Sharing Hyperdocs: Canvas vs. Google Classroom

One tool I love for its versatility is the hyperdoc. They can be made using Google Docs or Google Slides, and it’s essentially a combination of content resources and a place for students to create their own work, all in one file.

I’ve shared them with students both by the force copy trick on a link in Canvas, and by sharing in Google Classroom so that each student gets a file. Both methods have their benefits; when sharing in Canvas (or another LMS), I can circulate the room while students are working, asking questions and giving feedback as they go, but students don’t submit their work until they are finished. In Canvas, Google files that are submitted are available to the teacher in a format almost like a screenshot, but it’s the whole file, not just one screen worth. Using Speedgrader, the teacher can quickly and easily scroll through a class’s work, scoring it on a rubric and making comments.

In Google Classroom, I can still circulate the room and give students feedback as they work, but in addition to that, the teacher has access to each student’s file from the moment it is created. My students recently worked on a hyperdoc when I was out of town for several days, and opting to share it with them via Google Classroom meant that I was able to provide them with comments containing encouragement or suggestions for improvement even though I wasn’t able to be present in class. Having to open each student’s file separately is a small inconvenience, unless using an add-on like Doctopus, or *gasp* paper and pencil, a rubric isn’t available, and for better or worse, the teacher sees student work whether it has been submitted or not. The positive to that is I was able to leave comments on work in progress, but the drawback is that it’s possible to score work that a student hadn’t quite finished.

Overall, I prefer the workflow available for scoring student work that’s available in Canvas, but the capabilities of viewing work in progress provided by Google Classroom. Assigning the work in both places and submitting the final product in Canvas is an option, but it sounds like it will be unnecessarily clunky. Students would need to look for comments in both places, and I imagine that a lot of kids will click “Turn it in” in Google Classroom and it will be missing in Canvas. No, it’s definitely best if I choose one place to disseminate my hyperdocs, and which one I pick may change depending on whether having access to student files throughout the process or having an easy way to score the work is more important for that task.

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How Google Keep Allows Me to Organize My Life

I am not one of those people who has a planner that follows her everywhere. Many planner options are adorable and offer the crafter in me a lot of creative outlet, but to be honest, lugging a big book with me everywhere I go isn’t my style. I’m more of a minimalist. I do, however, always have my phone with me.

Google Keep is an app that is part of your personal or education Google account, so no worries about hidden fees. It’s a place for you to keep notes. They can be text, pictures, drawings, hyperlinks, or even lists where checked items go to the bottom of the list within the note (you can still see them, but they’re clearly finished).

You can pin those notes to the top of the list by simply clicking the pushpin icon in the top right corner of the note. A reminder can be set for a specific time and date, or even when you arrive at a specific location. Those reminders can be set to occur for set intervals too, such as daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or using a custom range. For example, I have a note set to remind me once every 10 days to progress monitor students. I can also set a reminder to pop up when I arrive at Target with the list of things I need to buy (not including the extra $40 in items I will inevitably put in the cart while hypnotized by the Target bullseye).

Notes can be color coded, labeled with tags for easy searching, archived or deleted when finished with them, sent to a Google Doc, used when creating Slides by going to Tools>Keep Notepad within a slideshow, and shared with other people (I often share notes from my secondary Google accounts to my personal account so I only have to look at one within Google Keep to stay organized, but other people might prefer to compartmentalize by switching back and forth between profiles). Caution: When sharing a note on Google Keep, all collaborators have editing (and deleting) rights. Only share your notes with people who won’t change or delete your stuff and cause you heartbreak.

