I recently attending a teaching conference session where the discussion had me baffled. Educators were upset with the negativity the comment feature caused within their lessons. Students were using it as a “chat session”. I kept an open mind and listened intently but they were convinced that this feature was more of a hinderence than an asset. I took time to process this information taking into account that the issue mainly affected high school classrooms and I have never taught high school, but as the day went on, I become more an more perplexed as to how this could be the only viewpoint shared in this session full of highly educated people.
By the time it was my turn to present later that same day, I came to the point in my presentation where I talked about the power of the comments feature in Google Docs and Google Slides. I went ahead with my theory and explained the many positive experiences I’ve had with the amazing digital tool. No differing opinions arose, and all seemed to be intently listening and jotting down notes during this portion of the presentation.
That night I had a long conversation with my husband, whom attended my session, and asked him what he thought. Being a noneducator, I wanted an “outsider’s” opinion. He told me, in own his blunt way, that to him it seems teachers are not presenting it as a learning tool, therefore kids are abusing it.
I’m not sure what to think, but his theory sounding pretty straight forward. Maybe teachers need to teach the productive use of the comments feature. It needs to be introduced and reinforced as a vital part of the lesson. Teachers should use it as a powerful means of teaching students metacognition and collaboration.
Ok…I’ll leave that debate for now, and get into the reason why I believe it is one of the most powerful tools I’ve found and I praise Google for adding it to the GAFE!
Research shows that true comprehension comes from 7 basic strategies all readers should be capable to doing.
- Monitoring Comprehension
- Determining Importance
No matter what the age, students should be learning HOW to do each of these things. This is where I have found the comments feature to be worth its weight in gold.
Previous to the comments feature most conversations, thoughts, questions, inferences, and such happened one at a time orally with the student or privately in a student journal. Many times there was no extra time after the lesson to allow everyone to share their thoughts. No more. When I am presenting my students we can share in real time using the comments feature.
I do have guidelines so the document isn’t overloaded with random comments.
- Each student is to share at least 1 comment using the strategy we are working on or what the chapter/passage lends itself to.
- Each student is asked to ask one thing they are wondering about the chapter/passage.
This way students that are less willing to share or would rather sit back and let others do all the talking have an opportunity to do so without having to speak out. They can take their time, think it through, read other’s comments as examples, and then add their response.
It has been a comprehension game changer in my classroom. The students know they are expected to share prior to reading or listening so it helps them to monitor their understanding as we read.
Below are a few examples of ways I have used the comments feature in Google Docs. The same principles could be used with a Google Slides presentation.
#1 Create Digital Journals For Reflection Purposes
You and your students can confer privately and on your own time about these reflections using the comments tool!
Great way to fit in conferencing with EVERY student when class time does not allow.
#2 Use in Daily Assignments or Projects
Provide assistance by adding links to further information. Discuss student’s progress and planning. Offer advice or feedback. Students can ask questions privately and get the feedback they need when they need it.
#3 Use on Group Projects to Direct and Assist the Group
Keep students on task and working effectively with the comments tool.
#4 Use as an Interactive Comprehension Tool
This is my favorite use of the comments tool, especially since I’m a reading specialist. Studies show that if students have ways to “show” their thinking, comprehension will improve. Providing lessons in which students are practicing their comprehension strategies throughout the reading will strengthen their comprehension as well as provide students a way to monitor their comprehension independently.
This particular example shows how students can monitor their understanding while reading and viewing background information prior to reading.
Providing opportunities for students to communicate their thinking, metacognition, will strengthen comprehension. Using the Google comments feature is an amazingly simple way to easily incorporate this strategy into daily lessons.
Give it some thought. Give it a try and you be the judge. But in my classroom, the comments feature has provided me a way to incorporate important comprehension strategies easily and effectively. It’s provided me with the data and information I need in order to provide exactly what my students need when they need it and to me that is gold!
Until the next post,