Pre-Format Student Answers

Grading stinks.  Anything that we can do to make it better–without sacrificing the quality of the pedagogy or feedback–is worth doing!  Here’s a little trick to make it easier to locate student answers in Google Docs (or other files) that you assign in Google Classroom . . .

Pre-Format Classroom Answers Animation

Saving Images from Google Docs

When edtech rockstar Matt Miller says “Hey Jake, you should make this into an #EduGIF!” you listen.  He was right, too.  It was an awesome tip.

It was a pickle that I had been in before, but I had never known the solution.  You’re preparing something–a lesson, a blog post, whatever–and you need a picture.  Not just any picture, but a picture that you’ve used before.  It’s in that one Google Doc, but you can’t get to the picture from anywhere else.  So, you right-click on it in that Google Doc . . . but there’s no Save Image option.

There are a handful of ways that you can get that image saved as a file on your computer, but the one that Matt sent to me is pretty awesome.  It’s just a few steps and super easy.  And it’s even more convenient if you have multiple images that you need from the same Google Doc.  So, let’s get to it – first an animated #EduGIF and then the steps for those of you who like to read words.

Save Images from Docs Animation

  1. Open the Google Doc
  2. Select File > Download As > Web Page (.html, zipped)
  3. Locate the saved file on your computer
  4. Unzip the file (on my Mac, all that I have to do is double-click)
  5. A new folder should have been created. Inside of that folder will be all of the images that are in that Google Doc.  Feel free to move your image out of there and delete the other files as well as the zipped file.

Add a Popup Message to your Google Docs

Ever wish that you could tell people something when they open up your Google Docs? Maybe “Make a copy of this document, answer the questions and share it with your teacher!” or “This is a draft!

Well, it’s possible.  Some simple coding in the script editor and you can make it happen.  I know that some of you are thinking “Simple . . . . coding. . . !?” while making this face, but it’s true.  Just follow the steps below and you’ll make it happen.

Before we jump into the how, or what it looks like, a few notes:

  • Only Editors will be able to see the popup.  In my testing, someone who is “can view” or “can comment” does not see the popup.  Also, they have to be explicitly shared as editors, not just “anyone with the link can edit.”
  • If you copy the document within your own account, the popup will appear on the copy as well.
  • If someone shared on the document makes a copy, the popup will NOT appear on their copy.
  • If you send the document out on Google Classroom as “Make a Copy for Each Student” it will NOT include the popup in those copies.  I was bummed when I discovered this, because it would have been huge for teachers.

Now that you know those notes and limitations, let’s dive into it.  First, an animated GIF of how to do it and then, below the GIF, the step by step with code that you can just copy and paste.

Add Popup Message to Google Docs Animation

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. From within your Google Doc, click on Tools > Script Editor.
  2. Click on Untitled Project and rename the project.
  3. Replace the words myFunction with onOpen. (This is what tells it to run automatically)
  4. After the { type DocumentApp. (include the period)
  5. From the menu that pops up select getUi : Ui
  6. After {DocumentApp.getUi() type a period.
  7. From the menu that pops up select alert(String prompt) : Button
  8. In place of the word prompt type your popup message.
  9. Add quotation marks around your message (and inside of the parentheses).
  10. Click the save icon.
  11. Go back to your Doc, refresh and check it out!

Another note: You can actually edit the appearance of the popup with some HTML and CSS coding, but that would take me longer to explain that 1 GIF can handle!

Credits: I learned this from one of Google’s Applied Digital Skills Courses in the “Code Welcome Screen” Activity.  You can learn about adding some formatting to your popup in that course.

Customize the Numbers or Letters in a List in Google Docs

Educators use bulleted and numbered lists all of the time.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to customize those lists?  Maybe instead of 1, 2, 3… you’d like Step 1, Step 2, Step 3…  Well, you’re in luck.  This is one of those features in Google Docs that many people may have never noticed was there.  Right-click on a numbered list (or go to Formats > Bullets & Numbering > List Options) and you can modify the prefix and suffix of the numbers (or letters) in your list.

