DigiLit Sunday: Plans for beginning the new school year with Google Docs

diglit sunday

DigiLit Sunday was created by Margaret @ Reflections on the Teche; here’s her invitation: “Welcome to DigiLit Sunday. I hope you will write a post about how digital literacy is working (or not working) in your classroom and link up with Mr. Linky at the end of this post.”  Join us and share what you have discovered!

I piloted Google docs for our middle school at the end of last year, and found it to be an amazing journey for both my students and myself.  I limited its use to writing workshop, just because I knew I had a lot to learn, and that time was short (4 weeks left in our school year) – I didn’t want a lot of confusion in what is perhaps the most confusing time of year in which there always seems to be too much to do and too little time in which to get it all done.  But, as this  post  I wrote for Two Writing Teachers indicates, Google docs raised the level of engagement and of efficiency in our writing workshop.  Our multi genre unit owed much of its success to the fact that we were able to write, share, confer, and clarify in a much more meaningful way.  My kids loved the coolness factor, and I loved that I could stay on top of all the writing that was going on (each of my kids was crafting four different pieces of writing for this unit of study) without having to cart 50 writing folders home every night.

That success led me to spend the summer figuring out how I would begin the year with Google docs, using it for everything from the first day letter to reading, writing, and parent surveys.  As usual, my online PLN provided so many wonderful ideas – Julieanne Harmatz wrote about Google doc parent surveys  , and Cathy Mere about portfolios and conferring toolsboth of which pushed my thinking further.  So, here are some ways in which I will launch the year with Google docs integrated into my planning process:

1.  Although I will have copies in class for us to read and discuss, the “first day letter”, the reading, writing, and parent surveys will all be shared – first on our class website, and then through student accounts.  The completed surveys will become part of each student’s portfolio, just as the end of year surveys will be.  I think that this will be a useful tool for each of my kids, from their thoughts and goals at the beginning of the year to their summative ideas about their development as readers and writers.

2.  Google forms will be a great way in which to keep track of my students’ reading habits and genre explorations. Donalyn Miller’s Reading in the Wild has excellent ideas (she actually shares her own forms in the appendices) to tailor to grade levels, and I think that having all of this information online will be a great asset – no more lost forms!

3.  I am changing my back to school presentation from Prezi to Google Presentation. All my guidelines, and procedures, and “rules” (how to make up work, grading policies, etc.) will now be on hand for reference from the very beginning of the school year – no more, “I didn’t know that you …”.

4.  I am experimenting with using Google forms to create an online collection of book reviews as well for students to share great books they’ve read and want their classmates to read.  We have a place in the classroom for a poster version of this, but my kids often say that wished they could access this information at home or at their public library, when they are smack in the middle of choosing books.

So, these are some goals and ideas…all it will take is for my school’s tech department to have student Google accounts up and running on the first day of school. And really, how hard could that be?!



6 thoughts on “DigiLit Sunday: Plans for beginning the new school year with Google Docs

  1. You seem to be so well prepared to welcome your students this year. I look forward to following your progress this year using Google docs all year. Your last sentence made me laugh. We can certainly relate to tech department woes. I think they are going to get tired of hearing from me. My next hurdle is getting VImeo opened. Wonderopolis videos are all VImeo. I can’t believe how this exciting new venture for my school year is being met with such challenges. But as you said, “We persevere.”

  2. Tara,
    What a thoughtful plan for using Google Docs this year! You are already on your way to a successful year with the knowledge that you have from your planning and last year’s implementation. Tech is so wonderful – when it WORKS!

  3. Fran, I love Google Docs and have not really invested time with Google forms. I think going paperless and keeping electronic portfolios is a great idea for going into next year. Best of luck. I played around with the Tapestry app this past week. Although I have a lot to learn I am impressed with the ease of create a story presentation in a short amount of time. You can see my end products at http://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2014/08/diglit-sunday-integrating-technology.html.

  4. Super smart thinking and as I read through your ideas I continue to think about how to connect with my students on their own time. Last trimester I tried an hour of week when my students knew I would be on line if they needed help especially the night before a test. It was really amazing to see how several students had the courage to ask clarifying questions that way instead of in the classroom.Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. Wow! I’m impressed and look forward to reading more about your progress (and that of your students) throughout the year. What amazes me is the level of technology you have available for use in your classroom. I have been out of the classroom for only two years and at that stage we had just four computers in our room. I’m not certain that the situation has changed any; and my system doesn’t allow the use of Google! Technology is great – when it works, and when you can use it.

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