I was helping my husband type up a worksheet template into a Google Spreadsheet. The middle section of the worksheet asked the students to “Write a paragraph or do a story map.” The write a paragraph part is easy, but how would students draw something in this digital space?

Google Draw

Obviously if you’re going to draw you should use Google Draw. Students can go to their Google Drive (http://drive.google.com) and create their story map. Now, they just have to get that drawing into the spreadsheet.

First they will need to go to File->Publish to the web

Choose to “Start publishing.”

Once the document is published, copy the “Document link”

 Back to the Spreadsheet

To insert the Google Draw image into the spreadsheet, students will want to use the formula =image(“URL”). Notice the URL is in quotations marks. The URL is the document link copied from Google Draw.

By default, the size of the image will fit the cell. In the graphic organizer I was typing up there was a large box for the student to draw their picture.  To accomplish this in a spreadsheet, highlight a block of cells and click on the merge cells icon in the toolbar.

Using the =image(“URL”) formula in the large merged cell would allow for the students drawing to fit right in the specified space for the drawing.

Optionally, the student can use =image(“URL”,2) or =image(“URL”,3).  The =image(“URL”,2) stretches the image to fit the space. This worked well when I had a horizontal image in a vertical space on the spreadsheet. However, the image is stretched and distorted. The =image(“URL”,3) will leave the image the same size as the student drew it (probably 8.5×11). If the image is larger than the provided cell part of the image would be truncated.

Other methods

Within Google spreadsheet, in the insert menu, is the option to insert a drawing. This creates a canvas right in Google Spreadsheet that the student can draw on. This drawing is free floating and not embedded within the spreadsheet.

Pros and Cons

Creating graphic organizers on a Google Spreadsheet is just a substitution for what can be done on paper. This helps with my goal to use at most one ream of paper this year, but it is not a radical departure from the current teaching practice.

An advantage is that the Google Drawing and the spreadsheet are collaborative.

By using the =image(“URL”) instead of insert drawing, the image fits exactly in the correct space rather than covering up content. A floating drawing can get in the way.

Obviously it is extra steps to create a Google Drawing and bring it into the spreadsheet and you have to teach the students the formula. Although, helping students to learn formulas has it’s advantages too.