Last week Kathleen McGeady and I decided to try something a little different in our reading rotations and used Google Docs with our Grade Two students. As I had a student teacher who was taking my Guided Reading groups, I was free to work with the computer group each day and introduce them to Google Docs.
Google Docs is a free service from Google which allows multiple users to collaborate on the same document. People from all over the world can join in on the document if they have the link. At the recent Ultranet training day, the Ultranet lead users demonstrated how Google Docs is a fantastic Web 2.0 tool for connecting and collaboring with others. I immediately thought of the potential it could have in my Grade Two classroom so I was keen to try it out.
Our current Integrated Studies topic is dinosaurs. I set up a Google Doc with a series of questions about the dinosaur Cretaceous Period. Students worked on different computers to answer these questions using an information website. Their job was to find a question, locate the answer on the website and type in the answer on the Google Doc. The students loved seeing their answers pop up on all of the computers and by the end of the session, they had collaborated to answer all of the questions!
Check out the Google Doc below to see an example of the work the students completed
The students used the website below to locate the answers to the dinosaur questions
It was also important to discuss with the students that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet and it’s sometimes necessary to cross-check information before determining whether it is true or not.
Benefits of this activty were…
– Students learnt new technology skills to navigate and operate Google Docs.
– It is a great way to demonstrate research skills and strategies.
– Students worked on their own computers but collaborated together.
– It is an authentic method of teaching students about not believing everything you read on the internet.
– Students transfer their knowledge in various subject areas.
– Students experience the power of collaboration and it allows them to break down geographical barriers.
I would encourage other teachers to try using Google Docs in the classroom with their students. It is helpful to have an adult working with the students the first time they try it out, but the experience will prove to be beneficial for both you and your students!