Sunday, April 19, 2015

Enhanced Text Annotation with Google Drawings

After learning more about Google Drawings with Adam Seipel at the Indiana Google Apps for Education Summit, I pondered how to best and most meaningfully incorporate them into my lessons. One of the most exciting possibilities seemed to be using the Google Drawing board as a Thinglink, as we can easily add images and links to other videos, images, websites, and documents. Then, as an English teacher, I wondered about using text as the “background” image as a means to digitally annotate the text.

Annotating the text is simply a student showing his or her interaction and understanding of the text, but it has been traditionally done with a paper and pencil (Check out these awesome student annotation instructions from ReadWriteThink!).  Google Drawings is a way to harness this age old task, bring it to the digital era, and open it up to the digital resources available to students that help them make meaning of the text. With the push to 1:1 devices and online texts, this seems almost a natural evolution to our process. After a short play session, this was my first attempt at digital annotation.

The form of the annotation, as with paper and pencil versions, is mostly up to the student. I simply took a screenshot of an online text, but you could easily use any camera to take an actual photo of a text. Then I began adding the lines, shapes, text boxes, images, and links. One excellent feature of Google Drawings is the Insert-Image-Search. Google only searches for images which are free to use, so we don’t have to worry about students breaking any copyright laws if they stick to using this feature for images!

The possibilities for adding and linking are endless! How do you envision annotating digital texts? I'd love to hear your thoughts!