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It's all about using it in a way that younger students can handle. Here's how I set it up in my 5th grade classroom. (I've created a demo folder to protect my students' names.)
Within my own Google Drive account, I have created a Student Work folder. This is where all student work will go. I teach my homeroom all day, but if we were departmentalized, I would create a folder for each class within this folder.
Inside the Student Work folder, I have one folder called *Shared Files* (the asterisks keep it at the top of the folder list for easy location). This folder is shared with every student in my class. Inside, I post assignments, rubrics, images students may need for a project, etc. Students also save group work here. The key to remember is that EVERY student has access to these files.
The rest of the folders are individual student folders, named "Last, First." Each of these folders is shared only between the individual student and myself. This is where students save their work for me to grade. To share folders, just click the share button and enter the appropriate email addresses. Since we are a Google Apps school, when we start typing a name, the email pops up.
You can set up each of these folders yourself, and share them with the correct students. If your class is a little more tech-savvy (or just good at following directions), you can do what I did, and talk the students through creating their own folder and sharing it with you. I did this by putting a good student on the Smart Board computer and dictating directions to him for setting up his folders while I stood behind the rest of the class so I could watch their screens to make sure they were on track and to help when needed. The students were excited, so they listened really well.
Then, we went over all of the different things they can create. Here's a breakdown for you of how the Google Apps align with Office products you already use.
Google Docs = Word
Google Sheets = Excel
Google Slides = PowerPoint
Google Forms - great for collecting data for your graphing unit!
We also practiced creating a new Google Slides doc to give them some practice working online.
Some tips I learned the hard way...
- Be very clear on how you want files saved. My system is Assignment-Student Name-Date.
- Decide how you want students to let you know they are ready for you to grade longer-term assignments. My students add -FINISHED to the file name.
- Every time students create a new document in a shared folder, it will ask them if they are SURE they want to share this document. Practice this with them the first time so they will know it's ok!
- There is no save button because changes are saved automatically. I taught my class to double check where it says "all changes have been saved in Drive" at the top of the window.
So once it's set up, what do I do with it?
- Students do all of their writing final drafts, and some rough drafts, here.
- Students do some of their center work here, including vocabulary work from my Word Work for Big Kids activities.
- We complete group projects in Google Drive and share Slides presentations with the class.
- I created a Google Forms "Classroom Job Application," which students absolutely loved filling out. They took it so seriously!
If you're using Google Drive, I'd love to hear how you use it and any tips you have for us! Link up your tech posts below!