Friday, 19 October 2012

Module 3 - Google Docs

How can I use Google Docs in my classroom? Let me count the ways.

I use Google docs extensively. it has completely transformed the way I do my role. So much of the work I do is in teams and it is rare that any document has a single author. It is also rare that contributors work from the same location. My team is spread all around the diocese. A google doc is the perfect collaboration tool.

How would I use it in the classsroom?

Unit Planning
We used to always plan in teams. I would attept to write units not just in teams that span across the school but across the diocese.

Compiling assessment ... eg. in Maths. I used to teach in a very big school. We had cohorts of 400 students in each year level. There were 15 year 9 maths classes and lots of teachers. Start with a blank doc shared to all members in the maths team. Break the document up with sub headings, one for each type of concept we intend testing in the term. Invite teachers in the team to contribute questions as the unit unfolds. Use this document at team meetings to ensure all team members are "on the same page" and to generate conversations about where people are at. When  it comes time to compile the test, the person given that task can cut and paste from this document. The "test" can then be available to the team for "comment".

Pre-unit Task
Say to students.....
"This week we are learning about...."
"I have left this shared document with each of you as editors".
"For the next 5 nights of homework, scour the web and see what you can find as resources for this unit". "Leave a link to what you find on this page".

Pre and Post testing
Use a Google form to pre-test and post test a unit.

Check for understanding/Assess "for" learning
Use a Google form to see where the class is at (Assessment of learning)

Criteria Sheet/ Assessment "as" learning
Write a criteria sheet where every "standards descriptor" hyper-links to exemplars so students can see what that standard looks like. The challenge is to have exemplars that come from a different topic or context but demonstrate the same achievement.

We have been learning about surface area. I have shared this Google doc with all of you as editors. You are required to write 1 question that revises what we learned in class today. If everyone contributes 1, we will have 20. You have 10 minutes. There is only one rule: you cannot repeat a question someone else has submitted.

Once 20 questions have been submitted, please make a copy and write your answers.

Daily Blog
- What did I learn today?
- What parts did I find most difficult?
- What did I understand best?

Students hand in drafts as Google documents. Using the comment function, give students feedback.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Module 2: Blogging - It's all about having a voice

In the context of the classroom, its worth asking the question "What is a Blog? How is it different to a Wiki, an announcements page, a web page or just comments on a web page?"

A webpage. Read only. The author is the only creator. Visitors to the page consume the content.

A wiki.  When a web page has multiple authors, multiple creators, it becomes a wiki. Normally Wiki's have other features such as the ability to see previous versions. It is read/write.

A blog. Read/write. Only the owner can post new topics. Visitors can leave comments but the owner (generally) can moderate these and choose what is published. A blog is fundamentally one person's voice with the facility to make public any comments others make about that voice.

The Google Apps Suite
This suite gives you the tools to explore Blogging, Wikis and Web pages.

A Google Site. You can use this Google App to create a Wiki (many authors) or a Web page (read only) or an "announcements page". An announcements page allows editors to start new comment threads or respond to existing comments. Because a visitor can create a new thread, it isn't really a Blog.
Blogger ( allows staff and students to Blog using their google account for access. When you first go to Blogger on your school domain, teachers/students are hit with this page below. They need to choose "Blogger Profile" and not "Google+ Profile". 

Google + will not be turned on for school domains. It has an age restriction 13+. Click here for a detailed guide for setting up student blogs.

There are two good reasons teachers may want to use Blogger.
  1. It allows the site owner to control all posts and visitors can only comment. The site owner controls the agenda. This is not the case with Google sites. With a Google sites page, to comment, a user has to have edit rights and when they have edit rights, they can change content created by the owner.
  2. Google provides amazing analytics on blogs. Here is a sample.

A Google Doc. This is an on-line document. It can be permissioned as read only (A Web page) OR you can have multiple authors (a Wiki). When you need multiple, concurrent authors in real time,  nothing beats a Google Doc.

Making a blog