Monday, September 21, 2015

Ten Reasons Google Drawings Should Be on Your Classroom Radar

Since learning more about Google Drawings at last year's EdTechTeam Indiana Summit featuring Google Apps for Education, I can't stop using them! Google Drawings are a fantastic, highly underutilized tool for classroom use. As I've experimented with them and found even more uses, here are my top ten reasons you should give Google Drawings a try!

1. Interactive Posters
With essentially a blank canvas, students and teachers can create posters with text, photos, and hyperlinks to any number of resources. Even better, since Drawings are collaborative like other Google Apps, groups of people can be working on the same drawing! Check out this characterization poster with text evidence a five student group was able to create in about twenty minutes!

2. Text Annotation/Close Reading
Using a photo of the text on the poster or as the background, students can add arrows, shapes, hyperlinks to videos, websites, or other Google Docs to explain the text. Check out my post on annotating text with Google Drawings for more details!

3. Graphic Organizers
Easily create colorful, custom graphic organizers for students. Since we can type right in the Google Drawing, even on top of the shapes, we can go paperless with these organizers without the hassle of trying to edit PDFs. Here's a plus delta chart I created for students to examine Odysseus's leadership in Part 1 of The Odyssey!

4. Manipulatives
With the ability to drag and re-arrange the pieces of the drawing, students could easily be using virtual manipulatives (and you or an aide wouldn't have all that time invested in cutting out and laminating all the pieces!). Matching terms or labeling a diagram becomes a quick, visual activity. I used this vocabulary matching as a formative assessment midway through our unit!

5. Create a Digital Signature
While this is much easier with a touch screen and a stylus, it can be done with a mouse or on a track pad with a little practice. Just choose the "scribble" option to start writing!

6. Mind Maps
Make organizing, connecting, and hypothesizing about ideas visible through Mind Maps. Quick drafts could be made with shapes, arrows, and connectors!

7. Sketchnoting
With a complete source of options for colors, shapes, fonts, lines, and even freehand with the scribble option, students and teachers could create beautiful sketchnotes to visualize information! With the addition of a hyperlink, the sketchnote could provide access to the inspiration for it with just one click!

8. Timelines
A Colleague teaching Junior English American Literature and I brainstormed an awesome project where students would add to a Google Drawings timeline after covering each literary movement, insert links to literature, videos, and images, and then blog about how the ideas and style of that movement are still impacting our culture today. Students can even link their blog posts to the timeline! The beginnings might look something like this.

9. Storyboard
The ability to link images, your own and others, to the Google Drawing and to use connectors, colors, links, and text make this a natural vehicle for Storyboards to recap media, or better yet to plan student media creations!

10. Create custom backgrounds for Google Slides
First download the Google Drawing as an image. Next, open a Google Slides presentation. Choose "background," then "image," and select your file.