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Using Google Docs in the Classroom

Once you have the basics down, you can use Google Docs in the classroom for a variety of purposes. Using Google Docs instead of printing and copying hundreds of handouts is a great beginning. 

As you increase your familiarity and expertise with Google Docs, you will find that this tool can prove to be a great help in the classroom, whether you are going paperless or not. 

You can use Google Docs for distribution of handouts, collection of assignments, providing online feedback to your students, and tracking the revision history of a document. 

Uploading a Document

Got some great handouts and lesson plans you don't want to have to recreate? 

You can upload existing documents to Google documents at any time. When you're uploading, you can either keep your document in its original file type or convert it to Google Docs format. Converting your document to Google Docs format allows you to edit the document and collaborate with others online from any computer.

Note: When uploaded, images within a document are left as images (rather than being converted to text by Optical Character Recognition technology).

You can upload the following file types:
.doc and .docx

Follow these steps to upload a document:
        1. Click the Upload icon in the top left of your Documents List.
        2. Click Files..., and browse your computer drive to select the document you'd like to upload.
        3. Click Open.
        4. Check the box next to 'Convert documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and drawings to the corresponding Google Docs format' if you'd like to be able to edit and collaborate on the document online. Uploaded document files that are converted to Google documents format can't be larger than 2 MB.
        5. Click Start upload. The uploaded file will appear in your Documents List.
        6. Rename the document if desired.

Organizing Your Documents into Folders

You can create folders in your Google Drive. If you have not already done this, the instructions can be found here:

Once you have created folders, you can now put your documents in the folders to keep them organized. Just like email labels, however, you can put a document in as many folders as you like, not just one. There are several ways to put a document in a folder. However, it is important to understand the difference between “moving” a document to a folder and “adding” a document to a folder:

Move - This puts a file into a new folder and removes the document from any folders it is currently in. Basically it strips off all the labels from the file (removing it from all current folders) and puts one new label on it (putting it in the new folder).
Add - This puts the file into a new folder while still leaving it in any existing folders it is currently associated with. Basically you are just adding a new label to the file (for the new folder) while leaving all existing labels for all current folders alone.

This video explains how these two different options work:

Based on the option you choose, you may be able to move, add, or do both in each situation:

Option #1 - The Drag and Drop Method

Go to your normal Google Drive screen and locate the document in your “My Drive” section, “Shared with me”, “Recent”, “All items”, or such.
Also, expand out your folders to expose the destination folder as needed.

        1. Go to your normal Google Drive screen and locate the document in your “My Drive” section, “Shared with me”, “Recent”, “All items”, or such.
        2. Expand out your folders to expose the destination folder as needed.
        3. Click and hold down the mouse button on the document you wish to move to a folder.
        4. While holding the mouse button down, drag the document to the destination folder you want on the left side of the Google Drive screen.
        5. A pop-up label will read “Move [your document]” so you will know you are in “Move” mode.

        6. Put the document on top of the folder you want to move it to, and then let go of the mouse button.

The document will now be moved to that folder and removed from any of your other folders (but will not be removed from someone else’s folder, if it is their document, and they have shared it with you).

Option #2: Organize While Editing

You can also put your document into a folder with the document already opened.

Look to the right of the document title at the top of the screen, and where you can locate and click on a folder icon. 

Adding a Google Doc to Multiple Folders in Google Drive

A Pop-Up window opens with a blue button that says Organize. Click on that button. 

This will open a window where you can expand all of your folders and check the ones you want to associate with this file.

If you check the box for a folder, you will be adding the document to that folder.

If you remove a checkbox, you will be removing the document from that folder.

You can select as many folders as you want for the document.

Click “Apply changes” when done.

Watch the Google Gooru video above to learn about adding a single Google document to multiple folders.

How to Use Folders as Handout Folders

One good use for shared folders is to create a handout folder for your class. This would be a folder where you can put any documents you want your students to have access to, but not be able to change. These would be read-only documents for your students. Examples would include handouts, study guides, and templates that they could make their own copy of to edit. 

To make a handout folder, do the following:
  1. Create a normal folder.
  2. Name it something that will make sense to both you and your students. A good format might be “year-period-teacher-handouts”, such as “2011-03-Jones-Handouts”.
  3. Now go to the sharing settings for that folder.
  4. Add your students to the “Add people” section at the bottom, and give them only Can view rights.
  5. Your students will now receive an email with a link to the shared folder.
  6. Have your students click that link to open the shared folder, making sure it has added the handout folder to their list of shared folders.
**Alternately you can change the privacy on the folder, and set it to People at DPS with the link.
Share that link with your students, and again make sure they click the link to open the folder.

