For each of the next several posts, I will be discussing one particular Google Apps function and explain how to use it in a real classroom setting. I think knowing what a tool will do and understanding just how it can be used in your classroom are two different things. Please feel free to give feedback as you wish.
Practical topic #1: Creating a student drop-box for a class or class section.
As my students increasingly use Google Docs to complete and submit papers and assignments, I am increasingly dealing with the deluge of assignments in my Docs menu. They span a large range of dates and classes, and it can get confusing. Option one is just to go through and checkmark all of the ones from a certain category and tag them or move them to a specific folder. What I have found more useful, however, is to create a folder for each class period, and then sharing it with the students in that class:
- On Docs menu, click NEW–>Folder, and name it for the class hour or group desired.
- Go to SHARE and enter the emails for all of the class members.
- Make sure the folder members are all set to EDIT before submitting the addresses
The entering of the email addresses seems tedious, but remember you only set this up once for the whole term or year. Also, if using Google Apps for Education, the emails are already loaded, so you need only type the first few letters of the last name and the address will pop up for you to add. I could do 30 students in about 5 minutes or so.
Finally, and this is perhaps the only troublesome part, you need to ask the students to label their files with their last name and a keyword from the assignment.
From here, the students simply complete their papers, and then drag them over to the shared folder to submit.
At first glance, it may seem like this did nothing to unclutter your docs menu, because all shared documents are still present and jumbled up, but on closer inspection, you will see that they are all tagged by which drop folder they used. That alone helps me see who is who. The best part, though, is that now you can click on any of those dropbox folders, and you will see only that class, tagged by student, assignment, and in chronological order. Makes things MUCH easier to keep track of.
Side Note: When I grade these, I just open about 12 tabs, one for each paper and I just click click click through them as I read them. I have my electronic gradebook open at the same time, type comments or suggestions in red within the document, and enter scores as I work.