It has been a fun, interesting and bumpy ride. Over the course of this week, I thought I would share our beginning work and the troubleshooting we did along the way. While in some respects I wish that I had done certain things differently (which I will share with you), in the end I think the problems we encountered were great learning experiences and I have no regrets. It's still a work in progress. That said, if you are interested in trying this with your kids, you can learn from my initial mistakes!
First off, I will tell you that the mistakes I made have more to do with Google Drive than Wonderopolis The kids did and awesome job of choosing their "wonder" and deciding upon an additional source about their chosen topic in order to gather more info. They are also super-psyched, and that engagement and energy is so cool, even though we have had to do some backtracking. The issues that arose came from the fact that I made too many assumptions about their abilities with their Google Drive/Google Docs account, so our time was spent dealing with the problems that arose from not spending more time teaching into using this resource. One class session with our tech specialist was not enough.
Issue #1: Making sure they know how to make and save their own personal copy of any template you share with them. Even though I taught this, a few kids didn't get it (or forgot) and ended up typing into the master template while working from home. This messed it up for kids who had yet to make their own copy. For example, here is what the template for listing their sources looked like:
Lessons learned? Naming shared documents is HUGE! Since these were not collaborative assignments, I learned that I needed to use the word "template" as the first word in any document I shared with them, and that I needed to make it crazy clear that nobody was to type into a document that started with this word. After this problem took place, I retaught them how to make a copy and rename it with their last name as the first word, and also reinforced that there should be no typing into any document unless it started with their OWN name.
I also learned that I needed to make sure that templates needed to be shared as view only, not edit. Duh! Finally, despite my many years of experience, I never, ever should have had them do this at home until I was sure they were proficient with this part.
All of that said, they LOVED it, and nobody seemed to care that it didn't go completely smoothy except me. I've received email from parents who are excited about it, so that's nice to hear. Yesterday, we had a concert at school, and a parent actually came up to me afterwards to let me know that he was happy that we're doing this. When I apologized for the technical difficulties, he was all, "So what! He loved it and I ended up learning from him while we figured it out." All righty, then!
Stay tuned for how we wrap up our first assignment. I'll also share the documents I'm creating for troubleshooting, so that when the kids are working from home, they can help themselves instead of freaking out.