Today my school's tech coordinator helped me enhance a lesson plan with Google's new presentation document. For years, I have juniors review their Age of Reason writers by making a short PPT in a small group, then presenting each author for review for the whole class. This year, we all signed onto Google and groups made their presentations online. While working in class, they were able (mostly) to "chat" with each other in the chat room of the application. They could plan or review the presentation by communicating in that way, which mostly worked though some students had trouble accessing the chat portion. The best aspect of the application is that students can work simulataneously, the update frequency is very quick. The are working practically in real time. Also, I can track not only their "chat" but also the revisions. Like a wikispace, I can see who is contributing which ideas. This technology helps me to ensure that the workers are rewarded and the slackers feel a bit more self-conscious, and hopefully motivated to get to work.
Of course, the down side is the possiblity of tech problems. My students were very excited (and impressed) that we were using such a "new" technology, but they were quick to moan and groan when we encountered any difficulties. Thankfully, I was not alone in the room and with Susan's help I was able to model appropriate and productive reactions to tech problems. By the end of class we were able to get everyone on the site and working, and we had a good understanding of the chat room problem so that we could fix that later.
Overall, I found that working with a Google document was easy and an effective enhancement to my lesson goals.
Thanks a million to Susan for introducing it to me and supporting me through the minor bumps in the road.