RSS Feed

Google Docs

August 25, 2013 by Mrs Hurley   

Last week, I used Google Docs in the classroom for the first time. We used a template given to us at a recent PD to create a character profile and I had the students in their reading groups purely so the collaborative groups were smaller and easier to manage.

Here are a couple of things I learnt from this experience;

1. Collaboration needs to be explicitly taught! No matter how much I emphasised the ‘you cannot change, delete or contradict somebody else’s contribution’ rule, I had full-on arguments coming from some kids who just couldn’t agree! Negotiate was definitely not a word they knew.

2. A lot of technology knowledge in students is assumed. In general, people tend to believe that because the students I teach have grown up with computers, that they know everything about technology. From chatting to my students, it appears that the only things they use their school netbooks or home computers and other devices for is social media. Oh, and Maths games when they’re really bored on the weekend.

3. Nothing is explicit enough in my room. Unrelated to technology and the use of Google Docs but I’ve really noticed how helpless my students are when they need to think for themselves. Actually, this needs a whole post to itself.

Other than providing more opportunities to practise these skills (collaboration itself and new technologies), I am unsure as to how to teach these skills to my students. Am I throwing them into the deep end? Am I introducing too much at once?


What difficulties have you experienced when introducing new technologies/apps/websites in your classroom? How did you overcome these difficulties?


  1. Mary Bennett says:

    I’m only just commencing using google docs also so what I have to say may not stand for much. I think though, we need to scaffold them in the use of google docs. Make the tasks doable moving toward more independence. I used a collaborative doc with my Year 8 ESL group. They actually jumped into the collaborative stuff quickly. We used the docs in small groups, the whole class, and extension work for homework. The whole class has ownership of the docs and there is a certain pride in the development of their ideas. There are so many possibilities to explore with these online docs. I think as educators we have to imagine the possibilities and go for them. I agree with you though, students do need to learn the skills to be collaborative, but I think that mostly comes through practice and, perhaps implementing some of the group work skills that we already know.

  2. Margo says:

    A couple of strategies – I learnt very quickly when trying something new plan time that is about playing and using the tool before doing anything big.

    A great strategy to build collaboration is to film the students at work. Play this back to students and give them specific things to observe. Eg … Watch yourself, how well did you collaborate and/or what can you do better? Look for evidence of collaboration – what does it look like, sound like? Who is collaborating – how do you know? The possibilities are endless. From the discussion can come opportunities for documentation such as rubrics, essential agreements, guidelines for collaboration etc.

    • Miss Fraser says:

      Hi Margo,
      Isn’t it funny how much even the big kids love playing around with materials! I always give a couple of minutes of “play time” with materials, like MAB or measurement tools, before we do the activity but I never thought about doing this when introducing new technologies.
      I have filmed students before.. How do you stop them ‘performing’ for the camera though? Or do they get bored of it after being filmed a couple of times?
      I like the idea of the ‘Collaboration Pie’ that Chris Harte introduced the other night – particularly when using it for assessing the quality of participation so I might try that out soon!
      Thanks for your suggestions.
      Katelyn 🙂

      • Margo Edgar says:

        I found, that when they know the purpose for the filming … They stopped performing. Especially if you hold them accountable when watching it as a class. Ask why they felt it necessary to do that? How did it impact their learning, the learning of the others around them? What could they do differently next time? I am very much into accountability and being responsible for your actions. It was the follow up from the filming that set the tone for future filming. Like materials, technology and everything else … think of the first time as playtime.
        I found the use of filming to be one of the most powerful tools for students to develop their sense of self, accountability and self regulation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar