Wednesday, July 21, 2010


As a challenge to get our 8th graders to brainstorm about our day's activities and to create a graphic organizer before their reflection, we opted to use Google Docs Drawing documents. We created a blank drawing template in Google Apps for each team and made the link public with edit capabilities.  We posted the links in Moodle - the software they use in their Middle School classrooms.

The instructions were explicit to the class: Each team of 4-5 students needed to 1) talk about the day's activities, 2) divide the work so everyone knew what they were to write about, 3) they talked about which part of the drawing area they were going to work on, 4) each student was to individually bring up the document and edited his/her portion, 5) when done, they would talk about putting finishing touches, arrows, lines, etc and get it completed. Reminded them they were working on one common document - they had to cooperate to create a great graphic!

And we let them go!

What a positive experience for the class and a great reward of us teachers seeing how things developed. We projected each team's document on the screen and watched as the students dynamically created the graphic organizer of the day's activities! We would switch between the different teams so everyone would see what they were doing and how it looked - which created a competitive spirit between the teams as well.

As a teacher I am struck how smoothly this came together and how powerful a tool this can be in the classroom. Here is the student's draft's of the day's activities.

This was done in a matter of about 45-55 minutes from a "blank" virtual sheet of paper. The kids were engaged - animated to work on one common document seeing their team work progress in real time. 

A couple of things to note - students had to use Google Chrome or FireFox because Internet Explorer does not work with the drawing program. Also, of note is the fact that the "link-edit" approach does not provide the students with some functionality (minor) like inserting pictures or saving the file as a "jpg" picture file.  We chose the link approach purposely because we did not want the students to sign-on to Google Apps which would have been yet another step. In our classrooms however, if they were signed on to Google Apps they would have had full capability.  One more comment is that if the students that had their own Google mail account (personal one) they were able to access the features. So there are many options. With a bit more practice this can be a powerful tool not only for 8th graders but for just about any grade.

Congratulations to Google for an outstanding implementation that allows us to do this very quickly.   What a great gift to teachers and students.  Do I sound excited about this? Yep you are right! The students loved it - and so did the teachers.

Try it and drop me a comment...

1 comment:

Cal State San Marcos said...

I am going to look into this for our science teachers and also for my 422 class. The concept maps are impressive. I will try to drop by today to see this in use. Thanks for sharing,