Further adventures in Google docs.

After the excitement of yesterday and the progress that I made (further enhanced with some collaboration with Tom Barrett)  I decided to have a go at an idea that was buzzing around my head.

AIM: To see if the forms in Google docs can be used to bring pupil’s work together in one place raise standards, speed up pupil’s work and how practical is this for the teacher.


  • One of the biggest wastes of my time is getting the book, turning to the page, marking (usually writing similar things) would this make the process quicker?
  • Pupils often have no way of comparing their own work and work rate to their peers, would seeing others in real time encourage them?
  • To find out if allowing the children to collaborate meant a rise in the standard of answers, or simple copying.

This idea was based on the work that Tom has been doing on video with his class and I would encourage you to check out his excellent blog.   First of all I set up a spreadsheet in Google docs and organised a form with questions that related to a video we were watching.   I then showed the children the video and told them that they could make notes as they went along if they wished.   When the video was over I gave the 20min to answer the questions on the form.   Then they submitted it.


Most of the children had got nowhere near finishing the form, so I invited them to share the doc.   This had the advantage then that they could see what they had written compared to their peers and they could also use the ‘discuss’ and IM options.   This I encouraged.   I asked them to then all complete their answers on the shared sheet.

What was really interesting was the ammount of discussion that went on via IM.   I was really suprised, once the children realised that they could shared information the quality of the discussion was raised considerably with children really discussing the finer points.   I was greatly encoulraged by this as it was the first time that we had used this sort of thing.   The most interesting thing was that the children only really asked me questions when there was a point of debate that needed to be settled!

During the hour and a half that we we doing the activity you could have heard a pin drop in the room.   That was not due to lack of conversation via IM though!   Children also started to offer suggestions to each other as to how they could improve their answers.   I also found it interesting to show the children the differences between the informal language of IM and the formal language of the answers that they were being asked to give.

 When the session was over I was left with a spread sheet of all the children’s answers which I could then leave comments on at the end.  This was easy too and really forced me to think about what I was writing.


(Click this to read in detail.)


  • I think that this type of exercise is excellent to get children really thinking about the quality of thir answers inrelation to their peers.
  • I don’t think that this is something you would do all the time, but is something that really should be used as a different way of engaging children in discussion.
  • It did’nt lead to copying, it led to quality debate and disucssion as children had so much informatio to copy from they had to evaluate the best to use in their own way!
  • It was good forsome of the ‘lazier’ members of the class to really see just how little they were doing in comparison to thers.
  • It made me as a teacher engage with more pupils directly through the discussion and my points were being spread to the whole class not just one or two individuals.
  • When marking I had to think really carefully about the work and my comments.

Although it didn’t save me time as such I really feel that the quality that was produced (remember this was the first time we have done it) was impressive.   I also really feel that it provided a different access to comprehension and I’ll definately be doing more of this in the future. 

10 thoughts on “Further adventures in Google docs.

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  4. I have used google form as well. We shared a survey between 3 countries on household items. As my students filled in the form, the teacher in Florida watched the results fly in and chatted to us via the sheet about what she could see. For us, that was and still is a very memorable event. I like what you did and we really do use teachable moments when using web2.0 tools.

  5. Hi,

    Great post!

    I’m a Program Manager working with Google Docs. I really like the way you’ve outlined how you use Google Docs in the classroom. If you’re interested, I’d love to chat with you more about this.

    Just drop me an email at the address connected with this comment.

    Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    – Meredith

  6. I like the way you have used the Form and then the spreadsheet. It’s a great example of using ICT tools to minimise admin, and the minimise the possibility of lost work.

  7. Just found your blog through the Google Docs blog. I’m not a teacher, but I help people with organizational communication, collaboration, etc. in business settings. You are a real idea generator. Thanks for posting your innovations.

  8. Great idea. My class is collaborating with a class in Australia and I think we will use this idea. Thanks

  9. Pingback: 10 Google Forms for the Classroom | edte.ch

  10. I am a tech coordinator at a k-5 school and have been using google spreadsheets with a lot of classes this year. Where do you get the “Discuss” button? I don’t see it on any of my spreadsheets.

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