Tip #1 – Set Up Clear Rules

We all know how important it is to give explicit directions to our younger students on exactly how to respectfully work together in the classroom. However, working together in the digital world has its unique properties.

When face to face with others, students need to learn how to keep eye contact with the speaker and wait their turn to speak. Collaborating in Google Docs and Slides requires neither one. Here are the rules I use in my room and of course,… Model, Model, Model!

The most unfamiliar rule is- “Do Not Erase or Edit Without Permission” of the writer. There have been many a tear shed when a student works hard on their project only to have a peer make changes or even worse, have their work deleted altogether which happens accidentally most of the time when they are unfamiliar with collaborating digitally. 🙂

My remedy to ward this off is to teach the kids to use the “Undo” arrow or the keyboard shortcut “Command + Z” so the next time they accidentally delete someone’s work, we may be able to eliminate those accidents when they occur and avoid potential conflicts.

Want try it out? Content Practice Application-

Create a shared Google Doc “Get to Know You” activity for the students and have them record their responses. This activity would serve two purposes; First, you can learn more about your students, and second, you can assess their computer skills and determine what areas need further instruction.
Optional Ideas for the Tasks:
1. Write your whole name in your favorite color font
2. Write your favorite subject and highlight the text in yellow
3. Find an image of your favorite food and copy and paste it onto the page

*Bonus Tip– Did you know that when you are collaborating on a Google Doc or Slide, you can click on the colored squares at the top right to reveal the identity of person typing and even locate where they are working? Those squares will either be assigned a temporary color and their initials of that person or an image that was set up in their Chrome Profile Settings. It took me a while to figure out that the anonymous identities show up if the students are only given the Doc from the “Get shareable link” option. However, my kids liked seeing their specific names and images so I tried to share directly with them through the “People” option using their email address in the shared settings. If you use Google classroom, you will not have to worry about any anonymous icons since students are already identified in that class when they join.

My next two blog posts in this series will be- TIP #2 “Assign Student Work” & TIP #3 “Working Together”. In these Posts, I will lay out specific management ideas that have helped me better manage small group or whole class digital work. You can just copy and paste them on your smart board or wait until I am finished with this three part series and grab my complete set of slides to present to your class! My next series after this Collaboration Series will be on “Sharing in G Suite“, how to give editing rights and permissions to others when sharing digital work.


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