Sharing is Caring: 50 Collaborative Google Apps Activities - Ditch That Textbook

Sharing is Caring: 50 Collaborative Google Apps Activities

Find this site at: DitchThatTextbook.com/sharingiscaring

Google DriveThis session introduces you to a long list of collaborative activities that can be accomplished across the entire Google Apps suite. These activities utilize the real-time collaboration, chat, commenting and link sharing capabilities of Google Apps. Collaborative activities can cross over to administration, enabling new, powerful modes of staff communication from the ground up.

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 USEFUL LINKS

Sharing is Caring paper handout: Click here (PDF)

Google Drive: drive.google.com — Your online hub for all of your Google Apps. If you don’t have a Google account yet (shame on you … you’re at a Google conference!), create one there!

Sharing is Caring session backchannel: www.todaysmeet.com/sharing — Ask questions, give examples and share how you could apply this material!

20 Powerful Google Apps Uses (related) : www.ditchthattextbook.com/google — Matt’s presentation with video tutorials of how to implement each of the 20 ideas

Collaborative Google App uses from participatns at Indiana Google Apps in Education Summit

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ABOUT THE PRESENTER

Matt MillerMatt Miller (@jmattmiller) is a high school Spanish teacher at Turkey Run High School in Marshall, IN. His students engage in Spanish through educational technology regularly, including tools like blogs, digital videos and photos, QR codes, Google Voice and more. He blogs regularly at Ditch That Textbook, which is dedicated to teaching with less reliance on the textbook with an emphasis on technology and creative teaching. He can be contacted at matt@ditchthattextbook.com.

Some of Matt’s blog posts relating to Google:

Some of Matt’s most viewed blog posts:

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THE ACTIVITIES!

documents icon

1 - shared lesson plansTeachers can use a shared space in Google Apps to keep track of ideas, write lessons, log academic standards and more. All teachers need to do is create the document and share it (use the blue “Share” button and add collaborators’ e-mail addresses). Multiple documents can shared at once by sharing an entire folder.

blue share button

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2 - shared meeting notesHere’s an alternative to having traditional staff meetings: use a shared document instead. Staff members can go to the document when they are free and post their ideas or feedback before a certain date and time. Post the link to a document in an e-mail or on a staff website by using the blue “Share” button (change sharing options to “Anyone with the link” and “can edit” (or any other sharing settings you’re more comfortable with).

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3 - shared research notesSharing documents benefits students, too. When doing group research projects, the members of the group can gather their research findings in one place for everyone to see. They can use the blue “Share” button to give editing rights to the group members and the teacher (so the teacher can check in on their progress).

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4 - peer editingOnce a student completes a rough draft, the peer editing process can be done easily in Documents. The one doing the editing opens the rough draft and reads, adding comments to the parts of the writing that need corrected. Adding comments leaves a note on the document without actually adding or deleting anything from it. Once changes have been made, the comments can be dismissed by pushing the “Resolve” button. (Click the image below for a screenshot.)

rough draft commenting

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5 - online reading discussions 2Place a reading in a document and give students access to it with “comment only” rights (using the blue “Share” button). They can read the document and make comments (observations, opinions, additional details, etc.). Further discussion can be done with the chat feature. With this activity, conversations can happen anywhere at any time — even as homework!

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6 - Gather research for a projectStudents can do more than copy and paste information on a document for research. They can do the research itself within a document! Choose “Research” under the “Tools” tab and begin searching. The research tool will also create citations within the document, too.

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7 - Group discussion activityThis puts a different spin on online reading discussions. Instead of discussing a reading, the teacher can post a topic of discussion or some questions for students to discuss and students can write their answers in the document. They can post links to articles to support their ideas and images to illustrate them. The document serves as a record for their digital conversation and can be posted on a class website or in a folder shared with the class.

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8 - Shared presentationShared presentations can be a quick and easy way to have students create something and share it with the class. Create a presentation with a slide for each student (maybe with an additional slide as a title slide at the beginning) and share it with the class (make sure to give everyone the “can edit” permission!). Assign a slide number to each student and ask them to answer a question, give an opinion, share some facts, create a story, etc. on the slide. When the activity is over, the presentation can be shown to everyone on a projector screen or embedded in a class website. Here’s an example of a shared presentation we did in my class: students researched people for Hispanic Heritage month and each presented their findings on their own slides.

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9 - Share a picture exampleSometimes words won’t do the same great job a good image will do. Give students a question or prompt that needs visual representation. They can do an image search, find a good example and add it to their slide in a shared presentation (see above). You can show everyone’s examples on a projector screen or let students scroll through the slides themselves.

