If I had to venture a guess, I'd say probably everyone's first experience with Google Apps is with Google Docs. It is Google's word processing tool. In it's infancy, Docs was pretty thin on tools and capabilities.
Voice TypingOne of my favorite tools in Google Docs is voice typing. I realized this year how powerful this is for students. In my classroom, I always had students who could verbally tell me such wonderful information, but struggled to get it down. There were so many times that I wanted to hand them a tape recorder. Now it is in their hands! And if you give it a chance, you just might empower your students to finally have a way to share their "voice". (And I bet you'll find out what a sweet voice it is! 💖)
Naming your versions is a newer tool to Docs. However, in any setting where you begin writing and then make revisions, naming your versions can be extremely helpful. This tool is located in the "Version History" tool. Naming one version "Initial Draft" and then after peer edits, another is given the name "Second Draft", and finally, after polishing it off, naming "Final Copy" can come in helpful for anyone to compare from one version to another.
***Teachers --- do you see how you can have ONE doc for each student?? How awesome to simply click from one draft to another to see the growth?!?! ***
For additional details, check out Eric Curts post "Using Named Versions in Docs to Track Writing Drafts".
Columns & Tables
While these might initially be thought to be the same thing, they are very different. Columns wasn't available in Docs for quite a long time - much to the irritation of ELA teachers. Utilizing the tables tool wasn't always the best thing. As the 2 screenshots show, columns will alter the entire document, where tables can be inserted in areas of your Doc. Columns simply split your document into the desire "chunks". Tables appear as outlined boxes on your doc. Either one of these can give your document the structure & organization you've been craving!
***Bonus Tip: You can HIDE the borders of the "tables" you insert. Then, when you type in the boxes, the rest of your formatting stays in place! You can also individually select border lines to make disappear.
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