Now anything you add to the folder will automatically be available to the students in the shared handout folder.

How to Use Folders as Student Turn-In Folders

Another good use for shared folders is for students to create turn-in folders for a teacher. Then to turn in an assignment, the student simply adds the document to the turn-in folder and it will be available to the teacher. 

Here is how turn-in folders are made and managed:

Have each student create a normal folder. 

Google Docs - Turn In Folder

You may want to do this all at once in a lab setting.
  1. Have the students name the folder something that makes sense to them and to you. 
    • A good format might be “year-period-student-turnin”, such as “2011-03-SmithJohn-TurnIn”.
  2. Now the student goes to the sharing settings for that folder.
  3. The student needs to add their teacher in the “Add people” section.
  4. To allow the teacher to provide feedback, notes, suggestions, grades, and such, the student should give the teacher “Can comment” or “Can edit” rights.
  5. This is a one-time process the students will need to do to share their turn-in folders with you.
Now as the teacher, all of the students’ shared folders will show up in your list of shared folders under “Shared with me”

 in Google Drive. If you have a lot of students, this can be quite a mess. So the best thing to do now is to organize the students’ folders. 
This is a one-time process you will need to do at the start of the year.
  1. Click in your My Drive section and make a folder for the current school year, such as “2012.”
  2. Select that folder and now make sub-folders under it for each of your class periods, such as “Per 1”, “Per 2”, etc.
  3. Now open up your Shared with me section where all your students’ shared folders are listed. 
    • If the students have named the folders as you instructed, you can sort them by name to get them in order by class period (click the Sort button in the top right). 
  4. Now select all of the students for a particular period, and then drag and drop their folders into the period folder you created for them.
  5. Repeat for the rest of your students and the periods they are in.
When done you will have all your students’ turn-in folders arranged nicely within period folders inside a year folder.

Anytime a student needs to turn in an assignment, they simply add it to their turn-in folder for your class period and the document will now be available for you to access.

How to Use Comments in the Grading Process

Google Docs allows you to add comments to a shared document, presentation, spreadsheet, or drawing. 

This is a useful way to share ideas with other collaborators, or to give feedback to a student on a document you are grading. Comments that you leave on a student’s document can be commented on by the student as well, and back and forth. 

This provides a way to have a conversation about the progress of a term paper, to get clarification from a student about a question, to communicate about a collaborative project with fellow teachers and staff, or simply to provide feedback.

To insert a comment, click in the document or select the words where you want the comment to be linked
  1. Next click Insert in the top menu bar, then click “Comment” (you can also press Ctrl - Alt - M on your keyboard if you prefer) 
  2. A comment box will appear to the right of the document, where you can type in your comment 
  3. This comment will now be visible to others who share the document (such as your collaborators or the student who turned in the assignment) 
    • the comment(s) will not display when the document is printed. 
  4. Collaborators (students, you, etc.) can reply to any comment by typing in the box labeled Reply to this comment
  5. You can also click the links to Edit your existing comment, or to Delete it.
  6. Finally you can click Resolve to close the comment from further replies.
Note: You can also leave general comments that are not tied to a specific part of the document by clicking the “Comments” button in the top right corner of the document or presentation.

Watch the Google Gooru video below about commenting on your students' work in a Google document.

Tips for Teachers_ Power Commenting in Google Docs

How to Use Revision History

When going paperless, one result is that you typically will only have one copy of a document or presentation, instead of several paper copies that may show the changes over time (such 
as rou
gh drafts). It can be very beneficial to see how a student has revised a document (seeing if they have taken your suggestions), and to see which students in a group did which portions of the assignment.

Google Docs allows you to see the full revision history for a document and revert back to any earlier version if needed.

To view the revision History of a Document: 
  1. Click “File” and then See revision history
  2. This will open a side bar on the right side of the screen where a history of changes will be listed by user
  3. If you click on any time stamp on the right, the document will show what changes were made, highlighting the changes by color based on the user
  4. If you want to go back to an earlier version of the document, click Restore this revision on the time stamp for the version you want
  5. If you need to see smaller, more detailed changes, you can click the button at the bottom that says Show more detailed revisions
  6. To exit the revision history mode, just click the X next to Document history at the top of the side bar

Additional Videos and Support

Watch the Google Gooru video below to learn about using Google Docs for an assignment from start to finish.

Google Drive Tips for Teachers_ Starting an Assignment

View the Google Docs Presentation below to learn more about creatively commenting on student papers. 

DPS Google Apps New red pen - CA Summit

How is DPS doing?

The DPS Google Support Site with further integration ideas and resources can be found here.

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