Google Summit: Read, Write, Docs!

Wendy Gorton

Read, Write, Docs!

Wendy Gorton from New York City presented practical teaching ideas using Google docs. To find all the notes from this session click here

I was particularly interested in her ideas in using forms for student reflection and gaining instant feedback to direct learning. From my recent teaching experiences using a project, passion approach, I see how important it is to know students’ prior knowledge and to get evidence on how their individual knowledge and understanding is progressing throughout the project. (See my blog on student feedback)

So, I was very interested in how Wendy used forms to get student feedback on their understanding, as a reflection or to establish prior knowledge. In this way Google forms can also be used to find out about students and their learning:  Where are they at now?

Wendy demonstrated how forms can be integrated into the curriculum to increase engagement. Another useful feature is that the student response results are presented in a table which makes it a lot easier to analyse as opposed to reading paragraph responses in a linear online discussion.

Wendy then went on to demonstrate an English lesson on writing a personal recount. To start a class it is necessary to get student emails. They can then contribute to analysing a shared text in a google doc. A good tip was to use the Google doc as if it is the white board.

For example, students could highlight descriptive language or grammar features in a text and because the document is viewed on the screen as changes appear the whole class can discuss.

The next part of the lesson was for students to think of their own small personal experience and write a sentence in a table. Then, their partner asked them about this experience or made a comment, making the student think deeper and expand on their original idea.  Finally students found an image on the internet that further explains or adds to their experience.

Another feature of Google docs is that it will automatically footnote at the bottom of the page the URL of the source thus reinforcing the importance of referencing.

A small personal experience Answer the comment from your partner Insert Image

To recap the steps were:

  1. Choose a writing partner
  2. Start doc:
  3. Add table of contents
  4. Use your idea, your image and comments from your partner.
  5. Write for 20 minutes then share with a partner: 2 stars and a wish.
  6. Publish

Being part of Wendy’s class for this English lesson demonstrated the high level of engagement of the audience and the collaborative learning experience was visible and memorable.

Collaborative analysis of a text as a whole class activity is definitely something I will use in my lessons.

For more information on Wendy go to


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