Note: I’ve heard this mentioned elsewhere, so I’m not claiming to be the originator of the idea. One place I heard it mentioned was in Episode 21 of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast. Another is in this great post by Eric Curts. I am, however, the creator of the GIF below.
I’ve gotta admit, I was apprehensive when Google renamed my beloved Revision History as the Version History. I thought “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But there is an added value in the format change – and that value rests mainly in the Writing classroom, but it applies in any classroom.
Now, you can name the versions in the Version History. Pre-writing, First Draft, Peer Revision, Second Draft, Teacher Feedback, Final Draft, Published Version, you name it. Students can now represent the stages of the Writing process with the names of their document versions. With Writers’ Workshop being the trend in our writing classrooms, this seems like a no-brainer.
Digital citizens are constantly sharing other people’s content. We are all cultivators of stuff. Images, quotes, GIFs, artwork, you name it – we share it. It is very important that we teach kids to give credit where credit’s due.
Unfortunately, students are very resistant to citing their sources when they do schoolwork. Why? I believe it’s because it’s a pain to do so. Who would want to cite their source if you have to do tons of sleuth work to figure out who the original source really was? Who would want to cite their source if you have to enter a boatload of information into a separate site to prepare the citation to put in your document?
In my book, the goal for students, especially those in middle school, should simply be to get them to cite their sources. I’m not going to stress out about if it really is the accurate original source. I also wouldn’t stress about them correctly placing their periods and commas in their MLA citation. I just want them to recognize that the content is not their own and that the originator deserves credit. Google Docs makes that easy with two tools. Let’s check them out . . .
Using the Explore Tool in Google Docs
This will only work for resources on the web (not books), but it’s super easy to use. It creates footnotes, which I’ve heard aren’t commonly used in K-12 writing. However, as you’ll see in this animation, you can easily copy those footnotes and turn them into a Works Cited. Check out this GIF to see how:
Using the EasyBib Add-On
This tool is great for citing books, but not as good at citing websites. It keeps track of your entire bibliography until you’re ready to add it to your doc. If you are using the Explore tool for your websites, you can just combine them when you’re done, just like I do in the animation below.
Disclaimer: I’ve heard from a few sources that these two tools do not always produce 100% accurate citations. In my opinion, as stated above, this is a risk that I’m willing to take, at least until students are in college prep high school courses.
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.