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10 - visual art galleryGoogle Presentations is a great tool to show student art work to an audience. Digital pictures or scans of student work can be added to the slides of a presentation. That presentation can be shown at a school function or embedded in a website or other medium on the Internet. With the right exposure, student art show on the Web could have a global audience.

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11 - photo writing promptIf a picture is worth a thousand words, it should serve as a great writing prompt! Using a shared presentation (see above), place a photo on the title slide. Then assign every student a slide with some instructions on what and how they should write. Students can then peer edit each other’s work (using comments) or just read what others have written.

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12 - quick do nowsIf you have a handful of quick questions you want to gauge understanding on, a shared spreadsheet is a handy tool. After sharing the spreadsheet with everyone in class, assign each student a row. They can add their name in the first column of their row if you’d like or go without names for more anonymity. Ask a question and have students add the answer in their own rows. When you say time is up, students hit “enter” on their keyboards and the answers pop up simultaneously for instant feedback. Here’s a VERY basic template that can help you get started.

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13 - shared data analysisA good way to understand what life is like in another part of the state, country or world is to gather data from the environment and compare it. Students can gather information on the weather, on different elements in the environment or even observations of the students in the school. Add the data to a shared spreadsheet and create graphs to analyze. Students can discuss their observations and conclusions using the chat feature.

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14 - sign-up sheetsSigning up for time slots or responsibilities can be easy and paperless. Create a spreadsheet and make slots for people to use to sign up. Use the “Share” button and click “Change …”. Select “Anyone with the link” and “Can edit.” Once everything’s set, copy the blue link and share it with those who need to sign up. Here’s another VERY basic template to help you get started.

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15 - graphic organizersVirtually any type of graphic organizer — Venn diagrams, KWL charts, fishbone diagrams, storyboards, mind maps, etc. — can be created easily in Google Drawings. Use the shapes, text and lines to make a graphic organizer quickly and fill in information. The organizers can be saved as image files or PDFs to share with others.

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16 - tag artwork and other imagesStudents can analyze and comment on any digital image with a shared Google drawing. In a new drawing, insert the desired image and share it with students using the blue “Share” button. Students can then add text and arrows to point out important points on the image. It’s great for identifying the significant points of a painting or photograph.

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17 - Illustrate contentAlmost anything students learn can be demonstrated visually. Students can create comic-type illustrations of concepts from the classroom in a Google drawing. In this example, a student described how Aztec sacrifices are done.

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18 - add and pass creativity activityUsing Google drawings, students can collaboratively create a new picture by each adding a little at a time. Create a drawing and give it a name with a unique number (like “tree picture 1”) and share it with students. When a student gets a drawing, he/she draws something (maybe for 30 seconds or a minute) and then closes the file. Then he/she goes to the next drawing (“tree picture 2”) and draws for 30 seconds or a minute. Students can see each other’s work when finished by placing a picture file (File > Download as …) on a shared presentation. They could even use the image as a writing prompt or story starter.

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19 - timeline with images and text 2Social studies students, among others, could log historical events on a timeline using a drawing. Students can draw a long horizontal timeline and add data to it. If the drawing is shared, several students could work on it at the same time or add to it asynchronously.

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20 - Interactive whiteboardMake your LCD projector a truly interactive whiteboard with a shared Google drawing. Project the drawing on a screen and have students open the drawing file. As they add text, images, shapes, lines or anything else to it, their changes are reflected immediately on the screen for everyone to see. Here’s a blank drawing we can use to try it!

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21 - make infographics simultaneouslyInfographics are a powerful medium to combine images and text to explain concepts in a very visual way. More and more people all over cyberspace are using them, and their power can be harnessed in the classroom. Students can work together to display information they gather in an infographic instead of, say, a research paper. Infographics really are a real-world product. Those infographics can be created in a drawing and shared with the world.

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22 - Gather info in surveysGoogle Forms is a powerful tool for collecting data from anyone online. Surveys can be created using multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, checkbox, and scale questions and more. Google Forms sends data to a spreadsheet where the data can be analyzed. Create surveys for students, parents, teachers, activity/club participants and more!

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23 - observation feedbackAdministrators can create their own forms to gather data quickly and easily from evaluation observations. The can determine what information they need to collect and how they want to input it (by typing text, selecting from various options, etc.). They can then build a form to collect the data. When they go to a classroom for an observation, they can open their own form and have a customized worksheet for logging everything they want to collect. And, of course, the data is collected in a spreadsheet.

