Saturday, April 18, 2015

Google Docs in the Classroom

I hope you're all having a great weekend.  I know I am.

Yesterday we tried something new.  I knew it would be chaotic.  I knew it had every chance of going poorly.  And it did.  It was awful.  But knowing that in advance made it okay.  (I'll add that I warned the kids of this potentiality as well.)

If you haven't heard, our students all have their own school google drives now.  I've been using my own personal drive to make up tests and quizzes that they could take online - but now that they have their own there is so much more we could potentially do.  The problem is, never having used it myself with the class, it was a little overwhelming.  I thought, why not jump in and see what possibilities are there.

(I had watched several videos on the subject, but they only go so far...  If there are any teachers out there reading this blog and thinking of using google docs in the classroom, you know what I mean.  Sometimes you just have to jump in.)

After setting up their google accounts - which took longer than I thought it should - we started off by watching this video:  (It's good.  You should watch it.  Seriously.)

Then, I had them answer some questions.  But answering questions on google docs is different than just answering questions...  In first hour, I ended up with this:  

And that was after about 5 minutes of typing.  I learned a lot.  And the students learned a lot.  It's true, they may not have learned a lot about social studies, per se, but about collaboration and technology.  And the sooner they get that, perhaps the sooner we can incorporate it into the classroom more effectively.

That's not to say they didn't get anything social studies related out of yesterday's lesson.  The video alone is powerful.  So often I teach about globalization as something happening somewhere else.  That the British colonized India.  And Japan invaded Manchuria.  And America fought the Revolutionary War to be free of British colonization.  When I was in China and I felt guilty about eating the occasional Big Mac, it was easy to see America's influence "Americanizing" another country.  Sometimes I think it's easy to lose sight of the fact that America is still Americanizing America.  ...If you know what I mean...

But that (as I said) wasn't the only point of the lesson.  Integrating technology, and just figuring out how it works was yesterday's push.

Did I have a student delete the entire document before I learned how to secure it?  ...Yes.  More than once?  ...Yes...  (I thought the students would be on my side on this, and help me out.  Help us all out.  ...There's always one though, right?  You'd think after 9 years of teaching I would have lost some of my naivety.)  

Did I have a student write in all caps, THIS THING IS ANNOYING ME after the first question because having 30 kids collaborate on the same document at the same time is perhaps a little overwhelming?  ...Yes...

I mean, in her defense, people kept typing in the middle of where she was typing.

Finally, in 8th hour, I set the parameters to "view only" instead of "able to edit" or "able to comment."  Students downloaded it and worked on it individually and then shared it with another student who could comment on the work.

Ideally, I would share this in smaller groups.  Then they could still have the collaboration piece without being overwhelmed.  I could make up a rubric for how much each student participates within that group, and I could see the comments they leave.  ...That may be enough of a disincentive to keep students from deleting the whole page.

I see a lot of potential here.  A lot.  This is, as they say, the tip of the iceberg.

If you're here because you want extra credit for reading and discussing this blog with an adult, you should have read and discussed the post.  Tell the adult how you think the lesson went.  What did you think about the video?  What did you think about having the whole class type together at the same time on the same document?  

When you're finished discussing, write down at least 3 sentences from your discussion, which will prove you were here.

Then, have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in to me next time you see me.

If you're interested in seeing the questions from the video, here they are. If you're a teacher from somewhere else and want to copy that, feel free.  Be aware there are some questions that are tailored specifically to my class.  All the best.

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