Using Table of Content Add-ons to Support Executive Skills in Google Docs

More schools are beginning to integrate the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) tools into their curriculum and instruction which is a great step forward for students who use assistive technology. No longer are these students the only ones keyboarding in class, having to modify classroom materials to meet their learning needs. While this is tremendously helpful, some of these students continue to struggle with organization and executive skills. Having a Drive full of random documents is slightly better than a backpack full of misfiled papers. Much the way that students are unable to put away physical papers into correct folders the same begins to happen in digital form.

Microsoft’s OneNote platform is able to provide students with a binder equivalent of file managment. The student only needs to open one file (Notebook) and all the subjects for that semester are laid out in tabs and pages. This is a tremendously helpful system for students who struggle with organization by giving them one central location for most of their writing. This organizational support however is lacking (hopefully only for now) for students on the GAFE platform.

Binder layout with subjects and pages
OneNote Binder Layout

There is however a workaround using Google Doc’s Table of Contents structure and available add-ons which place the organization structure in the tools tab on the righthand side of the document. Currently, there are two add-on available Table of Contents and Document Navigator. If students are able to use the heading structures effectively in Google Docs, these tools provide easy navigation across one document for multiple subjects. Here is a starter doc where the classroom subject holds the ‘Heading 1’ formatting and each classroom task holds the ‘Heading 2’ formatting. Subsequent dated entries can hold the ‘Heading 3’ formatting and so on. Color coding can also be applied by subject.

Google doc with color coded heading and organized outline in tools
Google Doc with Table of Contents Add-on

Good luck!

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