Get Your Tech Up Part 1: The Do Now (Revisited)

logoI got quite a few e-mails with questions about journaling on Google Drive as I outlined in this post a few weeks ago. Since you asked, I thought I’d go a bit more in-depth about the setup, peer editing uses, and why it’s something you should definitely incorporate to tech up your classroom!

The setup: I like everything to be compartmentalized, so, If you’re like me, the first thing you want to do is sign-up for a new G-mail. Pick a memorable G-mail address and, once signed-up, head to Google Drive.¬†

Next, you’ll want to create a folder for each period you teach that will use Google Drive.

As you can see below, I teach three periods that use Google Drive.



The next thing you want to do is have your students, who need their own G-mail accounts, make a folder in their Google Drive. Have them label this main folder with their period first, then their last name, then their first name. Should look like this:

Period 2a – Aviles, Chris

Stress to your students that their folder name must be written exactly as the example. This will make it easy to sort later.

Inside this newly labeled folder, have your students create another folder called Journals, and, if you want them to be able to peer edit each others papers, a second folder called rough drafts (obviously, you can name the folders whatever you want, but I’m telling you how I did it).

Inside each folder, students should create a Google Doc. One for Journals and one for Rough Drafts. This is where they will do their actual writing using class computers/tablets or their BYOD.

Finally, have your students share the main folder (the one with their period and name) with the G-mail address you created earlier. By sharing the main folder, everything else inside the folder will automatically be shared with you as well. Additionally, it is important that they give you editing rights to the folders.

Below, you can see I did just that. Just like a student would need to, I created the folder, then, where the red box is, I clicked on the share icon. The share settings popped up, and in the yellow box I put the teacher’s e-mail with whom I wanted to share. You can also see this teacher will have permission to edit, noted by the Can Edit option on the pull down menu.


Next, logged in as you, the teacher, in Google Drive, you will want to select the “Shared with Me” tab. Every student who has successfully shared their folder with you will be listed there. All you have to do is click the box next to the name of every student in the same period, click the “Move To” folder icon and move everyone to their proper period folder. Rinse and repeat until everyone is sorted into their proper periods. It takes just a few seconds.

You can see below, I moved all of my period 2a students into my period 2a folder. Once you have sorted all of your students into their correct period folder, you can start having them write their journals and rough drafts.


Below, I have clicked on Andrew’s folder. This brings me to Andrew’s two sub folders that we had him create, one for Do Nows and one for rough drafts.


Here I’ve clicked on Andrew’s Do Now folder and we can see that he has created a Google Doc called Do Now. This is where he writes his journals and where I go to read his journals. You can see, I have students create just one Doc for journals. I don’t have students create a new Doc for every journal; it’s a waste of space, since Drive is limited to 15 gigs.


If I click on the Doc, it will show me Andrew’s journals. I have students put their newest journals on top so I can see whether or not they have been doing their journals without having to scroll all the way to the bottom. Since Andrew gave me permission to edit his journal, I can leave him notes and grades. I highlighted a misspelled word, asked him in red to answer his journals with more depth, and put a highlighted star next to one of his better journals. I grade my students journals at random, but I could easily grade them once a week or on any other schedule I want.



If I go back and click on Andrew’s Rough Draft (RD) folder, I will be taken to Andrew’s rough draft for our paper due soon. Since I have permission to edit, I can work with Andrew whenever, wherever I want. I also have students share their rough drafts (not their journals) with other students in class, so they can collaborate, revise, and edit each others work easily anytime, anywhere.

I want you to imagine this scene. Students are working quietly on revising and editing their papers. I call Andrew over and pull up his rough draft on my class computer. Andrew sits down next to me and pulls up his rough draft on his phone. We are both looking at the same rough draft at the same time. I begin to highlight Andrew’s paper (which shows up on his phone in real time) and make some suggestions. At the same time, on the same rough draft, Andrew is using his phone to take notes as I give him these suggestions. Apparently, I say something particularly useful because I hear the beeping noise that lets me know Andrew is using his iPhone 5’s voice-to-text feature. He restates, in his own words, a suggestion I made. The phone beeps again and the text pops up on his rough draft for him to review later. How cool is that!?

Here is part of Andrew’s marked-up rough draft from our conversation today.


Moments like I had today with Andrew makes me thankful I’ve teched up my class with Google Drive.

Another moment? Today, I had a student who was home sick inbox me on Schoology. The sickly student was wondering¬†what today’s journal was, so he can do it from home because he likes doing the journals. I checked his Do Now folder a few minutes ago, and there was his journal written from home!

I know when I get home tonight I’ll have inbox messages from students asking me to look over their rough drafts since our paper is due tomorrow. I can do this quickly with just the click of a few buttons. My students love having access to me during after school hours if they have a question and enjoy the fact that I always have the most up-to-date version of their paper. No more dancing the e-mail-attachment-shuffle. I like that I don’t have to collect notebooks to check journals, I don’t have to carry rough drafts home, and I don’t have to worry about students being unprepared because most students to do this stuff on their phone and we know they’ll never lose them.

Incorporating Google Drive into your classroom is one of the easiest, most beneficial things you can do for your students for many more reasons than I touched on in this post. Whether it is just for journaling, peer editing, or, hopefully, both, when you have those cool moments (I’ve dubbed these teched up moments) in class like I’ve described, you will be happy you teched up your class. And, when you do have a teched up moment, I hope you will come back and tell us about it.

Until then,




    We have set up the gClass Folders Script for a few of our teachers. It allows quick and easy sharing of 3 folders for each student. One is an Edit folder and everything put in it can be edited by everyone that it is shared with. One is a View folder and students can only view (and save their own copy) of any documents in that folder. The last is an assignments folder where the teacher sees each students folder but the student only sees their own folder. This is where students could put assignments or files that only the teacher can see. It’s worked out really well for us so far! We have at least one class in 3rd – 8th grade using it.

  • Chris, do you find this easier than just using Schoology directly? and I’m wondering if a student’s submissions go to your gmail account or into Sch?
    Curious why you went this route.

    • Chris Aviles

      For journaling and especially peer editing this method can’t be beat. One of the best ways to get your tech up!

      Schoology keeps my class organized, is where I put my videos and questions, google forms, achievements, and host discussions, and a lot of other cool stuff!

      When you combine the two, great things happen.

      Try it out!