Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tool 4: Google Docs

Google Docs has been growing on me these past couple of years. As improvements and reliability has increased, I am liking it more and more. Most of my experience is with 2nd grade, so let me speak in a utopia sense, where students can type 40 words a minute, and don’t have to take 40 minutes to type 3 sentences… (heh)

 I like for the students to make podcasts. There is an app on the itouch called “italk lite”, and with a thumbtack microphone (seriously, it looks like a fat thumbtack!), it is very easy for students to record their stories, ideas, research---whatever. Before they can record a podcast though, they have to write a script, so that they don’t weave and talk in circles. If I have them working in groups, they can use Google Docs to write their script. They aren’t confined to only working on it in the classroom, since they can access it from home.

 This is also a good tool for Writer’s Workshop…if students are working on a document, they can then share with say, three classmates, and those classmates would be responsible for commenting. The teacher could make a standard, such as at least three comments per paper, and then give a grade from there. I think an easy way to get this started with the smaller folks is to assign them to editing groups. Once the student shares a document to some contacts, those contacts remain in their system so that they don’t have to type the entire email address each time. The teacher can assist small groups at a time to get them started, since that will take up a chunk of time, then can repeat the process by adding new addresses at another time, making the circle of contacts for each student a little larger. You folks that work with the smaller folks know that a lot of errors get made when trying to type anything!

 Another use of google docs that I have seen is where the students share their work with the teacher, then the teacher can pull it up for the class to look at together on the activboard (student’s name is withheld!!) for learning purposes.

 I liked the Google Form. This was a first time to play with that for me. I think this could be helpful when getting input from team members about a variety of issues that need to be talked about, as well as for student use. Something for me to think on some more…we do graphing in math, and ask the students to make graphs. Perhaps having them make some questions and then share them with a certain amount of classmates to gather information for a variety of graphs---then they will have collected information at one time and can use that as an ongoing database from which to make the different graphs we do throughout the year, and also for when we connect fractions with pie graphs. Student can write a question, come up with 4 or 5 possible responses to choose from, then repeat the process for a designated amount of questions. Then you save classroom time by having them collect data every time you want to make a new graph. If you teach language arts, students could develop questions related to the book they have read in a book club.  The other thing that will have to be done is teaching the students how to read the spreadsheet that goes along with it.  I don't think that will be difficult, it's just one more thing to take into consideration when planning a lesson around using this!

Here is what my first form looks like!

 Now that the amount of technology is increasing in the classroom, some of these things will be easier to implement. Back when you only had 2 or 3 computers to a classroom, this would be a nightmare with how much time it would take to even start any of these projects. Now the computers are smaller, and can travel easily between classrooms, and I am blessed to work on a team that the folks are willing to share their devices if they aren’t currently being used by their own students.

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