I have used basic Dell desktops to have my students navigate Webquests and Novel study units. Has anyone here used Google docs to create their own or to customize a Novel study? I have began to use Google for the many resources it can provide a teacher in the classroom but was unsure on how well students responded to using different platforms. Many of my students do not have access to much technology outside of the classroom so I think just throwing them into an activity like this would be pointless. So the plan is to teach some mini lessons on how to use and even how to create their own material using Google Drive.

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Here's my experience the first time I exposed my students to Google:

In my Social Studies inclusion class this past year, my students had a fairly large project to complete: they had to choose one of the four chapters on China in their textbook and learn it well enough to be the teacher and teach it to the class. They had an entire month to complete the assignment, which involved them creating class lecture notes, an exam, and a presentation. Knowing middle school students fairly well, I could foresee a lot of the students procrastinating and ending up in a panic the weekend before it was due, so I created a schedule for them to pace themselves and allotted time twice a week during school for them to work on it. I also emailed the schedule to the parents so they could hopefully stay on top of their children’s progress since the majority of the project really needed to be completed at home.

Since this was our first year as a Google Apps for Education district, I incorporated Google into our plan. I created a folder for the project that they could use as a resource — it contained the detailed rubric for the project and copies of the chapters in case they forgot to bring their copy home. I shared this folder with them, then had them create their own subfolders which they shared with me. I showed them how to use Google Docs to complete the notes and exam, and suggested they try Google Slides for the presentation. Every day or so, I would check on their progress through the Google Drive app on my phone (my son just got his permit, so I could do this while he was driving!). I often left feedback for them on what they had done really well, what needed to be corrected, what they were missing, etc. When they logged in the next time, they would read my comments and often comment back to let me know they had corrected it or ask me a question. I think the first time that I was leaving a comment for one of them while they were actually working on the document kind of freaked them out — they must have thought I was a stalker! But I love the realtime feedback it allows me to provide to them when I could not be there in person. 

I know this wasn't exactly what you were asking about, but hope it helps! The students had no problem learning the new platform since it is so similar to Word, which is what they were used to using. We will have 1 to 1 Chromebooks this coming year, so it was a good introduction for them. For your students who do have technology at home, they can access their files from home too, which I think is a big plus.

Hi all! I really like Caryn's idea of real time feedback. I think whatever you choose to do with your novel study program through Google drive, providing feedback to your students and having them collaborate together at the same time on their assignment will really motivate them to keep pushing through the project. Seeing that you and their group mates can see what they have been doing for the project will hopefully motivate them to keep working and not fall behind. Having a google form at the end of the project where students can complete peer evaluations, may also help with this assignment for you to know who is pulling their weight in the group from the group's perspective. 


I really like the idea of a Google form at the end of the project for peer evaluation!

I really like the idea of incorporating Google Drive into my Novel study project. I think creating pages will for them to collaborate and for me to provide feedback to them as they progress for through the Novel study. Also, providing these different pages will allow to track their progress and build upon the information they collect as they go. I also like the idea of peer evaluations however, many times things like this become a case of who is popular in the class at that particular moment and who is not. So while I think a google form at the end would be beneficial it would only be helpful if I was combine their feedback with my own observations. Thank you for the suggestions!


I really like your idea about creating a schedule for the students!  I teach third grade and there is no way that they would be able to pace themselves on a project even if I had it completed in class.  Being the mother of a middle schooler, I am sure the scheduel was much appreciated.  Did you have any students who did not complete the project or were late completing the project?

I also think the idea of giving feedback and having them fix their mistakes is a fabulous idea!  Students need to learn that they can right a wrong and there is a lot of learning to be done when you correct something on your own.

In the end, do you think that the projects were of good quality?  Or do you think you will change something next year?  What would you change?



I bet you'll find that the students will not have much of a problem transitioning. I'm always amazed at how quickly the majority jump in and catch on. You know your students best, and you've used the computers with students for book studies before, so don't get too caught up in teaching the technical pieces and just break down a project into smaller pieces up front. Perhaps have the students create a shared prediction page and/or vocabulary around the topic. Then slowly work into individual pages, folders, etc., as they provide personal responses. (I've learned over the years that their personal responses / connections they make with the text are the most powerful and memorable.) I really liked Caryn's response - feedback while driving w/ her son is classic :-) I love when the students first experience working on a document at the same time. Just go for it and adjust as you move forward - have fun with it!

Hey Kevin,

I'd have to agree with Mark. While there are always going to be students that do not have tech available outside of the classroom, most will still have regular exposure to modern devices. Earlier this summer, I was tutoring two students who hadn't had a computer at home before I donated my old tower and monitor so that we could conduct our sessions using Skype/Google Drive. They had absolutely no problems setting up on their end with minimal instruction. Today's students are used to technology. Their access may be limited, but their ability to use it is often far more developed than ours was at their age.

With that in mind, I think it is still important to review any facets of the software/hardware that are necessary for completion of the activity. It's best not to assume that they'll just figure everything out, and your mini-lesson idea has a lot of merit. I'm sure you'll find success with your activity!

I think you are off to a great start by instructing them on how to use the app while encouraging them to be creative. Why don’t you create a screen cast or tutorial demonstrating the app that they can refer to at anytime? This way if they are stuck they have an instructional resource to fall back on. I agree that students are technologically well informed and very resourceful. You may even be surprised by how many of your students are already familiar with the app. From my experience, Google drive is easy to use and has features similar to Microsoft applications. Start them off slowly, with a small assignment that allows them to become comfortable with the app. Does your school have an I-Pad cart or a computer classroom that you can use during your instruction? Does the neighborhood have a local library that they can use if they don’t have a computer at home? I think that you should go for it, if you make the project of lesson unit interesting, your students will find a way to complete the assignment.

Hi Kevin,

The great thing about using Google Drive is that you can access it from many types of computers and/or mobile devices. Even though your students do not have computers at their disposal while at home, do they have a tablet and/or mobile device that they could use?

I do agree that teaching (while creating a screencast) a few mini lessons on how to use and create material using Google Drive would be beneficial for students and great for you as a teacher because you could use the videos year after year to save you time and energy. I wish we had these programs available to use when we were in middle school because I would've been so much more interested in what we were learning about ;)


I'm not sure what grade level you teach, but I agree with Mark. You'll be surprised how quickly they catch on. Google docs is very user friendly! I teach at the high school level and a lot of teachers are incorporating Google Docs into their curriculum. The nice thing about Google drive is that it is so similar to Microsoft word and PowerPoint, which most students have been using since elementary school. My students really enjoyed the collaboration component of Google Slides. They could communicate and edit a slideshow from different locations.

Creating your own Webquest shouldn't be too hard and students should be able to easily navigate if your links are clearly defined. Mini lessons are a good idea, especially if you teach younger students. Having them create a "copy" of an assignment and practice editing and submitting their work to you is definitely a good introduction to Google drive. Good luck with your Google integration! :)

Google drive and Google documents are excellent tools for group projects in and out of the classroom. When the project is initiated I have one student in the group create and share the document with me (the instructor) and each of their group members. It is important that they "share" the form with permission to edit and comment. Each time a student edits, adds or comments on the document all members including myself, receive an email. In addition the document has date and time stamp when the student contributes to the document. I can assess each students participation and I can also monitor the groups progress. I often comment on the project to encourage students or keep them on track.

In addition students can work on any device, anytime and simultaneously. Most importantly the document is always saved and cannot be lost;)




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