number of the Day template by @coriorlando1)

Students and teachers who have the “I CAN” attitude and growth mindset can accomplish tasks never before thought possible.  We can learn from those ‘littles’ who consistently take on a challenge to show us “THEY CAN DO IT!”

Nancy Carroll is a life long learner who is going into her second year as a Elementary Digital Learning Coach. Previous to that she was a fourth grade teacher in Walpole, MA for 27 years.

Print this post Print this post