All posts by ZoeRoss

Using Google Docs with my GCSE students

I introduced Google docs to my Year 10 ICT GCSE class last term as a way in which they could work collaboratively on presentations and make the theory work that we are doing a little more practical.

Prior to the lesson I set up a presentation, set it so it could be shared with everyone & anyone who had the link could edit it and then shared the link with them.

We had a ‘play’ for 5 minutes to allow for the necessary ‘messing’ (deleting other people’s work / posting daft messages). However, they soon settled down and were able to get on with researching their topic and completing their slides.

There were a few teething issues, such as too many people trying to format the background / work on the same slides and it was a little slow at times, but they worked very well and create a collaborative presentation which they were able to download to their own areas. It could do with a little refinement, however it does the job of collating all their research and knowledge in one place ready to share.

They worked incredibly well throughout the lesson and I gathered their feedback at the end on a wallwisher wall.
Wallwisher Wall

At the end of the session, a few pupils emailed longer comments to me:

“I think this builds a better relationship within the class and also builds our confidence when we can review each other ideas, through our wikispace and on google docs.”

“I would like to use more web based programs because i can access them everywhere”

“I think theory lessons are more interesting because of the things we use. Google docs was my favourite!:)”

So, it seems that google docs are a hit with the students, in fact one teacher came to tell me that one of the students had proudly introduced it to his group in another lesson when they were working on a project.

The students have also commented that they have been telling their parents about google docs too and one boy’s mum has started using it for her business.

I have just set up a Google form for them to complete after their exam to do a little self-assessment. It took me 5 minutes to set up and puts the completed data into a spreadsheet for me. Pretty nifty.

So, is this about the technology? I would argue that it is about the technology fulfilling a need – as a teacher I want students to be, at times, able to work together, collaboratively on project and tasks and google docs facilitates this incredibly well. They can also access their documents from any computer – so there is no longer a need for them all to be huddled round one computer in the IT suite at break.

Forms allow me to quickly collect their feedback and collate it in one place, allowing for a little self-reflection for them and some invaluable data for me. They are also really quick for students to complete.

I am not a Google zealot and will be interested in seeing Microsoft’s Office 2010 version when it released some time this year. However, I am most interested in tools and technologies that engage my students and allow them further opportunities to learn and both broaden their horizons and deepen their learning – at the moment, Google docs is doing just that.

#TMETRU09 A Great Evening of CPD – definitely not a course!

I’ve just finished being part of my first teachmeet – the first online teachmeet no less! The TMETRU09 was absolutely fantastic. I had volunteered to do a presentation and felt rather sick before hand, particularly as it was talking about my experiences of wikis as a relatively new user rather than anything groundbreaking. However, as always with ETRU events I was made to feel very welcome & there were plenty of positive comments regarding my presentation & loads of inspiration from other presenters. I always find ETRU meetings full of interesting ideas, so it was really great to feel part of that in some small way. I’m really glad I did it, so the next teachmeet is at BETT in January – I will be signing up to present – will you?!

#TMETRU09 How I use wikis with my exam classes


This is my first Teachmeet, however I have found EdTechRoundUps to be fantastic opportunities to discuss all things ed tech with other, very enthusiastic & knowledgeable teachers. Therefore the chance to join in in the first ever EdTechRoundUp TeachMeet #TMETRU09 is very exciting.

My nano presentation looks at how I am using wikis with my GCSE and A Level classes. We have no VLE at my school and therefore I find them a fantastic way of encouraging collaboration between my students, and indeed communicating with and engaging them – vital prior to exam time.

Links: My first wiki: My current IGCSE wiki wikispaces

I was a late starter to using wikis in the classroom, however taking over a  class in April and needing to give them a lot of theory in just over a month helped me to take the plunge and get going. I was looking for ways to give them the information they needed and complete their revision but in a more engaging way than traditional methods. I also wanted their work to be collaborative and for them to have a source of information they could refer back to during their exam leave.

Hence, my first wiki was born. Not very glamorous, but did the job amazingly well. The students were assigned sections & pages to research & update. I commented on them and then someone else added to the work. I answered exam questions and they marked them (they liked that a lot). They answered exam questions. Just another way of getting them through revision.

However, what was most pleasing was that the boys who were in danger of getting lower grades as they found it really hard to concentrate in the lessons, were absolutely totally engaged with any task on the wiki. So, I knew that they were learning something and not just daydreaming! They all came out with grades higher than hoped – I think some of the is down to the intense appeal of the revision wiki – the right tool at the right time.

I have since gone on to use a wiki with my IGCSE class. It’s clearly a working document and one of the students is currently designing our logo, and it’s working really well. Those of you who have seen some well established wikis such as The Flat Classroom project know how good they can look. I’ve still lots to learn, however, I really do love wikis!

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