Re-posted December 9, 2015
Located north of Dallas, Prosper ISD is experiencing a population boom. Prosper’s sole high school, Prosper High School, is home to approximately 2200 students and 190 staff members. Prior to the 2015-2016 school year, I was the only librarian on campus, which proved very challenging when trying to schedule and teach research lessons with multiple teachers at one time. I had to find more efficient ways to teach research skills while still providing in-depth and engaging lessons. That’s where Gale’s In Context and Google Drive comes in!
I was so excited to see the connection between In Context and Google Drive. I had taught myself, and my students, workarounds to save In Context articles to their Google Drive accounts. These workarounds involved a lot of clicks and a lot of practice, which took up a lot of time. While the end result was worth it, I no longer had the luxury of time when I was trying to teach in two (sometimes three!) different classrooms during the same class period.
Prosper High School had also recently “gone Google,” and I was looking for ways to integrate different Google Apps for Education into all of my lessons. I had explored the research tool within Google Docs, but was looking for a way to better combine our In Context databases with Google Apps. When I heard that students would be able to save research articles directly to their Google Drive accounts from within any In Context database, I knew I had found my solution!
As I began to share this new functionality with students and teachers through a quick and easy presentation, they were amazed at how easy it was to save and share articles they were using for research. Because the articles are saved as a Google Doc, students can highlight and annotate their articles using the Comment function within Google Docs. This is especially handy as our students are still learning how to effectively paraphrase and summarize their readings. Students also use the Comment feature to dialogue with their research project collaborators and teachers. The icing on the cake is the citation at the end of the article that is perfectly formatted to MLA specifications.
I recently had the opportunity to share the In Context and Google integration with a first-year teacher in our building. He was having a hard time finding electronic resources to share with his physics students. I not only showed him how to use Science In Context, but I also showed him how he can share articles directly to his Google Classroom. He immediately began searching the database for lab directions and made plans to share these labs through his Google Classroom. I found out later that he took it upon himself to share what he had learned with physics teacher in our building!
As our campus continues to grow, the ease with which students can organize their research materials becomes increasingly important. I’m now able to spend less time teaching students how to save In Context articles to their Google Drive accounts and more time teaching them solid research skills that will benefit them throughout their high school careers and beyond. I may still be teaching in two (and three!) classrooms each class period, but I am now able to spend more time teaching valuable research skills.
Read more about Richelle’s story.
Richelle O’Neil serves as Co-Librarian at Prosper High School and leads the Library and Instructional Technology team for Prosper ISD. Richelle has served on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Program Committee, is a former TALL (Texas Accelerated Library Leader) Texan, and is a member of the 2017 Texas Library Association annual conference program planning committee. When Richelle is not working in the library, she loves to travel with her husband, Patrick, and their Schnauzer-Hound, Walter.