Friday, December 14, 2012

Google Apps Ninja Program at Work

Earlier this year we started the NCS Google Apps Ninja Program in Leading Edge and PFAA Middle School.  This online resource allows students (and teachers if they are interested) to navigate through course materials and assessments to demonstrate mastery in Google's suite of tools (Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Search, and Docs).  As users pass tests they can earn white, green, black and master ninja belts.  What has been interesting to watch is how students use the information they learn in often unexpected ways.

For example, just a few days before Thanksgiving Break Karisa Bibayoff's 6th grade students started exploring the Google Apps Ninja Program.  On the Friday night at the start of Thanksgiving Break one of her students, also the class accountant, sent out the following email,
"Hi Everyone!
If you have noticed in class today during store there was the spreadsheet that we made. As you can see, everybody's account does not have the complete information because we are still working on putting your money in and what you brought in store. Sorry for the delay! For those of you who were absent or didn't want to buy anything, this is what happened. 
We think that by Friday everyone will be able to use the spreadsheet. If there is a delay, we will let you know either by email or telling you in class. Remember, if you don't know yet, you are on view only mode so you cannot do anything to the spreadsheet after you turned in the form or if we put your information in. If you have turned in the form twice please let us know so we can fix it. This spreadsheet is convenient for us accountants and Mrs. Bibayoff by letting us know who bought each item. 
Thanks for taking your time to read this email and have a great rest of the week."
On its surface the email itself might not seem that remarkable.  However, Karissa shared the background behind the message
"After starting the Google Apps Ninja Program our class accountant made a Google Spreadsheet for her job to keep track of pay for each student. She then emailed me for a list of the students she could import into her Gmail Contacts (something else she learned in the Ninja Program).  Once her email group was set up she sent out a Google Form for the class to complete with their names and job titles.  Then by sharing the Google Spreadsheet she delegated the input of the prior balances to her assistant accountant.  The rest of the class through the View Only option can view the overall account balances."
This story is a great example of how our students are using technology to minimize the transactional and maximize the relational.  I also think it demonstrates their comfort with technology and ease for learning how to use these tools.  Often, all we have to provide them is direction and opportunity and they are ready to do amazing things.  This story also shows that this digital prowess may be something we can leverage in our classrooms by providing them opportunities to share their expertise with others.  After the break Karisa had her accountants show her and the class just how they created these documents so that they are able to use tools like these for upcoming projects.


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