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Tech Class

Keen on Collaborating

Grade 7 students jump at the chance to share work and collect peer input in an online environment.

By Stefan Dubowski
Photo: Matthew Liteplo

A photo of Yvonne Sun-Hsu helping a student with a laptop. There are two other students nearby working on laptops.
Photo: Matthew Liteplo
Yvonne Sun-Hsu’s students use Google’s Apps for Education to complete their assignments.

The Challenge: Encourage students to collaborate and save time marking and reporting.

The Solution: Use Google’s Classroom and Apps for Education to distribute assignments and track grades. Have students use the online software to share comments on their peers’ work.

Lessons Learned: Yvonne Sun-Hsu, OCT, a teacher at Silver Stream Public School in Richmond Hill, Ont., was surprised by how thoroughly students have embraced the education-focused collaboration system that she employs.

Sun-Hsu uses Google’s Classroom, a feature of Apps for Education that facilitates student collaboration and helps her assess learners’ performance. The Apps for Education suite includes Google Drive, Google Docs and other Google web-based applications. Unlike versions of Google Apps available to non-teachers, Apps for Education provides increased data storage, additional technical support and other enhancements. Classroom is an app that teachers can use to distribute assignments and track completions.

At the start of each year, Sun-Hsu sets up Classroom for her classes. The tool generates class codes linked to students’ individual Google accounts. When she uses Classroom to develop an assignment, the app copies the document and pushes it to each student’s account.

Students complete their assignments in Apps in Education. They upload the work to Classroom and invite their classmates to comment. Once they process the peer input, students edit their work and, through Classroom, submit the material to Sun-Hsu.

At marking time, Sun-Hsu provides feedback with Classroom’s grading and comments modules. She returns the assignments to the students through the Google environment as well.

Observations: Sun-Hsu thought students might be nervous about sharing their work with classmates. She was wrong. In fact, she says students collect peer input even when collaboration isn’t a requirement for the assignment. “They’re keen on asking for feedback to truly improve on their work,” she says.

The technology also means she can mark assignments and develop reports more efficiently. For instance, she uses Google Forms to create a document to track student performance. At report card time, she can quickly transport details from that document to a spreadsheet, sort the information into columns and instantly see all her notes on each student.

A photo of Yvonne Sun-Hsu helping a student with a laptop. There are two other students nearby working on laptops.
Sun-Hsu expected Apps for Education would help her save time and encourage kids to collaborate; however, what she’s most impressed with is the impact these programs have had on her students.

Helpful Hints: Always check with your board’s safe-use or acceptable-use policy, Yvonne Sun-Hsu, OCT, advises. If you’re encouraging students to save work online, you may need to verify that the information will be kept confidential and stored appropriately.

The College’s professional advisory Use of Electronic Communication and Social Media ( guides members’ professional judgment in the use of technology.

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