Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Gaggle of Google Docs

My district has enabled students and teachers to begin using Google Apps for Education. HURRAY!!!! I know GAFE is old news for many of you, but this is a big deal for my district. The roll out process has been slow and methodical so that issues can be prevented and addressed.  I've been given the privilege of testing GAFE out with my 9th and 12th grade students, and I'm figuring out how to best keep the Google Drive organized.

If you, dear reader, have any additional tips or tricks PLEASE, oh PLEASE, share them!

Creating Class Lists

The first step in getting organized is creating class lists in my Google contacts. We use Genesis as our online grade book system, and by creating a student email report, I made a spreadsheet of students in my class, copy/pasted their email addresses into the groups I created in Google contacts. No need to search through the school directory: a  very quick copy/paste and my classes are listed in my Google contacts in less than 30 seconds. This is very helpful for sharing documents and folders: I just type in the name of the group and all the students are sent the document/folder.

Shared Folders

I created a shared folder for each of my classes for delivering collaborative class or group documents that are to be used during period. The shared folder is just for documents that I create and deliver to the students, not individual documents that they will turn in to me. Think of the class folder as a one way street. I also post the link to the document on the class page in Edmodo.  With multiple ways of finding the document, students have no reason not to get the task completed.

Following the instructions provided, shared folders can be customized to create class and student folders that have viewing and editing permissions automatically enabled.  While I like having the ability to do this, I am afraid of being inundated with folders.  Also, I use Edmodo for turning in all assignments and by having the students link their Google Drive account to their Edmodo backpack, I don't need the various drop box folders for students since Edmodo organizes assignments for me.

Google Doc Assignment Delivery

Using the Autocrat script in a Google spreadsheet, students can fill out a Google form that will delivery a Google doc that has the file name, heading, and sharing permissions already configured (Thanks Cheryl for helping me with the set up!).  For all the years we have been using word processing, my students have never internalized how to appropriately name a file. I have drilled and drilled them on using file naming conventions and there are always a few students who send me files named "Essay" or "English."  The Autocrat script prevents this from happening. Yes, I want students to learn how to properly name files and I'm hopeful that by seeing the process modeled using the Autocrat script that eventually they will internalize the file naming conventions. 

I'm am using Autocrat for two things:
  1. Delivering a general blank Google doc that student can type the assignment on. The Google form that delivers the document can be used infinitely ad nauseum. All student files will be organized in the same folder following the naming convention I specify: Pd Last First Assignment.
  2. Delivering a specific Google doc that includes a template (for example a chart) for the student to complete. A new form/spreadsheet will have to be created and the autocrat script configured for each specific Google doc. All student documents will be in a folder for each assignment and the naming convention is again completed for the students.
At first, I was very worried about having too many files in a folder when it came time to grade the assignment, but having the students link their Google account to Edmodo and then turning in the assignment through Edmodo keeps things organized for me when it comes time to grade.  I can insert comments and make changes on the Google Docs as I can in Drive, but I don't have to worry about searching the Drive folders for the specific assignment.

I'm also exploring how to use the same Autocrat script to provide individualized feedback on student assignments (Thanks Troy for sharing this!). I haven't played with this yet, but I am just realizing the possibilities!

What About Archiving?

What I haven't figured out yet is how to archive all the student files at the end of the year, and do I need to archive them?  I know I can just un-share the folder or delete the assignments within a folder at the end of the year, but the packrat in me is leery of just deleting all the students' work.

What do you, Sir and Madame Reader, recommend when the school year concludes? 

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