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by James Fester
National Faculty

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November 8, 2017
Google Keep - Our Ultimate Project Management Tool

by James Fester
National Faculty

As the technology integration support specialist and a Google Certified Innovator and Trainer, I’m always looking for tech tools that can help streamline and enhance the project-based learning experience of my teachers and students. Many of the schools I work with, including the one that I am currently lucky enough to be working at, have their own Google Apps for Education domain. There are already lots of great posts out there (see here, here, and here on BIE’s blog) by teachers about how they’ve use the Google suite of apps to help support students in a PBL environment, but Google is always coming up with new tools and inventive ideas.

Recently, they released a new app for the suite called Google Keep. This particular app is incredibly helpful, and one that I think is well worth taking a closer look at if you are a teacher who is always looking for ways to support your students through the PBL process while still wanting them to work on success skills such as self-management, group collaboration, and organization. Let’s take a closer look at how some of the features in Google Keep and how they can help add to what you’re already doing.

What Is It?
Google Keep is a note/taking and checklist app that allows students to create collaborative lists which can be shared, edited, and organized by any member of a group. These lists can be used to capture ideas and organize them as well. In short, Keep is like a cross between a filing cabinet and a bulletin board.

How can it support PBL? 

  1. Groups can use Keep to create detailed, shared task lists for projects. Before they begin working on a product, groups should consider what they need to know or need to learn in order to answer the project’s driving question. A Keep list can be shared between all members of the group so that everyone sees what common goals and work they are collaborating on. 
  2. Students can use Keep to organize work tasks outside of the classroom as well. Keep lists can be shared between group members and edited from anywhere, even if a group member is absent, they can still support the work occurring within the classroom.  and keep abreast of the progress being made on the group product.
  3. Visual learners love will love Keep. In addition to text, Keep allows students to sketch out their ideas and share them with the group. If students install the Keep app on their phone or tablet, they can also capture images and share them with the group. Recently I had a student use Keep to share multiple images from an art installation with his group while he was on a family trip. When he came back to school Tuesday his group was already incorporating the visuals he found into their final product.
  4. In addition to images and doodles, students can record websites or link to any other resources they may find. This allows Google Keep to act as a virtual table of contents for all of the resources they may come across during their projects. And a resource list can be curated by a group of students or teacher, and then shared with the rest of the class who can then add to their own. This helps students to find high-quality sources that can be vetted by the entire class to make sure they are relevant and scholarly.
  5. If students are reading an article or a part of a book and want to pull out the text so they can share it with their groupmates, they can do that with Keep! By taking a picture of the text, and then using the Grab Text functions, they can pull editable text from most print sources, and then share them with the group!
  6. Teachers can use Keep to help coach and guide their groups and support them along the way. Teachers should also encourage groups to share their Keep lists with the teacher so that they can monitor the groups process, look for areas where their workflow can be improved, and add or subtract tasks without interrupting the group.
  7. Teachers can scaffold group tasks for individual students with Keep lists. Some students may need additional help breaking down a more complex task or process but don’t want their group to know they need that help. Teachers can share private lists or break-downs of their parts of the project independently so they student can get the support they need to continue working.
  8. Users can integrate Keep into other Google Apps. If your students are using Chrome, they can save any link with a single click if they have the Google Keep Chrome extension handy. If they are using Google Docs, they can pull resources, ideas, or text from Keep into their doc by clicking Tools and then Keep Notepad.
  9. Keep also has the ability to set reminders. It is very easy for students locked in the middle of a PBL project to forget that certain benchmarks or formative assessments are due at specific points. To help combat this, students can use the Reminders function to preprogram in alerts when specific project components are due for assessments were critiquing revision. They can even use the GPS location of the school to program the reminder to pop up when they arrive at the school’s address.
  10. Keep is a powerful tool for reflection. As students check off tasks, Google Keep doesn’t delete them, but “strikethroughs” them, keeping them there so students can later use their list to reflect upon their project process. Teachers are also free to add helpful suggestions or additional tasks to list in order to make sure students are progressing in the best possible way.


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