At the beginning of the school year, the freshman classes that I teach do a unit on short stories and elements of fiction. My plan thus far is to assign one element of fiction to a pair of students, one partner from each of the two sections of the class. The students will prepare an informative web page using a template that I will create for them in Google Docs, and each one will present the page to his or her individual class. This requires both students to be involved in every step of the production of the project, and it also presents an element of the unknown to the kids. Their work will be presented to a class of which they are not a member. They will have very little knowledge of the chemistry of the class and of the other students’ reactions to their work. Hopefully this will help to motivate these students to deliver their very best work. This asynchronous pairing will foster a dependence on technology for the completion of the project, and will help students realize the potential for using Google Docs in a way that they might not have previously thought of.
Throughout the unit, I will consistently update my blog to display some of the students’ work, photos of them working, and examples of what they have done so far. Because the Google domain in which the students are required to work is already set up to display the students’ full names, I am not able to require students to publish their web pages for public viewing. However, I do plan to require them to share their pages with their other teachers, and will require them to log in from home to show their work to their parents and guardians. I will be sending emails (and where necessary, letters) home to parents and guardians to ensure that they have been given consistent access to their students’ work. If necessary, I will make printouts of the web pages available for parents without Internet access. My hope is to have the parents give me feedback on the students’ projects and progress in my class.