Monday, April 12, 2010

Google Docs Science Fair: Chapter One--Setting up your class documents

I did promise to give you lots of ideas for science fair projects.  My use of Google Docs for my students projects (along with ScienceBuddies) has REVOLUTIONIZED my science notebook grading (I do it all at home) and made it much easier for my students to work in groups equitably.  I say equitably, because everyone can stick their kids into groups, but it is much harder to ensure equity when it comes to grading a group project.

My students are working in groups voluntarily, which means some of my kids have gone solo.

All of my students are keeping a Science Fair Project Journal on Google Docs--digital science notebooks!

Some of the many advantages of using digital journals:
  • students can use it independently of one another and at any time, regardless of their busy personal and family schedules. 
  • It also is an extremely green option--no paper needed
  • it can't be lost, which would be a disaster in a long-term project like this.
Click here for a document from ScienceBuddies that has the essentials for any science notebook.  (PDF)This is the basis for the Google Journal that I set up for my students.

Click here for a template for a Google Docs Journal Document that uses the same Table of Contents section headers as the PDF above.

Steps to use this Google Doc Template with your students:
  1. Have all of your students who are 13 and older create Google Docs Accounts.
  2. Save a copy of the above document to your Google Docs account. Click File>Make a Copy
  3. Change the name of the document when the popup box shows to a name of your choice.  This will be your working template.  Leave it blank in case you need more copies in the future.
  4. Make ANOTHER COPY.  Change the name again to something personalized for your students.  I used this naming protocol:  Google Journal--Janie & Max.
  5. In the open copy of Janie & Max's journal, click Share>See who has access
  6. Click the Advanced Permissions tab and uncheck both boxes--this is to prevent students from sharing the document with unauthorized users.
  7. Click the Invite People tab and add Janie and Max's email addresses (the ones that are associated with their Google Docs accounts).  My students are required to use their district email accounts.
  8. Add a message to your students in the box (or don't--I don't unless I have specific instructions for the students).
  9. Click send.  An invitation to the document will be sent to those email addresses.  You DO NOT need to send these invitation emails for the document to be shared with your students.  As soon as you add their email addresses to the invitation box, the documents will show up in their Google Documents "All Items" list.
  10. They are all set to go!  

***These posts assume a basic knowledge of Google Docs.  If you do not yet have an account and/or do not know how to use Google Docs, please refer to this earlier post.


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