I have tinkered with Google Draw in the past but always got frustrated and gave up on it before I’d actually finished anything. My frustrations seemed to be twofold: I could never seem to get the sizing right and, to be honest, I didn’t really get the point of Google Draw. So much of what you could do in Draw seemed the same as what you could already do in Docs and Slides, only it took way more effort to get the job done. So, when I saw Google Draw listed as a Cool Tools Thing this year, I decided it was finally time to actually try to learn how to use this Google feature once and for all (after all, if anyone was going to help me figure out Google Draw, it was going to be Polly and all the amazing resources she always pulls together!).
Right off the bat, my confidence that I might actually finally figure this tool out was bolstered when I saw all the cheat sheets and summary documents that could be found in the resources. I immediately set up a Drive folder for Google Draw and started copying those in there for future reference. The cheat sheet shared by Shake Up Learning looks particularly useful. Not only will it help me while I develop my Google Draw skills, I think it will be a great tool to help me outline my lessons when I feel confident enough to teach this to others!
After reviewing some of the instruction documents I gave making an image or two a try. Honestly, I can’t figure out what my problem was before! I’m not sure if it was the well-written explanation sheets or just the sheer number of them I looked at, but Google Draw seemed so easy to use this time! I did have some trouble getting some of my image elements to group together which, while frustrating, didn’t seem quite so insurmountable a challenge as it would have in the past. I think one of my biggest issues in prior attempts was not realizing that you can adjust the size of the Draw space and thus, adjust your final image size. Of course, I also didn’t try making anything overly complicated this time so perhaps I have more frustrations ahead of me but, I also now know where to a host of tips, tricks, and how-to resources so I feel much more confident I’ll actually be able to work through those future challenges!
Now as far as not really getting what you would use Draw for, let’s just say that after pouring over all the ideas and resources, I’m starting to get a clearer picture. I’m very excited to have found all these amazing templates for Google Draw projects and ideas. I feel so much more likely to use Draw in my classes now that I know I don’t have to create everything from scratch! It’s very encouraging to know I have that I have back up options if trying to make something on my own proves to be too overwhelming.
Not only did I try making some graphics and images in Google Draw myself, I tried out Autodraw for the first time. I had never heard of this before and I LOVE THIS OPTION!!! It was so cool to take my shaky little doodle and be able to quickly and easily turn it into something that looked good! I love the idea of using Autodraw to make your own icons to jazz up projects, websites, blog posts etc. I think students might like the idea of making their own images for projects when they can’t find what they want using sites like Creative Commons.
Thinglink alternative-I’ve used Thinglink in the past with classes and I love the idea of being able to make a similar style project without stepping out of our GAFE setup. I have quite a few teachers who have really started to embrace Google Classroom this year so I think they’ll like projects like this as well!
- SmartNotebook Alternative-I’ll admit that I haven’t made my own SmartNotebook activity to use with a class since I was in grad school. I don’t even use my SmartBoard that often unless we’re watching an instructional video or practicing new computer skills together with it. I love the idea of using the templates to create charts and labeling activities and being able to demonstrate and do guided practice together on the smartboard before sending them to the computers to complete similar style activities in Google Classroom (I LOVE that you can use Google Classroom to share a copy with each student just like I do with slides and docs!!!).
- Teaching Basic Computer Skills-I think it would be so much more productive and fruitful to teach my younger students basic computer skills like copying and pasting with the Tanagrams and the Snowman activities. They’ll think they’re playing a game but I’ll actually be teaching them things they need to know in a way they won’t quickly forget-I love when you can disguise learning as a game!
- Poster Contests-Our school is a PBIS school and a Leader in Me school. I think it could be fun to have students design posters about the 7 habits and/or the school expectations in Google Draw. We could even have teachers or students (or school board members!) judge them and have the printing center create them in poster size to hang around the school and in classrooms.
- Replacement for Bitstrips-My teachers loved Bitstrips for making comics with their classes and we have yet to find an alternative that everyone loves as much. But, maybe Google Draw could finally be the one!
- Hyperlink doc for resources lists-I’ve been wanting to put together some resource lists for teachers and since the library website is now a Google Site, using Google Draw to create hyperlink documents could be a perfect solution. I like knowing that I’d be able to embed them right into my site…more on this when I tackle Thing 20.
It feels so good to finally get this tool! And it’s nice to add to my repertoire of tools and projects I can suggest to teachers when we collaborate on projects together. Even if the teachers decide to go with a project we’ve done in the past, I like feeling like I’m still growing, learning and bringing options to the table. And man, oh man, does Google Draw bring some new options to the table!
Update: I got another idea!!! I was thinking about the Build a Snowman activity and was trying to come up with less seasonally based ideas I could do when I remembered seeing a book called I’m NOT just a Scribble posted on a few teachers Instagrams this week. The book comes with stickers in the back so kids can make their own scribble and I thought, “Why can’t we do a digital version of this?”. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking we could read the story during one class, then during another class, we could create scribbles on our computers and use a similar setup to copy and paste eyes, mouths, arms. legs etc to our scribbles. Then in subsequent classes, we could write about our scribble and type up our final writing pieces back on the computer, like in the snowman template!