This year has been dubbed “The Year Without Paper” in my classroom.
Maybe “The Year of Google.”
It has made my life so much easier — and saved me so much time.
My school adopted Google Apps for Education and signed every student up for a Google account. My students are creating, saving, sharing and accessing from the web like never before.
Even if your school isn’t a Google Apps for Education school, there are ways Google Drive can simplify your life. Google Drive is your “hard drive in the cloud,” offering gigabytes of free space you can access anywhere.
It also offers Google Apps, including:
- Documents (like Microsoft Word),
- Presentations (like Microsoft PowerPoint),
- Spreadsheets (like Microsoft Excel),
- Drawings (like Adobe Photoshop/Microsoft Paint), and
- Forms (lets you ask questions and have users submit responses).
Here are three ways that Google Drive has helped me work smarter, not harder:
1. Online and offline access to files.
I used to save all my teaching-related files to a mixture of my hard drive, my school network folder and an external hard drive. It was always a huge frustration when I assumed something saved to my computer when it was actually on the school network. Or if I left my external hard drive at school.
Those days of frustration are gone.
Your Google Drive can be synced to your computer so you always have online and offline access to them.
Start by clicking “More” in the menu on the left side of your Google Drive. Click “Offline” and follow the instructions.
Then, click the “Connect Drive to your desktop” icon below that menu on the left side of Google Drive. Install the Google Drive program for your computer.
Your files — the ones created by Google Apps and any of the others — can all be accessed from your computer at any time AND anywhere you have an Internet connection.
2. File-naming conventions.
This was a habit I started early that has certainly saved me hours of my life. Let’s imagine I’m creating a new study guide for my Spanish 2 class. My students get these study guides in place of textbooks in my classes.
Before giving my new document a descriptive name, I add the following:
- An abbreviation of what the class is (for me, it’s “i” for Spanish 1, “ii” for Spanish 2, “iii” for Spanish 3 and “ap” for AP Spanish)
- The unit it’s from (for unit 2, it’s “u2”)
- The week of the unit it’s from (for week 3, it’s “s3” because “semana” means “week” in Spanish)
So, in this example, the file name for my new study guide would be “ii u2s3 study guide”.
Finding it is a breeze in Drive. I have my files sorted into folders in Drive, but I don’t have to go digging through them. I just enter “ii u2s3” in the search bar and get all of my files for that unit in about 1.2 seconds.
To me, this sounds like a kangaroo made of “Flubber”.
It’s actually fantastic way to automatically grade simple assessments and view results in an impressive report.
- Use Google Forms to create an assessment. Flubaroo will automatically grade any multiple-choice, list or checkbox questions and can grade questions answered in text boxes.
- When the assessment is written (make sure to include a text box for their name!), share it with your students using the blue “Share” button.
- Take the assessment yourself to create an answer key. I suggest typing “ANSWER KEY” in the name text box I mentioned above.
- When students have taken the assessment, their results are available in a spreadsheet. Install Flubaroo by selecting “Tools” from the menu bar and clicking “Script gallery”. Search for “Flubaroo” and click “Install”.
- Once Flubaroo is installed, it’s a two-step process to grade assessments. Click the new “Flubaroo” item in the menu and click “Grade Assignment”. Choose how you want Flubaroo to grade each item in your assessment. Then choose which response is the answer key (probably the one where you typed “ANSWER KEY”).
- When Flubaroo is done grading, it creates a grading report (see tabs at the bottom of the page), showing which questions students got right, what percentage of students correctly answered each questions and what the average overall grade was for the assessment. Done in seconds.
Try the process out. Once you’ve graded a simple assessment with Flubaroo, you’ll never want to go back to paper assessments.
How has Google Drive made your life easier? Add to this list in a comment below!