Worksheets in Google Docs: A Dilemma

One thing a few teachers have been trying to do this year is to go paperless in their classes using Google Docs, but they run into a problem.  If I want my students to complete a worksheet, how can I share it with them so when one student makes a change, it doesn’t make a change for everyone?  This has been quite the dilemma, but there is a solution and it lies in the use of a template.

For those of you who use Google Docs, you may have noticed when you create new documents that there is a From Template option that you can use.  If you choose to create a new document from template you are taken to this screen:

From this screen you can look for templates that others have submitted or you can submit your own by clicking on “Submit a Template” from the right side of the screen.  Then choose the Google Doc you want to turn into a template and follow the rest of the steps on the screen.

For your students to access the template, all they have to do is click on Create New from their Google Docs home and choose from template.  Then they will see the screen above and can click on “Use this Template,” under the template they wish to use.  This will create a new, blank document that is not shared with anyone else.  Students can then individually complete the worksheet and share the document with you when they are done.

Some Tips:

  • The document you choose to be a template can be updated by opening the original in your Google Docs Home
  • Changes made to the original document used for a template from your Google Docs Home will be made for everyone using the template
  • Have your students change the name of the document to be more unique, instead of using “Copy of Worksheet”
  • Once students share the worksheet back to you, organize the shared files into a folder for a certain class.
    • For example, if your students complete a worksheet for a WWII unit, create a folder called History (name of class), then create a folder within the History folder called WWII Unit (name of unit), then create a folder for each of the individual worksheets the students will be completing such as Timeline, Holocaust, etc.
    • Then move the appropriate files to the appropriate folders.  Now when you go to check the papers and leave comments, all of the worksheets will be together in one folder and should help save a little time when you assess.

 

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About dmourlam

Technology Specialist Teacher Quality Partnership University of Northern Iowa View all posts by dmourlam

One response to “Worksheets in Google Docs: A Dilemma

  • dmourlam

    So after reflecting on this post, I’ve decided I needed to redeem myself for the damage I may have done by encouraging educators to add technology to their teaching without changing their practice. So here we go. Google Docs is a powerful technology that I believe all teachers should be using with their students. The ability to work on not only complete individual homework, but to also work collaboratively, both synchronously and asynchronously, makes the possibilities of this technology almost unending. In a time when 21st century skills are promoted, such as collaboration, team work, creative thinking, etc., this technology truly provides teachers with a platform for students to carry out any number of activities.

    One idea would be to change your teaching to project based learning and use Google Docs to help your students organize and facilitate their work on different projects. Students can research topics that mean something to them, a passion one might say, and collect all their data in a spreadsheet or word processing document. They can write a report, on that data, and then create a script or storyboard using the presentation part of Google Docs, which they could then act out/record and post on YouTube for others students, teachers, parents, community members, local leaders, experts, etc. to view, comment on and help them keep learning long after the video has been posted. All of this can be done both face-to-face, and at a distance, not to mention synchronously or asynchronously.

    So in short, what I’m saying is that if you are just using Google Docs to have your students write reports, complete worksheets, or to do presentations, then you are missing the point. While I may be advocating for what sounds like a similar set of activities, I’m not. I’m advocating for you as the teacher to change your teaching to allow students the opportunity to work on projects, during class time, with other students. Let them explore the Internet and the world around them to tackle real problems. They can do it, you just need to let them try. The thing is, Google Docs can help facilitate that process. So give it a try and you might just like what you and your students find!

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