Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Google Docs Galore

I have been playing with Google Docs in my classroom a lot this week.

The speech class used Google Docs at the end of last week to discuss "beautiful people" and how they may appear as if they have it all, but have their own issues.  The speech students partnered up and each team created a Google Doc consisting of a couple of paragraphs about their celebrity of choice.  They then shared the doc with me.  When time was called on the discussion, I projected each doc on the the screen with ease while each team spoke about their paragraph.

The accelerated junior English class used Google Docs for their review study guide for the Puritan Test.  I had planned on using Google Docs, but not quite the way that it turned out.  In the A5 class, we had a student who was talkative, so we dared the student to stay quiet for a certain period of time.  The "dare" quickly became the "Quiet Game," and we did our review through Google Docs.  I started the document and shared it with all of the students.  I then typed in topics of discussion for the review.  Each student then added information to the document as he/she saw fit.  At first, there was some goofing around with silly phrases, font size, and color changes, but after a bit, that settled down and the document became a valid study guide for the exam.

The B1 class (the larger class) was set up in a similar fashion.  Since we found out that if too many people are working on the same part of the document at the same time, Google Docs freaks out a bit, I paired the students up into 11 groups and assigned specific topics for each group to focus upon in the Google Doc.  The initiation of the doc was much the same as the other class - a little goofing around with the tools, but soon everyone got into the study guide.

I feel like the playing around that was going on at first was beneficial to the process.  Even though some students started to get frustrated at those who were playing with the tools, the students who were playing around were also learning the toolbar and the functions of Google Docs.

The English and Speech students also learned about Google Chat.  I explained that Google Chat was a nice tool to use to communicate during a lesson if the discussion was based on the lesson.  I let them know that if they used it to discuss info based on classroom discussion, then most teachers would approve of the use of Google Chat.  However, I did warn that the students need to ask the teachers for permission before using it because some teachers are not comfortable with that practice yet.

The English classes are all set - they have the Google Docs background that they need to start working with Farmington High students next week.  That end is in place, and the only thing left is that Josh and I finalize the student Rationalism Project handout.  We should be able to finalize the document by Thursday.  We have been "walking the walk" by planning the project using Google Docs and Skype video chats.

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