Extended Response Writing using Google Docs

The writing of extended responses is an important skill that Economics students need to acquire and develop throughout the two year course. I always try to use collaborative approaches and scaffolds to assist students writing skills. My favourite digital approach for developing these writing skills is to use a collaborative google doc.

Traditional Approach – posters, paper, group writing, refill

Digital Approach – google doc, group planning, chat functions, projector

Google Docs have an impressive ability to record changes in real time. The document will track the cursor of other contributors in different colours, show contributors names and allow you to chat to other users in the side bar. This is a big “step-up” from wiki options. I have explained the wiki options in a previous post. Wikis are still relevant and useful, but in slightly different ways.

Today I wanted students to deepen their understanding of exchange rates as this is something that we have been covering for the last few weeks. For SL students the focus was on effects of an appreciation of an exchange rate and for HL students evaluating the effectiveness of Fixed versus Floating exchange rates.

You do need to prepare these types of lessons in advanced. I have created two google docs from my gmail account. Each has the same instructions, but different questions. (once you have created one document, chose the copy function from with the file menu, and just change the file name) When the students arrived to class they had to type their email addresses into my computer, so I could share the doc with them. You can make the document completely public, therefore allowing you to share the link with students and doesn’t require them to sign in. I prefer the sign in option, which does take slightly longer. This allows you to track students names on the doc rather than numerous unknown contributors. But viewing the documents in real-time whilst the students are editing allows you to see who is struggling and who is able to write more.

Today I used the google docs with a small class of ten students. After lunch I will trial it with 24. Should be fun.

A sample of the HL work is here

One of the best ways a Google Doc can transform the teaching process is through the use of the data projector. When the class were brainstorming their ideas for the essay, I could facilitate this discussion in real time through seeing how the students were typing on the whiteboard. It was a quick tool to help students arrange ideas and then think about prioritizing arguments. The instant gratification for students, offered lots of encouragement and engagement for an otherwise lackluster Friday morning.

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