Did We Do Anything Important?
Type of technology: Website, Google Docs Sharing
SAMR Model Rating: Augmentation
Grade level: Any
Subject area: Universal
Did we do anything important?
What did I miss?
When is that paper due?
As teachers, we get these questions all the time. The root of all of these questions is a request for the same thing: access. When students miss class, they have missed access to their education. So how do we leverage the Internet to give our students unprecedented access to our classrooms? I have no doubt there are many different ways to answer this question, but in this month’s blog, I will highlight a simple solution to help any teacher easily share what is happening in class.
We’re going with simple but powerful today: sharing a Google Doc. On the surface, a Google Doc isn’t very sexy. It’s still a little clunky as a word processor, but they can be powerful once you start sharing. Anyone can get an account and you can share a document with anyone who has access to the Internet. The process is simple three step process: 1) Make a Google Doc that has your starters, daily agenda, classroom instructions, due dates and whatever other key information you would tell your students in class; 2) share that Google Doc with anyone who has the link; 3) copy that link and post it to your district’s learning management system like NEO/EDU 2.0 or Parent Square.
Easy right? If you answered “Yes!”, then you’re done here; thanks for reading. Really, you can move on now but you might want to check out the example link. If you’re more like “Woah! What do I do?” then the rest of this blog is for you.
Step 1: Make a Google Doc
If you have a Gmail account, you have the access you need to make a Google Doc. Most of you are probably in Gmail often at this point so you might recognize the picture below as an example of what the bar at the top of Gmail looks like.
If you want to make your own document from scratch, you need to click on the little 3×3 grid to the right of the bar, a little menu will pop up and you want to click on the one called “Drive.” This is the way to access all your Google Apps. If you’d like to take a short cut, click this link and you’ll go to a basic template I made for you to copy and use. More directions about the copy process are in the document!
Bonus: This doesn’t just have to be about providing information to students online. I use this same agenda in class on the big screen during class and I don’t duplicate work.
Double Bonus: Because your Google docs are part of your account until you delete them, you now have an easy to find, day by day, lesson by lesson record of what you did during the year. When next year rolls around, copy the document, update the dates and tweak and modify to make the lesson even better in the coming year.
Step 2: Share the Google Doc
The ability to share Google Docs is really what makes them powerful, but the full extent of that power is not something we’re going to explore today. For our purposes, we’re just going to share this with everyone in the world who knows where to look. Okay, that sounds a little scary, but it really isn’t. Unless someone has the link for your document, the chances of someone randomly stumbling across your “public” document are only a little better than chimpanzee with a keyboard typing the Gettysburg Address perfectly using random key strokes.
Once you’ve made your document, click the blue “Share” button in the upper right corner. When the dialog box pops up, click “Advanced” in the bottom right corner of the dialog box. At this point the box will change and have additional options. Under “Who has access” it will say “Private – Only you can access”; you want to click ” Change…” so you can share the document. You need to select “On – Anyone with the link” and at the bottom you want to verify that the access is set to “Access: Anyone (no sign-in required) Can view,” which should be the default setting. Click “Save” and then “Done” and your document is ready to share! (It should look like the picture above just before you hit “Done.”)
Bonus: You can also share the document with colleagues to facilitate collaboration and align instruction!
Step 3: Copy the link to your Google doc and post it
Last steps! Go back up to the blue “Share” button and click. In the dialog box, click where is says “Get shareable link”. Clicking that button doesn’t seem like it does anything, but the link that you need to share is now on the computer’s clipboard and will appear when you next use the “Paste” command. So you have the link, now you need to put it in a useful place for your students. At the elementary level, you could add the link to your Parent Square page. At the secondary level, you want to put it in your appropriate class in NEO/EDU 2.0. Make sure the students know it’s there and that you expect them check it when they have basic questions about what happened in class.
Now your students will always be able to know what was going on in class. When they ask you “Did we do anything important?” you can answer their question with a question of your own:
Did you check the class agenda online?