Gaggle is helping to change the way teachers teach and students learn at Reeds Spring High School. Located in southwest Missouri, Reeds Spring High School (RSHS) rolled out their 1:1 Wolves D.E.N. (Digital Education Network) learning initiative in January of this year. Nearly 650 students in grades 9-12 received devices after months of teacher training and preparation.
Leading up to the roll out, teachers planned for a transformation of their instructional practices to a more student-centered learning environment. Gaggle is an integral part of the 1:1 transformation at RSHS. Objectives for the 1:1 implementation include steps to increase the use of online communication and collaboration. Gaggle is a vehicle for driving those changes. Teachers take advantage of the student-to-teacher and student-to-student email communication as a means to send reminders or notices of upcoming events and assignments. Many of the teachers have created Gaggle Blogs for class discussion and collaboration. Becky Lipasek, RSHS Health Teacher, states “My Health students have created a Gaggle Health Blog.” She goes on to say that the students post opinions about health issues, and that she uses the blog feature of Gaggle in place of the traditional bell ringer.
Immediately following the roll out, most teachers began the practice of using Gaggle’s Assignment Drop Boxes as a means to create assignments. Being able to digitally send the assignment to classes and receive them back into the drop boxes is a time saver for teachers and for students. Once the assignments are received teachers can use the Mark It Up feature to grade and then return assignments to individual students or to an entire class. As RSHS science teacher, Josh Flora, puts it, “The Mark It Up tool allows me to send back student assignments in a relatively short amount of time.” This paperless, ‘no excuses’ method for distributing, grading and collecting assignments has changed the face of the 1:1 classroom at RSHS.
Support for teachers as they make the transition to a 1:1 learning environment is a key element for the success of any program. Gaggle provides support to districts and teachers with their Data Integration, Gaggle Safety Management, and technical support. English teacher Sofie Blount, states that she does not have time to create her classes and add or withdraw students, and that she would “…probably make mistakes or not do it correctly.” The support systems that are offered by Gaggle run in the background unseen to the teachers, yet they are a crucial piece of puzzle that fits with the vision and learning outcomes for students at Reeds Spring High School.