Monday, February 18, 2013

Perfect Marriage: Google Docs & The Common Core

How did Google know that Google Docs and The Common Core State Standards would be such a perfect marriage?  Chances are, they didn't.  Regardless, the idea of Google Docs and it's many technological uses completely lends itself to the Common Core and college and career readiness. Whether Google had some sort of cosmic inside scoop about the CCSS or not, you couldn't have paired two ideas any better.

Let's face it, technology is no longer just something that happens.  No way, no how.  Technology drives everything and that means education too.  Google Docs and it's online, cloud-collaboration has been gaining lots of steam over the past couple of years.  So much so that I've started using it with my 5th and 6th graders over that same time period.  Really, it's uses are endless and match the Technology Common Core State Standards so well that you couldn't have made it a better match.

Here are some uses for Google Docs that I have used...and work!

1. Collaborative Projects

What's better than getting two or three students together in a collaborative group to create a living document on any nonfiction topic they want to work on?  Let me tell you - nothing is better.  I realized the power of Google Docs and it's influence on today's technological, 21st-Century students when on one random Tuesday evening around 10:30 in the evening, I checked in to grade some of the projects that students were working on.  To my surprise, there were a few groups working collaboratively on their projects -- all pulling their weight and all giving it amazing attention.  Best of all, when I entered into their documents, there was such an excited energy to see their teacher in their document...being able to give feedback and say, "Great job!".

2. Brainstorming and Project Organization

Students should take time to plan out their work and their projects for optimal end results. When I pair students together or create groups for projects, I always suggest students use Google Docs as a forum to gather their ideas and brainstorm.  Students not only can get together in a school-based setting, but can continue their planning at home -- or on the go with the Google Drive app on their phones and iPads.  It doesn't matter what project it is - Prezi, PowerPoint, etc., etc. - the idea to use Google Docs to gather ideas it priceless.

Tip:  I always choose one project at the start of the year (after I have introduced how to use Google Docs to my students) and have my students sit on opposite ends of the classroom - and not with their partners or group members.  I tell them that they can't say a word to one another, but can talk to one another as much as they'd like....using their fingers and the chat feature!

3. Staff & Professional Development 

Forget about the students - how about your staff?  Google Docs is a fantastic way to get your staff all working on one document for professional development.  Teachers and staff can work on monthly planning calendars, overall curriculum projects, homework, or goals - and work on it without even having to be in the same room.  Teachers can not only share ideas and opinions by using the chat feature within the document as  they take place in real-time, but they can accomplish their work in a fraction of the time that it used to take.

The bottom line:  Google Docs aligns to the Common Core by using technology to do the work that the Common Core demands.  Use Google Docs and the technology with your CCSS lessons and projects - your students will be ahead of the game...and that's worth it.

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