Scaffold Instructions with Google's New Document Outline Update

Navigating long documents can be challenging. Google Docs just created a cool new update called Document Outline, which collates all of your headers within your document into a sidebar. Users can uses the sidebar to navigate from header to header within their document.

This amazingly simple-to-use feature can provide teachers with a valuable tool to scaffold and support learning! Read on to learn how.

How Can I Access Document Outline? 

Accessing this feature is very simple! Go to the Tools menu and select Document Outline.  NOTE: This feature is only effective if you use the Heading formats in Google Docs.

How Can I Use This With Students? 

Not every student learns the same way, which makes providing students with scaffolds and supports are important part of giving instructions. Whenever I have given assignments in my classroom, I have always found that there are three types of students:
  • The experts who wish you would go away and disappear. 
  • The students who need you to hold their hand and guide them through (the students we should be working with)
  • The frequently asked question students, who often feel bad for asking you questions. 
The Outline Document feature is a perfect tool to help students navigate step-by-step instructions, answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), and access resources. 

For example, 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). In order for it to appear in the Document Outline, I make sure that my questions (or section headers) are in Heading 1 - 5 Formats.

I often answer 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. Now students can simply click on the hyperlinked question and get the answers they need!


It is important to provide students with different ways to navigate documents and access information. The Google Document Outline is an easy-to-use feature that provides endless possibilities for teachers and students alike. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

The SCARF Model and Reflections on Leadership and Teaching

  When I was a young high school teacher, I had a student named Scott in one of my classes. He and I usually got along, but there was always...