This post is about a useful feature that most people don’t notice in Google Docs: Suggesting Mode. This is fantastic for students doing peer revisions or even teachers collaborating on projects. It allows you to show people what you think should be changed, without actually changing it. The choice is ultimately theirs.
I recommend this when students do any peer revisions in class: if you’re suggesting a specific grammatical, punctuation or word change, use Suggested Edits. However, if you’re giving more general feedback or suggesting a change be made, but not identifying what to change to, use a Comment.
Anyhow, here’s how it works: Up in the top right corner you’ll see the word or icon for Editing, Commenting or Viewing. Click on that and switch to Suggesting. Now, act as though you’re actually editing the document (type, backspace, etc.), but your “edits” will show as “suggested edits.” Awesome!
Years ago, as a middle school math teacher, I had a dilemma. My 51 minute math classes had been shortened to 43 minutes. As any teacher knows, this is a big deal. After wrestling with a lot of ideas for how to handle here’s what I landed on:
Each day, during my planning period, I pressed record in a screencasting program called Jing, stepped up to the SmartBoard and went over the day’s homework as if my class was there. (I’m sure I looked like I had lost my marbles to any passerby) I did it quickly, forcing myself to keep it under 5 minutes. Any longer would mean 2 things: my assignment was too long and I was using to much class time to explain content that my students had already done.
The next day, I would play that video while taking attendance, checking to see who did their homework and meeting with any students who had been absent. This allowed me to combine two sets of things that I had previously done–going over the homework and doing the beginning of class teacher stuff–at once. It made up for those 8 lost minutes, and then some.
Nowadays, my philosophies about homework and classrooms where all students are doing the same thing at the same time has changed, so I wouldn’t repeat this format. However, I think these recordings would still be valuable in a blended learning setting. When students finish certain assignments, they could view the videos to self-assess and learn more. Learning Management Systems and websites really open up the possibilities on this.
Here’s a sample of one of these videos:
Google Forms are great for collecting information and delivering assessments, but did you know Forms had some differentiation swag?
Yup, it’s true. Use “Go to Section Based on Answer” with a Multiple Choice question to have right answers and wrong answers lead to different sections. A general mockup of what this could look like, and steps for creating it, are below the GIF.
- Add a question with a correct answer and (at least one) wrong answer.
- Add a section after that question.
- Put your remedial content in that section. YouTube videos work well. You could even make your own video to put in there. You could also include a follow-up question to give your students a chance to re-assess.
- Add a section after the remedial content.
- Put your next content here. This is the section where students who got the correct answer will land. It will probably also be where you have students who completed the remedial step will land.
- Go back to your initial question.
- Select “Go to Section Based on Answer.”
- Have the incorrect choice(s) go to the remedial section.
- Have the correct choice(s) skip to the section after the remedial one.
- Sit back and enjoy the differentiated learning experience!
- Section 1: includes the question the differentiation is based on
- Section 2: the remedial section – whatever content you want the students who got the previous question incorrect to see (video, explanation, follow-up question)
- Section 3: the “next step” – the slide that the students with the correct answer jump to, also where the students with the incorrect answers land after completing the remedial section.
Note: you can add multiple levels of this in one Form, but it can get hard to manage. I once created a Form that went: Question 1, Remedial Video & Question 1a, Remedial Video & Question 1b, Question 2, Remedial Video & Question 2a, Remedial Video & Question 2b, etc. As you may guess, I had to create a complex flowchart to make sure I had everything jumping to the correct places.
Giving speeches or presentations in front of their peers can be a really nerve-wrecking activity for students. We often encourage them to practice, but . . . what’s practice without reflection and self-assessment?
Students can use the free Google Chrome extension Screencastify to record themselves giving their speech or presentation. Then, they can view that recording and reflect on how they did.
Screencastify automatically saves to their Google Drive and is not public, unless the student chooses to upload to YouTube or share the Google Drive file.
- Install the Chrome Extension.
- Click on the extension and follow the prompts to set it up.
- When ready, click on the extension to record.
- Select Desktop (recording entire screen), Tab (recording just the current tab, even if you navigate away from it) or Cam (recording only the camera). If doing Desktop or Tab, decide if you want the webcam on or not.
- Click Record and start talking!
- Click stop and then watch your masterpiece. Remember that it’s also saved in your Google Drive in a “Screencastify” folder.
Google Drawings is a great place for quick, simple, visual activities. Add shapes to a diagram, tell students to double-click in those shapes and – voila – they’re text boxes!
- before sending them out to your kiddos, click into those shapes and format the text size so it’ll fit in the boxes.
- Once you’ve made one box the way you like it, use command+d (ctrl+d on non-Mac) to duplicate it.
- If this isn’t being used in Google Classroom, make it anyone with the link can view, copy the link, change the “edit” to “copy” and send it out.
Scratch, developed by a group at MIT, has a tremendous reputation as a computer science learning & creation tool. But, I believe it is under-appreciated as a tool for the content areas.
It is a great way for students to show their mastery of content standards, while honing their computer science skills and practicing the 4 C’s. It’s also a great way for educators to create content for their students to interact with.
This summer, I hope to make some examples of how Scratch can be used in content areas. For now, here’s a little taste:
One of the earliest edtech tools that I recommended to the teachers involved in the Writing Ourselves project, which I am the Technology Director for, was the DraftBack Extension. Once enabled, the extension allows you to playback your writing process for any doc that you are an editor on. Obviously, the best use case for this would be to have students do this.
What a powerful way for students to reflect on their writing process and for educators to assess (and offer feedback on) the way that they go about the writing craft. Awesome sauce.
A great tool for creating rough drafts or brainstorming for writing is voice typing. Encourage your writers to use this tool to get their thoughts “down on paper” while their creative juices are flowing.
There are multiple options for creating animations (GoAnimate, Scratch, etc.) but my favorite way to do it is creating Stop Motion Slides. I like that I can make it exactly how I want it in this format. I think this has tons of potential in all subject areas (Please comment or share on Twitter with the hashtag #StopMotionSlides if you come up with any cool uses for it).
There are two main steps:
- Create a Google Slideshow where each slide is an incremental change from the previous one (like a flipbook).
- Open the slideshow up in Presenter view and use a screencasting tool (i.e., Camtasia, Screencastify, Screencast-o-matic) to record it as a video.
Here are a few of my tips for making it quick:
- Ctrl+D or ⌘+D to Duplicate Slides
- Use Arrows to Move Smoothly & Incrementally
- Move in groups when appropriate
- Rotate things incrementally
- Change Colors gradually
- Use Transparency
- Use Ordering
One of the complaints from Day 1 with Google Docs was the inability to add columns. Not too long ago, Google added this functionality, but it’s still sorely lacking in customizability. So, here’s a workaround:
- Insert a Table
- Enter your text and images
- Make the table’s border 0 point (a.k.a., invisible)
- Find a microphone
- Drop it