I can think of a few prefixes you may use – step, station, period, day, activity, option, choice, # – but I’d love to hear your ideas and uses!  Finally, here’s an animated GIF of how it works:

Add Prefix & Suffix to a Numbered List Animation

Speech & Thought Bubbles in Google Drawings

On the Google Teacher Tribe podcast and on his site DitchThatTextbook.com, Matt Miller shared about his recommended use of thought bubbles (and speech bubbles) in Google Drawings.  When I first heard it, I thought – “Whoa!  What a simple, but powerful application of a technology tool.”  Think about it: students being able to comprehend a story or historical event well enough to synthesize the information back into what they predict a character/person may have been thinking or saying?  Not to mention, it’s quick and it’s much more engaging that writing it on a worksheet or in a Google Doc.  Matt recommends this as a Bell Ringer activity, which I think is an awesome idea, but certainly not the only way it can be used.

This can also be done in Google Slides–it would be neat to have each kid have their own slide–and through the “Insert > Drawing” option on Google Docs.  Just like with Google Docs, you can have students make copies of your drawing to add their own thought bubbles or you can use them as assignments in Google Classroom or other LMS’s.

Check it out in the Animated GIF below and then, after the GIF, is a published version of that Drawing, just to show how easy it is to post the completed project.

Speech & Thought Bubbles in Google Drawings Animation

Continue reading Speech & Thought Bubbles in Google Drawings

5 Ways to Link to Parts of Google Docs

There are a lot of reasons that you may want to put links into a doc that allow you (or the reader) to jump to certain parts of a Google Doc.  Here are a few possible reasons:

  • You’re creating a HyperDoc with lots of stuff in it!
  • Your students are creating eBooks and need a Table of Contents
  • You’re managing a long doc of lesson plans and want to be able to jump to different units or months
  • Your students are creating Choose Your Own Adventure books
  • You’re collaborating with a team of educators in a doc with multiple meetings worth of notes
  • A slightly different reason – sending a link in an email (or messaging system) that takes the recipient directly to a certain location within the doc

There are a few different ways to manage this and different ones are best in different situations.  Let’s check them out!

1. Using “Headings” to create linkable pieces of text

When you use the “Styles” dropdown to format parts of your doc as Heading 1, Heading 2 or Heading 3 those Headings become links that even show up in the Insert Link menu.  Check out the steps in the animated GIF below.

Headings as Links Animation

2. Copying the url for headings, titles & Subtitles

You may have noticed that in #1, I didn’t mention Titles or Subtitles along with the 3 different levels of Headings.  This is because they don’t naturally appear in that Insert Link box.  I’m not sure why.  Regardless, if you add a title or subtitle (just like a heading) you’ll notice that when you click on them, the URL changes. This is because the URL is specific to that location in the doc.  So, copy that URL and create a link with it elsewhere in the doc to jump to that spot.  Check out how in the animation below.

URLs from Titles Animation

Note: These URLs are nice outside of that doc as well.  Let’s say a colleague asks you about a specific topic that was discussed in a faculty meeting a few weeks back.  Copy the URL for the heading or title from that meeting and email it to them – then, when they click on that, not only will the doc open, but they’ll jump to the right spot.

3. Use Bookmarks

What if you don’t want to format some of your text as a “title” or “heading”?  Well, bookmarks are the answer for you.  In my school, we have a shared document for the plans for our “PRIDE” period, that all teachers teach.  We use bookmarks to make it easy to jump by month.  The biggest use of this that I can see, though, is to have students link to the locations of their evidence.  Think about it: How do I know that the character is feeling remorseful?  I can see evidence here when he says “sorry” and here when he is feeling depressed about what he did.  Add links to the spots in that document where those events happened and you can see evidence of your students’ reading comprehension.  *Boom!*  Check out the process for adding bookmarks and using them for links in the animation below.

