Free and Engaging Solution for Beginning the School Year: Google Spreadsheet, Grou.ps, Wordle

The excitement of the new school year continues after developing a very successful structure for my classroom with free technology.  Ice breaking, social/professional network building, goal setting, and identifying important shared class policies flew by and I feel like we hit~one~out~of~the~park with the system my classes created!

First we used a Google Spreadsheet to input answers to some simple and essential questions:

  • Describe what you enjoy, or something you are good at doing.
  • If you could speak with anyone in the world on Skype, who would it be and why?
  • What interests you most about this class?
  • What are your goals for this class?
  • What are your goals for this year?
  • What are your goals for the future?

Next we created Gmail accounts and used those to create profiles on a free Grou.ps page.  Grou.ps is a free social network similar to Facebook and Ning.  Within the Grou.ps page we created subgroups for each class period with independent discussion forums and calendars.  Each forum posed the question:

Reply to this message with at least 3 class policies that will help develop a positive and productive work environment.  Please use professional language and complete sentences.  Use formated bullets to separate each policy.

After submitting policies to the subgroup forum, each student read through all policies then copied and pasted the policies they agreed with into the icebreaker spreadsheet on a new column next to their names.

We then posed the problem of how to organize all the text in the spreadsheet.  After searching through formulas and Google Gadgets, we decided that Wordle would be the best option to create a “Phrase Cloud” that represented the class polices.

Students had to reformat their column in the spreadsheet in order for the phrase to be recognized by Wordle.  Each word must be separated by tilde “~”. Spaces in the spreadsheet separated the phrases.

Here is an example of the outcome:

Students are using the Grou.ps page to collaborate in the forums inside and outside of class and are creating safe and professional profiles where they connect with classmates and friends.

I am excited to see what this year brings!  Our first two Shawnee TV podcasts were outstanding and the students are developing some impressive and professional media.

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2 responses to “Free and Engaging Solution for Beginning the School Year: Google Spreadsheet, Grou.ps, Wordle

  1. Pingback: Persistence: Be a “solution giver,” “process helper,” and “resource linker”… | Brian Pistone's Education Technology Blog

  2. Pingback: Persistence: Be a solution giver, process helper, and resource linker. | Brian Pistone's Education Technology Blog

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