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Differentiate Instruction with Google Docs

by Diana Benner
differentiate google docs

Google Docs offers so many options for educators to differentiate instruction. We know that one size doesn’t fit all in education; therefore, it’s crucial that we give each of our learners different ways to acquire content, process ideas, and demonstrate their understanding. Let’s explore ways in which Google Docs can help support a differentiated classroom.

Before the Lesson

If you don’t already know how your students like to learn, giving them an interest inventory is probably a good idea. This will help you discover areas of interest of your students. In addition, it will help ensure your teaching fits your students’ needs. Here is an example of a student interest inventory:differentiate google docs

Student Interest Inventory – This Google Doc has students either put a dot or highlight the sentence that best describes them. At the end of the document, there is a link to a graph that will help you determine the strengths of your students.

In addition, a similar Google Doc can be created as a formative assessment to give your students before the unit begins. This will help gauge their level of understanding before the unit even begins. You can then use this information to direct your students to different activities that will further their learning during the unit.

During the Lesson

There are many ways to use Google Docs during the unit to differentiate instruction, from designing a different set of learning activities to giving student options on what they can do to learn the content. Let’s look at some examples.differentiate google docs

     Allowing for Choice
  • This sample Geology Choice Board – This sample Geology choice board is a form of differentiated learning that provides multiple options for students. In addition, this MI Choice Board Utilizing Google Apps and Digital Tools offers students the choice to complete an activity based on their interests. If you want to know how to create a choice board, check out the Creating a Choice Board for your Classroom blog entry.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure – Choose Your Own Adventure is a great way to allow for choice and differentiate for the multiple skill levels of your students. In this blog entry, Eric Curts explains how to create a Choose Your Own Adventure story with Google Docs.
  • RAFT Assignment – This RAFT Assignment Google Doc is a great way to incorporate choice into the classroom. The RAFT (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) strategy can serve as a motivator by giving students a choice, appealing to their interest and learning profiles, and adapting to student’s readiness levels.
     Giving Extra Help
  • Hint Cards– You might have some students who need an extra hint on class work. Hint cards can be created in Google Docs and shared with either individual students or groups of students. Another great thing about hint cards is that they can also be used as an anchor activity for other students who create the hints, rather than the teacher.
  • Task Cards – In a differentiated classroom, students may work on varied versions of the same task or even on different tasks during the same length of time. Task cards are an effective means of giving directions to individuals or groups with varied work. Read the Differentiation with Google Digital Task Cards blog entry for more ways to create task cards with Google.differentiate google docs
  • Weekly Assignment Sheet – Assignments in your classroom may vary by student; therefore, creating individual or group weekly assignments sheets is a good way to differentiate. These assignment sheets can be created in Google Docs and then shared.

After the Lesson

  • Choice Boards– Choice boards can also be used for assessment near the completion of a unit. Students get a sense of ownership when they are allowed to choose. Further, they become more engaged with an assessment when they know that they’ve picked it themselves. The fact that they chose it reflects their interest, and it also places them in a mindset of success.
  • Lesson Reflection – Exit tickets are a great way to see if your students understood the lesson, allowing students to reflect about how they felt about the unit.differentiate google docs

As you can see, Google Docs is a great way to differentiate in the classroom. If you have additional ideas for differentiating, please share those in the comments below.

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Deloris James April 8, 2020 - 10:32 am

Great resource.

Caren Graves August 6, 2020 - 7:37 pm

I really like the exit ticket in Google docs. Would be great for 1st graders.

Brian Fraley August 25, 2020 - 2:54 pm

I will definitely be using this!!!

Terry Moore August 26, 2020 - 12:21 pm

I really like the feedback option on Google Docs simple straight to the point

DD January 19, 2022 - 7:21 pm

Lesson reflection would be wonderful in a chemistry classroom as students have a hard time acknowledging that they do not understand a concept or lesson. It is “pointing your thumb” ! Less is more and will help with quick feedback


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