In my first post, I discussed an easy way to get your class started with google docs. Once they get the hang of logging in and creating documents, the next step is to start collaborating on projects.
For example, my third grade class recently started a new unit on performing arts, and we wanted to kick it off with an assembly performance. We decided to take that story of “Hansel and Gretel” and create an original script that would tell the story with acting, puppets, and kamishibai (a Japanese form of storytelling).
We only had a few days to get ready, however, so the script needed to be written quickly. I gathered the class, turned on my computer’s projector, opened up our class google drive account, and created a document called “Hansel and Gretel script.” After we mapped out the scenes, I modeled script writing for a few minutes and took volunteers to write each scene as homework that night. At the end of the school day, the document looked like this:
Right after school I left to coach a basketball game. I got back later that evening, and when I glanced at the document, it was a fully written five page script.
The best part, however, was when the students went home they had seen each other writing the different scenes on the doc. Even the students who didn’t volunteer to write peeked to see what was going on. The next morning, as soon as they came to school, everyone was talking about the script. Some students had noticed inconsistencies between scenes. Others had ideas about how to make parts better. There were a few laptops lying around the classroom, and right away the students picked them up and started working together to make the script stronger. We went through a few more edits with the main writers and were able to focus on preparing for the performance (which went well, thanks!).
I’ve been a fan of google docs for a long time, and even I was surprised how effective it was in getting students to collaborate together on writing. I encourage all teachers to give it a try.