Fourteen years ago when I first started using Google Docs with students I got the idea to have my whole class take notes on the same document. It sounded good in my head on my drive to school. In practice it was a disaster as my students were quickly frustrated by accidentally writing over each other’s notes. So then I tried having them each pick a color to write with to differentiate and avoid writing over each other’s notes. That also didn’t work well. Eventually, I decided to put a grid into the document and have students write within a square in the grid. That worked, kind of… It worked better when I broke the class into smaller groups and had them take notes in the grid on a shared Google Doc.
Today, when I have students working in small groups and recording notes, I assign them to a Google Doc (Google Classroom makes that easy to do) that has a preformatted grid in it for them to write in. I’ve used this method in my computer tech classes when students are working on troubleshooting processes. I’ve used this method when I taught U.S. History and had students reading and evaluating historical documents. Both of those examples are explained and demonstrated in more detail in this new video that I recorded on Thursday.
If you want to learn more about using Google Documents in your classroom I have a complete video overview of how to get started with Google Docs. And here are ten other Google Docs editing features you should know how to use.