A few years ago, Hampton Lutheran School introduced STEM to its curriculum, emphasizing science, technology, engineering, and math in our classrooms. (Now, we call it STEAM, with arts added into the mix.) STEAM curriculum helps kids learn the skills necessary to thrive in our world—and that includes becoming proficient in the technology and digital tools used in classrooms and daily life.
One very important digital tool used in education, work, and daily life is Google Docs, an online-based word processor that backs up work automatically to Google Drive and allows for live collaboration between multiple people. At HLS, we teach kids how to use Google Docs and give them opportunities to practice using it on individual and group projects. Learning how to use this popular word processing and collaboration tool serves kids well as they go through junior high, high school, college, and eventually the workplace. It also unlocks a tool kids can use for personal use—for instance, by writing their own stories.
Here are a few ways teachers integrate Google Docs into the educational experience at HLS.
1. Creative writing projects
Older kids use Google Docs on writing projects, like our NaNoWriMo stories, in the classroom. It’s a great program for typing out stories and creative writing projects because Google Docs automatically saves everything to Google Drive, meaning kids can access their story in school or at home when they’re logged into their Google account. Kids can edit their stories in Google Docs, and they can see past drafts of their story in the document’s history. If they’re writing a story with a friend, both kids can add to it in one convenient (digital) location.
When your child is finished writing their story, they can download it as a PDF or Word document, or print it and share their work with friends. Teachers can easily share student writings on classroom websites so that work can be shared with parents.
2. Group projects
Google Docs is perfect for group projects in any subject. The tool allows kids to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other without having to huddle around the same computer screen. Multiple kids can work on the same Doc at the same time from different computers because Google Docs automatically syncs across devices. Kids can also leave comments for other classmates within the Doc for even more collaboration. Once the project is finished, it’s easy to share with the teacher and download and print as a PDF or Word document.
3. Parent-teacher communication
It’s not just for the students! Google Docs makes classroom communication easy for teachers and parents as well. Some HLS teachers have used Google Classroom to communicate information with parents. Teachers can share field trip forms and classroom information via Google Docs, and parents can view the info and even respond or sign up if the Google Doc is open for editing. Parents might even learn a neat trick or two about Google Docs from their kids who use it in the classroom!