Practical Applications: GoogleDocs

One of the most frequent complaints amongst teachers is the lack of tools that let them track student achievement or behavior across classrooms. Especially in schools that don’t have common planning time for grade level teachers, communication except via email can difficult. Add to that the breakneck pace of a normal day, and many times the messages get lost in the rush.

Enter GoogleDocs. GoogleDocs allows teachers to create a central place to store the information they need to share. It’s often easier to understand how this tool works when you see it in action, so in this post I’ll showcase the efforts of middle school teachers at Hall-Dale as they searched for a way to share information about ALL, the AfterSchool Learning Lab.

In the past, students were assigned to ALL by classroom teachers by email to a central teacher. Each day a spreadsheet was created and used to help organize who was there, what they had to do, and whether or not they showed up. This was then mailed back to the teachers who had the option of keeping all the spreadsheets for reference. It showed data for a particular day, but it didn’t easily allow for looking at trends in student work over time. This proved to be a big problem.

Sue Browne decided to take the bull by the horns. She devised a spreadsheet that had a lot of columns for information. We decided that this might be a bit unwieldy for teachers to look at linearly, so she designed a form (another feature of GoogleDocs) that looked like this (this is a partial picture but you get the idea).

Academic Awareness Form

Academic Awareness Form

Teachers simply log into GoogleDocs (see the caveat below!) and fill out the form for each student. The information from the form then goes into a shared spreadsheet that looks like this. For confidentiality reasons, this is not real data!

Shared Spreadsheet

Shared Spreadsheet

The data is available to all teachers, and can be sorted by student, date, or whatever column you want to use. Fast and easy, this integrative piece will improve communication and allow for more timely interventions for students that struggle.


We use GoogleApps for Education. This allows us to create an email for each student and teacher, making accessing the shared documents MUCH easier. When you go to the “normal” Google Docs, you have a narrow range of email addresses that are acceptable for logins. Trust me- it’s worth the time to set up the Apps for Education.


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