Sep 17 2007
Sharing a Google Spreadsheet in class
Today was Day 1 in terms of our laptop use in the classroom and we hit the ground running, so to speak – just how I like it. I am sure you have had days like today, when it is a bit of a whirlwind from 8am right through to 4pm – where does the time go? Today the sands just seemed to slip through my fingers! Not to say it was one of the best days for a long time.
We now have 8 Toshiba laptops running happily in both of our Year 5 classes and today we kicked off with a simple word level activity in literacy. One group worked on Race to Ramses! a game about combining prefixes and suffixes to create new words. I have taught with laptops in the past but the new technology (laptops and WAPs) is just so much more reliable. And it is great seeing children completely engaged with one to one technology supporting their learning, I am so pleased to see it in the hands of the pupils – which is the whole point. You might think “web game, one group…not really setting the world alight” – but I suppose it is a culmination of a lot of work and to finally get things in front of children, reliable and solid feels like a big achievement.
Needless to say in the afternoon we swam into deeper waters and I’d like to think we pushed the envelope a bit…
The morning was successful and the children enjoyed working on their own machine and many children asked for the web address for the game – so we will have to get our del.icio.us account sorted or get them into their Google accounts soon!
In the afternoon we were looking at some science work we have begun regarding healthy living and exercise. Today we explored pulse rates and we used an online spreadsheet to share our results, hence the title of the post. (This work is similar to some online spreadsheet action we had last year with my Year 6 class) I decided to use a Google spreadsheet as I have been using the Docs application for a while (in fact I have a few grumbles about that – more soon) but you could have easily used EditGrid as an alternative – I set the sheet up so that all of the children’s names from both classes were present in the first column. Then 10 other columns were labelled, “Resting Pulse1, Resting Pulse 2…” It was in these cells that the kids added their resting pulse after counting for 30 seconds and doubling.
I then accessed the same spreadsheet through my Google login on all 8 laptops per class that I put around the room – so in effect I logged in 16 times (plus my PC and SMARTBoard, so 17) to the same document from different locations. We talked a little about how to find our pulse and then asked the children to record 10 instances of their resting rate into the spreadsheet. It was great! With the live update feature we were able to see individual results popping up all over the place and even from next door in Rick’s class who were doing the same. Google Spreadsheets has an Auto Save option which makes life much easier and gives you the opportunity to see the live data. Not only did the hardware hold out fine, but accessing the spreadsheet was excellent – even with 17 simultaneous users on a single login. The children really enjoyed seeing each other’s work and it gave them a great overview of not only the
class year group working together, but also to the sorts of data people were adding. Children from the other class were nipping across the corridor and questioning the validity of results from kids in my class.
The children had a tendency to sit with the laptop in front of them, in small groups rather than freely moving around the classroom and accessing any machine. But I suppose that is due to the nature of task.
Within the space of about 40 minutes, perhaps less, we collected approximately 600 individual results all in one place. No doubt they will be quicker next time. This method of data collection also allows us the ability to then manipulate the results afterwards, working out averages of the whole year group etc. I would highly recommend doing this if you have the reliable kit in your classroom, we have already said that it will be an excellent data entry method for our maths lessons on data handling.
It is now 12 hours since I started the day at school and I am just about coming up for air, no don’t worry I am not at school still! – but it is great to reflect here on these sorts of days. One to remember and I hope you might take some of these ideas and use it yourself.