Multimodal Mondays: Five for the Drive — Engaging Students through Google

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307571_pastedImage_10.pngToday's guest blogger is Kim Haimes-Korn‌, a Professor in the English Department at Kennesaw State University. Kim’s teaching philosophy encourages dynamic learning, critical digital literacies and focuses on students’ powers to create their own knowledge through language and various “acts of composition.” She likes to have fun every day, return to nature when things get too crazy and think deeply about way too many things. She loves teaching. It has helped her understand the value of amazing relationships and boundless creativity. You can reach Kim at or visit her website Acts of Composition.


This is my semester to play with Google. I am loving my Google Drive and finding many new ways to use it in my classes. I have challenged myself to search out creative ways to use these tools and come to understand its many features. My classes have always encouraged collaboration and student voices, and these affordances help me achieve that in ways I could not have imagined. I was motivated early on this semester and talked about a peer responding activity in my last post, Grab-and-Go Galleries. Below I describe the results of this challenge and present Five for the Drive – a list of writing and collaborative activities for easy implementation in your courses.

Background Reading

  • The St. Martin’s Handbook:  Ch. 3 a-d, “Exploring, Planning and Drafting”; Ch. 7 a-e, Reading Critically”; Ch. 12, “Evaluating Sources and Taking Notes”
  • The Everyday Writer (also available with exercises😞 Ch. 9 a-e, “Critical Reading”; Ch.14 a-e, “Evaluating Sources and Taking Notes”
  • EasyWriter (also available with exercises😞 Ch. 2 a-e, “Exploring, Planning and Drafting”; Ch. 7 a-c, “Analyzing and Reading Critically”; Ch. 14 a-d, “Evaluating Sources and Taking Notes”

Five for the Drive

  1. Generating Text-Specific Passages. In order to teach strong interpretive reading and writing, we encourage our students to focus on specific passages and references in a text. For this activity, students pull a significant passage from a reading selection and post it to a document in our drive at the beginning of class. All students had to participate and created a real-time collaborative document that we could immediately refer to during our class discussion.
  2. Generating Thought-Provoking Questions. A modification of the activity above, this activity asks students to come up with 3 thought-provoking questions in response to a reading selection and post them to a Drive document. I used to assign students to submit an index card with these questions and then type them up myself at home. Now, students create them in real time so my homework is no longer necessary. I then break them into small groups to discuss these student-generated questions.
  3. Collaborative Slide Show. For this activity, I want to give students practice explicating a poem and working with visual representation. I created a template in Google Slides in which each student in a group is responsible for a single slide. They focus on part of the poem, write their interpretation and include an associated digital image (from Creative Commons and available for re-use). The template also includes a slide for collaborative takeaways and one for linking critical sources that works as a collaborative annotated bibliography. Students create this during a single class period and present to the class the following day.
  4. Catalog of Working Titles and Abstracts. For all the writing projects in my classes, I encourage the processes of invention – exploring and planning--that students share with each other for peer feedback. This activity teaches students to write engaging titles and summarize and focus their projects. Each student posts a working title and short description to the drive for immediate sharing and feedback. This becomes a reference document for students to keep each other’s projects in mind for ongoing suggestions and feedback. The Google Doc gives students the flexibility to change and shape their working titles and direction as they research and draft.
  5. Revision Log: When assigning digital writing (such as blogs) it is often difficult to track drafts and revision for student reflection and evaluation. I have students keep an ongoing revision log on their Google Drive in which they record and categorize changes they make as they make them. They complete a short reflection at the end in which they look at global changes and patterns of revision along with a self-evaluation of their progress.


These activities give teachers easy ways to emphasize and regularize collaboration in their classes. They are especially helpful in larger enrollment classes that might not have as many opportunities for collaboration. They show that team-work does not have to always be associated with long form projects and can be part of engaged, daily work in the classroom. These activities work well because they . . .

  • Give all students a voice and a chance to express their ideas.
  • Allow for immediate presentation of ideas in class.
  • Put the work on the students, rather than the teacher.
  • Provide quick, in-class access through phones and devices.
  • Create open-ended documents for ongoing work across a semester.

Want to be a guest blogger on Multimodal Mondays? Message Leah Rang for more information.

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.