Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lessons Learned from a Collaborative Google Slide Project

When I started this blog, I promised to share the good things that happen when teaching with technology as well as the bad.  Here is a chance for me to share a lesson that went horribly wrong.  Luckily, my mistakes will help you teach your collaborative learning lessons better.

Last week, we completed our first collaborative Google Slide Presentation making a class book entitled Snowman Building.  Each student created a snowman and wrote at least 3 sentences about their snowman.  The students started with a slide that looked like this:

The Google Slide Presentation was assigned using Google Classroom.  This time, instead of making a copy of the presentation for each student, each student was allowed to edit the same presentation.  Therefore, all of the students were working on one Google Slide Presentation at the same time.

The students in my classroom are assigned numbers.  I told the students to work on the slide that corresponded with their number.  The only exception to this rule were numbers 1 and 2.  I assigned these students numbers at the end of the presentation because slide one was the title page and slide two was the page that I used to model the project.

Once everyone had found their slide, they were allowed to move the different shapes around to build their snowman.  The students were given strict instructions to only work on their slide.  Once their snowman was built, the students were supposed to delete the snowman parts they did not use.  This is where the problems started.

If a student did not select an item correctly when they were deleting the snowman parts, they would delete the entire slide.  This would cause a panic in the classroom because not only did a student loose their work but all of the slide numbers changed; therefore, some of the students were no longer working on the slide number that they were assigned.  The deleted slide can be easily fixed with an undo as long as you can figure out who deleted the slide.  However, once a slide is deleted, it is best to have all students stop working until you can fix the problem.

The instructional technologist on my campus completed this same project with another first grade teacher's class.  Her solution for recovering a deleted slide was to have all of the students stop and press undo (control + z).  The missing slide would reappear, and it saved her from having to find the student who deleted the slide.  Thanks @RichesonEmily for this quick tip.

Another thing I would do differently to help ease student panic when a slide is deleted is for each student to type their name on their slide as soon as they start working.  With their name on the slide, the student is no longer depending on the slide number to identify their slide.  I would only use the slide number as a tool to help each student know which slide to begin working on.

Another problem that arose was a mischievous student who thought it would be funny to change another student's work.  At first, I heard some students complaining that things were happening on their slide that they did not do.  It is hard to catch a student who is being sneaky by just walking around the room.  Luckily, Google has built in ways in which you can see where other collaborators in the document are working and what they are doing.  Here are some tips on how to monitor your students in Google Slides:

1.  At the top of each page, there is a list of who is working in the presentation.  When you select a collaborator, it takes you to the place in the document where the person is working.  Therefore, you can quickly see if the student is working in the right place.

2.  You can also move your mouse over the slides to see who is working on what slide.  In the image below, you can quickly see that Student H is working on slide 5.  It sticks out like a sore thumb if more than one student is working on the same slide.

Even though this lesson caused a lot of frustration for me, it still turned out to be a very positive lesson.  Not only did the students learn something new, but I also learned a lot of things about working collaboratively on the same Google Slide Presentation together.  I hope you can benefit from my mistakes.  Here is a finished slide completed by a student:

Click here to see the completed class book.

*I would like to give credit to whoever created the original snowman presentation, but I cannot find the source on the internet.  I will continue to look and update this post when I find it.*

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