Using Google in GCSE PE

Over the last few months I have been looking into the capabilities of using Google as part of my teaching to help improve results within GCSE PE. Within the last two years there have been many resources available to try and enhance learning, which includes, Edmodo, Socrative, the use of twitter and school blogs.


Each one of these has its advantages and disadvantages and each one has its own individual strength. With this in mind I began to look for a more all rounded solution. One where pupils can easily communicate and share their ideas but also be one where work can be checked quickly and easily.


Google has tripled free storage space, across Gmail, Google+ and Drive, bringing the total to 15GB. This is a serious move by Google as it places the company at the forefront of cloud based solutions with institutions working to tight financial constraints. Having trialled the use of Google Drive, I thought I would highlight some advantages of using the platform.


Advantages of using Google Drive


  • Access files anytime on any device with an internet connection.
  • Work offline with documents.
  • Share files/documents with others and collaborate in real time.
  • Share folders with students and receive and feedback on assignments.
  • Allow read only access on documents and share with students as resource with no photocopying.
  • Save a document in a variety of formats.
  • Works with other Google Apps to provide platform for forms, surveys, projects.
  • Save to GoogleDrive with two taps of an icon or clicks of a mouse.
  • Search files in Drive for name or keyword.



Google Drive provides a platform to organise and enhance workflow for teachers. The most obvious example is how quickly resources can be shared, annotated and collaborated upon. A shared folder with a student could contain assignments, screencasts and resources that could serve to form a digital portfolio and a reference point for teacher and parents. In my opinion, the fact that we can now share more storage space for free, places Google Drive firmly ahead of Dropbox. The main advantage of Google Drive is the ability to comment on pupils work, for them to respond and resolve the comment, but then for that learning conversation to be recorded as evidence. This is a fantastic resource for teaching and learning and has been a success so far in the trial period.


As with other cloud based solutions, there are a number of disadvantages to using Google Drive. Not least the requirement to sign up students via a Gmail account and the testing question of the whole school solution. However, as we make our way with cloud based storage, I can recommend giving Google Drive a try. With 15GB for free what have you got to lose?


Sharing is caring and one of the most powerful features of Google Drive is the ability to share. Users can easily share documents, presentations, tables, graphs and spreadsheets by simply changing the visibility options in the sharing settings of Google Drive. But what if you want to aggregate all your documents into one document and share it with others (probably your student). Google Drive provides you with that solution.


What is a shared google document?


A Shared Google Document is a feature embedded within Google Drive that allows users to create folders to share with other users. These shared folders can contain any type of media ( text, images, docs, files, PDFs, spreadsheets….etc )


How can I use Shared Google Docs with my students?


Here are some of the ways to use this feature with your students :

Create a shared folder for your class. In this folder share with your students :

  • Class assignments
  • Class announcements
  • Grading reports
  • Reading materials
  • Resources related to what they are studying
  • Videos, and tutorials and many more.


No more lost work, lost folders or missed work due to being absent from school. All the work and resources they need will be stored in one place for them to be able to access. The capabilities of collaborative work with partners and small groups is endless.


Google Drive is not just a great resource to use with students. Why not try and integrate it into your PE department to enhance the collaboration between staff. Use the sharing capacity to produce collaborative presentations, worksheets etc, that all members of staff have some input into.


With the impact of @PEgeeks could it be possible to create these presentations collaboratively with input from teachers across the country. This way producing ‘super’ documents for students




Google+ is a fantastic way of providing communication between people. It is very similar to Facebook and also Twitter. However it doesn’t have the 140 character limit that Twitter does.


How can it be used with PE?


The excellent thing about Google+ is that you can add people to different groups (these are called circles). When sending a message, which can include text, pictures, web links and videos, you can select who you wish to be able to access the message. Within school you can add different circles for your different PE groups. e.g. GCSE PE, Year 7, etc. This way pupils in the GCSE PE circle will only be able to access and view the information that is sent to this group or circle.


The other strength to Google+ is the ability to set up communities. These communities are private groups where only members of the group are able to access the information. These are also good for specific groups such as BTEC and GCSE groups.


Overall their are many different ways to enhance the learning of pupils. Many of these have similar traits and there is no particular right or wrong method, it is the one which works best for you and your pupils.