Bookmarks in Docs for Links Animation

4. Insert Table of Contents

If you want there to be links to each chapter of your ebook (or dates of your lesson plan or agendas from your meeting…) up at the top of your document, the Table of Contents is a great solution for you.  There are two main downsides of the Table of Contents.  First,it doesn’t work with Titles or Subtitles.  Second, the Table of Contents can become really long.  But, if you want links to each of those Headings in the doc, this will be great for you, because it’s really simple to set up.  Check it out:

Insert Table of Contents in Docs Animation

5. Document Outline

The last option is convenient, but isn’t for creating links in the document itself.  If your goal is just to be able to navigate the document quickly without concern for how other people navigate your document, the Document Outline is a great solution for you.  Anything that you format as Title, Subtitle or Heading automatically goes into the Document Outline.  An interesting tidbit is that it also adds things that look like headings to this list (i.e., something bold and underlined).  Just remember: your document’s viewers only see the document outline if they go to View and turn it on themselves.Document Outline Animation

Use Preview in Docs for a Quick Whole Class Progress Check

In a blended classroom, it can be tough to see who is on and off task and know who is behind on their work.  One trick that I often used in my STEM classes was to open the Google Drive folder that all of my students’ work was in and click through the previews of their docs.  The previews weren’t always the most current version (it’s likely the status of the file when you most recently opened up Drive), but I could easily identify students who may be behind (or off task) and then open up their docs to check for sure.  It was much faster than opening all of the docs would have been!  I also used this occasionally when assigning some pretty simple grades, especially if they were completion grades.

Use Preview for Quick Progress Check Animation

Equations in Google Docs

Math & Chemistry teachers use Google Docs, too!  And so do other content areas and teachers who integrate math and sophisticated science across content areas.  And, for those peeps, there is the ability to add equations and other “mathy” symbols to Google Docs.  Just click Insert > Equation.

A quick note, before we get to the GIF: Some educators will tell you that this tool could be better.  And for people looking to use this functionality regularly, they’re probably right. In that case you may want to consider other tools (equatIO is a great one).  But for people who just use it occasionally, I think the Equation Editor is a’okay.

Equations in Docs Animation

Screencastify for Feedback

I’ve done a number of posts about Screencastify, but recently I was reading a blog post that presented an idea that I had not previously thought of.  In it, the author talks about using a screencasting tool to give both visual and auditory feedback on a student’s work.  It seems to me that this would be so much more useful for a student than just comments on the doc.  Plus they’d be more likely to view it.

Add in the ease of use with Screencastify – quickly sharing in Google Drive – and you’ve got a win-win.  Below is a GIF I made to share the process.  In the GIF, I am giving (fake) feedback on a Google Doc, but it could be anything.  I could even show how it falls on a rubric within the video!

You could even have students give each other feedback this way!

One last note – if you start doing this regularly, you could create one folder in your Drive for each of your students and then drag the videos into those folders for the students to view.

Screencastify for Feedback Animation

Private Google Docs in New Google Sites

Google Sites are an awesome tool for teachers to make sites, for students to make digital portfolios, for students to create projects and more! One of the best features is the ease of embedding Google files into them.  The most important thing to keep in mind when doing so, is to make sure that the Doc, Slides or whatever you’re hoping to embed has the appropriate sharing settings.  If they don’t, they might not be seen by your audience.  Check out in the GIF below what happens when you embed a private Google Doc onto a public Google Site.

Note: In the animation, I use an Incognito Tab to test the site.  If your site is intended for the public, this is a great way to make sure it’s set right!

Private Doc on a Google Site Animation

On Twitter, Micah Carlin-Goldberg reminded me of a great way to make sure that your docs are always “Anyone with the Link Can View” prior to putting them on your site:

I prevent the problem by adding (Shift+Z) all website items to a folder that has anyone with the link permissions. Because Drive permissions of a folder apply to the contents adding them to the folder makes them visible on the website.