Saturday, March 3, 2012

2nd Graders Using Google Apps for the Research Process: It's Possible!!!

Google Apps are great tools for students to learn about and gain experience with the research process. These tools can be used by adults to even 2ND GRADERS!!!

The 2nd grade teachers and I collaborated on their Environments unit using Google Apps. My 2nd grade students were learning how to use the Google Apps at the time, so I thought it would be the perfect situation to integrate the tools into the classroom. 

Before I begin to describe the whole process in detail, here is the overview of what was done during the Environments unit:

  • Brainstorming ideas for environment (Google Drawing)

  • Using a shared document with links to environment websites to find information (Google Documents)

  • Using a shared document as a graphic organizer to input relevant information (Google Documents)

  • Creating a presentation that displays their information to their audience (Google Presentation)

  • Summative Assessment (Google Spreadsheet)

  • Reflection (Google Forms/Google Sites)

A few months before, I had taught my students the research process that consisted of finding a topic, brainstorming the topic, finding information, choosing quality relevant information, citing the sources, and presenting information.

We began by brainstorming our topic, in this case our specific environment. We used to create great idea clusters that ignited students’ background knowledge of the topic and what specific information they would need to search for. However, next year I will be using Google Drawing because it would be easier to insert their idea clusters into their Google E-Portfolio Site. 

Next, I shared a Google Document that listed several environment websites that I thought be great resources. I would not include this step for the middle and high school students, but I felt elementary students would have trouble finding appropriate and quality resource websites.

I also shared a Google Document that the students can use as a graphic organizer. It is extremely important to note that all students must Make a Copy of the document so that it becomes their own (to do this go to Insert). After they make a copy of the document, they must rename it and share it with you. Next, the students decided what information was important and relevant to their topic. This helps them to retain their information and shows structure to the information. 

Next, the students created their own Google Presentation to input the information they believe would be crucial. They inserted images, changed transitions of slides, and included animations for their objects in their presentation. 

For their summative assessment, I shared a Google Spreadsheet with them that included columns for the different information categories, and rows for the different types of environments. They typed information about each environment into the appropriate cells. This allows the classroom teachers to use this spreadsheet to judge their students’ overall performance in the unit. 

All of these documents, spreadsheets, drawings, and presentations were uploaded onto their Google e-portfolio websites. Under each of their works, the student typed a short reflection about what they learned, the skills they utilized to complete their work, and their strengths and weaknesses. 

I also created a Google Form that asked each student what things would they do differently next time they perform the research process.