At the start of summer, Harlingen CISD sprung into action to prepare for whatever next year might bring. In preparation, they put together Campus Innovation Teams (CIT) from schools across the district to plan the next generation instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.
These CIT members consist of campus administrators, instructional coaches, library media specialists, and department chairs, or lead teachers. They were tasked with the important role of revamping lessons and curriculum into hybrid versions that can be used in the classroom or at home. They will also continue training throughout the summer to become experts in Google Classroom.
Before the times of uncertainty that COVID-19 brought, the school district was already preparing for the future. Within the last two years, HCISD implemented online learning platforms, and Google Classroom was one that showed great success at the middle school level.
“Google Classroom has really helped shift learning from teacher-centered to student-centered. The quality of student work and overall engagement has improved dramatically,” 7th/8th grade English Language Arts teacher at STEM² Preparatory Academy, Jennifer Leal said.
Since opening its doors in 2018, STEM² Preparatory Academy has used this platform as its means of delivering teaching and learning to students.
“I love the way Google Classroom is intuitive for students and simple to get the hang of for new users,” Seventh-grade math and elective teacher at STEM² Preparatory Academy, Brittney Mata said. “It wasn’t long before my students and I were immersed in the entire ecosystem that is Google.”
Using this online platform allows students to gain important skills like organization and responsibility. It also helps teachers solve everyday classroom problems such as missing work.
“They cannot lose a document that is automatically saved to their Google Drive,” Mata said. “When they are absent, it is easier for students to stay caught up with their assignments since they are able to access and work on assignments from home.”
With Google Classroom, everything is in one place, making it easier for parents, teachers, and staff to stay connected, informed, and organized.
“Students like the ease of the tools and how they can be accessed anywhere, anytime to contact teachers, receive feedback on their assignments, ask questions, or collaborate with peers,” Leal said.
Google Classroom is versatile and can be used in class or at home. It serves as a great resource to supplement lessons in class, or it can easily be transitioned to a fully online class.
Inspired by the success seen so far and the uncertainty of current times, the district is expanding the use of Google Classroom across the district to all middle school campuses.
“Similar to in-class learning, Google Classroom allows students to create, collaborate, communicate and think critically while giving students voice and choice via a digital platform,” Coordinator of Instructional Technology and Special Projects, Dr. Jessica Hruska said. “This will allow students to gain confidence in an online learning platform which will prepare them to be college, career, and community ready.”
The elementary, middle school, and high school levels will be learning and using different online platforms and technology.