You’re planning a lesson for the week, and you’re thinking about a digital project using the G-Suite Apps that your students will create, and you ask yourself:
Do I let the students create the file themselves from scratch?
Do I create a template that will get them started right away?
This is a great question that many teachers debate about daily. Educators have this inner conflict within themselves about the goal they want to achieve and/or other educators perceptions of their teaching.
If they do use a template, will others think they are “stifling” creativity and student freedom?
If they don’t use a template, then will others think they just let the kids do whatever they want?
The correct answer is that sometimes it’s a great moment to utilize a template, and at other opportunities, it’s great to just let the students have the freedom to create. Using templates also allow your students to hop right into their G-Suite Apps and get started immediately.
With the question of whether to use a template or not, you have to take into consideration:
- What are my time constraints?
- What is my “end-game” or goal for this finished digital project?
- Is this going to be an open-ended project, or are the students filling in a graphic organizer together as a class?
- Do I want all the finished projects to look the same, yet with different content, or do I want them to have the freedom to create the project as they see fit?
- Are the students doing this by themselves, collaboratively, or the whole group?
When dealing with Templates for student creation, it all comes down to focusing on the specific objectives you want to be accomplished.
However, when done incorrectly, this can lead to students being off task, time wasted, main objectives not being met, and 22 projects being turned in that are way off track of your original predicted outcome. For many teachers, this can be frustrating, time-consuming, and not efficient.
Sometimes, too much creative freedom, not enough checkpoints and guidance, can become a classroom management nightmare.
Enter, digital templates! Using templates can be highly effective in classroom instruction (when used appropriately and effectively). Using a template can:
- Save Time with student creation, planning, organization, etc.
- Narrow in on specific tasks/objectives
- Become a great pre-made graphic organizer for students to fill out by themselves, collaboratively, or whole-group
- Give your students a clear, concise outline
- Keep students on task by having a detailed template to follow
- Examples: Hyperdocs and Hyperdrawings
- And much more!
There are many ways to create a Template using your G-Suite Apps. One way is to create a Google Doc, Sheet, Slides, or Draw and in the URL, change edit to copy. Now, send this link to anyone you’d like to have this newly created template (This won’t work for Forms):
Another way is to push out a template to your students is by creating an assignment on Google Classroom. Once you add the template from your Google Drive, change the permissions from “Students can view file” to “Make a copy for each student”.
Here are some excellent digital templates we discovered from other amazing educators that we have been using in our district:
Thanks, Matt Miller, for your assistance and feedback with creating this blog post! Follow Matt on Twitter!
Check out his website and blog HERE!
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