Friday, March 21, 2014

Google Drive Collaborative Project: Digital Student Magazines

This informational magazine project comes from my district's online curriculum and I just loove it!  Last year I integrated technology and we did it completely PC based.  I wanted to accomplish the same this year, but make it even better:  this was a HUGE difference from last year, same project, different method.  

Last year the project consisted of:  each student in the group working on his/ her own computer on his/her part of the magazine, saving the word document to our class folder on the "v drive" on our district network, and then finding it again, cutting and pasting each student's work and putting it all together in one document while trying to maintain format and then me going in, finding them, and printing them all out!!  

My experience from last year is what actually helped me to make the decision to turn to Google Drive (*see previous blog post) for this collaborative project to attempt to improve it, and make it better than it already was.  I wanted to give the students more time to be creative and "do their thing" 
(Some of them even decided to put a QR code into their magazine!) by cutting out all of the extra "stuff" we had to do to put it all together.  

I mean, four different students with their work saved all in the same place, on the same document with easy access... no searching for work on a huge database and piecing it all together afterwards... breaking down the walls of each student working on his or her own computer, alone, separated from group members...  

I wanted a truly collaborative project in all sense of the word- students working on their own piece, but in the same space as their classmates so that they could see each other's work in real time and offer advice, or opinions on formatting, writing, grammar, etc...Google Drive made it happen!

This project was great in many ways:  It was multi-faceted and involved real-world 21st century skills while enhancing our district curriculum that targets state standards.  
The project involved; 

-student inventory of own interests and working in interest-based groups; students grouped based on similarities in their interests/knowledge for their general topic

-developing a topic and subtopics and choosing non-fiction text features to include with each article

-group members researching information on their subtopic from a variety of sources- books, websites, interviews, videos using two different note-taking strategies

-each group member contributing an article of a different text structure/organization

-students working together to choose a cover image and design a cover

-students designing a game, fun facts, or extra information for their magazine

-students working together to decide how to format their magazine

-students using a checklist to monitor their group's progress

-students evaluating themselves and group members as part of their grade


I included the following documents in each group's folder on Google Drive:

~check list for student to self/group-monitor their progress

~document to track who would be in charge of which part of the magazine and the titles of the magazine and articles

~document to turn notes from note-cards into complete sentences with details

~a bibliography document where each student added the websites, books, videos, etc. that they used to gather their information and pictures

~one document where all students from the group would each add his/her final copy of their article and the group worked together to add table of contents, games, and advertisements!


 I used Google Forms as a part of my assessment process.

     Since it is difficult to evaluate all students every day and the contributions they made to the group throughout the whole project, part of my assessment came from the group members evaluating themselves and each other.  This also made them more accountable of monitoring their own work habits.  To easily distribute the eval and collect responses, I used my first Google Form on Google Drive!  I shared the link with students through Edmodo.

Students answered questions on Google Form on their tablet and submitted their answers.  All answers were populated into one spreadsheet that was automatically created in my drive. Again, I could easily assess student work without hauling around a load of papers! 


Students created their covers on the tablets using the website (click to create a cover!)

This group did their magazine on the soccer team Real Madrid... they then tweeted their cover to the team!


Finished products on Google Drive (click links below!)

Paris Informational Magazine

Cars Informational Magazine

Real Madrid Informational Magazine

The Solar System Informational Magazine

Mexico Informational Magazine


The progression through the project...

 Four students working on                                                the same doc at the same time!

Researching topics of interest with videos, interviews, etc.

Turning notes into complete sentences on Google Docs...

Adding the finishing touches using Google Drive on the laptops- font, color, page numbers, text features, etc.
I will be printing the finished magazines out for the students as well as keeping a copy for my classroom library! : )

For next year, I will be looking to use an app or web-tool to put the magazines in the format of an actual ebook... let me know if you know of anything in the comments!


  1. I just love how meaningful this assignment has been for your students! Their work products are outstanding! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Thanks! They worked so hard on them and really cared about the work they were doing.