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24 - exercise and nutrition logsHealth and physical education students can gather data on how they work out and what they eat using Google Forms. The teacher can create a form to collect the information they need to submit and share the form with the student in a link, in an e-mail or embedded on a site. The student can visit the form and submit information whenever necessary. Students can analyze data later from the spreadsheet.

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Hangouts (Google Plus)

25 - Mystery HangoutsStudents can connect and have fun with peers in other areas around the country and world with this fun game. Two classrooms meet up in a Google Hangout and ask each other yes/no questions to guess where in the world the other class is. Afterward, students can ask each other pertinent questions about the subject area they’re studying or just about life in that area. Teachers can find classes to do Mystery Hangouts with in the Mystery Hangouts Google Plus group.

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26 - Share learning worldwideThe Mystery Hangout is just the tip of the iceberg for educational connections through video chats. Teachers can connect their students to other similar classes anywhere in the world to share what they’re learning. Students can pair up one-on-one or in small groups, or they can present to the entire class. The possibilities are endless!

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27 - Guest speakersIf you can’t get your students to connect face-to-face with an expert in your content area, a meeting via Hangout is the next best thing! Writers, scholars, professors, speakers and others are often willing to speak with classes through video chat to discuss their expertise. Plus, you might schedule a meeting with a local (or national!) celebrity, athlete or performer for encouragement on why students should be in your class! Here’s a video of a Skype call that students in Plymouth schools did with Shaquille O’Neal!

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Sites

28 - publishing student workGive your student work a bigger audience than one (the teacher) — publish it on a class website through Google Sites. Students can share their pride in a job well done with family and friends by sharing the link with them. Plus, in preparation for college and career, if students need to demonstrate their abilities, their work in your class may help. Here’s a link to my class website where we display student work (use the “Projects” tab at the top). (Note: It’s done in a Weebly site and not a Google site, but the idea is the same!)

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29 - embedding in sitesVirtually anything created in Google Apps can be embedded in a Google Site (or any website, for that matter). Embed by opening the file you want to use and going to “File > Publish to the web …” in the menu. Choose to start publishing and then copy the “embed code” (a small selection of HTML code you can place in a website). Take your embed code and place it in a part of your website that allows embedding or custom HTML. Then see the dynamic version of your work on a website! Here’s a presentation for a session I led called “Ditch That Textbook.”

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30 - club or team websiteBecause Google Sites are free, any club, team or organization can have its own customizable home on the Internet. Create a Google Site to share news, contact information, schedules, rules or any other resources the members might need.

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31 - display work with eportfoliosStudents don’t have to rely on class sites to publish their work if they publish them on their own personal portfolio sites. Student Google Sites can potentially display their work across all their classes through all their years of school, creating an all-encompassing digital resume of their skills and talents they’ve honed. Here’s an example of how one teacher uses Blogger (instead of Sites) to display student work in ePortfolios.

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32 - resource sites for other teachersIf you’ve gathered sites, apps, ideas, resources, techniques and tips for teaching digitally or otherwise, why not pass them along to others? We’re stronger together! Create a Google site with all of your best links and ideas for others to benefit from.

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Moderator

33 - vote for project resourcesIn Google Moderator, users can create a Moderator “series” (kind of like a chat room) and submit ideas/questions/suggestions for others to view, respond to and vote on. Students could create a series (chat room) in Moderator and post sources of information for a group project. They could narrow those sources down using the vote feature (i.e. vote for the best five resources for this project). In a way, they’re curating the list of resources that they’ve created.

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34 - backchannel discussion 3When students see a movie, lecture, or other presentation of information, they have questions or want to have a discussion in the moment. Usually, that’s not possible with regular discussion because it interrupts the flow of information in the presentation. Use Google Moderator as a backchannel discussion. Students can add their ideas, questions and thoughts to the Moderator series without interrupting a speaker or movie.

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35 - quick examplesStudents can quickly display knowledge or new ideas through Moderator. Ask students for examples of anything discussed in class and have them add new ideas to the Moderator series (chat room). Everyone can quickly see the entire room’s ideas and examples in one place.

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36 - take a quick easy pollWant to know how your students feel about a certain topic? Have them post their ideas to Moderator OR post your own ideas and let them vote on them. It’s a quick and free option to incorporate your students’ voices in class.

