Google Docs Tip: Scaffolds and Supports with a Table of Contents?

Towards the end of the year, we are always looking for creative ways to help our students learn. We often turn to projects as a way for students to demonstrate their understanding.

Whenever I give a project in my classroom, I have always found that there are three types of students:
  1. The experts who wish you would go away and disappear. 
  2. The students who need you to hold their hand and guide them through (the students we should be working with)
  3. The frequently asked question students, who often feel bad for asking you questions. 
How can you use Google to provide students with the scaffolds and supports they need? Why not turn to the table of contents feature in Google Docs to answer FAQ's or Frequently Asked Questions. Students will be able to click on a hyperlink, which will direct them to the resources they need to answer their questions. How do you do it? 

Step 1: Develop Your Instructions

After I have composed my instructions in a Google Document, I often develop 3 - 5 frequently asked questions to address high-probability questions (and barriers). 

Step 2: Make Sure Your Questions are in Heading 1 Format

In order to allow Google to create a table of contents, you will need to have your questions in Heading 1 Format. This signals to Google that you want this item in the table of contents. 

Step 3: Answer Your Questions 

Answer you questions by providing resources, short video tutorials on how to complete the task, short text instructions. Frontload your instructions with scaffolds and supports, so that you can enhance learning and avoid frustration later. 

Step 4: Insert Your Table of Contents

 Place your table of contents in the location that you would like students to access them. Now students can simply click on the hyperlinked question and get the answers they need!

Want to see it done? Check it out!


This is a great way of providing supports and scaffolds for your students because it addresses high-probability questions and barriers before they happen. What do you do if you forget to answer a question or two? Why not have your "expert" students contribute a FAQ or two? Now you have a database of questions and answers for future assignments! 

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