Using Google Docs is not something that came intuitively to me. I’m capable but not confident, and that’s saying a lot considering where I was in August.
In order to use Google Docs with my students, I have had to carefully think through the skills the kids would need and introduce them systematically so they can successfully share their reading (comprehension) and writing (synthesis and communication) skills.
Here are the steps I have taken to prepare third graders to collaborate using Google Docs:
- Activating Gmail accounts: All ISB students have Gmail accounts established, but my students had never had reason to use theirs. With the help of Chrissy Hellyier, our amazing elementary tech goddess, we helped the kids log into their accounts via Panthernet, customize the settings, and locate the Google Docs link.
- Create a new Google Doc: Once the kids were logged in this was pretty easy. They have worked enough with Word to understand creating a new document. They each wrote me a short message about their upcoming spring break. A couple of students created additional google docs. They will be my experts during the project work.
- Share a document: This seemed fairly straightforward. Each student was to share his or her new document with me (and only me). However, when I checked my documents, only about 13 kids had successfully shared their document. I met with those students in small groups this week to help them get started. I will say that one student was exceptionally skilled at sharing and managed to share the document with 14 people.
- Collaborate on a document at the same time: Also something that seems normal to me know, but seeing the kids’ reactions brought me back to when this was a new and wondrous tool. One student’s reaction to me working on the same document as him was to have a mini-freakout and delete my typing. That helped me realize a little practice was in order. I created a Google Doc and copied it 6 times, one for each reading group. I shared the documents to the groups the students would be working with for their project. Their task was to decide on a color of font each student would write with and share a joke using that color. Some students were more natural at this than others, but overall I think it was a good experience to prep the kids for the project.
Tomorrow we will begin work on the final Google Doc project. This will be a culmination of our reading and writing units. The students read to become experts in a non-fiction subject area and used the notes they took to write expert paragraphs they then combined into an article. For the project, they will publish their article and find a creative commons photo to accompany it.
To begin work on the newspaper, students will have team meetings to decide who will be responsible for each space on the newspaper and they will propose ideas for a newspaper name. At that point they will be ready to log into their documents and begin working. I anticipate this project taking about one week.
Wish me luck!
PS. I found this via Twitter today. Timely, no?