Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Google Drawings with Chrome Remote Control for a Kickoff Activity

At my high school of 2000 students, we have adopted many common classroom structures so that students moving between classes will not have to do any more code switching than is already required of them by the subjects themselves. One of these structures is a kickoff activity that begins immediately at the start of class before any preamble.

In physics, we frequently ask our students to draw annotated diagrams. 'Draw an annotated diagram,' is one of the common prompts on IB exams, and we use the kickoff as an opportunity to practice doing this. Since we are one to one with Chromebooks enrolled in our GAFE domain with Teacher Dashboard sitting on top, we ask them to use Google drawings to make their annotated diagrams. It is amazing what the students have learned to do by layering simple shapes and extending line segments.

With the Teacher Dashboard Chrome extension that allows for remote control, and snapshot-viewing of student browsers, we can see what the students are drawing as they draw it. Toward the end of the kickoff, I will scan the student drawings (all visible on a single web-page as thumbnails), identify very quickly what misconceptions exist in the class, decide if I must re-teach the concept altogether, or simply pick my focus for a debrief.

For example, today I asked students to draw free body (force) diagrams (example above) of two steel marbles; one dropped from the height of one meter, the second launched horizontally from the same. Since the prompt specified that both objects should be in mid flight, many students (including the one who did the drawing above) aired a common misconception that the horizontal force lingers after launch. I decided to focus my debrief on that exact misconception because I quickly identified that 15 of my 32 students held this belief.

There are still things that are better drawn by hand than with a mouse. For now, to maintain a digital record of all student work, we ask students to use the built-in camera on their Chromebooks to take snapshots of their drawings and insert them into a document, site or blog.

Email me if you would like more information about how to take advantage of Google Drawings and Remote Control of Chromebooks at