Groupwork Goes in New Direction

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During our study of Romeo & Juliet, the students used Google Docs to complete a set of analysis questions for each of the Acts. This program allows multiple users to add and revise content from any computer, anytime, anywhere. It also allows the teacher to track participants and revisions.

I usually give out a set of analysis questions on paper to serve as the backdrop to our classroom discussion and writing assignments. This year, I used Google Docs to allow students to collaborate more freely with each other. The goal was to get students away from the idea of a single correct answer and instead stress the variety of thoughtful interpretations possible. This method reduces the workload of each student while allowing them to collectively build a better and more in depth answer.

In practice, students revised their answers, added evidence to support ideas, and even disagreed about interpretation, leading to some good discussions in class. This approach was also considerably more efficient. I could monitor participants from anywhere, add clarifying details as they arose, and even ask new questions based on the responses. It cut down on paper and age-old comments like, “I forgot my homework” (they never forget their phones!)

It has been a good experience overall, and I would make a few adjustments next time based on student feedback. The biggest problem was that it became addictive following the responses as they came in!

by Sean Li, Grade 10 student
The goal of Google Docs is that multiple answers can be added to the original answer. With Docs, students can collaborate with each other to share ideas and different possibilities for each answer, thus the idea of the questions can be expanded and developed to provide more understanding for students. I personally think Google Docs is a good idea and I really enjoy it. From Googe Docs, I often find more ideas than if I worked independently. I think every academic subject can use this tool for collaboration.

by Christina Sipos, Grade 10
I thought Google Docs was a really innovative idea, in that it encouraged collaboration and expanded your opinions. Because it was shared between two classes, there were multiple answers to each question and it made you think about the questions more in-depth. I enjoyed this approach to learning about the play and I liked the fact that you could just open it up and immediately start writing. Google Docs would also work for classes like History or Global Politics.

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