Sunday, March 4, 2012

Google Docs

I started using Google Docs back when it first came out in 2007. I also jumped on the Google Sites bandwagon and created several sites using it. Back then, I quickly ran into its limitations and I stopped using it.
Then this year a coworker of mine turned me back onto Google Docs. He uses it with his students in various ways, but since I started using it in class, the major benefits I see are:
  1. If you make the document and share it with your students, they cannot delete it.
  2. You can see when the students work on their documents.
  3. You can work with them in real time.
  4. The students can work on their writing at home. (Bonus)
In addition to using it in my class, I have also begun using it for myself. And since I started, I cannot stop.
Personal Uses
When I first started using Google Docs way back when it came out, the first thing I did was put my resume up on it. And one of the first things I did this year was to put my resume up onto it. I really like that I can embed the document into a webpage, and it updates as I update it. It is also nice to know that an updated version of my resume is always available whenever there is an internet connection. You never know.

I also use Google Docs to keep track of student grades. I do a lot of grading at home, and before I had to email myself the numbers or file and then resave it onto the server at school. Half the time I try that way, there is a problem with saving it and I have to go to my workaround of first saving it to the desktop and then saving it to the server. Needless to say, I can save a lot of time there by using Google Docs.

In addition to grades, I use Google Docs to maintain records and forms I sometimes need to access from both home and school. Last month I had to complete certificates for our elementary assembly. I try to rotate the students around so they all can have a chance at some glory, but when I sat down to
write them out, I had to wait until I got to school so I would not double up the students.

I also share documents and forms with my students. I can embed the documents I want the students to read on our class blog.

Things I Want to Try
There are several ideas I have that I still have not tried yet. We just started using the DRA reading assessment at our school to track students' reading progress and better target the skills they need to work on. I think using Google Docs to chart the students would be a good way to keep all teachers "in-the-know" about the students' reading progress.

In much the same way I envision the school to use Google Docs for our DRA charts, I also think that we should be using Google Docs to keep behavioral charts. I recently had a conversation at school about a student who was having problems, and one of the teachers involved in the process had no idea what I was talking about. If we had more and easier collaboration in these matters, everyone would have known what was going on.

I would also like to try doing unit plans using Google Docs. I find that the access to documents on Google is much easier than digging through our school server. Easier access means more updates to the plans.

Of course many of the problems I mentioned above can be solved in ways other than using Google Docs, but these are some things that I think could be solved at my school.

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