Effectively Sharing Materials from Google Drive

There are many ways to use shared drives in Google to streamline information sharing in class and in committees. Sharing documents to and from students using Google Drive can be overwhelming and frustrating.  For instance, when students share their work with you, your email inbox becomes flooded with “Shared with Me” notifications. In this post, we’ll look at two methods for using Google Drive more effectively with students and colleagues.


Shared Drives

We have access to Shared Drives in our accounts. These are special Drives where all members can pull materials without having to share individual files. I (Kerri) have a shared drive set up for each of my classes (one big group for all my 8th grade ELA, another for Advisory, ect.)  My students know that they can go there for information that is not necessarily related to an assignment.

Click an image to see a larger version.

This is also a great way to collaborate with colleagues.  The 8th grade ELA teachers at PMMS have a document in a shared drive for weekly lesson plans. We link documents to this, but we also put ideas for future lessons in this drive so that we can all access them. 

Our MTSS team also has a shared drive. We have folders in the drive for each of the students we are serving and any information about that student is put in the folder for any team member to access. This is information that does not need to be addressed immediately through e-mail, but is for documentation purposes. This ensures that every team member has accurate records for case conferences and meetings.

If you want to learn more, Google has a full tutorial on setting up and using Shared Drives.

Shared Class Folders

While Shared Drives make the sharing part easy, a drawback is that anyone in the Drive can edit any item, which isn’t always ideal. Keeping document ownership in your control allows you to see live and recorded edits to student work and gives you the ability to recover lost work. By giving students the ability to access one another’s work, students can easily collaborate, peer edit and revise each other’s compositions and projects.

There are a few ways to do this. For elementary, I (Brittany) create each of the student copies myself. For secondary, you could have students make their own copy and then store it in your shared folder so everyone has access.

Either method starts with creating a shared folder in Drive. In Google Drive, click on New > Folder. Again, for secondary, you may want to create separate folders for each period you teach to help manage the number of documents you’ll be seeing.

  1. Inside your folder, name another according to your assignment (ex. “Biographies” or “Collaborative Class Book;”). Share this folder with your students via the link or through email.
  2. Within the project folder, create a new item to use as a template. This can be a Google Doc, a Google Slide, or a Google Sheet; whatever type of document you want your students working with. Example templates might include a mind map, magazine pages, or simple page setup formatting.
  3. For elementary teachers, once you have created your template, right click the document or click on the three dots in the upper right hand corner once the document is selected.  Click Make a copy.  This will duplicate the document you just created. Continue this process until you have created the total number of documents needed for your students.  
  4. For secondary teachers, you should have students share their copy into this folder so everyone can see – and leave feedback on – other work.

That’s it; you’ve done it!  You have successfully created a master folder with template documents that has been shared out to your students. Having a shared folder that all students in your class can access also allows for monitored peer-to-peer collaboration to occur more easily.

How do you manage Google Docs with your students? Leave a comment below with your own tips!


The featured image is My File Cabinet flickr photo by KRob2005 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license.

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