This workshop is based on an article of the same name by Erick Sienna, How a Google Spreadsheet Saved My Literature Class (Chronicle of Higher Education Digital Campus insert from April 15, 2016). Sienna writes:
“What if, rather than banning technology from the learning environment, we could route it back in? Technology, culprit of so much mental absentia among millennials could actually deepen their presence in the classroom.”
Sienna goes on to describe using technology, in this case Google Sheets, to effect deepening of student presence in the classroom, and to move them from lower-order to higher-order thinking - he even promises this can be done in 15 minutes! In this workshop we will examine his techniques and learn how to apply them not only to Literature classes, but to others as well.
Please help us improve by filling out a brief survey when you finish: tinyurl.com/drew-workshops. Under Which Workshop(s) did you attend, be sure to use "Other" and enter Google Sheets for Literature Classes. Thanks!
At the end of this workshop, you will be able to:
Demonstrate an understanding of the pedagogical methodologies that underpin the tools taught in the workshop.
Have a working knowledge of Google Drive and how to set up the document for their students to use interactively for the four teaching goals included in the article on which the workshop is based.
Be able to use a Google Spreadsheet to facilitate small group responses in class in real time.
Use Google Drive for shared note-taking in order to document classroom discussion.
Use Google Drive to help students structure their writing process.
Use Google Drive to support critical thinking.
In his article, Sienna describes a common problem and an uncommon solution, both stemming from technology. The problem is that his students are not fully present in class due to excessive digital distraction. His traditional method of group work, in which students discussed questions in small groups and then wrote their results on white boards, was ineffective and did not hold their attention. As he describes it, he “lost them” to down time while students wrote on the whole board and, even more, to digital distractions. He asks: “Were there no longer any solid walls containing our learning environment?” He framed his solution in the form of another question: “What if, rather than banning technology from the learning environment, we could route it back in?” and went on to explain how “[t]echnology, culprit of so much mental absentia among millennials, could actually deepen their presence in the classroom.”
Instead of groups working and then reporting back by writing on white boards, Erick created an editable spreadsheet and shared it with the class. Each group added their discussion points to the spreadsheet simultaneously and were able to “see their responses projected onto the whiteboard at the front of the classroom in real time.” This “virtual board” caught and held the students’ attention and turned digital distraction into digital collaboration. Erick reported that the result of this experiment went well beyond holding the students’ attention, in fact his “students...progressed from lower- to higher-order thinking.”
The article goes on to details this and three additional uses Erick implemented for Google spreadsheets that enhanced student presence in the classroom, and -- perhaps more importantly -- the pedagogical underpinnings that made a big difference in teaching and learning for him and his students:
Facilitating effective real-time sharing of group work
Documenting classroom discussion
Structuring the writing process
Fostering critical thinking
Facilitating Effective Group Work Responses
Documenting Classroom Discussion
Sienna uses a live Google Sheet to document classroom discussion. There isn't really a template for this because it is less structured than the other activities. A Google Doc could also be used but may be problematic because students would write all over the document, often with chaotic and disorganized results. Using a Sheet makes for a cleaner outcome, as long as the sheet is structured beforehand or during class and students agree to fill in cells as appropriate.
Where possible, pre-populate the Sheet with a class session outline, leaving space for students to take notes after each item and sub-item. Otherwise, make sure students formulate notes in an organized way so that they are useful after class.
Structuring the Writing Process
Supporting Critical Thinking