Many schools are finally getting the technology to allow students to work on their own computer during class. Whether you have a mobile computer lab, student computers, or tablets, there is a lot you can do to use computers in collaborative ways. Many teachers at my school are excited for the 1:1 student computers, but overwhelmed at the same time.

6.RI.3 is one of those standards I get a lot of questions about from other teachers. It’s a very broad standard that is best taught by circling, highlighting, and discussing the individual, even, or idea that the text is introducing. Yesterday we did a vocabulary lesson where we focused on what an example, anecdote, and text feature is.Slide2
This page is from my Common Core aligned
My students were already familiar with text features from the 4th and 5th grade standards, so they did have some background knowledge already. The goal of this lesson was to take that general knowledge what a text feature is and analyze why the author used it. To get my students to think about how the parts of the text do this, I wanted them to focus on locating examples, anecdotes, and text features. We also discussed why the author chose each of these, and what they personally learned from them about the text’s topic.
First, I created this simple Google doc that had room for students to record information about a magazine article. Then I made a copy of it for each of my eight student groups. Although Google Docs is great for collaboration, having all 32 of my six graders trying to collaborate on one document is going to result in across-the-room screaming matches. Collaborating with four people is enough of a challenge. I shared the document with these students, making sure that each document was marked so that anyone could edit it. I shared the links on our free Edmodo class, but you can also share them via e-mail, your class website, or on your class blog.
I also shared with them rules for working on Collaborative Google Docs. At the end of the activity, my students had a pretty good idea of why #1 said COMMUNICATE. I heard a few of these…
“Hey! That’s my space!”
“Who’s typing there?”
“Who erased my sentence?!”
After the students were setup with their group document, I gave them an article to read from Time for Kids titled “Cracking the Code”. It was kind of ironic, because it had opinions about why technology should be in school, and some opposing opinions on why it shouldn’t be. My six graders love irony, so it worked.
Their task was to locate text features, elaborations, and examples in this article. This would normally be a pretty easy task for my high-achieving students, but it was tough for them to work together. My students prefer to work individually and just get things done, but I want them to be more social and to collaborate and share ideas. Sometimes my students think that since they’re smart, they can do everything by themselves. These collaboration & technology skills are SO important in today’s world!
After some practice at working collaboratively, I got some really great responses. More importantly, there was discussion and teamwork going on!

Don’t be afraid to try out some collaborative activities using Google docs in your classroom! If you’re lucky enough to have access to student computers or tablets, use them! The worst thing that will happen is a student will have to help you figure out how to do something (true story).

If you only have a few computers or tablets, this would be a great activity for a computer center as well!