Improve Student Writing using Google Docs

There are so many ways that Google Docs can be used to improve student writing!  Kasey Bell, an edTech guru and host of her podcast “Shake Up Learning” put out a great episode where she highlighted 9 tools available in Google Docs to help students with their writing.

You can listen to the whole podcast below:

Here is a quick summary of the 9 tools she highlights:

  1. Voice Typing – Speak the words and they will appear!  Go to “Tools” and select Voice Typing.  Allow access to your microphone and start talking.
  2. Spelling and Grammar Check – Spell check has long been a part of Google Docs, but recently they added in Grammar Check.  ✌
  3. Version History – Check out previous revisions of work by going to “File” and select Version History.  You can see all the various deletions, substitutions, changes, and copy/pastes.
  4. Word Prediction – I add this one with a huge disclaimer; you need to have the read/write tool bar extension added in Chrome to use this.  It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it is free ONLY for teachers.  For students there is a hefty subscription fee.
  5. Comments – Help students by making comments on their work as they continue to revise their writing.  Have students share their work with each other to do some peer review and use the comment feature to make suggestions.
  6. Suggest edits – Change your editing mode to “Suggesting” to have suggestions appear in green next to the struck out text.  Students can accept changes or revise further to improve their writing.
  7. Dictionary Tool – Go to “Tools” and select Dictionary.  Offers definitions, parts of speech, and synonyms.
  8. Citations – Citations are a breeze in Google Docs.  Go to “Tools” and select Explore.  Search for a website with information that you are looking for, go through the page and if you found the information you were looking for, click the big quotes to add the page to your citations.  You can even change the citation format to MLA, APA, or Chicago.
  9. WriQ for Assessment – As a sponsor of her podcast, she would be remiss if she didn’t mention WriQ as a tool to help with assessment of student writing.  If you are a writing teacher, this service is a game changer, but it comes with a price.  There are some free alternatives to check out, but WriQ focuses on the writing process and could be a good option.

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