How to use Google Docs so students talk to you

Using technology to help build relationships

[Editorial Note: We originally ran this post back in 2014, but have updated it for today’s unique and challenging remote learning situation. Let us know how things are going! We’re incredibly proud of all of #vted for putting students first during this momentous shift.]

Laura Botte, 6th grade math educator at Edmunds Middle School, in Burlington VT, shared with us how she’s been using Google Docs to encourage her students to open up about what’s going on in their lives, and how that affects their ability to be present in the classroom. This is how you can use Google Docs so students talk to you.

How to use Google Docs so students talk to you

Botte created a simple Google Form that asks students whether they’d like a “check-in” with her: a quick private conversation, at their discretion. This allows Botte as an educator to find out how best to support students into a space for learning.

She asks three questions:

  1. How are you feeling this morning?
  2. Why are you feeling this way?
  3. Would you like a teacher check-in?

The process gives students the ability to self-select when they’d like to share what’s going on in their lives, but the technology also lowers social anxiety about asking for help. The online nature of the set-up ensures even when Botte’s out of the classroom, she can still be present as a resource for her students:

use Google Docs so students talk to you


And how they’ll use Google Docs to check in on you

Additionally, the way Botte is modeling creation of a collaborative support system encourages her students to realize the communication can be a two-way system: Botte’s students surprised her by creating their own Google Form to check on how Botte was feeling during a particularly busy time of the year:


use Google Docs so students talk to you

Laura Botte tweets from her classroom via @NiaLearns. Follow her on twitter for more amazing, transformative classroom work.

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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