This year my 2nd graders completed a research project about African American Athletes using videos from and a public Google Docs presentation.

The students worked in self-selected pairs and picked an athlete’s name out of a ‘hat’ (it was actually a plastic beach bucket!). Over the next few weeks, they listened to the videos and took notes on facts they learned. They wrote the facts on a slide template (below) and then typed them into a public, collaborative Google Doc presentation. Once the presentation was done, I changed the settings to ‘view only.’






Once the project was complete, I thought of a comment I overheard Gary Stager make once about districts and schools saying “we’re just not ready for Google Docs.” He said something to the effect of “what, you’re not ready for word processing?” After watching my 8 and 9 year old students successfully take on a collaborative Google Doc presentation, I can’t help but think that Gary’s statement is an important one to consider. What could possibly hold a school or district back from using tools that allow students to collaborate on digital projects and then share those projects with the word, without even needing an account?

Enjoy our work!



  1. Carrie Zimmer


    Mary Beth, I really enjoy your blog. You offer a lot of great tips and I read your Edutopia posts as well. Question- How are you using Google Docs without an account? Curious about your last statement. I teach internationally and we don’t provide our students with email addresses until 6th grade, so I always looking for ways to use things without emails.

    • mbteach


      Thanks, Carrie!

      If you set the document to “Public” through the Share menu and click the “anyone can edit” box then anyone who clicks on the link can access and edit the document. Once the document is complete, I lock it down again so it is “view only.”

      A tip for doing things that way—make sure that students only work on their slide. The first time they work on them, I assign them a number. After that, I model how to find their slide by finding their athlete’s name. If they focus on the number too much, then they may end up typing on someone else’s slide unintentionally. We had a few instances of kids deleting other students slides (or their own slides!) by accident with the backspace, but it was a good lesson in not giving up and dealing with mistakes and lost work.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Reply

    At least in the lovely Los Angeles Unified School District, I can’t use google docs because google doesn’t play well with the wireless network. I have found to be a useful alternative and am testing out as well. The students really enjoy doing collaborative work in high school as well.

    • mbteach


      Thanks for offering an alternative solution, Danny. I have used Primary Pad and it can be a good way to work collaboratively without Google Docs.

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