It’s All Thanks to Google Drive

It is insane how quickly this year is flying by.  We just completed the sixth week of school and I feel like we are just getting started.  Routines are falling into place and learning is happening!

When this school year started, my team and I were anxious about the state of our professional learning community (PLC).  Although we have worked fantastically together in the past, a new schedule and other commitments have cut our collaborative planning time together drastically. We struggled in the first couple of weeks of school finding time to meet, plan lessons, and discuss student data.  We persevered, however, and discovered something that has completely revolutionized how we plan and collaborate.  We owe all of our sanity to Google Apps.
For most of you out there in the blogging and social media world, I am sure this comes as no surprise.  You’re probably saying to yourself, “She’s just now discovering Google… Has she been living in a cave?” The answer is yes.. and no.  I have been aware of Google docs for years and have used it myself to store documents.  Until recently, however, I was completely unaware of the power it harnessed for effective collaboration.
Let me start by explaining how my fellow second grade team members and I would plan in the past.  We would come to the same room and split up the content (someone would take reading/writing, someone would take math, and someone would take science or social studies).  Then, we would pull resources and discuss ideas while one person was typing plans onto the lesson plan template we used.  It was a great way to plan, but also time consuming and limited because we needed to be there together to bounce ideas off of one another.
I threw out the idea of using Google Docs to manage our lesson plans and resources to my teammates this summer.  Their response went something like, “Yeah, sure… we’ll talk about it when school starts.”  When school started and we discovered our collaborative planning time was in danger, we knew we had to come up with a new plan to collaborate.  Google Drive has been our savior.
In Google Drive, we house a folder that is shared with each person on the team, as well as our goal clarity coach.  The folder has many different sub-folders and we are also adding or combing folders as needed.  As of right now, here is how our Drive is set up:
2015-16 Second Grade
 – Pacing Guides
 – Weekly Lesson Plans
 – ELA Resources
 – Math Resources
 – Parent Communication
 – Student Data
Not only can we share something with everyone simultaneously, each person has access to make changes or comments.  It allows use to collaborate like we used to – share data and resources, bounce ideas off of one another, complete our own part of the planning – without the restraints of time or space.  It. Is. Amazing.
Our next goal is to find ways to effectively use Google Apps within our instruction and with our second grade students.  What are some ways you utilize Google Apps for collaboration or in your classroom?  I am curious to hear!