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Getting it right this time with Google Docs.

We had just finished a series of lessons on the Renaissance in my AP European History class when it became clear that a massive review was needed to cement their understanding of this time period. Learning from a missed opportunity with my AP World History Class we used Google
Documents in a Wiki like fashion to create a study guide for their assessment.

Setting up a document in Google Docs was all the input I had for this activity. I wanted the class to create their own guide so I picked a student to type and another to lead the discussion of what should be put in the document.

They began by creating a list of terms of people, places and things. Then they realized they needed to set it up into categories such as exist in the themes of AP Euro. They created a time line, separated the popes and major families of each city state, political thinkers, and information
specific to each city state including Naples. They addressed the painters, writers, clergy and women of the Renaissance as well as the differences between the Italian and Northern Renaissance. Finally, they created questions that might possibly be on the assessment. Sitting in a
corner of the room I was impressed with what they had achieved from this activity. They had created a working skeleton for their study guide. All I had to do was share it with them on Google Docs and watch them work together to fill out the study guide that they created.

Thirty one students working together on one study guide was fun to watch. Student's worked on it from different locations, times and with a variety of devices. Some used their cell phones, or iPads to add and edit information. Some would work on it at unusual times such as the time stamp of 2:00 am on a few revisions.

I asked my students how they felt about the process of creating their own study guide. They said they liked it because it helped them “recall things” that they had forgotten and would not have thought to study. I plan to set up a poll to get more direct feedback. The only thing I did
was to help with crowd control. The only draw back for this activity is that the information was being entered so fast that the word processing program for Google Docs could not keep up with the typist. It was a small price to pay for such a cool activity. Hopefully, Google will work
to incorporate a better word processing program in the future.

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