Using Google docs for collaboration

Following an inspiring ‘Teach Eat’ session before half term. I decided to completely change the structure of my afternoon lesson that day to incorporate some ideas from Dan and Sharon (thank you!), by testing out a collaborative Google document with my year 13 class (10 students). The lesson focus was on developing evaluative paragraphs; a skill students find really challenging and need practice at. I created a Google Document with a range of issues and debates from psychology and shared this with my group. Luckily half of the students had brought their own device, so they were able to join groups so everyone had access. Each pair chose a coloured key ring with a different issue or debate within psychology written on it and using a variety of materials worked on developing an evaluative paragraph. I kept one key ring spare, so as soon as a pair had finished theirs, another was available to work on. After a while students then moved on to improving others’ evaluations within the same document. The beauty of Google Docs is that it records who has written what, so I could easily identify individual contributions.

Google Docs2

I found that this collaborative approach completely changed our lesson. Some students who are known to be very slow workers wrote twice as much as usual, as their work was being projected on the board in real-time. I was also able to monitor all pairs of students without having to invasively take their book or interrupt their work flow, as I could scroll through the collaborative document on my own iPad and watch what was being written in real time. The greatest benefit was that I was not only able to read everyone’s work through thoroughly during the lesson and give simultaneous feedback, but, once the lesson was over I could add my own feedback in a different coloured text and make the document read-only. Both the students and myself now have a written record of their improved work.

I have subsequently repeated this lesson and had two students collaborating on the same class document effectively from home (I emailed them instructions during the lesson). The next step will be to use a collaborative record sheet in Science to collate group results!

Kimberley Croft @kimcroft

International Links Coordinator
Teacher of Psychology and Science


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