Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Insert Drawings into Google Apps

drawing google apps
Insert Drawings into Google Apps

drawing google apps

Insert Drawings into Google Apps

I live for collaboration and feedback conversations instead of comments. This is what I love about using G Suite with Google Apps. Instead of scribbling comments onto a kids paper that they probably do not get a lot of learning out of, switching to inserting comments in a Google Docs, Sheets or Slides allows for back and forth conversations until the student gets it. More importantly, these learning conversations can happen BEFORE the due date. [tweet]Students will learn more from feedback given before they mentally think they are done with something.[/tweet]


Earlier I blogged about the Aww Whiteboard which allows for collaborative drawing on any device and will share to Google Classroom. This allows the class to collaboratively visualize ideas. Students can also create drawings and submit the link to the drawing by using http://awwapp.com.

Pro Version

Aww Whiteboard is going to give away a free Pro version. To enter, fill out this Google Form.

Integrate Drawings

Drawings are great but even better is to integrate them into a Google Text Doc, Sheets or Slides to allow for explaining the thought process and having feedback conversations.

Image Link

To create an Aww Whiteboard and insert the drawing into a Google Doc you will need the image link. You can also just download the image and upload it to your documents.

  1. Go to http://awwapp.com and draw something. (It’s also collaborative!)
    Tip: Zoom Out. Use Control Minus repeatedly to view the entire drawing canvas. 
  2. Use the Share icon in the toolbar (image of 2 people)
    share icon on aww whiteboard
  3. Choose “Share image.”
    share image on aww whiteboard
  4. Choose to “Show full size” from the toolbar.
    show the image full size
  5. Copy the URL from that screen.
    copy URL from the full screen on aww whiteboard

Google Apps

You can insert images into Google Apps via URL. One the URL is copied use the Insert menu in Google Docs, Sheets, Drawings or Slides to insert “By URL.”
insert by URL

Google Docs

After inserting images from Aww Whiteboard into a Google Text document, double click on the drawing to crop it. Clicking on the image allows for inserting feedback comments into the Google Doc. These comments show on the side of the Google Doc and allow for the student to respond. Note that updating the Aww Whiteboard drawing does NOT update the inserted image. This can allow the student to continue to build on the same drawing and insert the different variations by sharing the drawing again and inserting it.

Click here for a sample.
Insert drawing into a Google Doc

Google Slides

Slides are my favorite. Organizing ideas over several slides really helps students to more clearly communicate their ideas. I also love the collaborative design of Google Slides. Each student can insert their Aww Whiteboard drawing onto a slide of the same presentation.
insert images into Google Slides



Use this collaborative Google Slides template to share with the entire class. Each student contributes one slide and inserts their drawing from Aww Whiteboard onto the slide.

Google Sheets

You can insert images onto a Google Sheets spreadsheet just like you can in Docs and Slides. However, I like to insert images into cells.


In a cell in a Google Sheets spreadsheet use the formula =Image(“URL”). Tip to merge several cells together to make one giant cell.

merge some cells and insert image

Before You Share With the Math Department

I know the low hanging fruit here is to instantly think “I can use this in math.” I’m a math teacher; I obviously think about math.

Doing the same thing digitally on paper does NOT improve learning.

I’m into sketching and modeling math concepts rather than writing out steps. If you have not yet read Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler, I highly highly recommend. Mathematics is CREATIVE and VISUAL.

Paradigm shift for mathematics…
the value is not in “show your steps.”

Go to Wolfram Alpha and get the step by step solutions for math problems all the way up to calculus. Ask students to use this free tool that is available to them 24/7 in their real life to find the steps to 2 problems and compare and contrast. To explain the concepts rather than the procedures.
step by step solutions

Can students visually model their mathematics, in different ways?

Better Than Paper?

Handwriting on drawing tools is rarely better than using paper, it’s usually uglier. Use drawing tools to draw. Showing steps digitally is the exact same thing we were asking students to do on paper. This is not better than paper. Writing out math problems on digital tools does not help students to love math more or understand it better. To reach more kids to have them understand and have a passion for math we need to approach it differently. Check out youcubed.org for some great resources on how to help students focus on number fluency, visually approaching mathematics, and other strategies.

Writing math digitally does not improve learning. drawing google apps

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