Monday, 31 October 2011

The Google Docs Adventure

It's time to ratchet things up a bit.  So far I've been using a few generic tech tools in the class to help increase engagement.  I've found a deep love of prezi - something about the option to spin the words around and have things zoom in and out from various directions seems to be far more effective than power point.  Students can sit through 20 minutes of power point ... and it seems that 40 minutes are possible with prezi.  But for next week, I've decided to take the plunge.

Google Docs.  We've seen them used in the class so I convinced my associate that we could save a class by using them.  As part of the war of 1812, I'm having the students prepare short write-ups on various players in the war.  Originally, Tuesday was going to be a computer room day, they'd print off their report on a person and then on the next day our students would travel from desk to desk copying out notes on other peoples' people.  Also, I now see the full value of the class website.

Step one will be a short introduction to google docs - how to create one and set up the sharing so others can read it.  Along with that will be a master sheet of reports so students have ready access to others' reports in one place.  I was dreading the thought of passing along the a google docs link for the master sheet until I remembered my website is a far easier url to access.  So, my assignments page now has the link to the master sheet, the actual assignment and the list of people to pick from.  My previous uses of technology (videos, games) were great for engagement, but now I see the other value of technology - saving time by using it more effectively.

Also, the website is wonderful.  It's a great feeling knowing that students who are away on a day, or missed a couple points in a presentation, have complete access to anything that occurred the day before.  I've only received one minor complaint about my website - I was a day late posting one of the assignments for ancient civ and a student caught me.  And as much as I was kicking myself for getting caught, I had to smile ... they're actually using it.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and links here - I'm posting on borrowed time.  As much as I'm ecstatic that my associate was comfortable enough with my teaching to toss me a second class so quickly, setting up a new website and brushing up on American history has put me behind the 8-ball.  So, with hopes that I haven't posted this here before ... the history of English (part 1)

Oops - forgot to add that having the 12 workplace history students do their presentations using goanimate was an incredible success.  They were on task for the entire work period, continued collaborating through the weekend and produced some incredible cartoons.  And the most popular question with their next presentation assignment - can we use go animate again?

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