Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Google Drive in the 5th Grade Classroom

It was fascinating to read Franki's post about Google Drive in her 3rd grade classroom, and reflect on how different this digital tool looks in my 5th grade classroom.

Before my students ever logged on, I shared a Doc with links to our guidance counselor's survey, and a survey I created to learn about my students' tech use at home (both in Forms). I did that so they would have something waiting there for them when they logged on. I also shared an editable Doc with a list of the characters we had met so far in our first read aloud, Room 214 by Helen Frost. I had them try to add details about each character simultaneously to show them the fun and madness that happens when too many people are working on the same thing at the same time. I had plenty of cleanup to do after we finished, but we continued to use this Doc as a digital anchor chart about the characters all through the rest of the book. In the very first sessions with Google Drive, my students also created Docs for the stories they would write about their Brown Bag item, and learned how to share with me.

The best part of continuing to roll out Google Drive has been working collaboratively with our fabulous Media Specialist, Marisa Saelzler.

When we moved on to comparing and contrasting characters, she taught my students how to use the Draw tools, and they made a Venn Diagram about two characters in The 14th Goldfish.

To introduce them to all of the tools in the universal tool bar, they made "About Me" posters (not sure if those are in Docs or Draw).

The next tool I'd like my students to use is Presentation. Now that I've figured out how they can get the photos and videos they take of their work in Genius Hour from the iPads to their Google Drive via the Google Drive app, I would like them to make a sort of digital portfolio or reflection log about the work they do in Genius Hour. Sure enough, Marisa will be previewing Presentation with my students during their time with her so that we can just jump right in with using the tool.

I've had some pretty spectacular failures with Google Drive. I thought it would be great if the students could share a piece of writing with a couple of friends and have digital peer conferences. Whoa! It was a chat-fest gone mad! A teacher-sanctioned IM party! And to top it off, even though we shared with "view only," they wound up being able to make changes in each others' stories. Not good. We haven't gone back there. Comments are now reserved for a conversation between me and the student. We keep peer conferences out in the open air.

Just yesterday, I followed the advice I gave myself long ago about hallway displays -- if it's something the students can do, let THEM do it (cutting out letters, etc). I like to have a slide show of images to go with the roots/bases words we're working on in word study since for some students they can be spelling words, and for others, they are new vocabulary. I hadn't had a chance to make one for our ped/pod words, so I shared the list of our words with a group of students who had finished their 3 Pigs Variant story (that's another post for another time) and they set to work gathering images.

One final note. Having student writing in Google Drive (and on Kidblog) is a fabulous thing. We can work on their writing in live time. They are much more receptive to revision and editing on a digital piece of writing. And I am flooded with what could be hours of reading and commenting on a daily basis. I am thankful for my somewhat OCD organization inside my Drive. My "Incoming" or "Shared With Me" is a hot mess of files from kids and colleagues that are in chronological order. Not helpful. I bring over the writing they share with me and house it in a folder on my Drive.

Here is My Drive. Nice and tidy.  :-)

Here is a peek inside the 2014-15 Kid Files folder in My Drive. Nice and tidy.  :-)

This has been a long post without many pictures, but thanks for staying with me to the end. Google Drive is an amazing tool with limitless potential. We have barely dipped our toes in the water. What have been some of your favorite discoveries or ways to use Drive in your classroom?


  1. I'm glad I stayed with you through the long post without pictures, the images of your drive are fun to see. Now I'm even more inspired to share how Google Drive is going in second grade. I loved the phrase and need to think about digital anchor chart. Thanks for probing my thinking.

  2. This is our third year with gdocs and I love it. The one problem I have with it is the chat function. We aren't able to disable it --- are you? Fortunately, after we discovered some kids misusing it the first year we are very clear that they aren't allowed and why not. (Good conversation about the potential for meanness and bullying.)

  3. Mary Lee - this is awesome. Google Drive is a great tool. There is so much you can do and you are really going. Hope I can stop in and see your kids in action.

  4. Celebrating along with you - wow what a great learning curve for your students and thank you for sharing your journey with is. Curious about per/pod you got my wheels turning for a shared google doc instead of living in 23 spirals.

  5. I'm also starting to use Google Drive. Much happier with it since they added the ability to organize files. My favorite feature is being able to edit a piece of writing side by side with another author -- whether that person is sitting next to you or is miles away.


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