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37 - online office hoursStudents can have access to their teachers unlike before with digital tools that connect them outside of school hours. By setting up a Moderator series (chat room) and setting a time when you’ll be accessible online, students can ask questions and get responses — or see what questions others have asked without having to bother you with new ones. It’s a good way to eliminate the “I didn’t understand that last night” excuse.

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38 - have real-time conversationsModerator is a useful way to connect with others at any time. Students could share thoughts about a presidential debate while it’s going on. Classes from anywhere on the planet can ask and answer each other’s questions. Information can flow freely with anyone immediately.

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39 - host a contestTurning learning into a game can be very engaging. Create a contest in Moderator where students must be the first to post an answer, a relevant website, a link to a picture, etc. Or students can choose a winner with the voting feature.

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youtube

40 - share teaching practices by videoAll teachers have their strengths, and if they share their strengths, they can help other teachers to improve their own weaknesses. Teachers can share their best ideas, practices and tips to help new teachers and improve education in general. YouTube is a thriving community with more than 1 billion unique users visiting YouTube each month. Sharing teaching practices on YouTube can have a huge global reach.

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41 - share videos with the worldMost students love to create video. They’re intrigued by it. When they work hard and create something impressive (which they can do with YouTube’s powerful video editor), they can share it with a much bigger audience than the students in their classroom — or those in their school. Videos shared on YouTube can spread their learning across all corners of the globe. Care should be taken to follow the school or district’s technology policy on sharing media and on protecting student privacy appropriately.

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Blogger

42 - individual student blogsBlogs on Blogger give students a digital home for their writing. And when they do write, it gives them a chance to interact with each other through comments. The commenting process is so similar to the social media skills they’ve honed for years. Topics can range from specific writing prompts from teachers to free writes.

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43 - class blogsIf creating a blog for each student isn’t feasible, showcasing student writing on a class blog may be. Teachers can create a Blogger blog for their classes and display selected student work on it. Blogs can be kept private to the class or opened up to anyone who wants to view it. Public blogs give parents, friends and the community a chance to share in students’ good work.

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44 - school blogsA great way to display the wonderful happenings of a school is to have a school blog. Schools can create a Blogger blog to allow the principal to post messages to the school community, show off students’ best work and celebrate in academic successes. It’s a great way to engage all school stakeholders.

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Other apps

45 - powtoonPowToon is a Google app (add it using the red “Create” button and click the “Connect more apps” link at the bottom) that allows users to create fun animated cartoons with their own chosen text, animations and images. Students can use it to display information they’ve learned, and teachers can use it to teach content in an engaging way.

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46 - cacooThe Cacoo Google app gives students, teachers or anyone in the school setting great flexibility to create flow charts, mind maps, graphic organizers or other charts. The images, text and idea-connecting capabilities make gathering and displaying ideas in a visual form easy and attractive.

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47 - GeogebraGeoGebra is a Google app that displays math concepts visually. Users can plot points on an XY axis, connect them with lines and see the algebra that drives those visuals.

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48 - kaizenaKaizena gives a voice to feedback on Google documents. Teachers and students can record audio messages to attach to a document. It’s great for giving a personal touch to feedback (hearing it in someone’s own voice) or helping students with special needs.

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49 - wevideoWeVideo is a powerful online video editing app. Anyone can pull in video clips, audio, images, text and special effects to create professional-looking video projects. It has a user interface for very basic users and more complex options for power users. Users can export up to 15 minutes of video a month for free or subscribe to the paid option for more. Here’s my Tech Tuesday Screencast on using WeVideo:

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50 - VideonotesVideonot.es gives you a place to take notes while watching a video and synchronize them with the video. Each note you take is connected with the place in the video where it was taken, so there’s no guessing about which part of the video the notes are referring to. Videonot.es connects to Google Drive, Vimeo and YouTube. Here’s a Videonot.es tutorial video:

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BONUS!

51 - choose your own adventure

In Choose Your Own Adventure stories, the reader makes choices for the characters in the story, and the characters’ outcome depends entirely on what the reader decides. Create a Google Form and use multiple choice questions. They will depend a lot on the “Go to page based on answer” option a lot. Check out an example here. And feel free to check out my example (which you can copy!). Or watch the Tech Tuesday Screencast below on creating Choose Your Own Adventure stories.

Link to edit the CYOA story form

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 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Mastering Google Apps for the Classroom: A good primer on Google Apps and what it’s capable of doing. It’s a bit outdated, but the basic explanation on what Google Apps do and how to use them is still solid.

Google Apps for Education: Tips for Teachers by Teachers: A free ebook by Backupify giving practical advice from teachers who use Google Apps in the classroom.

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