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Engaging ELA Activities With Google Docs

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Location: Room 393-4
Experience live: All-Access Package
Watch recording: All-Access Package Year-Round PD Package

Participate and share : Interactive session

Eric Curts  
Want to techify your language arts activities? Explore engaging hands-on literacy activities with Google Docs including "Black Out" activities for comprehension and writing, interactive "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories, summarization skills with Word Count, prewriting with embedded graphic organizers, and fun ways to use emojis for reading and writing.

Audience: Coaches, Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Attendees would benefit by having a Google Workspace for Education account or personal Google account, and a Windows laptop, Mac laptop, or Chromebook, to fully participate in the session.
Topic: Creativity & curation tools
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: World languages, Language arts
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
  • Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to show how Google Docs can be used in language arts for creative student learning activities. Each activity uses tools already included in Google Docs, so no additional extensions or add-ons are needed. The activities focus on ways to help students improve their reading comprehension, summarization skills, writing skills, creativity, and expression beyond just text.

The activities explored will include:

1) Google Doc "Black Out"
Description: In this activity we use the highlighter tool to black out any text that is not critical, leaving behind just the main ideas, to improve reading comprehension. We also explore using this process to create "Black Out" poetry from existing content.

2) Emoji Learning Activities
Description: In this activity we use special characters to insert emojis to summarize stories, write creatively, and explore character emotions.

3) Choose Your Own Adventure Stories
Description: In this activity we use headings and hyperlinks to create interactive stories in Google Docs, for creative, non-linear storytelling.

4) Pre-writing with Embedded Graphic Organizers
Description: In this activity we use the option to embed Google Drawings into a Doc to add interactive graphic organizers for students to use to prepare their ideas before writing.

5) Have Students Write Better by Writing Less
Description: In this activity we use the word count tool to write within a character limit or word limit, to develop summarization skills.


This session will be entirely hands-on as participants engage in each of the Google Docs activities. The time will be divided as follows:

1) Google Docs overview - 5 minutes
2) Google Doc "Black Out" - 20 minutes
3) Emoji Learning Activities - 15 minutes
4) Choose Your Own Adventure Stories - 20 minutes
5) Pre-writing with Embedded Graphic Organizers - 15 minutes
6) Have Students Write Better by Writing Less - 15 minutes

Details and resources for each of these activities can be accessed at:

Supporting research

The benefits of using technology to engage students in literacy activities are well supported by research. The website Reading Rockets includes an article (at addressing many of these benefits with cited research and practical examples. Example effects include improvements in comprehension, motivation, writing competency, and critical thinking.

Additionally the website TeachThought includes an article (at that explores the benefits of text-reduction strategy to improve reading comprehension and summarization skills. This article was the motivation for the "Black Out" activities I developed with Google Docs.

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Eric Curts, Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium

Eric Curts is a veteran educator who currently serves as a Technology Integration Specialist for the Stark County Educational Service Center in Ohio where he oversees Google for Education implementation, training, and support, as well as other technology integration initiatives. Eric is an authorized Google for Education Trainer and Innovator, and provides training to schools, organizations, and conferences across the country. Eric runs the award-winning blog where all of his edtech resources can be found, and is the author of the book "Control Alt Achieve: Rebooting Your Classroom with Creative Google Projects".

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