Google Docs: Tools for the 21st century teaching

Read this interesting account of how an educator uses Google Docs to transform her class practices.

Thursday, February 18, 2010 4:02 PM

Guest post: Tara Seale teaches 9th grade English in the Bryant Public School District and recently attended the Google Teacher Academy.

English teachers polled in the last decade of the last century about the one tool that they could not live without in their classrooms would probably select the overhead projector. In the first decade of the 21st Century, English teachers would probably choose a document camera, but in future decades, the tool will be web-based. I already teach in a web-based environment, and Google Docs is the web-based tool that has become the organizational center of my classroom.

I share assignments with my students as a view only file. Students make a copy of the file so they can annotate the directions. This is a weblink of an assignment: Expository Essay defining the word perseverance. This is an annotated copy of the assignment: Google Doc Annotated Copy of Expository Essay Assignment. No longer do I hear, “Mrs. Seale, can I have another copy of that assignment? I lost mine.”

Docs also teaches organizational skills. Students create folders to keep up with assignments. The most important folder is the folder students share with the teacher. All graded writing goes into this folder, and it serves as a writing portfolio for the semester. I do not have to hunt student work; it is organized in a student folder. At the end of the day, I leave with just a laptop, no papers to lug around.

Each student folder is in a group class folder. The class folder contains each student’s writing for the semester:

Each student’s online writing portfolio folder is also shared with his or her parents. Parents can even comment on student work and participate in the revision and editing process.

For students, Google Docs is an invaluable tool in the writing process. Students do not need a flash drive to carry drafts to and from home. Also, students can share writing with peer editors. After peer editing, students move their final draft into their English 9 folder. As the final editor, I leave comments to assist the student in revising his or her final draft. It is satisfying to browse through the revision history and see that a student is considering each comment as they revise: Yea! They are really reading what I wrote! Usually, students do not read teacher comments that are hand written on paper, but it seems to work in Google Docs.

Recently, a student working at home asked if I could read her paper before she submitted it later that week. I left comments and asked questions on the Google doc as the student wrote and revised, and it turned into a successful tutoring session. Thanks Google Docs!

Posted by: Tara Seale, English Teacher and Instructional Technology Specialist

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About Werner Paetzold

Canadian International of Hong Kong Extended Essay Coordinator
This entry was posted in Technology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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