For me, students learning to work together is a great opportunity for them to share ideas and knowledge in a safe environment; they can learn from one another. By effectively collaborating, students become active participants in their own learning.  Instead of just absorbing information, they become problem solvers.

Last week I introduced my students to Google Docs as a collaborative tool. We have been using Google Apps since the beginning of the year, but we haven’t used Docs to collaborate in small groups. Because they were familiar with the format, students were quick to jump in and to find features such as ‘chat’ and ‘comments’ and taught these to each other.

Within the lesson, students were actively engaged and completed the task.  I still found that some students wanted to control the process, while a few focused a bit too much on the features. However, I find this true with other formats and will consider that a classroom management issue.

To my great surprise, a small group of students chose Google Docs later in the day to record their notes for a completely different task. I have to say, that felt pretty nice.

Becoming Search Masters

Becoming Search Masters

As a classroom teacher, I have seen first hand how students struggle to find relevant information while searching the internet. I have watched them drop in a few words and hope for the best, only use the first two or three results that pop up.  It wasn’t until I learned how to search more effectively that I realized that my students needed to know these tips and tricks as well.

Within the past year, I have taken two workshops regarding Google Apps because I work at a Google school, and also because I believe it is a educational friendly tool.  From these workshops, I learned that Google has ‘operators’ or filters that help people refine their searches and some helpful tricks like using the URL box as calculator or dictionary. And those are just the very top of a very large iceberg. For my grade 5 students, it is my job to decipher which tips and tricks will be the most useful for them.

As a result I created a Google presentation to introduce grade 5 students to a few of the operators and some of the tools that Google has to help make searches more specific and relevant. This information is something which I will continue to model and review with students.

become a search master 

To see some photos of the student in action, please check out my class website: