Day 10 of Google 2018: Google Docs

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 8.48.21 PM.pngFor our final day of 10 Days of Google, we are going ‘back to basics’ with Google Docs. We are at a point now where not a day that goes by that we don’t open up a Google Document. Well, here are three tips that can help enhance the look of your documents.

Location of Images

Do you ever find that when you add an image to a Google Doc, it does not go where you want it to go OR you find that you can’t have it exactly in the spot that you want it? Well, have no fear! The default for all images that are added to a Google Doc is set to ‘inline’. You must make the change to allow more freedom for the image to move anywhere in the document.

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Day 2 of Google 2018: Word Clouds in Docs

Screen Shot 2018-11-25 at 8.30.45 AMWord clouds have been around for some time. They can be great to help share a message or get a point across in a visual format. There is an add-on with Google Docs that helps users create a Word Cloud with their content.

For those who do not know much about word clouds, they are created based on the most commonly used words. The more often a word is used, the larger the word gets.

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Day 11: Change Default Text in Google Docs

On day eleven of Google, we are going to look at how you can change your default text in Google Docs. To be honest, I didn’t know that you could actually change the default setting to Google Doc until recently. I always manually changed the text to what I wanted it to be. Never thought that I could tell Google what I want it to be when I open up a document.

Google has determined that Arial size 11 font is the default font and size. For some people, this does not necessary work. For instance, if you are required to use MLA format, I believe the text has to be size 12. Students would then have to manually go to the top and change the font to 12.

If you find that you want to change the default of the font text and size, follow these steps: (NOTE: this will change the default to all Google Docs that you create moving forward. If you find that you don’t like the default that you set, you can make the change again.)

Changing Default Setting

  • Determine what font you want to make default
  • Determine the size you want to make default
  • Select the Normal Text, and choose Normal Text drop down – choose ‘Update Normal Text to Match’
  • Select Normal Text, then Options, save as my default settings
Moving forward, your default has been set.

And that is my Spiel…

Day 5 of Google: Providing Feedback in Google Docs

On the fifth day of Google, we will explore around with feedback in Google Docs.

One of the hardest parts with teachers transitioning to online work can be providing feedback electronically. I can see the point. It is really easy to write over text, underline, cross out, etc using paper and pencil. Edtechteam is trying to help teachers with the transition with a Chrome extension called CheckMark.

This extension has pre-determined, common remarks that teachers would be apt to include in a comment to a student. Rather than having the teacher taking the time to type the comment out, with the click of a button, a teacher is able to provide that same feedback without all of the extra clicks/keyboard hits necessary to make it happen.

How it Works:

  • Get the chrome extension HERE
  • Open up a Google Document you want to provide feedback
  • Select the extension (it will turn green) indicating you want to use its features while in the document
  • When you want to provide feedback, double click on a word, phrase, or statement. Then determine which comment you want to use.
Once you continue to use the extension, you will notice that numbers will show up in each comment. Based on the number of comments for a particular skill that you have added/marked, that number will adjust. In other words, if you used the comment, “S” for Check Spelling three times throughout the paper, the number will show up in the comment as a three. This can be helpful in letting you know what skill the student needs assistance with.
Right now, the extension comes with pre-determined comments. You will need to familiarize yourself with them prior to using to help make you be more efficient with your feedback. The company has said that you cannot add your own comment shortcut yet.
And that is my Spiel… 

It’s All About Design

Throughout this school year, I have been thinking about how content is shared with students. Before any 1:1 program, we as teachers would put something together in a Google Doc (or lets be honest and say Microsoft Word) and print the document out for each student. You might have tried to keep text to a page. Very little graphics, if any, were included.

Fast forward to today where students have a device. We can think about creating and designing content on a document that has more of a design element to it.

At the beginning of the school year, I was fortunate to participate in a YouTube Live conversation with Lisa Highfill and Kelly Hilton, co-creators of the term Hyperdocs. You can watch the recorded conversation HERE. I also previously wrote a blog post about Hyperdocs which can be found HERE. Basically, their main objective with hyperdocs is to help guide students through an informal, reflective journey. This can be accomplished through the following steps:  Engage, Explore, Explain, Apply, Share, Reflect, and Extend. More information can be found on the hyperdocs website.

There are times however where you don’t want to create a hyperdoc for students but still need to share information. This is where an element of design, in terms of layout, color, and style come into play.

Two different examples come to mind when I think of the design element. One has to deal with sharing information to staff about two senior project celebration days (days where we do not hold classes, but instead learn from our students and their senior projects) and the other about sharing information to students over the course of a unit in a Global Humanities course.

It is important to note that there is not one ‘right way’ of putting information together. The whole point of this blog post is to help people think about how they are sharing information to others.

  • Should everything be in Times New Roman font, size 12, black font?
  • Should there be some color?
  • Should tables be involved?
  • Should a different file type be used besides Google Docs?
If students have a device in front of them, should things be more visual? Is the expectation for people to print said file – if that is the case maybe there shouldn’t be much color. One could argue for or against each of the questions above. It is up to you as an educator to make your best judgement.

Senior Project Celebration Days
What: Teachers must be informed with how two days at the end of the school year are run to accommodate student presentations.
Problem to Solve: Before curating information, several (10-20) emails were sent out on the school wide group email causing staff to not know when or what was sent. As a result, a member of the committee, Ms. Doyle, came up with an idea last year to put all of the important information together in a Google Sheet.

This year, the decision was made to organize the information differently to help staff out. Again, keeping in mind that the committee didn’t want to send several emails out, they decided to put all of the information together in a Google Drawing.

Both the Google Sheet and the Google Drawing share the same information – it is just presented differently.  Each file had links that opened up different files. Ask yourself, which would you rather look at? Your answer might be different from a friend of yours. I hope however, you think to yourself, how can/should I share information out with students beyond just typing text.

Unit Study in Global Studies
What: Students must ‘Go the Distance’ to learn and extend themselves in a Global Studies Unit.
Problem to Solve: The teachers, Mrs. Cooney and Mrs. Hatzidakis, wanted a way to curate and share the steps and procedure they wanted their students to take along their journey. Below are three different versions of the same information. Which one would you rather be on the receiving end if you were the student in their class?

Version 1 (White background with black text)
Version 2 (Purple background, with tables, different font)
Version 3 (Circular workflow process table, with different font and colors)

I know…I don’t have the all the answers or the ‘right way’ of putting content together. Hope that this has gotten you to think about design however. If you have any questions or you would like to talk about this topic with me, you know where to find me.

It all comes down to design! And that is my Spiel…