Sharing is Caring - Ditch That Textbook

Sharing is Caring

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Collaborative Google Apps Activities

Resource: “Sharing is Caring: 50 Collaborative Google Apps Activities” (conference session resources from Ditch That Textbook)

1. Graphic organizers (Google Drawings)

Drawings gives users a blank canvas where they can add text, shapes, lines, etc. When done, they can save their work as image files or PDF files and can add those images to documents, slides and spreadsheets. It’s a perfect medium for creating graphic organizers.

Blog post: 15 free Google Drawings graphic organizers — and how to make your own

Admin application: Hexagonal thinking in a Google Drawing lets staff brainstorming happen anytime and anywhere. Hexagonal thinking is an innovative way to kick ideas around.

2. Documents with table of contents (Google Documents)

Tables of contents can make a large document more manageable. It can also help collaborators find their area on the page quickly and easily.

Admin application: A document like this can let everyone on staff share info/notes/etc. without having everyone digitally step on each other’s toes as they modify the document.

3. Crowdsource ideas (Google Forms)

Who’s the smartest person in the room? The room! Gather the best ideas from students and gather them in a spreadsheet. Let everyone see each others’ responses by sharing a link to the response spreadsheet or by embedding that spreadsheet in a website.

Admin application: Gather staff/parent/community opinions. Share links to forms through emails, social media, newsletters and news releases.

4. Shared presentation (Google Slides)

Create a presentation with one slide per student and give students permission to edit it. Then assign an activity — some quick Internet research, a writing prompt, an image search to find an example, etc. When they’re done, show the presentation on a projector. It’s student work instantly on display.

Admin application: With text, images, links, videos, etc., this is a great place for staff to gather information, ideas, teaching practices, etc. to share with others.

5. Digital storybook (Google Slides + website)

With Creative Commons photos at their disposal, students can create great story books using Google Slides. Find these images by inserting an image and clicking “Search,” or go directly to to copy and paste images over. (Make sure they’re giving attribution and a link to the original image!) Images can drive the story or vice versa. Students write and create, and when finished, they can share their storybooks or embed them in a class website.

Below: A Spanish 1 project where students write a short book about themselves.

6. Interactive whiteboard (Google Drawings)

Create a Google Drawing and share it with students, giving them permission to edit. Display the drawing on a projector screen. Students can add text and shapes, draw arrows to important ideas and connect concepts with lines. Everyone can make changes, and anyone can watch — in class or away.

Admin application: This is a good spatial/visual and collaborative place to gather information.

7. Screencast walking tour (Google Maps/Earth + Snagit Chrome Extension)

Google Earth’s street view is a visually stunning experience, giving users a first-person view of life from the streets of cities around the globe. Google Earth is great for giving virtual tours, but there’s a simpler and faster version of it. Take screenshots of scenes from Google Earth and paste them in a Google Slides presentation. Add a title and/or some text description. With lots of slides, a virtual tour can happen quickly and meaningfully.

Admin application: Snagit screencasts let admins produce virtual staff meetings that staff can watch at their convenience. Share information in a more personal way — with your own voice and face — on demand.

8. Photo comic strips (Google Drawings + Google Slides)

Take photos of students using a webcam and add them to a Google Drawing. Add speech bubbles to the photos. Then save those images and add each one to a different slide in a Google Slides presentation. Here’s a Google Site about Comics with Google Tools and Creativity Games for examples and more details.

Admin application: Have some fun with your staff … spice up emails with an unexpected photo comic strip!

About the presenter:

Matt Miller has taught for more than a decade, integrating technology to engage students and create unique learning experiences. He created the Ditch That Textbook blog, is a Google Certified Teacher and co-hosts a podcast on the BAM Radio Network.

dtt front coverMatt’s book, Ditch That Textbook, was recently published. It’s all about upgrading your classroom with powerful technology and innovative mindsets to meet students in the 21st-century world where they live.

Buy a copy of Ditch That Textbook on Amazon, or don’t wait — get a copy from Matt for $20, cheaper than the Amazon price. He’ll sign it, too!

Matt is available to present at schools, workshops, conferences or any other professional development event. Ask him about it in person or email him at

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Note: Twitter book study times are wrong (thanks to Matt’s time zone illiteracy!).

  • Eastern: 10 p.m.
  • Central:  9 p.m.
  • Mountain: 8 p.m.
  • Pacific: 7 p.m.

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Do you have any other collaborative Google Apps activities? Share them in a comment below!