When I wanted to use Remind 101 this school year, I was instructed to "take a look at Gaggle". When I was trying to use Dropbox to access files at school and at home, it was all a sudden blocked. Why? "Because Gaggle does that instead." Needless to say, I was annoyed at this Gaggle, whatever it is.
UNTILLLLLL we had Gaggle training. Now it's still not my favorite thing, but its tolerable. One annoying thing: it has email capabilities. But we already have school email. So I don't know if I'll need to check both? Or just the gaggle email?
Annnnyway, here are the cool things I know how to do on Gaggle so far:
If you use Dropbox, you will like that Gaggle has a "digital locker" where you can store and organize files. Gaggle also allows you to share the files, with different levels of security, with any other user (if I understand this correctly). It's allowed my team and I to quickly share files, some of which were too large to email, such as SMART Notebook files.
GaggleTube is Gaggle YouTube, but there are no ads or pop-ups over your videos (especially love those at the end, anybody else get sumo wrestlers or bikinis, leading to screaming kiddos?). Videos can be saved into folders, or shared with your students in their accounts.
There is a blog feature, allowing for a class blog. Pretty simple interface, nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. (So do I still have to keep my wiki updated???) Students can also set up blogs on their accounts, and the trainer was telling us about a teacher who allowed her class to choose any topic for their blog (one was all about cupcakes) but required a certain number of posts per week. That same teacher also required students to provide a set number of constructive comments on other classmates' blogs each week. What a great way to incorporate that critical writing piece in upper grades! Is anybody so brave as to have first graders blog?
My favorite feature about Gaggle (not a first grade feature, being used 2-12) is that students have their own account. Teachers can give assignments online, students turn them in online, students can use Gaggle's word processing or spreadsheet software in case they don't have compatible software at home, students can real-time collaborate on a document, and over their 10 years with Gaggle, students compile a digital portfolio! How cool would that be to look back on? I'm sure my mom has a box of my stuff buried somewhere in the attic, but I don't remember hardly anything I worked on in elementary school. (Not that it would be the same now, by any stretch of the imagination!) I guess the goal of the digital portfolio is that it would provide stunners a unique edge I the college admissions process. College and Career Readiness!
Gaggle is best web-based, but they also have an iPad app, which is great if you want to access your files on a mobile device. I have a whole bunch of Whole Brain Teaching eBooks all set to read on the iPad throughout the summer. Pretty excited to work my way through them!