By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate
Google+ with all of its components is the perfect teaching tool for teachers. In this post, I mention four units and the ways you can use Hangouts to develop more engaging and interactive lessons in the classroom.
1. World Cultures - In my area of the country, exposure to people from different cultures consists of what you can see on TV and DVD. Sure, there is a growing Mexican community moving in, and yes, we have people in the city who are students here at the local university. But real ethnic and cultural diversity does not exist.
Choose a country or region of the world for your students to study for nine weeks. Along with the appropriate videos and reading materials, you can do Hangouts with students, who are your students ages, from that country and discuss a variety of topics related to the unit materials. You can also do Hangouts with Museum educators, nonprofits that promote the information covered, as well as Hangouts with authors and media personalities whose work either falls within the content covered or who has cultural ties to the country or region being studied.
Readwritethink.org is a great resource for finding world cultures units and lesson plans.
2. Novel Studies - Reading is not as FUNdamental as it use to be. Young people now occupy their time with video games, texting, and social media. Getting students to read and enjoy reading can sometimes be like pulling teeth. The following is how you can use a Google Hangout to get students more engaged with what they are reading, as well as bolstering critical and creative thinking skills.
Choose a book to read offline with another class or group of classes. You can do Hangouts to have discussions with other classes to book talks, in which the classes talk about plot, character development, and the themes of the book. You can also do Hangouts to do an oldie but goodie, Readers Theater.
3. College Readiness - College isn't something you should wait for until students are in high school. As early as the 5th and 6th grades, teachers and parents should start exposing their students/their children to the college planning process, which begins with awareness.
U.C. Berkeley has done an amazing job at developing a college readiness curriculum. You can use Hangouts to talk to college admissions counselors, college students, and financial aid specialists like Jodi Okun. You can also use Hangouts to talk to professionals to discuss what they studied in college and get their advice about what degree programs are out there for certain career fields.
Be sure to check out the virtual college tours that are available to you. For more information about the college planning process, you can check out this post I wrote for Myfootpath.com.
4. Summer Program - We all know that the summer is a time in which a specific population of students fall further behind in their studies. This group of students don't go on vacation or attend summer camp or have the opportunity to take enrichment classes in the summer. The following is how you can use Google Hangouts to teach online classes over the summer.
A Master Class is a great way to teach an online class during the summer. Think of it as bringing the college seminar class to the K-12 level. You can choose a unit like Poetry or Fiction Writing or Blogging or even Screenwriting. In addition to the weekly readings you assign, you will have weekly or bi-weekly Hangouts with actual professionals in the field, allowing your students to ask questions and share their experiences with the coursework. This is awesome because students get to interact with each other, get advice and/or feedback from people working in the field, and they get the opportunity to make the work personal and fit their individual interests.
This YouTube video from Ghetto Film School is an excellent idea of what a Master Class via Google Hangouts look like.