Why the G-Suite is Counterproductive for IB Curriculum Planning

6 min read

“Using Google Docs for curriculum planning is like bringing a blunt pocket-knife to a gunfight”

Mark Krabousanos
PYP Curriculum Coordinator, GEMS International School, Al Khail

Teaching is a complex job – it requires balancing a lot of moving pieces. As teachers, we have to design the curriculum, check its balance, plan lessons, search for resources, ensure connections between planned and taught curriculum, personalise lessons for students, collect evidence of learning, assess students, generate progress reports, connect with families, take attendance, set up classes – we could keep going – it’s an endless list really! And of course, all of this needs to be done after 6-8 hours of teaching a rigorous curriculum.

Gems International School Case Study
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To manage this complexity, teaching teams need tools designed specifically for them. The Google Suite is great, but it’s not built for education. In this blog, we will go over the 6 biggest reasons why Google just doesn’t fit the bill for educators and actually adds to our work, and how Toddle, as a solution built by educators, for educators, understands and solves for the unique challenges that we face.

Reason 1: Creating unit planners using Google Docs takes forever and is error-prone

Let’s imagine what teachers must do to create a new unit planner using Google Docs.

Step 1: Locate the unit template that they want to use in Google Drive and create a duplicate copy of it.

Step 2: Figure out a nomenclature keeping in mind that they (and others in their team) need to find this later. Many end up using names like – “Latest Updated XYZ unit_Anna_2021”.

Step 3: Locate all reference documents in Google Drive – documents like the content standards (scope & sequence in the IB), skills (ATLs in the IB), attributes, concepts, etc. and open them in different tabs.

Step 4: Start creating the actual planner – keep switching tabs to copy relevant information to the planner document (most teachers usually refer to 12-15 documents, so you can imagine the chaos).

Step 5: Create a new folder to add resources linked to the unit.

Step 6: Remember the names of everyone who needs to be added as a collaborator, enter their email IDs and add them to the document.

On average, a teacher does ~70 copy-pastes, references 12-15 documents and spends over 6 hours creating a unit planner – with Toddle this can be 10x faster!

Here’s how switching from Google to Toddle changed the perception of curriculum planning for PYP coordinator, Mark Krabousanos:

Reason 2: Organising documents in our Google Drive is a task in itself

A curriculum coordinator once told us: “Finding Waldo is probably easier than finding things in the school’s G-Drive!” – and she’s probably right. On average, a school has more than 7,000 documents – unit plans, lesson plans, assessments, progress reports, student portfolios, contact information for parents, school calendar, evidence, teaching resources, PD resources, timetables, curriculum balance documents, IEPs, etc. 

Organising all of this is a task in itself!  Schools using the G-Suite need to manually organise all these documents for easy access, define processes for version control, train all the staff members in these processes, and also review and update them from time to time. 

Experience tells us that most schools have neither the time nor the resources and expertise to create such structures. Imagine a new teacher trying to find the right documents on their first week with the school – it’s nearly impossible!

Toddle, being an end-to-end system, provides a comprehensive structure that brings together all aspects of an educator’s work. In this intuitive platform, everything has a place and is easily accessible. For example, when creating an assessment, we have access to all the assessment tools the school uses, right there – just a simple click away!

What you see below is the Google Drive folder of PYP educator, Misbah Jafary. FYI, he’s now a co-founder at Toddle! 😄

Reason 3: Curriculum analytics on G-suite means hours of manual counting

Ensuring horizontal and vertical balance of curriculum is essential for schools that organize their curriculum in units. With the G-Suite, the only way to do this is to manually count. Teaching teams waste countless hours going through the planners, counting every element that is covered and updating the same on a different sheet. Once again, this is inefficient; wastes a lot of valuable teacher time, and is prone to errors. 

Further, if someone in the team makes a change in the unit – the counting exercise needs to be done all over again!

Toddle has powerful pre-built curriculum analytics that are generated automatically and updated in real-time as and when teachers make any changes in the units. This saves teaching teams hours of time, and can be viewed at any given time, with the click of a button!

Hear as Mark talks about how he had to turn a data manager to get insights on Google. With Toddle, he now spends his time reflecting on planners, rather than updating them.

Reason 4: The G-Suite does not connect planning with the other aspects of teaching and learning

All aspects of teaching are deeply interconnected – planning needs to be connected to assessments, reporting, family communication, and student portfolios. When we use the Google Suite to manage our teaching-learning, each of these aspects is a siloed document with no connection or information exchange.

For example, when generating progress reports on a unit, teachers need to copy-paste all the standards again. Or, when a student submits a piece of work through Google Classroom, it neither gets communicated to families nor can it be easily moved to the student’s portfolio.

This lack of connection just means mindless, redundant work for teachers. On Toddle, all aspects of teaching and learning are seamlessly connected, saving us hours of work.

Find out how Mark used Toddle to connect unit plans to daily lessons, assessments, portfolios, and report cards, seamlessly:

Reason 5: Google Docs lacks structured thinking needed for unit planning

When creating a unit, teaching teams need to identify what needs to be taught, why and how. Teachers need to identify what the students already know (prior knowledge), how to test for it, identify the areas of interest of students, define big ideas for the unit, understand how it connects to the standards, identify ways to create opportunities for students to develop skills, etc. 

This needs structured thinking. Planning on Google Docs does not enforce these structured thinking routines for teaching teams to follow. This usually leads to subpar planners created with a lack of standardisation.

Toddle has customisable, pre-built planning templates that give teaching teams the structure needed for creating high-quality units. And that’s not all. Toddle also makes space for teachers to get creative and design learning experiences from scratch. This way, Toddle helps strike a balance between structure and creativity, and bring out the best of both worlds!

Watch how Toddle helped Mark’s team break down the planning process and guided them through it.

Reason 6: Planning on Google Docs does not help us improve our practices

Picture what teachers do when planning a unit on Google Docs. They come across a planner element (say, “Action”, or, “Transdisciplinary Connections”) and vaguely remember something from training they had attended a while back. 

Now, in order for them to plan well, they need to go back to their Google Drive, locate the folder that houses Professional Development files, identify the right one, arrive at the exact page where this planner element is, and go over the PD again. 

This is a lot of friction and cognitive load on already loaded educators. Sometimes, teachers end up entering information from memory, or copy-paste from a previous unit; often developing misconceptions about the planner element.

On Toddle, this is elegantly solved. Each planner element has a “bulb” icon associated with it. The bulb icon had pre-built professional development resources. Teaching teams can also add custom resources to the bulb icon. It’s PD on the go! We get access to the right resources when we need it, where we need it – and in a language that we best know.

Planning and implementing structured, engaging, and rigorous curriculums include several interconnected parts. When we use the loosely connected G-Suite, the very time that its apps are supposed to save us is lost in juggling them. With an end-to-end teaching and learning platform like Toddle, all the resources and requirements for a teacher are organised in one place, helping us focus on what lies at the heart of our practice – our students!

Mark sums up Toddle’s planners in just 3 words, and we couldn’t have said it better! 😊

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Disclaimer - This resource has been produced independently of and not endorsed by the IB. Toddle’s resources seek to encourage sharing of perspectives and innovative ideas for classroom teaching & learning. They are not intended to be replacements for official IB guides and publications. Views and opinions expressed by the authors of these resources are personal and should not be construed as official guidance by the IB. Please seek assistance from your school’s IB coordinator and/or refer to official IB documents before implementing ideas and strategies shared within these resources in your classroom.