How do you feel about having your students collaborate in Google Drive?Having students collaborate in Google Drive is one of my all time FAVORITE features of the entire cloud service. However, the collaboration component can take some getting used to for both students and adults! I remember my very first experience collaborating with others on a simple Google Doc and I was shocked, excited and sea sick all at the same time.
Some teachers I have worked with in the past have been hesitant to introduce their students to the collaborative component of Google because they are worried students will delete each others' work, get off task or are afraid one student will do all of the work. Therefore, here are 5 ideas that will help your students avoid these types of disasters when students are working on the same assignment:
1. Color Code
When students are quietly working in small groups or with another person in a far away land on the same Google Document, I like for them each to pick (or you can assign) a different font color to color code their ideas. I always have a small table available in the corner of the assignment so students can type their name next to the color that will distinguish their work. When students type what they would like to add to the assignment everyone will see who contributed which ideas. This is a great way to hold everyone accountable to contributing to their group work.
Here is an example from a group of students who collaboratively took notes on a research project about Ancient Egypt:
I always have a doc ready to go preloaded with this table (notice how yellow isn't a color?) This is the FIRST thing students fill out before working on the doc. If you are interested in trying this method then click HERE for a blank copy of this doc that includes the name color chart.
2. Sharing One Folder
When working with younger students who have a hard time with typing, THIS tip will save your sanity. We all know that it could easily take 1st graders 20-30 minutes just to login to a computer. Usernames and passwords these days have more characters than a Disney movie. Help us all if a child's username has the @ symbol, - hyphen or some other character that requires the hold of the SHIFT key. This all comes in time with LOTS of practice😄 Therefore, having younger students type another student's Google username into the SHARE box could easily take the entire class period. Side note: I DO believe this is an important skill for all students to learn....eventually.
To avoid the 30 minute hunting and pecking session that the Google collaboration share settings could potentially create with elementary students, simply make ONE Google folder preloaded with the template or assignment you want students to collaboratively complete.
For example, here is a folder entitled SCIENCE PROJECTS. Inside of the folder are 5 different blank Google Slide presentations I was able to create within seconds. I entitled each presentation with the group number so students would know which one to click on. Students visit the folder, click on their presentation and then the collaboration begins!
3. Revision History
To do this, open the document, presentation, spreadsheet or drawing and go to File>Revision History. On the left hand side of your screen you will see everyone who has edited the file, how often they edited and the timestamp:
You also might want to click on Show more detailed revisions at the bottom of this menu to reveal more edits:
4. Add Tables
Here is an example of one of those docs with a table. Students had created their own website using CheckThis and the teacher wanted the students to have access to each other's websites. So students added both their name and the url of their website to this one Google Doc and then the students could click on each other's websites quickly and easily. This was a class of 24 third graders who all added their information to ONE doc. Since this was their first time seeing a collaborative Google doc in action, I called out their numbers slowly. When they heard their number they knew they could start typing in their box. Just like any skill/concept you teach, you have to go slowly in the beginning. When they start to pick it up then you can speed up the process on collaborating on the same assignment!
|You gotta love the student who misspelled their name😂|
5. Comments & Chat
Teach your students how to effectively use the comments and chat features to communicate with their team members if they are not working near each other. I always tell students that the comments and chat are strictly for:
💻 asking questions
💻 offering suggestions
If you are still hesitant about the collaboration piece in Google Drive, try out one of my collaborative digital books. These no-prep activities are a great way to get your students working together on the same presentation but they each have their own, individual slide. I have one for every month!
When it comes to collaboration in Google Drive my biggest piece of advice is simply to start small. Once students understand how it works and get used to multiple people working on the same assignment, it will become second nature. Last year I was working with some 5th graders on an activity in Pixie (a drawing program). They wanted to know how they could share their work with a friend so they could work on it together just like they did in Google. When I told them that feature wasn't availble in Pixie they just couldn't believe it. They told me they would much rather use Google Drawing. Amazing.
There is so much value when it comes to collaborative work. What ways do you have your students communicate and collaborate in your classroom?
Follow me on Pinterest to get more techie ideas: