My Grade 8s are reading a book called Six Chapters of a Floating Life, written by Shen Fu right here in Suzhou about 200 years ago. We’re using Google Docs to take notes collaboratively. As a maximum of 10 people can edit a Google Doc simultaneously, I’ve created four different documents, with about seven students working on each one.
This is a great way to teach students how to take proper notes on their reading. The students can edit each other’s work, correcting and amplifying as needed. In the end they will have a set of notes that represents the best their collective wisdom can produce.
To see an example, follow this link to their notes on ‘Culture, Customs, and Family Life’. (Don’t expect perfection; they just started!)
Google Docs would also be a great way for students doing a group project to produce their final report. All too often one student in the group ends up doing most of the work because they can’t get together in the same place at the same time. With Google Docs they can work from home and collaborate as well.
Google Spreadsheets works the same way.
Teachers, if you haven’t checked out Google Docs & Spreadsheets you can find an introduction here.