Today I was visiting Mr. Marchyok’s classroom and saw something that made more greatly appreciate what technology in our classrooms can do when we think about it differently. As I entered the room I noticed that his students were working on their Chromebooks. As I walked around the room, I noticed that the students were working on biographies. I noticed that Xavier was writing about Rock and Roll guitarist Jimi Hendrix. As I walked around the room I noticed that Mr. Marchyok was also working on his computer, and when I got close I could see that he had Xavier’s Jimi Hendrix document open and was basically conducting a writing conference with him via the chat feature built into Google Docs. With Google Docs users can share documents and view and work on them in real time.
Using Google Docs and the Hapara Teacher Dashboard program Mr. Marchyok, and our other 4th and 5th grade teachers, are able to conduct writing conferences on the fly with students. In this example Mr. Marchyok was using the Teacher Dashboard to quickly view what students were working on and to open those documents and provide feedback and encouragement. Something different than collecting notebooks, shlepping them home, writing responses with a red pen, and then redistributing them to students the next day.