Some Ways to Use Google Keep:

  • Have a shared note for a grocery list with your roommate or significant other. As long as they have their phone, there’s no concern about whether someone left the house without it, and the person still at home can add to the list and the one shopping can see changes in real-time.
  • My husband and I have a shared note with brands of spaghetti sauce we’ve tried, with a thumbs up or thumbs down icon beside each one depending on what we thought about it. (We like to buy what’s on sale, but not at the cost of it tasting terrible.) This has saved us from a sub par spaghetti dinner several times. Priorities.
  • I have a colleague who uses Google Keep to have often repeated lines of code ready to copy and paste whenever their working on a new Google Apps Scripts project.
  • I keep a to-do list for days that I have a ton of errands and don’t want to forget something, and another for tasks around my classroom (what I need to photocopy, anchor charts to make, work that needs to be graded, etc).
  • You could even use it as a digital journal or scrapbook by including photos and jotting down the memory that goes along with it. Not everything that you want to remember belongs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The year and anyone involved in the memory could be labels, and the date could be part of the note’s title.

Teachers Using Google Apps Scripts

The training I’ve been to (so far) this summer where I’ve learned the most was one on using Google Apps Scripts. There was a pretest, which I completely bombed, and I wondered whether I was in so far over my head that I should just go home. It was very much out of my comfort zone, as the most sophisticated programming I’ve done before was Lego NXT robots with drag and drop programming, when I taught summer camps at the local science museum.

Why should a teacher learn to code Google Apps Scripts? Well, if you have repetitive tasks you do on any Google products (within the same product or moving information from one to another, such as from a spreadsheet to a document), creating a script to complete that task at the touch of a button (or automatically at a specific time) could be a real time-saver! It may take awhile to code the script in the beginning, but once you have it, it saves a ton of time later. If you’ve never coded before, the learning curve is a bit steep, but there are resources free on the internet to help you!

Helpful Resources

Codecademy – Use the JavaScript tutorial. Google Apps Scripts is sort of like a dialect of JavaScript. If you get the basics from this, you’ll have a good foundation.

Google Apps Scripts Developers Page – You can click on the product you’re coding a script to use with, or use the guides near the top to help learn how to use the apps scripts for different purposes. I recommend using CRTL+F in order to search for specific terms on the page.

Alice Keeler – One of the things that really helped me to make some of my scripts work was to look at one that is functional, and tweak it to do what I want that may differ just a little from that initial author’s intention. Alice Keeler has a ton of premade scripts and add-ons that she shares on her website for free. She also has tutorials for writing your own.

Example Scripts

To run a script:

  1. Open the file the script is attached to.
  2. Go to Tools>Script Editor
  3. Choose the script you want to run (if more than one) and press the play button OR click Run>Name of the script. All of the scripts below will only work on the tab of the spreadsheet you are currently open to.

Format a Spreadsheet – This will format a spreadsheet to get it ready to analyze data. It changes the column widths, deletes extra columns and rows, freezes the first column and the first two rows, changes the color of the background and font of the header rows, and set up to average the columns. To use it, open the file, then go to File>Make a copy. The copy is yours to edit and use as needed. Feel free to copy my script and change it for your needs.

Words Their Way Spelling Inventories – Semi-Automatic Analysis

I made a file for each version of the WTW spelling inventories. I call them semi-automatic analysis is that it doesn’t analyze correctly spelled features for incorrectly spelled words. If you type in how each student spelled each word, the script will mark the word as spelled correctly or incorrectly, and will give feature points for all correctly spelled words. You will still need to manually score feature points for words that have been misspelled. You’ll also need to transfer the data from each student’s tab to the class scoresheet. Once there, it will automatically color code each spelling feature as mastery or “could benefit from instruction” based on the recommendations from the Words Their Way book. I have the fourth edition of the book, so please double check whether there are huge changes that need to be accounted for before using my files as they are. I hope to update the code (once I figure out how to do it) to automatically transfer information from each tab to the class scoresheet, so keep a lookout for updates if you’re interested in using these. These files would be great to use with Alice Keeler’s TemplateTab script! Just make sure you run her script first.

You’ll need to use the link below for the file(s) you need, then File>Make a copy in order to actually use them. I have instructions for using the script on the first tab of each file to help you out.

Primary Spelling Inventory

Elementary Spelling Inventory

Upper Level Spelling Inventory