Google Docs has introduced many new features since the announcement of Smart Canvas in May 2021. Smart Canvas, with features such as pageless docs and Smart Chips, acknowledges that most users interact with Google Docs on device screens, not on the printed page. Teachers can use two new features to amplify student voice: Emoji reactions and dropdown menus.
Collaborative Student Voice – Emoji Reactions
Emoji reactions are perfect for having students express themselves in collaborative documents. Use “students can edit” in Google Classroom to facilitate collaborative documents. Be careful – Google Docs is not ideal for whole-class collaboration. Instead, use the differentiation feature to share a collaborative Google Doc with a small group of students. Then use Reuse post to replicate the assignment for other small groups.
There is now an emoji reaction button with the comment and suggestion buttons. Click on any text or image to bring up these buttons.
Clicking the button brings up emojis and a search field.
When a collaborator adds an emoji reaction to text or an image, clicking that text or image brings up the emoji, not the three buttons. Right-click to add a comment or suggestion. To agree with an emoji, click on that emoji. The number next to it goes up by one. To add a different emoji reaction, click the emoji icon to add a reaction.
Hover over any emoji reaction to see which collaborators used it. This is a nice accountability feature.
Teachers can use emoji reactions to amplify student voice. Here are some suggestions:
- Emoji reactions to different options a group is considering.
- Have a group of students annotate an opinion piece with emoji reactions.
- Have students brainstorm in a Google Doc and give each other feedback with emoji reactions.
- Incorporate emoji reactions into peer feedback.
- Use emoji reactions as a vote counter.
Please note that emoji reactions include poop (💩) and cursing (🤬). Think about how to approach this with students. If students can handle using those emojis maturely, this may be an opportunity to practice digital citizenship. Sharing Docs with small groups instead of the whole class makes it less likely students will make poor choices.
Individual Student Voice – Dropdowns
Dropdowns allow any Google Doc editor to create a dropdown menu in a Doc. There are two preset dropdowns: Project status and review status. These are very helpful for project management. There is also a “+ New dropdown” button that teachers can use to get creative.
While the “@” key works to add a dropdown, the easiest way to do so is by clicking Insert and Dropdown.
Use the new dropdown option to amplify student voice in individual student assignments such as those created using “Make a copy for each student” in Google Classroom. Use “+ New dropdown” to add and remove options and customize each option’s color scheme.
Pay attention to each option’s color. There are sixteen preset color schemes. Users can also click “Customize” to pick an option’s background and text colors.
Click “Customize” to adjust text and background colors. Pay attention to color contrast. Use the color hex codes and a contrast checker such as the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker to ensure color contrast between the text and background colors.
Copy and paste dropdowns to have more than one of the same. This is especially useful for building rubrics in Google Docs.
Here are some suggestions for using dropdowns to amplify student voice in individual assignments:
- Give students a choice of activities in a Google Doc. Place a dropdown next to each choice to help students sort which options they like, dislike, and are undecided about.
- Use dropdowns at the end of an assignment to have students give feedback about it.
- Have a dropdown at the end of an assignment where students rate their understanding of the material. This helps identify which students need extra support.
- There is a “+ Add / Edit Options” button for every dropdown. If the options don’t capture how a student feels, they can use that button to add their feelings.
Please watch these videos and listen to this podcast to learn more about these Google Docs features.
What do you think? How will you use these features to amplify student voice? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.
Does your school need professional development that supports innovative ways to use Google Docs and educational technology? Check out some of my offerings and connect with me on Twitter.
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.