By Mike Kaufman
What I love about the Google Apps for Educators suite is its versatility. There are so many ways to effectively use Google Docs or Slides that enhance student learning, and Google Drawings is no exception.
What I love most about Google Drawings is that it allows students to work directly on an image. Students can circle, highlight, crop, draw arrows and write on the image of their choice.
They can erase, add, change color and transparency, and collaborate easily. Finally, Google Apps makes it easy for teachers to give feedback by using the comment feature.
Here are 10 fun ways to use Google Drawings in your classroom.
Note: While there are many editing features to explore in Google Drawings, for many of the activities below students and teachers will need to know how to order and group. Watch here for a quick tutorial.
1. Label Parts
Use Google Drawings to fill in and label the parts of diagrams. Insert the image you want to use and let students get to work. Students can label the parts of a microscope or a cell for science class. They can also label and explain the flow of energy in a food web or name the quadrants of a coordinate grid or the parts of a fraction in math class.
For deeper learning: Ask your students to define the parts or explain how something works right on the diagram using arrows, shapes, and additional images to help.
2. Analyze Maps
Have students work on their map skills using Google Drawings. Students can mark the routes of famous explorers, create a map key, or label landforms. You can create a matching activity by sharing a Google Drawing with the terms already written in and have students drag them to the appropriate locations.
For deeper learning: Have students analyze the map, describing and showing how human societies are affected by their physical environment.
3. Examine Art
I do a unit on the Renaissance and part of our time is spent identifying art from the time period. I have my students use Google Drawings to circle and arrow the characteristics of the art to help them determine the time period in which it was created.
For deeper learning: Have students compare and contrast two paintings side-by-side, explaining the differences of time periods.
4. Study Historical Documents
Google Drawings can be used to help students study and analyze historical primary sources. Introduce political cartoons to your students and have them label the different techniques such as exaggeration or symbolism. Have your class take a look at the front pages of the New York Times and circle the connections between the headlines.
For deeper learning: Ask your students to research a topic and paste into the drawing a short excerpt, making connections with the background knowledge of the topic.
5. Graphic Organizers
Instead of searching for the perfect organizer use Google Drawings to make your own. You can share it directly with your students or save it as an image and insert into another assignment or handout. Include images to bring the organizer to life.
For deeper learning: Teach your students about different types of graphic organizers and then have them make their own. Students of mine just created web organizers to plan their essays. Each one looked slightly different and met the exact needs of each student.
6. Categorize and Sort
Create categories and add key terms, then share the Google Drawing with your students and have them sort the words. Make sure to write each word in its own text box that way they can be moved separately. This is great for new vocabulary words or spelling sorts.
You can also substitute words for images and have science students sort biotic and abiotic factors or have younger students practice categorizing shapes. Using Google Drawings for sorts is also a great and easy way to incorporate your interactive whiteboard into your lessons and get kids moving around.
For deeper learning: Have students set up their own categories and terms to sort themselves or to share with a classmate to sort.
Set up a Venn Diagram or KWL chart and break students into groups to have them simultaneously fill it in. Share the link with the whole class and use it as a “Do Now.” Project the Google Drawing on the board and you have a great starting point for your lesson or class discussion.
For deeper learning: Have your students paste links or pictures of their evidence of learning into their KWL chart. This can act as an assessment or a digital unit portfolio.
Google Drawings works great for creating timelines. History students can create a timeline of historical events or to accompany a biography of an historical figure. Images searched in Google can easily be added and the basic editing functions will bring the project to life.
Students can adjust the page size by dragging on the bottom right-hand corner to make it fit-to-print or to extend the layout for a longer time period. This would also work great for students in language arts creating a character timeline or one of their own lives.
For deeper learning: Have students create timelines with missing information and then share it with a classmate who then has to determine the subject and fill in the missing information.
My first experience with Google Drawings was a student poster-making assignment. Students had to write an acrostic poem about the Middle Ages and add in images. They then printed them and the students chose the best ones to hang out in the hallway.
You can have your students create movie posters advertising fictional movies about book characters or historical events. Science students can put out call-to-action posters highlighting environmental causes they have researched in class. The upside using Google Drawings, like all Google Apps, is the ability to collaborate and the ease of editing tools, making group projects easy to facilitate.
For deeper learning: have students add QR codes to their poster, linking their work to a video or a student blog. You can then put the posters around school as a way to showcase student work!
10. Basic Photo Editor
Google Drawings works as a great basic photo editor. You can crop, adjust brightness and contrast, as well as the color of the photo. It is easy to add in text or symbols, and to make a collage of photos using the ‘group’ tool.
For deeper learning: Have your students create memes (images accompanied by text) to introduce humor to your unit and to bring a dry subject to life. Here is a more in-depth look at how.