Google Docs in the Classroom

I’m currently using Gdocs in my classroom as a draft writing book replacement. Here’s how it works:

1. Each student has their own account in our school Google Apps for Education system

2. I created a shared folder (simply called Room 12) which I then shared with all my students and my personal gmail account (that means I don’t have to swap out of one account and into another for marking purposes)

Various folders help to sort the contents into a manageable collection

3. Students are then taught that all work needs to be put into the shared folder (there are folders within that master folder for organizational purposes only)

This is a shot from my inbox showing where the stories have been shared

4. Once a student indicates that their work is finished I then go in and mark it – using the comment feature. Commenting allows me to suggest an alternative; guide a student to the correct spelling or grammar; or even to ask a question about the text.

I like to comment on beginnings or endings that are particularly great.
The text relating to my comments is automatically highlighted
In this case with a Maori word I've given the correct spelling

5. Students are then expected to go back in to check their work and fix up anything that needs fixing. I can see at a glance if the student has gone back in by viewing the ‘last modified’ list. (Both Me and Jo are actually me – it depends on which account I was in as to what shows up – my students know who I am)

Jo/Me indicates that the student hasn't done any more editing

6. I can then go back in and check the final story. From that point on students will usually post the story to their blog or their page on SuperClubsPlus.

Our class individual blogs on Kidblog
SuperClubsPlus - a great site for kids to learn about online presence

7. One feature that is particularly helpful is the revision history (File-See revision history) as I can see all the editing the student has done prior to my first look at the work. I can also see changes they’ve made in response to my suggestions. I also found that it was helpful while writing my writing comments for their reports as I could open their latest piece of writing and comment about their editing and proof-reading skills that showed up when view the revision history.

Pink text indicates new changes from the previous save


  • Google apps is ever improving – it’s certainly a better product now that it was a year ago.
  • Later this year my students will be working collaboratively with students in another city in New Zealand. They can work on the same document because it’s cloud based computing.
  • My friends and I always use Gdocs for shared note taking at various educamps and conferences – this helps our shared understanding of the day
  • I’m still discovering what I can do with Google apps – I’m looking forward to attending a Google Masterchef session at the upcoming Ulearn11 conference in Rotorua, NZ
Feel free to comment with any ideas I’ve not mentioned.
And I’d like to end with this presentation by Tom Barrett

3 thoughts on “Google Docs in the Classroom

  • September 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    I absolutely love Google Docs! Sometimes I wonder where has it been all my life. I’m a student in EDM 310 and Google Docs has been so helpful with not only EDM 310 but also in my other classes that require group assignments. Collaborating with other students is so important for students to learn early because I’ve always struggled with group assignments. Not having access to all group members’ information can be frustrating and discouraging at times. Thanks to Google Docs I feel much more confident and prepared when working on a group assignment.

  • September 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Great post, very useful for teachers thinking about using Google Docs in their classroom and not sure how it could be used.

  • September 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing this information so others can see the value and possibilities of Google Apps for Education. Our students love the collaboration and feedback that is possible through Google Apps. Sometimes we even use one document as our backchannel for a focused prompt when viewing a video — thus creating a document of class notes from everyone’s viewpoint.

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