The Best 10 Google Docs Tips For Teachers As They Go Back To School
Whatsapp Pinterest

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 Word Processing In Google Docs? 5 Important Tips To Keep In Mind Word Processing In Google Docs? 5 Important Tips To Keep In Mind For the majority of my life, Microsoft Word was the word processing tool to use if you were going to do any serious work. Sure, there were alternatives like Corel WordPerfect and later on OpenOffice,... Read More , 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 3 Tips To Stay Safe From The Dangers Of Cloud Computing 3 Tips To Stay Safe From The Dangers Of Cloud Computing Cloud computing is the big buzz these days and we have more choices available to us now than ever before. How many of us use Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Google Drive on a daily basis? How... Read More – 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 alsgenerate 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 Use Google Forms To Collect Contact Info On A Mobile Device Use Google Forms To Collect Contact Info On A Mobile Device Using Google Forms, you can collect names, emails, and other contact information on your computer or mobile device that supports mobile browsing. All the data is saved to a spread sheet which can be used... Read More (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

Explore more about: Education Technology, Google Docs, Google Drive, Study Tips.

Enjoyed this article? Stay informed by joining our newsletter!

Enter your Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Alex P
    September 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I use Docs all the time and actually haven't installed MS Office on my machine at all. The thing I like best is that I can get that little bit of finishing off work done on the way home or while I'm waiting for someone on my phone.

  2. Ron Wright
    September 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Great ideas and thanks for the post. I travel extensively all over the USA to work with teachers and many schools using Google Docs. Phenomenal tool. And I am not connected to Google in any way!

  3. uchefe atuyota
    September 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Great article, like one of the comments earlier the draw back is internet speed something that is stilll an issue where I come from

  4. Christian
    September 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Look into Doctopus and Goobric (not to mention Flubaroo) to really take Google Apps for education to the next level in your classroom!

  5. Vikrant Sharma
    September 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I have been using it spasmodically for my School work - both while dealing with the admin and the students ; you have provided just the impetus for me to use it fanatically from now onwards.

  6. philbernie
    September 5, 2013 at 2:38 am

    I've use google forms to create surveys and tests. I'm in California and my granddaughter is in Hawaii. We use "sharing" in google docs to edit her homework. In my district, a number of our teachers use google drive as well as google calendar and email (google email, of course).

    It's not a perfect system, but the tools makes it easier for teachers to assist students, distribute work/assignments and assess their progress.

  7. Anne Robertson
    September 4, 2013 at 12:06 am

    Lots of the teachers I know are using the Google Suite even if we don't have GAFE (Google Apps for Education) It provides heaps of opportunities for collaboration, co-construction, feedback/feedforward and it is FREE! However, I wouldn't suggest binning the other software you use - it is just one of many tools and just like the cutlery we use to eat our food - each tool has a distinct and appropriate function. Thanks for the link for using Google Docs in offline mode as connectivity is, of course, an issue at times. It is also worth remembering that Google Hangouts provide an excellent forum for online face to face chat...

  8. david payne
    September 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    All four of my kids had used Google Docs and seem to like it. I Love it. Great site.

  9. Susan
    September 3, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Google Docs is taking off in New Zealand schools. I use it extensively. Add the scripts doctopus and goobric ti it and you have a fabulous tool for sharing Docs, marking, giving feedback and analyzing data.

  10. John
    September 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    We use Google docs extensively in our school in New Zealand. We use Hapara/ Google Teacher Dashboard for administration (Lets you manage your class really easily) and the kids love it. I use it for all my classroom planning, saving a mountain of paper.

    The issues we have had have been around use of tables- the inability to split and merge cells (really a fundamental function) has meant we cannot quite give up on MS office. This is by far the most frustrating thing with goodocs in my opinion.

  11. Rama M
    August 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    cool post .! but just missing google docs .! just sticking with sublime text and notepad++ for coding and libre and kingsoft office for other uses !

  12. Patrick Mwangi Ngigi
    August 21, 2013 at 8:24 am

    hey iwould highly like to have this program installed in my desktop

  13. Bill Martin
    August 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Great Article! Google Apps has the power to revolutionize what we are doing for students. I'm listing this article as a resource in a PD that I am holding in two districts. Thanks!

    • Joshua Lockhart
      September 4, 2013 at 5:08 am

      Thanks Bill. : ) Means a lot.

  14. michel
    August 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    No amount of convenience or gosh-wow features are worth selling your soul to Google Devil. Most educators will have access to educational groupware through their institution, and won't have to hand all their work over to a heartless corporation. Don't become a product.

    • Gordon
      August 22, 2013 at 2:47 am

      Ha ha, "Google devil"? Google has done great things by bringing competition into the the email and collaboration space. If they are a "devil", please elaborate why. In any case, IF they are, which I doubt, at least there are two smaller devils, Microsoft and Google, rather than just Microsoft!
      Google Drive and Docs are fantastic IMO, and the only thing that lets it down at times, is what lets any online app down, internet speed and lag. However with the off-line capability this is less of an issue than it used to be. See "About Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings offline"

    • kned247
      September 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

      @Gordon: ever hear of a little documentary by the name of "Google And The World Brain"? if not.. i highly recommend it so you can find out for yourself as to how they could be conceived as "A" "Devil".. Now.. don't get me wrong, i use Google for a very wide range of things.. and consider the products put out by Google very useful in these situations however, you are very very misinformed if you think Google as well as a few others not mentioned here could very well all be "Devilish"... either way.. i would still highly recommend this docu.. :-)

    • Jeannine B
      September 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      @ Michele, kned 247
      I think the "devil" is in the details. Most schools are having more money issues than ever before. As with any platform there are pros and cons to ANYTHING we use. However, many times finding tools to use in a school setting is driven by money. Free is good, usually, especially for school teachers. And to have tools so handy, all in one place is priceless, especially for younger students, like mine. No system is perfect. Some of us have to use what we have and if we can get it for free, great too!

  15. idia
    August 19, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    Personally I know no school or students that use Google Docs. Any Microsoft Office and Office Web App tips?

    • Lee
      August 19, 2013 at 11:30 pm

      A few teachers at my old high school tried pushing Google Docs, and my school even got rid of Office (and instead used OpenOffice) when their license ran out. Needless to say, it didn't really catch on. Everyone already had MS Office at home or had documents they were already working on and they didn't quite transfer completely to OpenOffice or Docs. They eventually bought licenses to Office 2010.

      • Kelly
        August 21, 2013 at 4:53 am

        What a waste of money to buy office. Google Docs is superior! Free, cloud based, collaborative capabilities...
        I have 2nd graders that can use it very effectively.

        • Lee
          August 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

          I agree that it can definitely replace MS Office, but the problem is if the students have Office at home, they bring files in and try to convert them, which many times results in some compatibility issues. Google Docs kind of gets around this because you can use it anywhere, but people still use MS Office because that's what they're used to.

    • Allen
      September 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      You can find several thousand tips about using Microsoft Word here:

      If you prefer tips about how to use Google Drive and Docs, check out this site:

      Both sites offer a free weekly newsletter with tips.