St. Patrick’s Grammar School in Downpatrick is one of the first schools in Northern Ireland to adopt Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in learning and teaching. The school was one of 5 which participated in the first phase of a NI schools GAFE pilot, launched in partnership with Capita, C2k and Google.
With more than 700 students attending the school, the leadership team aim to provide the most effective IT available to enhance learning and teaching, GAFE was seen as an ideal solution to achieve this.
Michelle Clancy, Assistant Principal at the school initially attended an introduction training day along with the school IT Technician, Damian Oakes. The training day delivered an understanding of GAFE and how to use Chromebooks in a classroom environment. They returned to school, full of enthusiasm, to progress with the pilot.
The first step was to introduce the Chromebooks to a selection of teaching staff. Using their C2k username and password, they were able to log-in instantly. Michelle led the staff in a practical session by setting up a demo classroom and documents and applying these to a classroom lesson. The staff were impressed and excited about the pilot.
GAFE in the classroom
St. Patrick’s decided to deploy the pilot which included using Google Drive, Classroom and Calendar, in the Politics and PE departments. Both departments observed students being empowered and more motivated to learn during the pilot.
In politics, every student used a Chromebook during the lesson. The teacher ran the lesson via Google Classroom, providing instructions for students to access and then share their work with the other students and the teacher. The collaboration offered by Google Apps is ideal for debates in Politics lessons. Teachers noticed greater involvement of the more quiet students, as it was a platform on which they felt more confident.
In the PE department, AS level students used Google Drive to submit their coursework and gain instant feedback from teachers, removing the need to spend time printing, submitting and marking. Teaching staff could view the progress of coursework and collaborate on editing as and when required. The rapid feedback meant students were much more motivated.
The students also recorded their PE performances and shared via Google Classroom for group evaluation. This delivered a platform to analyse their learning and identify ways in which they could improve. With the ability to replay and analyse their work, students benefited from increased control over their learning.
Beyond the classroom
The use of GAFE was extended beyond the classroom, with the student newsletter team working collaboratively on the newsletter content, via Google Drive tools. The school leadership team also tried out the new technology and used Google Drive to share the school development plan, editing and working collaboratively on feedback and progress.
Using Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks delivered many benefits to the learning and teaching experience at St. Patricks, including:
increased 1:1 interaction with students in the classroom;
lessons started within minutes with instant access to learning documents via the Chromebooks;
a more collaborative and interactive vibe in the classroom;
students were excited about learning and wanted to use the Chromebooks in all of their lessons;
Michelle Clancy, Assistant Principal says:
The use of Google Apps for Education has raised the bar in learning and teaching at St. Patrick’s. The GAFE tools have helped our students to succeed and achieve through increased communication, collaboration and active learning, inside and outside the classroom. The teaching staff and students are very excited about our next steps with GAFE and extending the use of Chromebooks into other lessons.