4 Tips for Assessing Growth in Student Writing in Google Docs

It’s safe to say that most educators agree that feedback should be given to students not just at the end of an assignment, but also during.  Many educators would even say that the “during” feedback is more important, especially in writing.  But, how do we do that efficiently?  Reading & assessing student work twice takes up lots of time.

Well, I have 4 tips that I think can help.

By comparing a rough draft (or earlier draft) to the final draft (or most current draft), the teacher can assess the changes being made and decide if additional changes are necessary.  It’s also a great way for teachers to see what areas for improvement students are and are not catching.

Google Docs offers some great functions for doing this.  In this post, I’ll share 3 tips with you to help with this process.

Continue reading 4 Tips for Assessing Growth in Student Writing in Google Docs

Add your Google Drawings into your Google Docs!

On 1/7/19, Google announced that you could now embed previously created Google Drawings into Google Docs.  Before this announcement, you could create new Drawings from within a Doc, but you could not pull in Drawings created in the regular Drawings platform.

This was limiting, because the Drawings tool within Docs was only provided a small workspace and had less tools.  It was also frustrating that a Drawing couldn’t be in both places – a Drawing and Doc – without copying and pasting or using the following workaround.

Up to this point, the best workaround was to download the Drawing as an image and then insert that image into the Doc.  This was frustrating for a few reasons: it involved inconvenient extra steps and it meant that the Drawing in the Doc would not update if the actual Drawing was updated.

Well, now Google has made good on fixing this.  In the Google Docs Insert menu, go to Drawing and now you can select New to create a new one or From Drive to select one that you created in the Google Drawings platform.  When the drawing is changed in Drawings, you’ll see an Update option in the Doc to show the changes (unless you selected Unlink when you added the Drawing).  Check it out in the animated GIF below:

Embed Drawings into Docs GIF

Keyboard Shortcuts for Bullets & Numbering

Sometimes, I think a trick, hack or shortcut that I do with technology is unimpressive and something that everyone either knows or doesn’t care about.  But then, when I mention it to someone, and they’re like “Whoa!” I think “Welp, this should be an EduGIF.”

Recently, I had the good fortune to be recording a guest appearance on the Shukes & Giff Podcast (er, maybe it’s the Shukes & Jake Podcast, now!? Kidding!).  When I was chatting about Emoji Bullets with Kim Pollishuke (a.k.a. “Shukes”), I mentioned, “So, I’ll just click Shift+Command+8 and then…” and she said “Wait, What!?”  And then I knew it, EduGIF time.  So here it is . . .

in most Google Tools:

  • Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 7 for Numbering
  • Click it again to undo numbering
  • Click CTRL (Command on Mac) + Shift + 8 for Bullets
  • Click it again to undo bullets

Here’s the EduGIF!

Shortcuts for Bullets and Numbering GIF

Emoji Bullets

Want to add a little flair to your HyperDocs and some fun to your lesson plans? Ditch those boring bullets for some emoji bullets!

In many cases, this can obviously lead to a less-professional looking document or slideshow, but in the classroom . . . why not add a little fun? Our learners l-o-v-e emoji and it may just make schoolwork look a little more inviting.  So, here’s how to use them as bullets in Google Docs & Slides.  First up: a GIF animation, followed by the step-by-step.

Emoji Bullets Animation

  1. Click the appropriate button to add bullets.
  2. Add any of the default bullet styles.
  3. Right-Click (or two-finger click) on the first bullet and select More bullets.
  4. In the first dropdown menu, select Emoji.
  5. Now select your emoji!
  6. Right-click (or two-finger click) on the first emoji bullet if you’d like to change the size of the bullets.

Font Formatting in Google Comments

Did you ever really, really, really want a student (or colleague) to understand your feedback on a portion of a Google Doc?  Well, my friend, I have got news for you.  Surround a word (or group of words) in a Google Docs (or Slides, Sheets, Drawings…) Comment with asterisks (*) and you’ve got bold text. 💥Boom💥 Surround them with underscores ( _ ) and you’ve got italicized text. 💥Boom💥

🤔❓Why does using the underscore lead to italicized text instead of underlined text!?  I have no idea.  Ask the Googs.❓🤔

Even more puzzling, there’s no option to create underlined text.  But hey, 3 minutes ago, you didn’t know about how to do bold or italics, so calm it down, buddy.

Here’s the real head-scratcher: some people seem to want strikethrough text in a comment.  🤷🏻‍♂️  Why?  I dunno.  But it’s possible.  Just surround your text with hyphens (-) and you’ve got strikethrough.  Medium-half-excited-don’t-know-why-anyone-wants-this-feature-💥Boom💥.  But again, 4 minutes ago, you were clueless that this was even within the realm of possibility, so turn your snark dial down, Francis.  Anyhow, here’s a GIF.  Please enjoy.

Formatting Font in Comments GIF

 

Using Answer Tables in Google Docs

A few weeks ago, I posted a little hack that I like to use for making student answers in Google Docs easier to find.  You can see that post here.  Multiple people reminded me of a practice that many elementary educators love using:

Instead of just pre-formatting the answer space, actually create an answer table.  This makes it less likely that students accidentally mess up the pre-existing content in the doc and makes their answers easier to find.  This is a great practice when assigning these Docs as Make a Copy for Each Student in Google Classroom.

There are 3 different ways to do this.  I’ll show each in the GIF below and then go over them in some additional detail below the GIF.

Tables in Docs for Answers

More details on what you see in the GIF below . . . Continue reading Using Answer Tables in Google Docs

Creating & Locking Google Slides Backgrounds

If you’ve ever created assignments in Google Docs, Slides or Drawings for students to complete, you’re all too familiar with this struggle: students accidentally deleting, moving or modifying elements of the assignment.

Well, in Google Slides, there are 2 ways to prevent this from happening and here’s the easier of the two: put the content of the assignment in as a background.  Then, the only way a student can delete, move or modify it would be to actually go into the background settings and change it…. which can’t be done by accident.

Let me show you how, first with an animated GIF and then with step-by-step instructions.Creating & Locking Google Slides Backgrounds Animation

  1. Set up your slide with any text, images, etc.
  2. File > Download as > PNG Image (JPEG will work too)
  3. Clear off the slide.
  4. Click Background, then, next to Image, click Choose.
  5. Click the downloaded image file from Step 2.
  6. Voila!  Send your assignment out in Classroom (or share it with students or have them make a copy).

Insert Drawings into Docs Being Assigned in Classroom

When given the chance, I’m always going to pick an assignment where students are creating their own representations of their mastery of learning standards.  However, I know that it’s not realistic to expect this all the time.  So, I can see the value in annotating images rather than just typing.  Google Drawings and Google Slides are great platforms for this . . . but what if it’s part of a bigger activity that does involve typing?  Well, insert a drawing into a document, put the picture in, and tell the students to annotate it!  Check it out in the animated GIF below (typed instructions follow the GIF).

Drawings in Docs with Google Classroom Animation

  1. In the Google Docs menu, click Insert > Drawing.
  2. In the Drawing that pops up, copy and paste in an image (or drag it in from a separate tab as I did in the GIF).
  3. Add instructions within the Drawing as needed.
  4. Click Save and Close to finish preparing the drawing.
  5. Assign the document in Google Classroom as Make a Copy for Each Student.
  6. When students open the document, instruct them to double-click on the image that they see to open up the drawing and annotate it.

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.