G+Suite for Education consists of Google Drive, Docs, Slides, Draw, Sheets, Forms, Sites, Classroom, Hangout, & Calendar. These Google Apps for Education (GAFE) as a whole is called G+Suite for Education. The collaborative power of these tools can be leveraged by teachers and students to develop global competency skills, offer timely descriptive feedback and communicate effectively with a wider audience. Google Doc is a Google App.


Here is an interactive graphic introducing the G+ Suite Apps.

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https://www.thinglink.com/scene/952972210509709315 (interactive image Thinglink screenshot above)

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/614609946171932673 (interactive image Thinglink of all the GAFE)


Collaboration is a powerful and authentic instructional method.  It can engage, improve and direct student learning.  Using Google Docs, which is a G+Suite App enables collaboration to happen within the classroom as well as outside the instructional day.  Including Google Doc as part of everyday repertoire may make learning in your classroom more powerful,  engaging and productive.


A basic to intermediate level of technical knowledge is required to utilize the technology outlined in this catalyst.  All students and educators using these tools will require a Gmail/Google account.


This catalyst is targeted towards Junior, Intermediate and Senior Grades.  Google Docs can be used across all panels in a transdisciplinary manner.

Tool Highlights

This catalyst will highlight how to use Google Docs for collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.  Students use shared Google Doc to gather information, brainstorm questions, level questions, categorize questions, develop questions (critical, analysis, evaluation, opinion questions) and begin to research.  Teachers and students will use GAFE tools such as the comment tool to give timely descriptive feedback. Teachers can access revision history to see changes made over time as well as student input throughout the process.


There were many stages in the process, where students demonstrate their learning and make thinking visible. Formulating questions was the starting point in this process.  Students had to design an effective inquiry question to guide their project.

  • Students will share new learning in a collaborative document.
  • Students will generate questions.
  • Students will categorize questions using the question developing chart (prior learning).
  • Students will embed research within the document using the explore feature.

Prior Skills

Students will have had opportunities and/or explicit teaching in the following areas:

  • note taking

  • summarizing important details from text

  • guided on developing critical questions

  • utilize a variety of sources for information gathering (Online publications, print, video, experts, virtual library)

  • Referencing or citing sources

General Ministry Expectations for all Grade Levels


Reading: read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning;

Writing: generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience; use editing, proofreading, and publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;

Oral:  use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;

Media: create a variety of media texts for different purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques;



In general terms, the skills involved in scientific inquiry and technological problem solving are the following:

  • initiating and planning (e.g., asking questions, clarifying problems, planning procedures)

  • performing and recording (e.g., following procedures, accessing information, recording observations and findings)

  • analysing and interpreting (e.g., organizing data, reflecting on the effectiveness of actions performed, drawing conclusions)

  • communicating (e.g., using appropriate vocabulary, communicating findings in a variety of ways)

Breakdown of Lesson  

  1. Distribution of Resources (Teacher Role)

The articles for reading can be shared through Google Classroom.  Google Classroom is learning platform that can be used to create announcements, distribute information and grade assignments in a paperless way.  The articles for students to read can be posted in Google Classroom. This link will take you to a Google Drive folder with articles that can be posted in Google Classroom.

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Image: The image above shows how Google classroom can use used to distribute information to all students in a paperless manner.


2. Collaboration through Google Doc (Student Role)

Students will use Collaborative Google Doc Template to gather information and ask questions while reading article(s) on a chosen topic. This information gathering step can be very powerful and transparent when utilized as a collaborative Google Doc rather than an individual document. Students who read the same article may share and discuss information gathered virtually through the use of comment feature. If done collaboratively, students will work in real time to complete the task.  The Sample Student Collaborative Chart linked here showcases multiple students working on one document to share, discuss and scaffold learning.  The comment feature can also be used to assign tasks to various members of the groups via email.  

Students may categorize the questions they developed into various topics.  This document is a collaborative document.  When using collaborative documents, revision history feature can be used by the teacher to keep track of student participation, development of thinking and on task completion. As seen below, each colour of writing indicates each student’s entry.  The teacher can track the development of document from the beginning to the end.  The student collaboration, as well as the time dedicated, is also very transparent.


Here are two documents that outline the steps to create, add content, comment and share a Google Doc.   

