Using GoogleDocs with my students has been such a liberating experience. These 7th graders have really owned up to being my guinea pigs ready for whatever I throw at them.
Period 2: I wanted students to work on a GoogleDoc individually. They were to find textual evidence to support the Big Idea. They were expected to cite their sources. The purpose of this was to give them practice in identifying textual evidence and explaining how it supports a generalization. I encouraged the students to engage in dialogue with each other, but I wanted them to write their own paragraph.
Period 3: I changed my mind. In the passing period between Period 2 and 3, I decided to create a folder for Period 3 which contained a GoogleDoc for each table. It was the same assignment as Period 2, but students were going to work collaboratively to find textual evidence, include commentary, and cite their sources. I gave them some options (e.g. assign who will write the intro, who will find textual evidence, who will write). But in reality, students could decide however they wanted to divvy up the duties.
It was really eye-opening to listen to students discuss the evidence, give encouragement, jump in to “fix” something, etc. In fact, it worked so well that I decided to use the same procedure for Periods 4-6. I was amazed at how well the groups worked! Even the tables with students whom I wouldn’t normally think would be into collaborative writing worked together. It was essentially a pretty-well oiled machine. And this was the first time my students had done this type of assignment.
I love the freedom and self-regulatory learning that has been the mainstay of my classroom this school year. Having 1:1 iPads in the classroom has taken away many of the restrictions and barriers from the times of pairing up students to use MacBooks. I am so lucky to have a principal who believes in my ability to utilize and incorporate technology in authentic and meaningful ways with my students. This has most definitely been a year of growth for all.