5 Smart Uses for Schoology’s Google Drive Assignments App
I’m a technophile. There’s no question about it. But despite its best intentions, technology doesn't always do what we need it to do.
One key area teachers look for assistance from technology is in the assignment workflow. It’s common for us to have our content in one platform (Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.) and manage our assignments in a learning management system or other learning environment.
All too often, this means creating 30 copies of a Google Doc, for example, finding a way to incorporate it into an assignment in the LMS, and standing by to help students troubleshoot the process of accessing the doc and uploading their work back into the LMS for grading.
This is 2018, people. Self-driving cars are real, phones can be open with your face, and there are multiple plans for commercial space flights! I mean, if the Houston Astros can win a World Series, I should be able to create, distribute, and collect assignments easily using whatever programs I want.
Enter Schoology’s biggest announcement of 2017—the launch of it’s Google Drive Assignments app. This new feature allows us as teachers to better use our Google Drive materials within Schoology, easily distribute individual copies of these materials to our students, and even see students’ work while they are in the process of completing it.
The more I’ve used the Google Drive Assignments plugin, the more I’ve realized how versatile it can be. With a little creativity, you may be able to get more out of your Google Drive materials than you think.
While you will find this plugin useful for everyday assignments, I wanted to write this article to push the boundaries on how the Google Drive Assignments app can be used within Schoology.
However, before we dive in, let's review how you can set up this plugin.
Setting Up Schoology's Google Drive Assignments App
On the home screen of Schoology, click on the App Store which is located on the left navigation panel. From here you can access the Google Drive Assignments application and install it to all of your classes.
To complete the union of Schoology and Google, I also recommend installing the Google Drive Resource application to have all your files seamlessly in your resources.
The Basics of Using the Google Drive Assignment App
To add a Google Drive Assignment, you need to have a Google Doc, Form, or other material in your Google Drive first to attach to your assignment. After you do that, in your course you will select “Add materials” and select assignment.
Since you installed the Google Drive Assignments app, you will see “Assign from App: Google Drive Assignments” when you are creating a Schoology assignment. The first time you use this, the system will have you log into your Google Drive account.
Once you add your Google Doc and configure your assignment, click create. This sends each student an individual copy of the Google Doc, Slides presentation, or other material you chose.
Your students then will see the directions you provide via the Schoology assignment and then a tab that says “My Document.” This will take them to the personalized copy of the Google Doc you assigned. If the student prefers a larger sized version of their document, they can click “open” on the toolbar to open a new tab.
While the student is working on the assignment, teachers can check the progress of their students by seeing a live version of the document. Teachers will see a tab for students in progress and one for submissions. Whether a student is in progress or submitted, the teacher has the ability to write Google comments on the documents.
Watch my EdTech Blitz video below for more information on the installation of Google Drive Assignments application and creation of your first assignment.
So … My Students Can Just Type Essays With this App?
To fully embrace the power of this update, we must think outside the box. Google Drive Assignments is a great way to write essays within Schoology so students do not need to spend more time uploading their assignments. It's also great for providing live feedback, support, and peer review during the writing process.
But when we think outside the realm of using it just to type a paper, we can see how purposeful this update is for our classrooms.
5 Smart Uses for Schoology's Google Drive Assignments App
Below are five of my favorite ways to use this new feature and some templates I've created that you can use (see them all at the bottom of the post):
#1 A Blank Google Drive Template For All
First on this list is a way to provide students with a space to journal, brainstorm, collaborate, and build the foundations of creative projects. Start by creating a blank template that you can attach to an assignment. You can do this with Docs, Slides, Sheets, or Drawings!
You can use this template to have student jot down some quick ideas or perhaps expand those ideas into an essay. Having students complete this in the Google Drive Assignments enables the teacher and student to collaborate at the same time.
On my blank template, I have a spot up top for students to write their name and then the rest it is for their masterpiece. This is a great way to help teachers and students get started with this Google app.
*Looking for some inspiration? Here's a copy of my blank Google template.
#2 Google Doc Student Progress Tracker
How do your students track their progress? Just because we add an assignment and make it a Google Drive Assignment, doesn't mean we have to make it an actual assignment for students to immediately hand in.
I have worked with some teachers to set up a tracking form for their students in Google Docs. This tracking form allows students to track their progression towards a goal in their class. Students can use this to track their understanding of a specific standard or grade within a subject.