3. Tracking Student Learning & Thinking

One of the benefits of using a collaborative Google Doc, is that it breaks down tasks, allows for all learners to be scaffolded and provides opportunities for feedback.  In this example, students return to their generated questions and modify fact-finding questions to a more open-ended question.  The revision history feature allows student thinking and learning to become more visible.

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Next Steps in the lesson

Once the inquiry question was formulated allowing for open-ended and multiple entry points, students will begin research. The culminating activity was to create a product to demonstrate their learning by following a set timeline.  Students present their idea to persuade an audience or hook the audience at various points of product development.  Students then participated in a school-wide event to showcase their learning.

4. Students will utilize a variety of resources (online publications, print, video, experts, virtual library) for information gathering for the level 1 or 2 questions.                                                                               

5. Students will create an inquiry question for investigation. Individual or group proposals for inquiry project may be submitted via Google Forms.  Approval for the project and/or suggestions for thinking can be sent to students prior to student conferences.

6. Finally, students will be involved in deep learning activities once the open-ended inquiry question is approved allowing for multiple entry points, students will continue their research.

  • Use GAFE tools, STEM kits, Global Competency skills to produce outcome and demonstrate learning in a creative manner

  • Students will use a variety of GAFE at various points of product development

    • Collaborative Google Doc (student sample)  is used to create their outline for content creation

    • Collaborative Google Slides (student sample) is utilized to prepare a presentation for the class to share their project.  

    • Google Form (student sample) (slides 6-10) can be created by students to gather opinions, ideas that they could gather, analyze and utilize to include in their presentation.

    • Google Hangout, Google Calendar can be used by team members as a project management tool to assign tasks, keep deadlines.

Assessment strategy

Assessment ‘for’ Learning

Review the student Collaborative or Individual Google Doc for gathering information and generated questions to ensure that students are on the right track.  Use the success criteria for creating questions to inform planning to improve student learning and instructional strategies.  Using revision history and draftback can assist in tracking student work, timelines and learning skills.

Assessment ‘as’ Learning

Use anecdotal observations while students are gathering, developing and categorizing information in collaborative or individual Google Docs.  Give feedback using the comment feature in the document.  The feedback is a form of ongoing guided instruction to support the progression of student learning, offering descriptive examples, thinking questions and next steps for improvement.  

Assessment ‘of’ Learning

The inquiry question submitted through the proposal can be evaluated using the Question Skills Rubric. Using the same instructions to create collaborative documents, students and teachers can co-create success criteria, checklists or rubrics online.   The rubric can be used to evaluate student’s performance.

Next Steps/Extensions/Accommodations/Other Topics for this Tech Tool:

Once an inquiry question is developed, it could lead to a variety of different outcomes.

Genius Hour: Students developed a personal inquiry question based on their interest and showcased their learning through a variety of ways. (Individual)

Invention Convention: Students identified a problem, designed a solution and developed a marketing strategy.  Students demonstrated their learning through a variety of mini-activities. (Groups of 4)

Inquiry Project: Students develop a group or individual inquiry question.  The group will teach a lesson to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding with the use of visual aids, presentation and demonstration.(varied groupings based on interest)

For ELL/IEP students you may scaffold by reducing the number of tasks, modified tasks and choices for output. The document can be scaffolded for ELLs by providing translation within the document.


Additional Resources:

Google Doc & Classroom Resources

General Google Apps Information

Create, Comment and Share Google Doc Info Sheet

Add a Chart in Google Doc Info Sheet


Student Samples

Information & Question Chart Sample #1

Collaborative Google Doc Template

Google Slide Presentation Student Sample


Assessment & Evaluation

Success criteria for creating questions (from IQ A practical guide to inquiry-based learning by Jennifer Watt & Jill Colyer)

Question Skills Rubric (from IQ A practical guide to inquiry-based learning by Jennifer Watt & Jill Colyer)


Resources on Inquiry (Questions)

Asking Effective Inquiry Questions

Asking Questions for Inquiry

Slide Deck- Guided Types of Questions

Q Chart


Genius Hour Resources

Article About Genius Hour

What is Genius Hour Video?

Genius Hour Hook Video

Genius Hour Google Classroom

20 percent

How to Pitch a Project?

Global Competency Skills


Invention Convention Resources

Youtube Playlist for Innovation

The Learning Partnership Program

Project-based learning

Inquiry-based learning