Last week I found myself, sitting down on the job during a writing lesson, not the usual stance I take. Not only that, all my students were engaged in the writing process and I knew exactly what they were all up to. How can that be? Well earlier this year my school took on Google apps, since that time all students have received a gmail account and we have started to use various Google apps in our classroom. That writing lesson was one of many which is now conducted entirely using Google docs. Here are a few of the ways I am using it.
Year 6 are currently producing fractured fairy tale play scripts, now not only can several students work together on the same script but I can too. I can view who is writing what in real time and I can view the revision history to see who was involved as it was written. I can add comments such as ‘check your grammar here’ which disappear once the mistake has been corrected and I can add my own thoughts to the document as they are writing, I usually choose a different text colour for this. I like to have paired writing sessions to support different learners, where each writer writes in a different colour assisting and learning together. We have also used a ‘choose your own adventure story’ style where each student had to write a paragraph of the story, they then joined together and edited the finished writing to produce a coherent story. I have also put a Google doc up on my SMARTboard, so everyone can view the editing process and watch who adds what. All of this and more from my desk or sofa at night, Immediate feedback and immediate assistance, no wonder my students and I love it.
The more I use Google Docs, the more I think of new ways to use it. Right now I cannot imagine my classroom being without it, as I am finding that it is such a great tool for helping me to incorporate real writing into my program. I am sure it is connecting the gap between writing in school and writing in the real world. My students can see who writes what and when, they can see that writing is an ongoing and evolving process. Those who need help can see and assist in the writing of longer and more complex texts. The more capable students can gain validity for what they have put into a document.
I have also used Google forms to create online reading records as well as Google presentations for collaborative PowerPoints. We will be completing collaborative costings in Maths next term and I can already see that happening in Google spreadsheets. So many uses, so much change. Are you using Google docs in your classroom yet?
Other Blog posts about Google docs
6 Powerful Google Docs Features to Support the Collaborative Writing Process by Susan Oxnevad is a great post with clear examples of ways you can use Google docs in your classroom.
Journey Through Learning- Disrupting practise and moving forward by Abi Woldhuis my wonderful ICT Integrator, source of inspiration and ideas. A post where she reflects on using Google Docs in other years.