One example is a math topic tracker. In this tracker, students open it up before and after every lesson to track their target progress.
Instead of submitting it at the end of each lesson, the students submit the target tracker at the end of the unit. This is more efficient for the teacher than walking around to every desk and looking inside each student's notebook. And remember that teachers can still view their students work in progress in real time.
I’ve done an alternate version of this tracker in Google Sheets where my students have logged their typing speeds and accuracy.
#3 Google Slides Digital Notebook
Aside from making a cute slideshow on animals or delivering a powerful presentation, Google Slides can be utilized to create a digital notebook. Creating a digital notebook is as easy as creating a slideshow, but it can help to provide your students with several template slides to give them something to build on.
If the student fills up all your template slides, they can easily duplicate slides to create more content. Plus, students can’t lose their digital notebooks or any progress they’ve made. If they accidentally delete something, you could always check their Revision History to get everything back. This is one notebook a dog cannot destroy.
Now that I’ve got your cogs turning, here are some ideas for a digital notebook with Google Slides:
- A Readers and Writers Notebook—For some students, it is easier for them to get their thoughts out on the computer rather than on paper. As students are analyzing text, they can fill out a reader's notebook template. This most likely won’t replace an entire notebook, but it is a great supplemental resource for students.
- A Digital Science Lab Notebook—Set up a template for the scientific method. Each slide could be a different step in the method. Students can create tables of data and share them in charts within the slides.
- Unit Exit Tickets—My students are currently working through a self-paced unit on coding and robotics. I have created ten exit tickets for the students to complete throughout the unit. They will not submit this until the end of the unit. If they score a perfect 1,000 points, they received the elite coding badge!
*Want a template to personalize to your students' needs? Use my Google Slides notebook template.
#4 Google Drawings Meme Generator
I have not used this yet with my students, but I am so excited to announce it here first. I will be using this lesson to put a spin on a section of our digital citizenship unit. However, teachers of any subject and grade level can use this idea for their classroom. Students, and let's face it, EVERYBODY loves memes.
However, meme generators on the Internet are filled with ads that we may not want to expose our students to. Also, it would be awesome to easily access all memes in one spot. Students may create memes for a book they read, digital citizenship rule, math theory, school spirit, and more! The list goes on.
In this template, I set up two lines of word art and a background to get the students started. From here, they can double click on the words to change the text and then change the colors of the text fill. After doing this, they can either take a picture of themselves or search the internet for a copyright free picture. Once they insert the picture, they can send it to the back and in those short steps they have a meme!
*You can check out my template for the Google Drawings meme generator here.
#5 Feedback. Feedback. FEEDBACK!
Sometimes teachers wonder how having a student write an essay on the computer is purposeful technology use when they could just write it on paper. The answer to this lies in the feedback feature within the Google Drive Assignments where teachers and students can communicate about the assignment and track changes in real time.
It's the feedback that teachers can instantly give to students on their assignments. At the same time, students can use that same comment button on any Google Doc to ask a teacher a question or provide their own thought. One word of advice is to make sure you take off the notification emails that you will receive every time a student makes a comment!
It is amazing that we can look in on the students' assignments through Schoology, but the feedback communication in real time is the most purposeful part of this integration. You don’t have to wait for a student to submit their work to review it and you don't have to leave Schoology. With this feature, you can check on any of your students once they access the document and begin providing feedback to all your students prior to them submitting.
A nice bonus comes when the student submits their work and you may want them to fix something. The Google Drive Assignments app allows you to unsubmit a student’s submission instead of having them upload a whole new submission. If a student wants to review their submission, they can even unsubmit prior to the due date to revise their entry.
Wrapping Up and a Google Drive Assignment for You
These are just some of the many unique ways that you can use the Google Drive Assignments app within Schoology. As an elementary school teacher, using this new feature provides me more time with my students versus having difficulties making sure they were saving their documents or uploading assignments correctly. At the same time, if a student needs help, I can access their assignment at the same time they are, even if we’re not in the same room.
I am confident that if you try using Schoology's Google Assignments app, you'll start to see some of the benefits I'm talking about. I challenge you to try it, push your creative limits, and then share what happens with me on Twitter via @sterao8 or in the comments below.
Templates for You to Use
I hope you enjoy all the resources I have shared within this article. Below is the full list. Please pay it forward and share some of your favorites with the community!