This week I am rebuilding a 3rd grade non-fiction book Doc that I created last year. I've learned some important lessons and I think I've made it much easier for students to create killer books. The biggest lesson revolves around how Google Drawings are used.
Last year my template was simple and included a cover page, a copyright page, a dedication, and a Table of Contents. Non-fiction text features were supported with a Google Sites page that linked to Google Drawing templates. It worked fairly well. The students created beautiful books and were deservedly proud of their work. Using Google Drawings for Nonfiction text features was easy, except when it came to inserting them into Docs. Unfortunately, Docs doesn’t allow a student to insert a Google Drawing file created from Drive. Students needed to save the drawing as an image file and then insert the image into the Doc. Not only does this create an awkward step, it also makes revising the text feature a chore. I’m sure Google will smooth this out sooner or later, but for right now, I don’t want to relive the process.
My Non-Fiction file for 2015-16 is completely built in a Doc. The text feature templates are added at the end of the doc; no more sending students to the web page. When students need a text feature, they scroll to the bottom and copy/paste one of the templates (or create their own using the “insert -> drawing” menu.) As far as I can tell, the only difference between a Doc Drawing and a Drive Drawing are tables: Drive Drawings have them and Docs Drawings don’t (please let me know if there are other differences.) Other changes to the original template include a “Glossary” page and an “About the Author” page.
Students are instructed to start writing on the first chapter page (page 4, not including the cover) and create new chapters as necessary. The “Hand” graphic organizer at the top of the first chapter is also a Google Drawing and will help students with planning. This can be copy/pasted into each new chapter.
We have some time until this unit happens and I’m sure the file will be revised before it’s used. I’m looking forward to collaborting with my third grade team and our ELA Helping Teachers. Let me know if you use the Doc and please share it back out if you make it better!
Additional Resources for Google Drawings in the Classroom: