Sunday, May 13, 2012

Organizing 500 Paper Submissions Using Google Apps for Education

I have been so busy at work lately that I haven't had any time to work on any "fun" projects. Well, last week I finally got something fun to do.

I work at a wonderful Catholic school.  One of the best things about it is that our students participate in a Christian Service Program.  Prior to this year I would consider it a typical service program where each student is required to do a certain number of hours each year.  However, this year we have taken a new approach under the leadership of our Director of Christian Services, Dawn Brannman.  Each year students will have a different area of focus: freshman year - work with poor/disadvantaged, sophomore year - work with children, junior year - work with sick/elderly.

This year is the first year of this new program and we started with the freshman class.  They had to complete their hours by working with the poor and disadvantaged population. In addition, freshman students went in groups of 20, along with a teacher and some parent volunteers, to serve at a local homeless shelter.  It is my understanding that every freshman student participated this year.

Additionally, each student is responsible for writing a reflection paper about their experience each year.  This is a new requirement and this is where I come in.

Dawn came to me to see if we could come up with a manageable, digital, process for collecting all 500 of these reflection papers.  Her plan is to have her senior Campus Ministry Service class "grade" the papers and provide feedback according to a rubric that she has created.

After meeting with Dawn, here is the plan that we came up with:

1. Students will upload their Reflection Papers to their Google Docs account.  This is new for us as we just recently became a Google Apps for Education school. (This also assumes that students didn't write their paper in Google Docs - which actually makes to process easier.)

2. Students will copy the URL for their Reflection Paper in Google Docs.

3. Students will paste the URL into a Google Form that I helped Dawn create.

4. Dawn will give her senior Campus Ministry Service students access to the Google Spreadsheet that is created by the Google Form submissions.

5. The Spreadsheet can be sorted in manageable groups and these groups can be assigned to each Senior student. (We have something called L.I.G.H.T. groups, it is similar to a homeroom, this is how the submissions will be grouped.  It is a part of the Google Form.)

6. The senior students will then email their feedback to the students who wrote the papers.

I then had to make directions for students to submit their papers this way.  I made a text version and the video version below.  I am hoping this is clear enough for them to follow.

The students will not be given these directions until the end of next week. Therefore, if you notice any mistakes I've made or have any suggestions please share them with me. I still have a few days to make changes and I really want this to be successful.



  1. Hi, Matt,

    This is a neat way to use Google docs in your school! I have a couple of suggestions.

    First, I think the students are going to have to tweak the sharing settings on their document so others can see it. I haven't done a lot with Googe Apps in a K-12 setting yet, but there is probably an option under the sharing settings for "anyone in my domain with a link can view" or something worded similar to that. There may be another setting that suits your purpose better, though. You probably want to show them the sharing settings in the video before you show them how to copy the document URL to the submission form so they don't forget that part.

    Also, Google docs have a commenting feature similar to Microsoft Word. You might consider having the graders use this so they can make comments in the context of the paper rather than sending a separate email. Or perhaps in combination with an email. This post from the Google docs blog explains how to set up sharing so that readers can comment on the paper without being able to change the paper itself:

    Hope these tips are helpful! Good luck with this project!!

  2. Thanks so much for the feedback!

    I am still relatively new to using Google Apps for Ed but I think the default option is "anyone in my domian can view." But I am definitely going to test that today with a couple students.

    That commenting feature looks great. I noticed it as an option but never thought of how to use it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Hey, Matt. You know we use Google Apps for Ed all the time at Nativity, so let me give you some pointers.
    Docs will default to private. They'll need to (at least) share it to "People from CCHS with a link". Instead of email, why not have them comment directly on the doc for peer reflection? They would need to share their Doc with their peer so they can comment. You might as well have them share the doc to their LIGHT group leader, to let them follow the comments. What about having students do an audio or video reflection, upload it to Docs, and share it to their peer? That's how I do writing workshops.
    Feel free to email me or call me at school if you have more questions.