Google Docs

After the third inservice espousing the wonders of Google Docs, I decided that perhaps it was time to introduce this tool to my students. With some excitement (and dread) I announced my decision and began the process. First of all remember that my students are 7th graders, not really used to regularly using usernames and passwords.

Our school district assigned email addresses (usernames and passwords) for the first time this year but unfortunately they are very long and require the learning of several number combinations. Step one – log into for the first time the email site. Step two -after getting comfortable with this tab over and go to Google – more – documents. Use long email address again and ┬áthe same password (so as not to have to remember a new one) and select “sign in.” Sorry password is not long enough. OKAY…. add these numbers to the end of it. Of course write this down so that you don’t forget.

After several attempts to read the illiterate combinations of letters and numbers to confirm their humanity, students began accessing their very own Google Docs account. Success! Everyone shares a response with me. End of session one.

The next day I placed a template for all of my classes to use. Everyone logged on and began to work. I realized instantly that something was wrong. It seems that my inservices never actually got beyond setting up an account and how the tool could be used. I quickly surmised that making a copy was in order and advised students to do that but no one renamed their documents. Their “All Items” folders as well as mine were filled with each other’s copies of the templates.

After some reading on my own, I made some changes in the process. I renamed a template with class name and sent it only to the students in a particular class. I also taught them to rename the document after making a copy. Success!

By the fourth day, almost everyone could access their account on the first attempt. We all had a better understanding of the share (or not) process and students quickly (and creatively) worked on their assignments. I finally got a little of the bliss that is Collaborative Word Processing. No wasting of paper by printing. Easy accessing of student work and a much better way to help students revise and edit work.

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