Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

4 Tips for Having Students Take Notes in Google Docs

4 Tips for Having Students Take Notes in Google Docs

note taking google doc

If you are having students take notes in a Google Doc, in particular if those notes require diagrams, consider providing the students with a Google Doc that contains graphic organizers. I am not advocating for fill in the blank type notes where the students fill in a word from the notes being projected. Instead, provide a structured Google Document that contains graphic organizers to save students time from having to draw the charts. Provide students the tools they will need for taking the notes.

1) Insert Table

Tables are great ways to organize information, in particular when graphics are needed. Put images into one cell of the table and text in the other cell to allow for text side by side with an image. To insert a table into a Google Doc use the Table menu option at the top. When instructional minutes are limited, pre set up the tables students may want to use to allow students to focus on organizing their information.
Insert Table


2) Research Pane

Rather than having students draw all of the graphics or other time consuming methods Google Docs has a research function built in. Create a 2 column table in the Google Doc notes template. In the left cell describe what image or graphic the student should locate and leave the right cell blank. Students will place their cursor into the blank cell of the table and choose “Research” from the “Tools” menu.
research google docs

On the right hand side the research pane will open up. This allows for a Google search right in the document. Notice in the search box next to the G is a small arrow. Students will click on the arrow to filter the results by Images.
Filter Google Research Pane by Images

The student will then DRAG the image from the research pane into the blank cell, saving the student from having to type the formula or graphic.
Drag Google Research Pane

3) Insert by Snapshot

If the notes require a chart or graphic or drawing it might be quicker for them to do this on paper. I quarter paper and have baskets of the paper slips around the room. Students sketch out the information on the slip of paper. In the Google Doc students can insert an image by snapshot. Using the Insert menu students will choose “Take a snapshot” from the options along the top. This will engage the webcam. Students can now insert images of the drawings on the slips of paper or of work samples from their projects. Note: connecting a$69 iPevo document camera to the computer allows students to take pictures of their notes and projects and include them in their notes.
Insert by Snapshot

4) Insert Drawing

The Insert menu allows you to create Google Drawings right in the Google text document. Using the drawing canvas create a graphic organizer that students can add to or edit rather than having to start from scratch.
Insert Google Drawing


Double Click to Edit

On the notes document provide directions to the student to double click on the drawing to edit it. The drawing can be simply a graph paper image, empty bubbles to outline the characters of a novel, etc… Students will double click on the graphic and are able to insert text boxes, move elements around, draw arrows, circle elements, etc… Students have full access over the drawing canvas.
Drawing Double Click to Edit


Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 10.26.30 PM

Virtual Manipulative

Using the above technique of inserting a Drawing, create a drawing that has elements for students to drag and move around.
Virtual Manipulatives

Again students will double click on the Drawing embedded into the Google Doc to manipulate the elements. Be sure to provide directions within the notes document for the student to double click on the image.


Google Classroom

The easiest way to distribute the notes document is through Google Classroom. Simply attach the template to an assignment in Google Classroom with the setting that every student receives a copy. This will also allow the students to turn in their notes for you to see how they participated in the note taking.

Sample Document

Click Here for my sample document. This is not a real example of notes, however it will allow you to try double clicking on the images to see how students can manipulate them.


6 thoughts on “4 Tips for Having Students Take Notes in Google Docs

  1. Google Docs is the best option for students to save all their important files or documents online. It is safest and flexible way to save documents, because from anywhere you can fetch your documents if you save them in Google Docs.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2024 All Rights Reserved.