Image by NedraI via FlickrA few weeks back I was pretty excited because one of our high school language classes used our "new" Linux lab (not really new as the computers are circa 2002, but this is our first year using Ubuntu Linux in a lab)-this was the first time that we had an entire class of students using this space! But I was even more excited about an idea that we stumbled upon. The students were using the lab to do one of their weekly writing samples in their Spanish language class with their teacher, Carolina Morouder. Typically speaking the students used MS Word and then printed their paragraph at the end of class as a way to hand in their work. Because our linux lab is not connected to printers, we had the students start a google document and then quickly share that document with Carolina. As a result of the work being shared with her, there was no need for the students to print. Using google docs, Carolina was able to leave feedback on each student's work. I started to think about what would happen if each time every student in this class shared a google document with Carolina as a way to turn in a writing sample for feedback. Then I started thinking about how Carolina has several classes. This would result in a fair amount of chaos in her google documents space. In order to solve this problem, we decided for the next writing sample that these students would work in the same document that they already shared-this would alleviate the need for the students to share a document once again and it would prevent Carolina's google document workspace from filling up with several short documents from each student. The next time the students work on their writing sample they would open the same document that they already shared, set their cursor in at the top of the document, enter down a few times to create some space (and maybe even insert a horizontal rule), and then start writing at the top of the document. Over time, this document would become chronologically ordered with the most recent writing samples at the top of the document.
Finally, as time goes along, students may organize their single writing sample with a table of contents and the bookmarks feature in google docs (this feature is AWESOME).
I published a sample of what this could look like in a google docment by taking three posts from this blog and pasting them in a google document. I added a table of contents and bookmarks and here is what it looks like.
Just as a side note, I don't believe Carolina has carried on with this method (which is totally OK!) I was happy that she tried this, however, because it lead to a pretty excellent strategy for information organization and management.
Finally, I think this fits in with student ePortfolios so very nicely. Imagine at the end of the semester/school year if the students made a copy of their google doc writing samples in Spanish class, and then selected a handful of items that they wanted to place in their ePortfolio. Great possibilities here!