Archive for the Collaboration Category

Straight from the Source: — here’s a Google Doc Overview (from
“Google Docs is an easy-to-use online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables you and your students to create, store and share instantly and securely, and collaborate online in real time. You can create new documents from scratch or upload existing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.”

And there is much more to Google Apps than documents; users can share calendars, create forms (to gather data), and create webpages via Google Sites!

HCPS Specific Information:
Henrico County Public Schools has created Google Docs for all of its staff using the “domain.”
Every teacher now has access to Google Docs using their HCPS email user name (e.g., and a password.
For security sake, the default password protocol will not be revealed here. It will be revealed in face to face training.
Following this post online?  If you have found this site online, contact your ITRT for password information.

Google Docs works much better in Google Chrome (which is on HCPS laptops for secondary students and students. If you not in Chrome now, copy this post’s URL, launch Chrome and paste in the URL. (FYI, use the Star in Chrome to bookmark sites.)

HCPS staff members can log into HCPS Google Docs in two ways:
1) Go to (and then enter your HCPS email account user name and default password.)
2) Go to (and then enter your entire HCPS email address and the default password.)

Upon logging in, users will be prompted to change their password. Google Docs currently requires user passwords to be at least 8 characters long.
Eventually HCPS personnel will use their laptop user name and password to get into Google Apps (but we are not quite there yet!)

Some HCPS folks may have already created a personal Google Docs account using their HCPS email address as their user name; upon logging in those users will receive a warning from Google that their account has been taken over by the owner of the domain (yes, Henrico County itself!)  For more on what to do in that situation, check out this shared document:



October 8, 2012 Google Docs Session Agenda:
1A) Welcome, Information Regarding HCPS Google Apps Accounts, Logging In and a Brief  ‘Where Am I? 30 minutes
1B) Seek and Find An Elbow Partner – Find a ‘study buddy’ for this session now!
(We will be sharing documents in small teams. It is rare that everyone in a large group needs to edit the same document at the same time
—  and smaller groups should make the sharing experience easier and faster.)
1C) Logging In (Click this link!)
1D) This Doesn’t Look Like Kansas Anymore –
a brief tour of key parts of Google Docs.

2) Begin Exploring Google Doc Features (Small Team Choices!) 40 minutes

a) If you are interested in having students use Google Docs (specifically word processed documents) for powerful peer review purposes, explore the online Creating New Documents handout.  Then have one person in the team create a blank document, name it and then share it with the elbow partner (giving the other person ‘edit rights’) so both can edit it together.  Be sure to discover how to make a copy of the document and how to download a copy (e.g., as a Word document.)  Hint: check out the File menu!

Be sure that both team members open the collaboration screen using the Drop Down arrow on the far right.
(This screen is an integral part of Google Docs; it cannot be turned off!)

b) If you are interested in having students use Google Docs (specifically Presentations) as members of collaborative teams, investigate the handout on PPT2GoogleDocsAndBack . Then either follow the directions for making and uploading an existing PowerPoint presentation OR have one member of the team create a new presentation, name it and share it with the elbow partner (giving the other person ‘edit rights’) so both can edit it together.
Be sure you discover how to make a copy of this document and how to download a copy (e.g., as a PowerPoint document.)  Hint: check out the File menu!

Be sure that both team members open the collaboration screen using the Drop Down arrow on the far right.  (This screen is an integral part of Google Docs; it cannot be turned off!)

c) If you are interested in having students use Google Docs to submit their own data from labs and investigations (in order create a larger set of class data), explore this tutorial.
Then work together to make your own Google Form (e.g., for students to enter their height in centimeters, or to enter the mass of a known object.)  Forms filter data into a Google Doc spreadsheet that can be easily share and / or edited (and exported as an Excel file.)  Forms are easy and powerful and students do not have to have a Google Docs account in order to enter data on a form.

d) If you are interested in giving students read access to your online Google Docs calendar, follow the directions in this tutorial.

Direct Instruction – Step by Step Overview of the Topics Above  (60 mins)
Documents (focus on word processed documents and presentations), Forms and Calendars.
–  with Small Group Input, Dialog and Discussion

Things to Cover Beyond the Topics Above:
What are collections?

What’s Next?  Back at your school!
1) Creating Documents and Forms (if students don’t have accounts.)
2) Creating and Sharing Google Calendars
3) Working with students who have Google Doc Accounts

1) As much as possible, allow numerous opportunities for students to work in teams in your classroom

  • Notice the term is teams, not groups.  Rarely do students or teachers find value in group work.  Nearly everyone likes being on a team, especially being on a successful team!
  • So form, reform and (even) let student form teams throughout the school year!  Learning is social; we learn more from each other than we do by ourselves.
  • Working with teams – creating them, managing them, helping them be successful, and ultimately evaluating them –  is not easy.  Teachers need some resources; here’s a start:
  • Working on a team is not easy or natural.  Behavioral expectations (a k a ‘norms’) help a lot in keeping the experience positive and productive.  Consider these norms, create your own or even better – have your classes create them!

2) Practice Quality Questioning, that is let your students do most of the communicating within your class – following both your lead and your prompts.

