The basic functions of Google Drive and Google Classroom are only the starting point for the innovative and creative uses one can use in the classroom.
Alice Keeler, my co-author in our upcoming book Ditch That Homework, proves that again and again.
Alice is one of the only people I know personally who codes for fun. (OK, she’s probably the only one I know like that!) She writes scripts for teachers to use with their Google tools.
It’s like Google Sheets bows down on one knee to this woman and does her bidding. Seriously.
Alice has created dozens of pre-created templates, add-ons, scripts, extensions — you name it, she’s created them. After browsing her library of them, I knew I had to share some of them with you.
Two of these are Google Chrome extensions — little programs you install in your Chrome web browser that will perform certain tasks. (Kind of like an add-on in that you’re “adding on” a function to what you do within Google Classroom.)
But most are scripts/add-ons she wrote to run inside Google Sheets or other Google tools. With those, you just make a copy of her original form and follow the instructions to make those files dance, sing and do whatever you want them to do. (Figuratively, of course …)
Here are 10 of them I like the most. Some are super simple (see: RosterTab). Others are a bit more complicated but doable (see: Teacher Newsletter).
1. DriveSlides — DriveSlides is a Google Chrome extension. DriveSlides was created by Alice Keeler and me in connection with the book Ditch That Homework that we’re currently writing.
With DriveSlides, you can:
How to use it: I wrote a blog post about DriveSlides, including step-by-step directions and a tutorial video. Click here to see it!
2. SlideShot — SlideShot is a Google Chrome extension. It will let you:
This is great for having students look back over their work for the day and reflect on what they’ve learned or how they’ve spent their time.
How to use it: In the DriveSlides blog post I mentioned above, I outlined SlideShot, too — and included ways both can be used in the classroom. Here’s a blog post by Alice about SlideShot as well.
3. Group Maker — Group Maker lets you use the roster for your class to randomly assign students to groups.
How to use it: Add your roster to the roster column. Change the size of the group to the number of students in each group. From the menu, click: Add-ons > Group Maker > Start. Then click the “Make Groups” button. Alice has a blog post that explains it in detail here.
4. Google Classroom: List Docs — List Docs does what it sounds like it does: it gives you a list of all of the documents students have submitted through Google Classroom. It makes a spreadsheet — one sheet has a list of all of your Google Classroom folders, and the subsequent tabs list all of the documents students have turned in to each folder.
How to use it: Alice’s blog post (and tutorial video) outlines it in detail, but generally, here’s what you do:
Open the template in the link below. You’ll need to provide the folder ID for your Google Classroom folder (which Alice shows you how to do in her blog post above). Run the add-on called “Show me all the docs” (great name, huh?) that’s already pre-loaded in the spreadsheet. It will create a spreadsheet with links to all of your docs.
5. Teacher Newsletter — This one is amazing, but it does take some setting up first. Teacher Newsletter lets teachers create unique newsletters customized for each student. It can include unique praise for each student, unique goals, etc. It then automatically emails those newsletters to parents.
How to use it: Alice details it in her blog post here. Basically, you use the template at the link listed below. Design your newsletter in Google Docs. Add merge tags to the newsletter where you want to pull in the unique information for each student. (If the term “merge tags” sounds scary, don’t worry … the detailed step-by-step instructions in Alice’s post show you how to do it.)
Add each student’s name and email address in the sheet along with any unique comments/info to send to parents. Then run the add-on and it emails those personalized newsletters to parents!
6. Comment Maker — Comment Maker lets you email each student a note quickly and easily. You can type everything you’ll need to send everyone an email all on one screen.
How to use it: Open the spreadsheet at the link below. Copy and paste in student names and email addresses. Type individual comments to each student. You can also add a “global note” — a comment that goes to everyone AND choose not to send emails to specific students. Click the “send emails” button and you’re done! Alice has detailed directions with screenshots in this blog post.
7. Pull the Paragraph — Want to save the time and hassle of opening lots of documents turned in by students to Google Classroom? Pull the Paragraph pulls in all of the students’ documents into one Google Sheets spreadsheet. You can read everything on one screen, type feedback and submit it to students.
How to use it: Load the spreadsheet in the link below. Open a folder of student work in your Google Drive. (If you’re using Google Classroom, it will be in the Classroom folder.) Pull the Paragraph will pull in all of the students’ writing in the spreadsheet. You’ll want to make the columns wider and use word wrap so you can see everything. Read student work and type comments to return to them in the comments column. Pull the Paragraph will add those comments to the students’ documents automatically and can even email them, telling them that there’s feedback to see.
See screenshots and detailed directions in Alice’s Pull the Paragraph blog post.
8. RosterTab — This one is so simple and saves time. Create a spreadsheet with a tab for every student — giving each student his/her own digital space to work within an entire class file. RosterTab will create all of those tabs for you instantly.
How to use it: Load the spreadsheet with the link below. Copy and paste (or type in) the names of all of your students. (Note: The link below goes to RosterTab2, which adds an option to email students a link to their tabs (less confusion!).) In the menu, go to Add-ons > RosterTab2 > Start and it will create those tabs — one for each student. Detailed directions and screenshots are available in this blog post.
This is great for having students do some simple work that’s gathered in the same file — so you don’t have to open lots of documents to grade.
9. TemplateTab — TemplateTab is a variation of RosterTab (above). TemplateTab will create new tabs in a spreadsheet for every student in your class. However, you can pre-design those tabs for the students by adding text, color, etc. You create a template for everyone to use and TemplateTab will copy it on each student tab when they’re created.
How to use it: It’s the same as RosterTab (above) except you design the template you want your students to use in the template tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet. Do that before starting the add-on. Here’s a blog post with step-by-step directions.
10. RubricTab — Again, another take off TemplateTab (above). In this version, RubricTab copies a rubric that you create to each student tab. You can give a grade and provide feedback on each student rubric. When you’re done, you can copy/paste and email a link to each student’s tab to each student.
How to use it: Check out Alice’s blog post for step-by-step directions.
Alice LOVES coding and she has created lots of other add-ons/scripts like these. They’re available on her site: alicekeeler.com/scripts. I just picked my top 10 favorites, but there are literally dozens for you to try!
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