Three reasons to use Google Docs now

I hope our summer series on all things Google Apps has you thinking about how to implement some new tools in your classroom this fall. You can find previous posts here:  ClassroomSlidesFormsHangouts, Drive Today I'll show you one of the quickest and easiest GAFE tools, Google Docs. Seriously, you could do this the first week of school.

Google Docs is similar to Mircosoft Word in it's composition abilities. You type, change font, text size, etc. Where Google Docs transforms your lesson is its ability to share, edit, and collaborate with ease. Here are my top three favorite things about Google Docs in the classroom. 

In the past for students to share their published work with you they would have to carefully follow a series of steps to save it in the drive shared drive. With Google Docs (and even more with Google Classroom post here) students share their writing with the push of a button. 
Why to use Google Docs in your classroom now. Seriously they push the blue button "Share". Now they will need to type your email to share with you. Once you type the first few letters it pre-populates the rest. You can select your settings so the other person can edit, comment, or view only. The best part is once they share with you the first time, you'll see all their revisions updated live. No more, "What do you mean you're only have three sentences? You've had all week." It is easy to see in real time everyone's progress (or lack thereof).  

Why to use Google Docs in your classroom now.
If the electronic sharing isn't enough reason to start using Google Docs now, what if I told you you could conference with students in the cloud. Sounds heavenly right? Instead of having stacks of journal notebooks sitting on your desk to respond and return, use Google Docs. When students share their writing via Google Docs like above, I can now read and respond anywhere and at anytime. I'm not chained to my desk flipped through pages to find the last essay.
You can provide quality feedback easily. You have the option to type on the actual document in another color ink or, my favorite, leave "post-its" with comments on their writing. Students often respond back to my "post-it" and we have dialogue about their writing promptly. When my feedback is better, their writing is better.  

If you're thinking sharing and editing are great, but what else can it do? Possibly the greatest advantage of Google Docs compared to Word is collaboration. This takes a little bit of time to teach expectations, but wow, is it a powerful tool. With Google Docs, 2 or more people can all be responding on the same document in real time. I tend to use this when I have a question and want everyone to respond and see each other's work.
Why to use Google Docs in your classroom now.
One of my favorite times we collaborated was when we wrote a nice compliment about our classmates. I created a Google Doc with students' names on the top and numbered 1-20 and shared with my class (again super easy via Google Classroom post here). Students then opened the Google Doc and wrote their response next to their number. If students logged in with their own Google Account, their name will appear in color after their cursor to show their individual work. This would be great for a Question of the Day or any activity where you want students to respond to each other's work. 
Three reasons to use Google Docs in your classroom now.

Google Docs, along with the other Google Apps for Education GAFE, are powerful tools in our classrooms to have students interact with technology with a mindful purpose, learn 21st century skills, and share and collaborate with their peers.  How else would you use Google Docs in your class?

Lindsey Paulson

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