In my senior dual-credit English class, we have abandoned Microsoft Word and use only the Google tools to write essays, collaborative projects, research papers, and presentations. Let me be clear: Word will do some things Docs will not, but I have found that Docs will do everything we need. Students have hundreds of fonts from which to choose; they can set custom margins, alignments and indents; they can format text, including sub and super-scripts; and they can insert images, tables and equations.
Docs will do some very important things, especially in the Drive environment, that Word won’t do. Students can share a document with others. They can work together on a document with all participants typing at the same time. They can peer edit online. They can share a document with the teacher for comments or for final grading. The teacher can then add comments and give a grade or ask for improvements.
We collaborate on a group document for our section on figurative language. Each student, or each group in a larger class, is assigned a type of figure–irony, metaphor, personification, apostrophe, etc. They have to find a good, working definition of the figure they are assigned, at least three examples of its use in literature, and then an image, video, or presentation that exemplifies the way it is used. Students work in the same shared document at the same time. They usually finish in one class period. Because this doc is already shared with the whole class and the teacher, everyone can access it and they have created a resource for every student to use. They refer to it on a literary analysis essay in which they have to write about how figurative language is used in a story.
As I look forward to SAACTE13 on November 9th at Lee High School, I’m struck by how easily we, as educators, can empower students to create digital portfolios of their work. This isn’t limited to writing, but certainly, the typed word is one of the easiest innovations. I’m convinced that we have access to the digital tools we need, but many continue to lack the will to embrace the changes.
Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com