Building and Extending Student Knowledge with Google Communities

Thursday, July 30, 20155:15 PM

Way back in May I wrote my first post about Google Communities in the classroom as a reflection on the wonderful Google Education on Air online conference. I presented there about my work building classroom community and engaging learners with Communities. Find that post and my GHOA at Teaching and Learning with Google Communities: A #GoogleOnAir Reflection and More. Cassie Reeder was a part of my audience and she reached out to tell me about #edcampGlobal, another massive online conference. And now, months later #ECG2015 is here! On Saturday at 11 AM EST, I will again be presenting in a GHOA about Google Communities, with the help of my best friend, Dani Raskin Kennis.

You can register for #edcampGlobal at and find my upcoming presentation at it now, and I hope to see you there.

Click here to find my GHOA, live on Saturday 8/1 at 11 AM EST.

I decided to write a little about one way I use Communities in my classroom as taste of my classroom and presentation. In my classroom, Google Communities are the perfect place for sharing learning, research, and developing background knowledge. Here are two examples of how I use to Communities for

Building and Extending Student Knowledge with Google Communities 

Last year, I taught an SAT/ACT Review course elective to high school upperclassmen. As part of the curriculum around 300 vocabulary words were assigned throughout the semester. To learn, practice, and apply this vocabulary, students often developed their own SAT and ACT-style multiple choice questions to learn about the test form, structure, strategies, and vocabulary.

In the task below, my co-teacher posts an assignment to our SAT/ACT Community. The pin in the top right corner of the screen shot indicates that the post has been pinned by a moderator, so it remains on the top of the Community stream.

Below, Walter posted his question and receives multiple replies. Students answer and eagerly demand feedback and offer praise. Not only are students creating questions and building their own knowledge, but they are collaborating in checking their responses in real time. I like Ethan's example because he extends the task, adding a video to complement his work, all on his own. 

In the next screenshot, multiple students are collaborating to identify the parts of speech in each others' sentences using new vocabulary words. Instead of dry sentence diagramming, students are creating content, analyzing each other's work, and collaborating to extend their understanding. 

This quick and easy collaboration works as a do now/anticipatory set, exit ticket, or classroom activity. Students are able to demonstrate, apply, and extend their knowledge, while adding multimedia to supplement their learning. This type of activating knowledge, creating new knowledge, and collaboration through authentic social media is one of my favorite types of activities for Communities.

Feel free to borrow, adapt, and steal--I truly think Communities are one of the most underrated Google tools around. And if you like it, check out my #edcampGlobal Google Hangout on Air or the SchoenBLOG next week for more. Thanks for reading!

Again, I hope you'll join me at #edcampGlobal! Click here to find my GHOA, live on Saturday 8/1 at 11 AM EST and go to to register. 

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