Team Lab Reports on Google Docs

Last week, I wrote about some posts I’m planning on publishing soon as part of my Google Docs series. I’m hoping to get up the posts regarding embedding and using the sites feature of Google Apps soon, but for now, here is a project that my students did today.

The lesson

iceboxWe are currently studying the properties of energy in 8th grade physical science.  As part of a series of lessons on conduction and convection, students had a competition to see who could build a box that would keep an ice cube cold the longest.  I gave them a bunch of materials from fiberglass insulation to saran wrap and they got 2 class periods to design and build their box.

The lab report

Students completed their lab report as a presentation on Google Docs.  A presentation is much easier for students to collaborate on because each student can work on a separate slide within the same presentation.  Before students were  allowed to use the computer, they had to complete a written outline of what would go in each slide.  From there, one partner took half the slides and the other partner took the rest.  The pictures of the “ice boxes” were taken during the initial experiment and uploaded to a class picasa account.  From there students could download or link to any picture of their project for the lab report.

Good things

• Each student could work at his own pace.  Once one group member finished his slides, he didn’t need to wait for the other partner to finish.  If the other partner didn’t finish during our computer lab time, he could access the presentation on any computer inside or outside school to finish it.

• Students could see what their partner was doing when they were working on it at the same time.  It helps keep kids stay on task and moving at a decent pace.

• It’s shared with me easily and I can keep track of what each student did via the revision history.

Things to look out for

• Make sure that only one person in the group starts the presentation, makes the appropriate number of slides, and then shares it with his partners.  Otherwise, everyone starts a different presentation on their own account or starts adding or deleting slides on the shared presentation.  Having one person start it, then share it (with the appropriate number of slides) takes care of this.

• Sometimes students can’t figure out how to get rid of the “put content here” boxes on pre-formatted slides.  They are easy to delete, but sometimes it’s just easier to start with blank slides and add content accordingly.

Sample Student Project (minus pictures)

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