Tech In Pedagogy

Tech Resources For Your Teaching

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Highlighting Tool: A Great Google Add-On Resource

Add-ons are a great resource to use in Google Drive. They open a host of options when using Google Apps. There are add-ons available for several of the different available apps. These include self grading add-ons for Google Forms like Flubaroo and Easy Bib for easing the task of citing your sources when writing a research paper in Docs. Here is a link for a post that discusses the use of Flubaroo. There are a lot of possibilities and add-ons that exist for almost any task you would want to accomplish in a particular App like Docs or Forms. I should warn you though, the add-ons are created by third parties and should be evaluated thoroughly on a case by case basis before you use them. This includes both using the tool in your own work and suggesting to others that they use it.

One add-on I have found that has a lot of potential is Highlight Tool. There are a few options, but I like the tool created by Jason Chin. I used to use the one by Texthelp, but some of the features they offer expire after a while. Add-ons, including this one, can be found by clicking Get Add-ons under the Add-ons tab in any Google Doc or Form. You can browse, search by task, or search for specific add-ons by name in the pop-up window.

Highlighting add-ons are fairly straightforward.  Highlighter Pane Screenshot You can use them to highlight sections of text using a vertical pane that appears on the right side of your open doc. You can choose colors for your highlights and label them appropriately. The application I like to use the highlighting tool with is when I am working on argumentative writing or research skills with my students.

Highlights ScreenshotFor example, you can copy and paste articles into a Google Doc and ask the students to highlight appropriate examples of pro arguments, con arguments, and quotes in the resource text. An example of this might look like the example above. It shows a New York Times article I copy and pasted from the print view into the Google Doc. I highlighted some examples of pro arguments, con arguments, and quotes in the text with the predetermined highlight colors. This might give some teachers flashbacks to using yellow and green highlighters for state standardized test persuasive writing. I apologize in advance.

This does bring me to the feature that takes Stored Highlights Screenshot (1)the highlighter option away from just being an online version of an old process. Once the passages are highlighted appropriately, the user can click Export Highlights by color to create and provide a link to a new document which has all highlights collected and organized by categories like you see to the right.

Highlighting tools are a great resource for the classroom. They can also be used as a student tool or to model a process for the class. They can be used to help students draw information from the text and organize it more effectively. This add-on can also be used for finding evidence in straightforward research as opposed to argumentative writing work. Just be prepared to teach the students how to use this, and any other add-ons, you want them to use for your class ahead of time or frustration is likely.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to contact me with questions. It would be great to hear any usage ideas or alternative strategies in the comments below. Also, please be sure to like me on Facebook or follow on Twitter so you can see future blogs and other great edtech resources I share.

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joshuacelliott1@gmail.com • November 4, 2015


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  1. MadameP November 8, 2015 - 1:01 pm

    Can I use this add-on when marking student work? Would it be OK just for me to have it, or does each student need to for me to mark? I correct Classroom work using highlights for grammar and structure inL2 work already, but this would be great for pulling together all highlights into one spot to see which mistake they make most often, patterns, etc!

  2. joshuacelliott1 November 8, 2015 - 3:46 pm

    You can use it for marking student work. You could highlight aspects of their work, and then the highlights could be pulled onto a separate document like I explained in my post. You could color code your highlights also to categorize your feedback (yellow for spelling, green for grammar, blue for wording, etc.). The only issue that comes to me right away is that you would have to share the highlights document back to the student since it would be a new and separate document. This is unless you are already working in a shared folder. I will be posting something about using shared folders when working with students soon.

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