Throughout this past school year, I had students write their blog posts in Google Drive. This was a great way for them to get peer feedback, edit, and save their work. In the beginning, I told them to ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ their work into a new blog post. This was NOT acceptable for many of them. Many took their time getting just the right font (NEVER comic sans – responsible digital citizenship and all) and color. So I agreed to show them how their original work could be viewed on their blog posts – Publish to the web.
Here’s what we did:
First we chose the ‘Embed’ code, not the link. Then we copied the ‘Embed’ code (Control + c – PC; Command + c – Mac). Finally, we chose the blue ‘Published’ button.
On our blogs, we found the ‘Text’ option – Not ‘Visual’. We use Edublogs, most blogs give you a Visual or Text option. Within Text, we placed our cursor where we wanted our document to be viewed, and ‘pasted’ (Control + v – PC; Command + v – Mac) the ‘Embed’ code. Below is an example of the results. We did play around with the Height and Width to get a visually pleasing outcome.
Last week, Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers wrote about using Newsela and Google Docs for differentiated collaborative reading. The idea was so brilliant, yet simplistic, that I had to try it.
Newsela is a free collection of current event articles. It contains relevant, non-fiction writings starting at grade 3. One of the options I like about Newsela is the feature to adjust the same article for varying reading levels. Another nice feature is ‘Quiz’. The Quiz questions are aligned to CCSS – according to the grade the selection is set to.
So taking this idea and running with it, I decided to use Doctopus to make workflow that much easier. I found an article of interest – What moves these big rocks across the desert floor? Hint: It isn’t UFOs – set the reading level to 4th grade (next time I’ll adjust it to each student’s level), copied and pasted the article in a doc, grabbed a few of the questions – requiring students to locate evidence by highlighting the text, and ran Doctopus. Before we began, I reminded the students how to comment (to annotate the text), highlight text, and use the favorite ‘undo’ button. We used ‘undo’ a lot today! As I gave each student ‘editing’ rights on the document, several accidentally erased or moved text when trying to highlight.
The process was simple, and the outcome was #AwesomeSauce! Each question asked was highlighted in a particular color. For example, question 1 was highlighted in yellow. So question 1 evidence was highlighted in yellow in the text by the student. Question 2 was highlighted with a bright green. This was done so that I could ensure that the student could accurately match up the question with the evidence. And there is the added bonus that when I go to check their work, it’s super easy for me to find the evidence for each question. Makes checking a breeze.
The students were engaged, and actively reading! I loved this so much, I’m definitely going to do more of this.
Another great resource I plan to use is Dogo News. It too has relevant non-fiction text for students.
This year I had my 5th graders writing their state reports in Google Docs. One of their tasks was to create a Table of Contents. Normally this is painful – mainly for me. While they understand the concept, they often list ALL the pages in a topic. This year I avoided that by using the Table of Contents feature in Google Docs. It was ridiculously easy!
In their state report they changed the text of each heading from ‘Normal Text’ to ‘Heading 1’
Repeat this process for all sections that need to be added to the Table of Contents. Once you have done this, you can now insert the Table of Contents. Go to the Table of Contents page and place the cursor where you would like the Table of Contents to be submitted. Then insert your Table of Contents.
This is what you get. You have hot links to the different sections in a document.
There are many additions that you can add to your Google Drive. For this post, I will specifically talk about Google Documents. An Add-on is simply a tool that makes your life easier. Some examples are: Easy-Bib, Doctopus (great for teacher management – EDU), and a thesaurus.
So how does one get Add-ons? Well, it’s super easy:
You can scroll through the options or do a search in the search bar (upper right corner or pop-out menu).
Once the desired Add-on is selected, you will need to add it. Simply select the blue ‘free’ (or if there is a cost, the amount will appear) bar located in the upper right corner of the pop-out menu.
Another pop-out menu will appear. It will request that you accept their terms.
Once you accept, the Add-on will be found under ‘Add-ons’ in the tool bar menu.
Within a Google Document, go to TOOLS on the menu bar. Choose RESEARCH.
A side bar, on the right, will appear.
Remember to use ‘Free to use images’. Google allows you to search for these types of images.
Type an image you are looking for in the Research Search Box. Drag the desired image to the document. Google automatically cites the image for you.
I think I’m in LOVE! Yes, I love the EasyBib Bibliography Creator in Google Docs (via Add-Ons). Back in the day when I went to school and wrote reports – only a few short years ago – I had to look up how to cite my sources in a book. Today, all you have to do is type a few bits of information, and the citation is created for you! See, you’re falling in love too, aren’t you?
My 5th graders have no idea how easy they have it. Here’s how it works:
And in case you were wondering, it does save as you work. My 5th graders have been working on their State Reports for a few weeks. As they find resources, they add it to the EasyBib. When they are ready to add it to their Doc, it’s all there for them ready to insert. Pretty cool, huh?
Another feature that allows for easy collaboration in Google Documents is the ‘Comment Feature’. This feature allows me to highlight a particular text and comment on it, for clarification or questions. It’s really very easy.
First, highlight the desired text (can be a word, phrase, sentence).
Now you can add your comment. There are 4 ways in which to access the ‘Comment Feature’:
1. From the Tool Bar icon
2. ‘Insert’ option on Tool Bar
3. Keyboard Shortcut
4. Gray Comments button next to Share button on top right.
A yellow comment box will appear to the right of the document. This is where you will type your comment.
If more than one comment is on the document, and you are unsure of which comment goes to which highlight, simply click on either the comment or the highlighted section. If the highlighted text is chosen, then the comment will ‘pop up’ and show in the yellow box. If the comment is chosen, the highlighted text will become a darker yellow.
When you have finished making your comment, be sure to chose the blue comment button.
Inserting a Document, Presentation, Form, or other Google products is as easy as Insert > Choose > Save
Google Drive is easy to use, and it’s in the cloud. So… What’s NOT to love? Here are some basics to get you started.