Sunday, May 13, 2012

Google in the Classroom-Writing Collaboration

I got a little behind on the series this week.  I apologize.  I was feeling ambitious when I said I was going to post a week-long series.  I should have written and scheduled them right away.  Have no fear, though, the Google in the Classroom series is back!  Once it ends, though, I would love to continue to post bi-weekly about using Google in the classroom.  Please comment with anything you have done to use Google in the classroom, and I would love to include your ideas, or even have you write a guest post!  

If you've missed my other Google in the Classroom post, don't forget to check them out!  

On Thursday, I went to the Ohio Goes Google Conference.  It was great!  I attended four sessions and heard two keynotes that were very inspiring to continue to use technology in the classroom.  As I wrote in my first post in this series, you don't have to have a mobile lab or even access to 30 computers to use Google in the Classroom.  I have created many student activities using Google Apps and I only have three student computers in my classroom.  

Today, I would like to tell you how to use Google Docs as a collaborative writing assignment with your students.  First, you will want to create a new document in Google Docs.  On the left side of your screen, click Create, then Document.  A document is just like a Word file, except it is saved in the Google Cloud.  
Change the title of your document by clicking the words "Untitled Document."   If you choose, you may type a prompt.  Remember, everything automatically saves!  Next, click share at the top right corner of your screen.  Everything is defaulted to save "private only to me."  You can change this by clicking the share button and changing your settings.  
 Next to where it says "Private," click "change."  You will see this screen:  
Change your settings to "Anyone with the link."  I have to do this because my students do not have Google Accounts.  Then, where it says "Access," it defaults to "can view," change this to "can edit."  This will allow anyone with the link to this document to edit it. After you click save, you will see this screen:  
Highlighted is the link to the document.  You can give your students this link, but I recommend shortening it using  At, paste the Google link, then click customize.  Type whatever you want your customized link to be.  

Now that you are set up, this is my idea for the collaborative writing assignment.  During Daily 5 or center time, assign students in partners or groups.  One student in each pair will start off writing a story.  They type as much as they can during their block of time.  During the next block of time, the other partner reads the story then adds to it.  My students love to make those quick one-sentence stories and build on each other.  This is a technological variation of that!  Once the story is complete, students can revise and edit their writing.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Google in the Classroom: Parent Teacher Conference Requests

Today is Day Three of my Google in the Classroom Series

I used Google Forms for my Spring Conference Requests this year.  I will admit, all of my parents sent paper requests, but I wanted the electronic requests to be an option.  I also posted the link to the electronic request on my website.  

To create a Google Form, you will need to sign into your google account, and go to your documents.  Click "Create" then "Form"

You will see something that looks like this:  

Where it says "Untitled Form," give your form a title.  For instance, "Spring Parent Teacher Conferences"  In the box below that, you will want to type any pertinent information your parents need to know.  For instance, how long conferences should last and any additional conference times you are offering.  

Next, you will add a text box for Student Name.  Make this a required question.  
To add new boxes, you click "Add Item" at the top left corner.  Next, add a text box for the parent name or person attending the conference.  You will probably want to make this a required question as well.  The next item that I added was "Choose from List."  Parents can decide which conference date is their preferred date.  Then I added a "Checkbox" item and gave three possible times parents could choose from.  They were able to select as many as they wanted.  Finally, I added a box for parents to offer additional notes.  You can see my form below.  

As with all Google Forms, your responses will be recorded in a spreadsheet located in your Google Documents.  It is timestamped, so you are able to schedule your conferences first-come, first-served.  

Another tip:  when you are given the link to your form, visit or to shorten and customize the link to something your parents will remember and access easily.  

Tomorrow I attend the Ohio Goes Google Conference!  I am so excited to share everything I learn!  I hope that you are finding this series valuable.  As I shared on day one, you do not need a lot of technology to be able to utilize Google in the classroom.  You do not even need a Google account through your school.  Sign up for g-mail and you are afforded all of the benefits of Google Apps!  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Google in the Classroom-Creating Lesson Plans

Today is day two of my Using Google in the Classroom Series

With two years of Marzano training behind us, it was important to my co-teacher and I to continue to have the Marzano strategies at the forefront when creating lesson plans.  My co-teacher created an excellent guided reading lesson plan template that listed the Marzano strategies as checkboxes in addition to a location for the instructional plan.  After using this for a few weeks, I thought it might be much easier to use this as a Google Form.  Yesterday, I showed you how to create a new form.  You can also click here to view the video tutorial.  

When planning each week, I type my guided reading lessons for each group into the form.  Click here to see form I created.  As with all Google Forms, my responses are recorded into a spreadsheet that is saved in my Google Docs.  Click here to view the spreadsheet.  I have blacked out my students' names for privacy purposes.  Each week, I am able to print the spreadsheet and stick it in my lesson planning binder and CAFE notebook.  It is so easy and convenient!  

If you have any questions about using Google in the classroom, or have something specific you would like me to address, please leave me a comment or e-mail me!  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Using Google in the Classroom-A Series


Today I am going to be starting a week-long series on how to use Google in the classroom.  We were very fortunate this year and transitioned over to Google for our e-mail system.  We got all of the perks that came along with Google, including Google Docs, Calendar, etc.  I am my school's technology coordinator and I am a huge advocate for using technology in the classroom. 

 Please understand that my district does not have a lot of money.  We are in the same budget crisis as many public schools.  I am fortunate to have a Smart Board in my classroom and three student computers.  We have a computer lab that is shared by the entire school.  If you don't have access to much technology, know that everything technology-related that I do in my classroom is with the use of these limited resources!  Also, you do not need a Google account through your school.  A general gmail account will work!

The first post in my series is creating a library book checkout system using Google Forms.

Once you are logged into your Google account, you will want to go to documents.  You can access this directly by going to  If you are not already signed in, you will be prompted to sign in.  On the left side of the page, you will click create, then select form.    

On this page, you will create your form.  Mine is titled, "Mrs. Owens Library Book Checkout."  

In the first box "Question Title," I have Name and "Question Type" is Choose from List.  From there, you will enter each student's name.  You will want to click the box, "Make this a required question."  

On all Google Forms, you are only given sample question 1.  You will need to click "Add Item" at the top to add another question.  You will want your next item box to be a text box.  In "Question Title," type Book.  You will also want to make this a required question.  

Next, click "Add Item" again and add another text box.  In "Question Title," type Author. You may or may not want to make this a required question.  It depends on how many interruptions you want if a student cannot find the author's name when they are checking a book out!

If you want to spice up your form, you can select a theme.  There are several to choose from.  I have selected the Books Modern theme for mine.  

Click here to see my sample form.  This is what your students will see.  I have mine saved in my favorites menu on all computers that students have access to.  

Once students submit responses through this form, they will be saved in a spreadsheet in your Google Docs.  All responses are timestamped so you can see when a student checked a book out.  

The only downfall of this checkout system is when books are returned.  I have developed a system that works for me and also helps me to keep my library organized.  I keep a crate near my desk for book returns.  Every other day or so, I go into the spreadsheet and delete the row containing the book entry and put the books back into the library bins.  I learned from experience to keep the book return crate near my desk and not in the library area because students would take books out of the crate to checkout before they were checked back in.  

After typing this, I decided I would try to make a video tutorial.  
I hope that you find this useful!  You can also access this video on You Tube

Prior to using this system, I have never had a book checkout system that worked.  Last year, I eventually gave up and figured if books weren't returned, hopefully they were being loved.  This checkout system works!  The students love to have any excuse to use the computers, even if it's just checking out books!