Google Docs streamlines brainstorming session, inspires more use of Google Docs for editing, record keeping

The week before Spring Break isn’t usually the most energetic moment of a staff’s school year, but ours was bursting with enthusiasm about a new method we adopted for brainstorming story ideas using Google Docs.

For beat reporting, we previously used both a chart in which we all wrote copious notes while students reported information about their beats, which took two days, and a handwritten grade sheet on which students basically repeated themselves.

Now, with access to a shared report on Google Docs, students can simultaneously create a report on which we either handwrite a few additional comments or highlight things we want to remember, eliminating at least one day of the process.

I thought students were lukewarm about Google Docs after a brief experiment earlier in the semester in which I invited them all to a document on which they could share their funniest moments in newspaper.  After their initial resistance to change, new ideas have sprung up that even the graduating staff are amenable to learning.

Some of our plans include adding a chart for reporting advertising updates, photo deadlines, storyboarding, staff applications, and editing.  Without my prompting, my text editor uploaded the first rough draft for our next issue to edit it via Google Docs.

Using Google Docs really is a way of, if not to revolutionizing the high school newsroom, economizing it.

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

Aaron Manfull has 868 posts and counting. See all posts by Aaron Manfull