Innovating Teaching and Learning:
CDW Customer Collaborates with Google for Education to Develop Practice Sets
As the needs of administrators, teachers, and students shift, Google for Education works closely with schools to develop new Workspace features that will modernize the classroom, and transform productivity, communication, and collaboration. In the last few years, for example, teachers’ workloads have been exhausted with growing responsibilities, but practice sets, the latest upcoming release for Google Classroom, will help them automate manual and tedious tasks while fostering deeper learning in students.
Mohonasen Central School District (MCSD), a CDW Education customer and a Trusted Testing District for Google, serves just under 3,000 kindergarten to 12th grade students in Rotterdam, New York. Since 2020, Bill Vacca, MCSD’s Director of Instructional Technology has led the charge in working with Google for Education Product Managers and Solutions Engineers to develop practice sets. “We’ve been working with Google on practice sets since the very, very beginning when it had major flaws, to when it was basic, and to where it is now. It's been really cool to trial it and give them our ideas to make it better,” he shared. This new feature, launching in Fall 2022, gives teachers the ability to take any work that would typically be in a worksheet format and convert it into an interactive digital practice module capable of providing improvement tips, immediate feedback, and grade for the gradebook.
When asked what the driving force behind practice sets was, Vacca explained, “Teachers are feeling more pressure than ever before to manage all their responsibilities in the wake of restrained budgets, increasing class sizes, staff shortages, and student behavior problems. Practice sets enables teachers to provide individualized support to each student while exhausting less time and resources.”
It is understood that feedback is best practice and an explosive catalyst when it comes to building confidence in students and retention. Teachers try to turn around commentary on student work quickly but it can be difficult with so many other priorities taking precedence, and students can lose their momentum towards mastery. “It’s almost like having an instructional assistant or a tutor in the classroom,” said Vacca. Practice sets is easy to use and decreases teacher overload by empowering students to stay focused, and encouraging them to assess their understanding and check their answers without a physical educator by their side. It even collects data that teachers can use to determine the need to reteach and move through the curriculum at the appropriate pace.
With practice sets, students are also able to take more responsibility for their own learning. MCSD witnessed a 5th grade class reach mastery level in a matter of months. Vacca recounted, “We had a teacher use practice sets for math and tracked student progress data. In the beginning, 50% of students were getting answers wrong on the first try, but would eventually get it right after utilizing the hints and resources that were embedded in the modules. Over the period of a few months, the amount of students getting answers right on the first try was increasing exponentially. Keep in mind that they weren’t doing the same Practice Set or the same questions. Immediate feedback was helping students retain knowledge at mastery level on their own.”
Practice sets is currently in beta testing for schools using Google Workspace for Education Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Education Plus, MCSD is preparing to take full advantage of its potential.
With practice sets, their teachers and students have been able to achieve more in the same amount of time than they had been able to achieve before. Vacca elaborated, “The priority is to create a repository of practice sets based on class subject and grade level that will eventually be shared across the district.” Additionally, MCSD plans to continue partnering with CDW Education to swap out their fleet of 1:1 devices with Chromebooks that have stylus compatibility so practice sets can be used to develop fine motor skills in their elementary school students.
Practice sets will only be included in the Google Workspace for Education Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Education Plus editions. When asked why schools should upgrade Vacca stated, “It’s a no-brainer. We’ve achieved district wide adoption, and the advanced editions are going to be better for your schools: breakout rooms, unlimited Meet recordings etc. Practice sets are just the cherry on top of a game-changing platform.”
If you are interested in leveraging practice sets and need to upgrade your edition of Google Workspace for Education, connect with one of our Google Customer Success Specialists. To learn more about practice sets and how to use them in your, download our complimentary “4 Ways to Utilize Practice Sets in the Classroom” guide.