Based on my experience using Google Docs for the past two years, I have come up with a strategy that I think may help anyone who plans on using Google Docs with students next year. The purpose of this strategy is two fold:
1. Stay Organized (both teacher & student)
2. Promote the writing process, revision & resubmission of work
Purpose #1: Staying Organized
Whenever my students share their documents with me for a formal writing assignment, I have them follow a common file naming convention. The naming convention I have established for my class is:
Class Period - Assignment Title - Student First Name ( & possibly last initial if needed ). By following this naming convention, as students begin to share their work I can quickly scan to see who has shared their document and who hasn't and I can quickly organize my Google Docs inbox by dragging each file into the appropriate group folder for that class & assignment.
Here is a screen shot of my Google Docs account after students have shared a recent writing assignment:
The Group on the left, 'G Period: Sports in Society' is the first group I made at the start of the school year. The Groups, on the right, are sub groups that I made throughout the year, that are part of the larger 'G Period: Sports in Society' group. By using groups in this method, you are able to filter out the view of you Google Docs account and instead of seeing every document that has been shared with you by your students, you can limit your view to see just what you want to see. To get student papers into each group you simply have to drag the paper from the right, into the group on the left. Here is a video tutorial I created about the process of creating groups to stay organized.
Purpose #2: Promoting the Writing Process & Revision of Work
Probably more important than staying organized (although it does make the experience much more pleasant) the real power of using Google Docs with students is that it truly enhances student engagement and their active participation in the writing process.
I have come up with a procedure that my students use that is initiated by changing the title of the document when the paper is submitted, revised and graded.
When my students share a paper the title will be:
Class Period - Assignment Name - Student First Name - Submission 1
When I have read and graded the paper, I change the title name to:
Class Period - Assignment Name - Student First Name - Graded 1
If a student notices the title change in their inbox, they are free to resubmit & will change the title to:
Class Period - Assignment Name - Student First Name - Submission 2
Here is a screen shot of my Google Docs inbox during this process:
To enhance the writing process further, while students are working on their documents and have shared them with me, I will leave them two types of feedback.
1. I will insert comments throughout their paper that appear in the right hand margins.
2. I will right a paragraph of advice at the end of their paper.
When a student then reads the comments and advice, revises their paper and resubmits using the strategy I outlined above, I will notice the title change of the paper and go into the document to examine the changes.
I use the revision history option to see any differences between drafts. To access the revision history of a document: File--->Revision History. Any changes to the document will be trackable in the right hand column with a time stamp for the change. This strategy allows me to quickly and easily make note of any changes and improvements to the document.
Good luck using Google Docs...I hope this helps.