The Paperless classroom thanks to Google Drive

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

There are schools that are really pushing for this… all be it, 20years after we were promised the paperless society!  There is a school in the states that has gone so far as to Copyright a document that takes teachers step-by-step on how to do everything from a Google Drive.  North Canton City schools in Ohio shows teachers how to create templates, accept assignments and even grade them with comments in their document The Paperless Classrooms with Google Docs.  I really like how students have to share their assignment with their teacher and then go to the submission template and put in their name, date and link to the doc.  This really makes sure that they can’t say…. “but I sent it, I guess the email didn’t go through!”

But really is this feasible, can we move from the desk-top to the lap-top in class? As  teacher I love the option of avoiding the photocopy line-up, as well as the “lost paper” syndrome we are all prone to.

flubaroo marking graph

I can see the forms option used as a way to offer  quizzes or end of class check-ups.  All of my students can share a class folder with me and I can just direct them to a certain document to complete a survey of learning.  Then I receive a nice neat table in my inbox with their responses.  As long as you create an answer key, the Flubaroo add on does the marking for you, offering a graph of marks and the option to email results to students.  I explored Flubaroo and it really will help me with marking!

It seems to me that Forms are the most powerful tool for schools – eudemic has found 80 ways to use google forms in your classroom.  Most are based on surveys to simplify classroom administration for such things as parent replies, student info, class trip registration or fundraising.  These may seem trivial, but if I can have all of these housekeeping tidbits in one place (my gmail inbox)  I may just save 7 min per day of searching ( this turns out to be almost 24 hours per year!).

Teacherthough.com offers 52 ways think about using Google Drive in the classroom.  some of my favourites are – kick slackers off a project (literally take their name off a list) and getting feedback before you hand in assignments – using Flubaroo.

But what about the kids? how would it work for them?

Thomas Barret writes a blog about educational technology and did a paper comment survey (on his former blog) with his students after they completed a project in teams with Google Docs.  Their frustrations were mostly around simultaneous document sharing but they really liked the chat feature.  OF COURSE they did, this is how our digital natives communicate now.  He outlines that just like any classroom activity, we need to model and lead our students when they are using a new tool.  To reduce frustration I would structure collaborative writing activities with a pre-made document with group members identified.  This would eliminate the time they would take to get started and would teach them an approach for future projects.  I think kids would enjoy not having papers  to keep track of.  I already have students that take notes on their Ipods, why not do group work or tests on them too?

Making the my teacher  life better? (what I really mean here is easier)

I found a really interesting and thoughtful account from one teacher-blogger, Mr Hardison.  In his post on TeacherThought.com, he presents a case study of using Google Docs to increase his teacher superpowers.  He harnessed the powers of Google Forms to reduce his marking and compress his planning.  He gave students ID numbers and projects IDs and used a series of peer sharing structures to help them perfect and critique each other’s writing.  The peers were each given an essay to mark, using a form and for the final mark, Mr Hardison only assessed the Google Form completed by the marker (as the marker’s mark).  I loved this idea of requiring peers to really read and understand their fellow students’ texts and make thoughtful comments.

Google drive – keep anything, share everything.  That is their slogan.  It is a step in the paperless direction.

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