Google Docs-My students' virtual Science notebook/journal...

posted Jul 29, 2013, 6:09 PM by JoAnn Delaney   [ updated Aug 7, 2013, 6:34 PM ]
     After collaborating with other tech savvy peers, Google Docs seemed like the best fit for my paperless classroom goal. Students were given accounts and able to sign-in and I led the students through a series of steps to get their virtual science notebooks set up. The students created folders for each subject area they have throughout the school day. In the science folder, they are directed to create a new document for each science unit of study. These documents simulate dividers in a binder for each unit of study. The online notebook/journal is where students construct their understanding around concepts being taught. An entry for a unit begins with a unit title, date, student initials, lab partner groups (which includes Getter 1, Getter 2, Starter, Recorder/Reporter), and a key lesson question. Then, each day students record the date and student initials (modeling the authenticity of their work ownership/thoughts like a real scientist), followed by a key lesson question response to the lesson for that day. The students are immersed into the lesson and record notes, observations, questions, upload conceptual models, graphs, etc. They think-write, think-pair-share, table group share, and even hold scientific conferences with larger groups. At the close of the lesson students come back to their initial response to the key lesson question and adjust or modify their thinking. This process continues throughout the learning cycle. Students are encouraged to pay attention, ask questions and participate, 'Participate' meaning active engagement. Students take responsibility for their learning. If students need additional questions answered or more practice, they are encouraged to seek the necessary opportunities such as flex time which is like a study hall to meet with teachers who provide pre-teaching, collaboration with peers in small groups using lab equipment, reteaching groups, etc. Or some students prefer to come for a working lunch, these are highly motivated kids who are learning from this structure to be self-directed learners! Using Google Docs for student notebooks and Moodle for the teacher course resources, two tools used consistently, has allowed me to provide a structure for deep understanding. Once the students learned how to use Google Docs and Moodle, the technology just became the vehicle to drive learning. Many of the other best practices that I incorporate into my teaching, is what allows my students to construct deeper understanding of the key science concepts. More and more as educators we hear that students will need a bevy of skills to ready them for the 21st Century which include inventive thinking, digital literacy, effective communication and high productivity. More to follow on how the science course that I facilitate embeds inquiry, real world problem solving, seeing themselves as scientists doing what scientists do, collaboration, critical thinking, and moving learners towards self-directed learning...


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