Google Docs

Google Docs is an easy-to-use online word processor that enables you to create, store, share, and collaborate on documents. You can even import any existing document from Word and Simple Text. You don't need to have the same program on your computer. You can work from anywhere to access your documents.

As part of the Google Teacher Academy, we learned not only how to use and collaborate with others using Google Docs, we learned strategies on how to use Google Docs in the classroom. I would like to share a few steps and tips with the eCoach community.

Google Docs, which began life as Writely until acquired by Google, is part of the larger Google Docs & Spreadsheets. This tip is only on Google Docs. For either, you need a Gmail or Google account.

  • Click New Document
  • Start typing - really it's that easy.


* As soon as you start typing, the document is saved. But whatever your first few words are, they become the filename of your document. To change the title, go to File > Rename > type in your new title.

* The document is saved every 20 seconds, so if you make a mistake and want to go back, click on Revisions. You can always revert to an older version. You can compare versions and see what others have added or changed. The ability to collaborate with others is one of the bonuses of using Google Docs.

* You can insert pictures – although .jpg files caused a bit of difficulty. What is cool is that you can define how you want images to appear in the document. You can also insert links, comments, tables, bookmarks, separators, and special characters.

* You can add people with whom to collaborate (they need a Gmail or Google account) on this document.

Ideas and Blogs about Google Docs

Using Google Docs in the classroom

Elementary school students collaborate to

  • read the same book and write a book report.
  • share their reflections of field trip.
  • create a story from a story prompt.

Middle school students collaborate to

  • write a science hypothesis about an experiment.
  • recreate an historical event.
  • develop a word math problem.

High school students collaborate to

  • create articles for the school newspaper.
  • write a script for a play.
  • debate a current event.

Did you know that you can remove the formatting and some of the code from documents that you uploaded into Google Docs?

  • Select all the text.
  • Click the icon T with a red x on the toolbar.

Why would you do this? Some code, especially in Microsoft Word, does not allow you to change the formatting. Remove the formatting and now you can start re-formatting the text the way you want.

Example in Action

At Palo Alto High School, CA, Esther Wojcicki has her 9th- through 12th-grade Journalism class keep their entire writing portfolio on Google Docs. That way she is able to check and verify which assignments have been turned in on a daily basis. Everything is centrally located. Students are able to manage the entire writing process: share ideas, create revisions, and publish their final work. The teacher can track development of each writing assignment.

Next Tip: Inspired Classrooms