The best solution would be to use a range of methods and pick the strengths of each method. Google have produced a fantastic set of resources for teachers and Google+ and Google Drive would be part of my technology package alongside Twitter.

Death by Past Paper Question and the Birth of Past Paper Poker!

This guest post was kindly written by Paul Taylor @ticktock80.

For as long as I can remember, Summer term or more specifically April – June, has meant two things for students embarking on their GCSE or A-level exams, copious amounts of revision and infinite boredom!  While I would like to tell you that this doesn’t happen in my lessons, I can’t.  In fact the monotony of the last 9 years has finally broken me!  How is it that I spend all year planning and delivering lessons to engage and enthuse my students to be passionate about my subject, making their learning experiences fun yet efficient, only to get to the final hurdle, where they experience a slow and painful death by past paper questions! (PPQs). The time where their enthusiasm should be at its peak has become the time where they find themselves on the slippery slope to disengagement – Nightmare!  Surely this is the educational equivalent to ‘pi$$ing into the wind’?

This year that had to change, if not for the potential that continual focus and engagement has to offer in the lead up to an exam, but for my own sanity! I sought out support from the PE department at Penistone Grammar School, (PGS) specifically Ben Dowle (@dowley8) and Kate Bancroft (@klbancroft88) to help ensure that this year the ‘silly season’ of revision and exam preparation didn’t follow the familiar and universal default setting of:


Now at this point, I’m sure some are thinking that there isn’t a great deal wrong with that model and I absolutely agree.  However, the first phase of the chain is where you win or lose, where you engage or disengage, where you become efficient or inefficient in their revision.  The rest of the chain is spot on and if you throw in a few prizes/sweets (‘spice’ if you’re from Barnsley) then not only are you laughing, so are the students #engagement!


The ‘spice’ became the focal point of creating something engaging and in this moment Past Paper Poker was born!  The ‘spice’ were to be the poker chips and now all I needed was someone who actually knew how to play poker! Cue @dowley8!  Ben was more than happy to educate me and the students how to gamble!!!  I jest, however, without this understanding it would have undoubtedly not been as effective.

The game is very simple and the ability to adapt it for a variety of different class sizes (@haleytaylor82 with 50+ GCSE PE students, @PCrookPGSALC with 30 GCSE PE students) makes it all the more appealing.

Ben and I put students into teams of 4, presented each group with a dry wipe board, dry wipe marker and a sealed envelope with their chips/spice in, we then played a YouTube clip of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. This went down like a ‘sack of spuds’ but we enjoyed the subtle link!  “What we doing today sir?” was asked as they looked at the sealed embossed (sticky label really) envelope full of spice!  At this point, offering our best ‘poker faces’ we set out explaining the rules of Past Paper Poker! The presentation below can be used to help explain the game. The slides can be downloaded from here.

Now if you cast your mind back to earlier in this blog where I made reference to a process of PPQ revision, you remember, the part where I made excellent use of Microsoft’s ‘Smart Art’, the point I made was about getting the first bit of the chain right and being creative about how the questions are asked.  If you get the format right, the engagement will follow.  Past Paper Poker certainly addresses the first link of the chain and consequently engages students.  Recently my # PETaL_TM buddy Ben Horbury (@TheBenHorbury) gave Past Paper Poker a whirl and was impressed with how students became ‘unconsciously engaged in revision’.


While I genuinely believe that students must access revision that directly links to the examination, and use material that the examination board produce, the manner and variety in which we give it to them should be broader to prevent students decelerating going into their exams and ensure they are ‘peaking’ at the right point.

photo (1)

The idea of avoiding the ‘infinite boredom’ when accessing PPQs has sparked a whole new approach to past paper revision at PGS with other games such as ‘Past Paper Pass the Parcel’ (we love alliteration at PGS), ‘Past Paper Hide and Seek’ and ‘Past Paper Spending Spree’.  More to follow on these!


To wrap up, I am not saying that these will work for you, I’m not saying they will result in better grades for your students, but what I am saying is they will be more engaged, and enthused at a time of the year where engagement is vital if we are to heighten the chances of them fulfilling their potential.


Try it, you might like it! (If you don’t at least you’ll know you don’t!)