  • Ask open ended questions and provide substantial ‘wait time’ for their responses and for your followup questions.
  • Diminish the use of hand raising protocols by encouraging all students to listen and think how they would respond. Then ask them for their answers and listen to their responses.  Make it a goal to talk to and with each student in your class.
  • Practicing Quality Questions techniques is not easy and it takes time to both learn new things and change established practices.  You can find additional resources on instructional questioning here.

3) Provide lots of opportunities for students to engage in metacognition – thinking about thinking.

Learning about learning provides a greater return on teaching time.  Students learn subject area content while learning about how people think.  It is important for young people to realize that as human beings, we can think about and improve our thinking practices.

4. Use the new Bloom’s taxonomy (with its shift toward verbs) in defining,  requiring  and evaluating student thinking. For a visual explanation of the new Bloom approach, go here

login screen for DRHS

We are now fully LIVE with Google Apps at Deep Run!

Teachers and students have the ability to create and share electronic calendars, documents and web sites with members of Deep Run and the global community.

These are exciting times!

Such powerful tools help students communicate and collaborate with their world in a decidedly 21st Century way! Promoting access to Google Apps is not without risk; yet this is an opportunity whose time has come!


What happens within DR GoogleDocs depends largely on the behavior of the Deep Run student body. Please show caution and maturity in how you use these online tools. Much more detailed info about DRHS Google Docs can be found in your graduation year community group in School Space.

 If you need help, see Mr. Metcalf (5003) or email him (grmetcal AT

Is the 2002 DRHS mission statement still valid when the majority of teachers who work here now didn’t create the original document?

Rhetorical yet important questions:
Are mission statements important?
Are we who we say we are?
How are we doing as a school?
How do we measure our successes and failures?
How can we continue to improve our practices and crafts to raise the level of student achievement?
Are we truly a learning organization?

Here is the mission statement — please read it and privately consider its meaning and relevance:

“”The Deep Run High School Community is dedicated to life-long learning, student success, and involvement in the total school program. We are committed to a supportive environment fostering compassion, citizenship, respect for others and school pride. All students will reach their potential through differentiated instruction, innovative practice, and the effective use of technology. Students, parents, staff and the community are partners in this mission.”

Impressive stuff, yet does the statement still speak to and for us? Exploring the many dimensions of that question is today’s task.

More rhetorical questions:
How can we help such a large group reflect and possibly change?
Does collaboration make a tough job a bit easier?
What would smaller teams teachers think?
And how can those smaller teams help the bigger team work effectively and efficiently?
Do we value teamwork?

    Screenshot of Intel Ranking Software
    Overview of today’s activity: The DRHS faculty has been divided into five groups – selected classroom teachers have been asked to facilitate this process.
    All 5 teams will use technology to ‘rank order’ the salient items within the mission statement as to their relative importance. Folks will need to work as a team and come to consensus. Then we can quickly compare the work of every team.

    A couple of  tips:

    When you explore the program, work in teams of two to help each other figure out how to use the program. 
    Feel free to talk about these items and what they mean to you. Probe, paraphrase, pause, advocate, inquire, communicate, collaborate!

    When your entire group works on the final list, spend less time on the actual number than on the relative location as you advocate and listen to friends within your team.

Items near the bottom of the list may need to be ‘voted off the island!’

The team facilitator will help people log into the Intel site (you’ll need the link a user name and password): Once there you and your partner will be able to move the items within the list and easily compare your team’s list to the other four teams of teachers. After folks explore the process, the facilitator –  or someone else in the group –  will make the final moves for the entire team.  (You’ll need a time keeper.)
Just as in the real world there are no easy answers…often it is just enough to be asking the tough questions. 

  1. Intel Rank Ordering Web Site (free — and fun to use with students and adults, you know who to see for more information):
    Actual URL is”

    For teacher name, enter DRHS
    For group user name, enter DRHS01, DRHS02, DRHS03, DRHS04 or DRHS05 depending on your group’s number.
    Your facilitator will give you the password (it won’t be revealed here on the web…)
    When in the site, click on Prioritizing DRHS Mission Statements August 2010 on the left, then start moving titles. You may have to be patient as you explore!

Want more information about communication and collaboration? Start here

I have been investigating Balanced Assessment for the last year.  Yeah, I am a slow learner. I prefer a simmering approach to important concepts.

Using Rick Stiggins (et al) book Classroom Assessment For Student Learning, I have come to appreciate the need for a balance of assessment opportunities in the classroom (e.g., essay, obective, performance and summary), a balance between assessment for and assessment of learning, and a balance in importance between classroom and standardized assessments.  Incidentally, standardized tests pale in the contribution to student achievement as compared to classroom assessments.

I remember learning these definitions in a teaching methods class many years ago yet didn’t see the value! NowI see the power of assessing summatively (‘of learning’) and formatively (‘for learning’).

My teammate Carol and I facilitated a small group of secondary teachers who were exposed to key concepts behind Balanced Assessment this summer (July ’08).  Those folks used a blog to summarize their learning and commitments to what they will try this coming school year.  I am not providing a link just yet as folks are still finding their way and laying themselves on the line; yet the ideas and the passion of the folks involved is very exciting.

The book is well worth reading and the topic is key to helping teachers do their job more effectively and increasing student achievement. More on this topic and using the booklater…

Post title playfully taken from here.