With third-fifth grade classes going 1:1 with Chromebooks, many teachers are exploring the idea of digital data notebooks. The purpose of a data notebook is to increase communication between school and home regarding a student’s performance in the classroom. Data notebooks also help hold students more accountable for their learning.

I am excited about digital data notebooks for a variety of reasons:

  • Students are using a digital tool to track learning
  • Parents have access to data notebook at any time, not just when the student brings it home
  • Teachers are utilizing meaningful and relevant technology and promoting communication, collaboration & creativity
  • Organization is much easier for students, teachers, and parents

This is sure to be a learning experience for teachers and students. My recommendation is to use Google Drive for digital data notebooks, if your district uses Google Apps for Education (as ours does). 


A few basics steps to help you get started setting up digital data notebooks, if you are looking to use Google Drive:

  1. The classroom teacher should set up a folder to share items with students. (This folder can be shared individually with all students so it shows up in their drive or the link can be shared on a class site, if access is given to ‘Anyone with the link’.) This would be a great place to share templates with students. It would be best to set access as ‘can view’ for documents in this folder (since you do not want students to have editing rights).
  2. Students should create a folder on their Drive. This folder is their “Digital Data Notebook.” I would make sure students include their name in the title of this folder. This folder should be shared with their teacher(s) and anyone else they would like to have access. Access should be given to ‘Anyone with the link’ or ‘Public on the web’.
  3. Within the students’ “Digital Data Notebook” folder, students should create other folders with the same settings to organize their work. I would have students set up one folder for each subject, but you could organize it however works best for your class. Students can also color code folders to help with organization.
  4. Students can locate and open Documents from your classroom folder. If you are using a document as a template (for example, as a tracking sheet), students should:
    1. Click File
    2. Make a copy
    3. Rename the Document (This Document is now in their “My Drive” section, and any editing will not affect the original document.)
    4. Click the File Folder
    5. Move to the appropriate folder
  5. Lastly, once data notebooks were set up and included tracking of student work, the folders should be shared with parents. I recommend having students e-mail links for their “Digital Data Notebook” home to parents. This communication should include an explanation of the data binder. You could also include a document for “parent check-in” to have parents initial when they access the binder. As a teacher, I also recommend creating one Google Document that links to every student’s “Digital Data Notebook” folder. This would allow you easy access to all students’ folders from one place. 

Again, this is will be a learning experience for teachers and students at our school. I look forward to trying this out.



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