Back-to-school time is underway, and I’m sure you teachers are already balancing your lives, your classroom, and your pesky administrations. What could make life just a little bit easier for you? Google Docs, my dear educator friend. Google Docs.
Below, we have ten awesome tips to help you out when handling your students and their parents. Some of them you may know, but others, you very well may not. Bear in mind that the only way this will work is if you are already integrating Google Docs into your classroom. Make sure you establish this before you get started! Also, if you are afraid of cloud computing – never fear. The tips below show the benefits of working on the cloud, and most of them outweigh anything negative.
Monitor Revisions For Lengthy Papers And Reports
Google Docs allows the owner (and whoever the owner chooses) to view all changes and revisions in papers. Think of it as a time machine of sorts for your students’ documents — pretty cool stuff. Since Google automatically saves documents whenever changes are made, you can have a nice list of revisions to tell you how your students work and the thought process that they go through. By gaining more insight into their workflow, you can be more personal with how you work with them.
Viewing revisions is very easy to do. Just click File and the drop-down menu will give you the option of See Revision History. Click that, and a pane with all past revisions will appear on the right of your screen.
Accommodate Tech-Fueled Minds For Group Projects
Group projects suck, but they don’t have to. Students of this day and age already communicate online through Facebook and other means of social media. Why not provide them an opportunity to collaborate in a similar environment?
Google Docs offers the ability for multiple students to work on various projects together simultaneously. Although not ideal, Docs is a great place for students to chat and jot down notes for homework. Realistically, students can’t always meet outside of class, so using Google Docs for preliminary planning can allow for more productivity in the classroom for group projects.
This can be simply done by inviting students via email to a document and giving them all permission to edit. I recommend placing yourself as a collaborator within each group just to monitor things, though. This way, you can see who is being an active participant by viewing revisions.
Work With Your Student Even While They Are At Home
As a teacher, I’m sure you know that there always are the occasional students who need a little extra help. It happen from time to time, and there’s no shame in it!
If your student is having issues with homework or research papers, I recommend scheduling thirty minutes to organize a chat with them through Google Docs and review whatever it is they are working on. You can correct errors for them in real time while simultaneously explaining to them why they are wrong. Of course, don’t forget to provide praise as well!
Show Students Where They Made Their Mistakes
If perchance you are working with your student at home, then I encourage you to let them extensively use the Revisions feature as well. By looking at changes you have made, they can see what they should be doing.
This is a great way to easily demonstrate the proper way of doing things on an assignment while simultaneously working on an existing one. It’s also quite easy to view alterations.
Share Links With Your Students’ Parents
While you have access to your students work via Google Docs, their parents may not. By providing an uneditable link to parents (sent via email), you can easily allow them to check in on their child’s work. Furthermore, since documents are uneditable by them, there’s less chance of these students getting a little “help” (ahem).
This keeps everything transparent between yourself and your student’s parents. Often, when the student is the only liaison between teacher and parent, things can get a little lost in translation. Whenever you share the link with the parent, set the sharing settings to Can View or Can Comment. The former simply allows them to review the work while the latter allows them to write comments which can help with parent-to-teacher communication.
Transition To A Paperless Classroom
Another option for teachers is to transition completely to a paperless classroom. If you want, place all classroom rules, reading log sheets, and paper submissions on Google Docs (and Drive). Since materials can be accessible almost anywhere for students, this can leave less of a chance for memos not making it home or assignments not being turned in.
Basically, if the dog can’t eat it, then you have less to worry about.
Make All In-Class Materials Readily Available
If you’re going paperless, why not create a folder that has every single worksheet, notes sheet, presentation, and assignment prep sheet within it? Students lose things all the time, and if they have easy access to documents right from home, there’s less of a chance of turning in late assignments.
On one hand, there’s the issue of responsibility. By having instant access to these files, the student learns nothing about keeping up with things. On the other, there’s the practicality of it all. In today’s world, we have access to information whenever and wherever we are, and since students must adapt to this world, why not let them?
Provide Grade Sheets For Students (And Their Parents)
Similarly, you can create spreadsheets using Google Docs to better organize information in a more visually-friendly format. With spreadsheets, you can also generate proper grade sheets to share with students and their parents.
This way, students can check in on the status of their grades without having to set up private meetings or consultations. While such appointments are good and healthy, for purposes such as grade checks, this can save you, your student, and their parent some time.
Create Exclusive Forms For Parents
From time to time, teachers occasionally have to send notes home requiring feedback or specific answers from parents. Sometimes email isn’t the best option because parents do not always provide the best written answers (for whatever reason), so by generating multiple choice forms (i.e. Would your student like a school lunch for the field trip? or Do you give your student permission to watch this film?), you can get a more direct response.
Another perk is that since these forms go directly to the parents via email, there’s less chance of the student forging signatures or answering for parents. Consider things to be fairly secure!
Be Available For Questions Whenever Needed
Last but not least, you can use Google Docs to simply be available. Whether it be via chat, through group collaboration, or by form submission, Google Docs is a great way for teachers to stay connected to their students and parents. Leaving Google up (or a specific document up) throughout the day is a way for you to stay accessible to anyone who may need you.
What other ways can you use Google Docs to enhance the classroom experience? Have these ways helped you at all?
Image Credit: Robert Scoble