Trying To Get The Most Out Of A Project With Google Classroom

We ask a lot of our students. I always seem to have big plans and ideas to make the experience of a project as meaningful as possible.

On top of creating their program and their written report, wouldn't it be great if the student spoke to an adult in their life who is interested in STEM and got their feedback on their code and report? and if they assessed themselves using the project rubric before handing it in? and if they edited and made multiple drafts of the report and could track their improvements? and if they could get peer feedback throughout the process?

As great as these experiences could be for the students, I am always cautious of overwhelming students with the number of individual tasks. I don't want organizational challenges to interfere with the experience of the project. I tried to streamline the task management and organization for this project using Google Classroom's "make a copy for each student" feature. It allowed me to create an identical document for each student where the girls can do all of their thinking, reflecting, editing, and self-assessing in the same place they submit their final products.

The template has:

  • A check-list of all of the required tasks
  • A space for them to make notes on their experience sharing their project with an adult in their life interested in STEM (also a space for the adult).
  • A place for them to write their final report
  • The functionality to give their peers comment privileges to get peer feedback.
  • The ability to automatically track the changes and edits they make
  • A copy of the rubric for them to self-assess by highlighting specific criteria

Classroom also stores these templates by student, so it is easy for me to see all of their rough work and final products in one place! All of these tasks can be done without a computer, but Google Classroom allows me to provide scaffolding and support for the task managing aspect of the project which I have found can be a significant barrier to some students. A one-stop-shop-doc for their project.

I believe Doctopus has the same functionality (if you aren't using classroom).

Maybe doing this for every single project does more harm than good. A big part of Middle School is learning how to manage time and prioritize tasks and I don't want to completely take that out of my classroom. I am interested to see if this approach does in fact enable students to get more out of the different parts of the project and if it has an impact, positive or otherwise, on the way my students manage tasks.

5 thoughts on “Trying To Get The Most Out Of A Project With Google Classroom

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post Andrew. You've stumbled into a great area of debate around how we leverage technology in our classes to allow students to succeed VERSUS using technology in a way that enables learned helplessness. The development of executive functioning skills happens across a broad span of time, and differs greatly within the same age-group. So too does student ability to use technology. It's finding that healthy balance of structure and routine with personal responsibility that is the elusive key to student success.

    Thanks for bringing me back to this debate. What role do you think tech should play?

    1. Post author

      Hi Garth, I've really been thinking about your question the past few days. I haven't been able to form an answer I am really happy yet, I think I will do a little more reading/exploring on the subject. Thanks for the prompt!

  2. Hi Andrew,
    I use Hapara for the same purpose in my classroom, and I've found that although it does take some of the responsibility off the student, they still have a role to play in keeping their documents organized in folders, following up on homework assignments, and learning how to work effectively in this new digital fashion. I do believe that there is a fine line between spoon feeding and streamlining, but in this case, I find that allowing students to easily access their own documents for all the reasons you state above is well worth it.
    What do others think? Anyone else out there using these tools?

  3. Some excellent questions here, Mr. Ruston!

    And I think I love the grey area that these ponderings are painting: no matter which route we take as teachers, is it inevitable if we are truly setting our students up for success. On one hand, I think giving all of these clear structures help form connections for the students that reminds them that when, for example, they get peer feedback, they are more likely to experience success.

    Maybe the answer is to use many different approaches with your project work. Some projects can be clearly laid out, all in one Doc, and then maybe some are a little more open. Some students might thrive with one and not so much with the other.

    I shared your post with Harriet in Grade 5 who just started using Classroom. I'm curious what her perspective is!


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