Middle School Update

May 13, 2016

Tech Tip: How to manage, organize student projects with Doctopus

Are you using add-ons for Google Apps? These wonderful tools — available for Documents, Sheets and Forms — make Google Apps even better.

One of my favorite add-ons is Doctopus. This tool lets teachers create, manage, organize and evaluate student projects in Google Drive. Here’s how it works:

  1. Start by creating your roster in Google Sheets. You will only create this once. It will be your dashboard for the assignment you want to distribute.
  2. Doctopus will make a set of folders for you to use as often as you like:
    1. Teacher: Store your files here, such as document templates and spreadsheets for each new item you distribute.
    2. Students: contains the individual shared folders of all the students on your roster
    3. Class Edit: Want everyone to be able to edit a single document? Put it in Class Edit.
    4. Class View: Want everyone to be able to read but not makes changes to a document? Put it in Class View.
    5. Note: Class Edit and Class View appear, for the students, inside their individual shared folders for your class.
  3. Install and run the Doctopus script.

Voila! That’s it. Here are some special features that I like:

  • Different ways to share documents, including individual all the same, individual differentiated, project groups, whole class;
  • Word counts and comment counts based on revision history. Refresh whenever you want an update on the whole class progress;
  • An easy way to email students and include their assignment grade, individual feedback, and a link to the document;
  • Conditional formatting you can use to apply colors to the word count column to give you a sense of who’s done, working on it, or hasn’t started yet; and
  • “Embargo” an assignment to make it read-only for students while you are grading (or don’t, if you prefer to observe students in-process and comment throughout) and then “un-embargo” it to allow students to edit again.

If you use Google Classroom, you will find that Doctopus serves a similar purpose, but it has different features. I began using Doctopus before Classroom existed, so I have stuck with it. Now, whether I teach online graduate school classes or high school computer science, I have all my written assignment prompts, slide deck templates, and other items distributed via Doctopus. When I need student to share links to their project videos on YouTube, I put a spreadsheet in the Class Edit folder with all their names and they can easily copy and paste a link there. It does so much for me, I can’t remember how I lived without it.

Editor’s note: Additional step-by-step directions – with screenshots – for using Doctopus can be found here.

Diane Main

Article Link

Important Dates

May 16: No School (Dalat Holiday)

May 18: Last day of regular X blocks

May 19: MS Concert @ Penang PAC (5:00 5/6; 7:00 7/8)

May 24: Senior “Chapel” during X block

May 25: MS Drama, X block, Chapel

May 26: Yearbook Signing, X Block, Gym

May 26: 1st set of comments due, 8 AM

May 27: Senior Chapel

May 27: 2nd set of comments due, 8 AM

May 29: Baccalaureate, 10:00, Paradise Hotel

May 30-2: 12:30 dismissal for all students; final exams for 8th graders, schedule

May 30: 3rd set of comments due, 8 AM

May 31: 5/6 BOB

May 31: 4th set of comments due, 8 AM


June 1: 5th Set of comments due, 8 AM

June 1: Sr. Parent Tea, 7 PM

June 2: Last Day of School

June 2: 5 PM Grades verified

June 3: Teacher Work Day

June 3: 7 PM Commencement

June 6: Teacher Work Day

June 6: Staff Farewell Dinner, evening

June 7: Last Staff Work Day; MS Staff Luncheon

Listening to Music in Class

What do you think about allowing students to listen to music during class? This is an interesting article about how one teachers uses it as a reward system. This is an issue we will need to consider as we add in more iPads next year.

Active Learning: The Last Word

As we get near to the end of the semester, I know the capacity to take in extra ideas and thoughts decreases, so I want to keep what I have to say today brief and to the point! This year it’s been a joy to write these newsletter blurbs and to see so much of what is discussed being put into action by you. What an amazing teachers you are! My last encouragement to you this year is something I have said often, but it bear repeating at this time of year. One of the most impacting things you can do as a teacher is to ask your students give you honest feedback about your classes and then use their feedback to bring change. Doing this one thing has brought more growth to me as a teacher than any training, conference, or class I’ve ever attended. As I shared earlier this year, the feedback can be hard to hear at times. However, as I’ve implimented the suggestions that are repeated, my classes have improved. If you want an example of what I use with my students, here is my assessment that I’ll be giving to them in the next week. Again, thank you for all you’ve done this year, and I pray you will have great grace and strength to finish well!


Susan Allen

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