Keeping Students Digitally Organized Using Google Drive

Are you and your child new to digital learning? Being organized digitally is the first step in a successful remote learning experience.  Learn how keeping students digitally organized using Google Drive can actually be your saving grace!

Keeping Students Digitally Organized Using Google Drive

With almost all students in the United States currently taking part in remote learning, I wanted to do my part by sharing some of my expertise when it comes to digital learning. 

Fun Fact: I used to be a Digital Media Specialist prior to starting my blog back in 2017.

So you know the information I am providing to you is from a reliable source, AKA me, let me briefly give you my credentials to prove I know what I’m talking about!

My degree is in elementary education from the University of South Florida. Although I have experience with pretty much every grade in elementary school, the majority of my time spent in the classroom was teaching 4th graders. Many of which were gifted learners and I was endorsed in that as well. I seriously love elementary school!

We made a move from Tampa to the Orlando area the summer before our son, Zach, started middle school. Because I’m “that mom”, the one obsessed with her only child, I opted to add a middle school math endorsement to my teaching certificate that allowed me to teach math from grades 5 through 9. 

Shortly after starting at the middle school, I learned that our school district here in Orange County, Florida was trying to make a switch to digital learning. They wanted to slowly roll out this new type of learning throughout the district through cohorts. 

Cohort 1 was already in place when I started teaching in Orange County. After my first year in OCPS, our middle school was chosen to be in Cohort 2 of the digital roll-out. Many jobs started to become available in our school to help this new incentive, one of which was a Digital Media Specialist. I applied, and as they say, the rest was history.

So what does a Digital Media Specialist do? 

The short answer is A LOT.

Besides having to maintain the media center and all the books involved, my main responsibilities were as follows: troubleshooting issues with devices, handing out and keeping track of all devices being used by students, teachers, and staff at the school, teaching students how to use their devices and stay organized digitally, and provide professional development for teachers and staff on how to provide digital instruction for students. 

Can you see why I chose to stay home and blog yet? I’m totally joking. I really loved my job, the people I worked with, and my students. I definitely didn’t leave for a lack of liking my job!

Fast forward to 2020, and OCPS is completely digital at the middle and high school levels. This means that every single middle and high schooler in Orange County has a device that they learn on every single day. It’s pretty awesome! We’re lucky to be honest because our students and teachers are no strangers to online learning. 

Our district uses Canvas as its learning management system. This is the same learning management system that most colleges are using as well. Whether your child will be using Canvas or another learning management system like Google Classroom, they will most likely be submitting and opening many Google Cloud assignments. 

Because of this, it’s imperative for your child to know how to organize their assignments within Google Drive. 

So that’s where I want to start today. Keeping your students digitally organized using Google Drive is so very important to having success on any digital platform. 

So are you ready to get started?! Let’s go.

Keeping Students Digitally Organized Using Google Drive

Step one: Create a Google Account

For our students in OCPS, a Gmail account was automatically made for them. Your child might be in the same boat so make sure to ask them before creating a new Gmail account for them. This is very important because certain assignments your child submits or tries to open through Google Drive might not be accessible if they aren’t using the email that was specifically provided to them by the school. It’s just a safety feature schools put in place to protect your child. 

If your child doesn’t have a school-provided email, you’ll need to create one before signing into Google Drive. You can do so, here.

Google Drive Account Creation Page

Google Drive Account Creation PageBrand New Google Drive

Step two: Access your Google Drive

There are a couple of ways to access your drive. For starters, you can easily access your Google Drive by clicking on the “waffle” in the upper-righthand corner while in your Gmail account. You can also access your Google Drive by clicking on the “waffle” in the upper-righthand corner while visiting google.com. You’re basically looking for that “waffle” to get you to your Google Drive.

Accessing Google Drive from Google.com

Always make sure that you’re on the correct Gmail account before heading into your drive. You can check the account you are on by clicking the circle icon in the upper right corner like so. 

Checking what Google account you're on

This is very important especially if your family is sharing a computer and there are multiple Gmail accounts within the family. I can’t begin to tell you how many times students thought their work disappeared when in reality it just ended up on the wrong Google Drive. I’m just trying to save you the headache!

Step three: Create folders for each subject area

This is the fun part for students. They always love making folders in Google Drive! To do so, simply click on the “+ New” in the upper left side of your Google Drive and click the first option, “folder”.

Create a folder on Google Drive

Create a name for your folder. Click create and your folder is now made. 

Create a Google Folder


Once the folder is made, you can right-click on it and you’ll see a ton of things you can do with your folder. A favorite amongst the kiddos is changing the color of the folder. Click on a color and it will automatically save it for you.

Changing the color of a Google folder

Follow the same process for all the rest of your child’s classes. Your Google Drive defaults to “grid view” as shown below. If you click on the highlighted icon, “list view”, you can change your folders to appear in list format as shown in the second photo.

List view in Google Drive

Step four: Create folders within folders where necessary

For this example, I used the English folder I made on my Drive. I clicked on the folder to open it and this is what it looks like.

Inside a Google Folder

Within my English folder, I want to make a few more folders for common assignments or topics I have for that class. To do so, I simply click the “+ New” sign while in my English folder and select “folder” again. The same “create a folder” comes up but this time I write vocabulary because I want a specific folder to house all my vocabulary from the class.

Creating folders within folders

I also made another one for “reading passages”.

Folders within folders on Google Drive

Again, this isn’t a necessary step but one I highly encourage. Going back to my days as a math teacher, I would make a new folder for each chapter we covered to help keep things in order for my students. 

Step five: Add items to your Google Drive

This is probably my favorite thing to do in Google Drive. You want to know why? Because you can literally organize everything and anything in your Google Drive. Google Drive doesn’t just house documents made within their program. When I say anything I mean PDFs, photos, and Word documents. You can add them all.

The first way to do this is by clicking that “+ New” in the upper left corner again. You can either “upload a file” or “upload a folder”. When you click on “upload a file”, you have access to every single downloaded item on your computer.

Folders made in Google Drive

Click the item you want to download.

Downloading a document to Google Drive

It will then show that it’s downloaded in the bottom right corner of your Drive.

Uploading a pdf into Google Drive

You can also drag and drop anything from your downloads or desktop directly into your Drive.

Drag and Drop into Google Drive

Step six: Add items inside your folders

With your items inside your Drive, you’ll now want to make sure you put them inside those wonderful folders you created.

The easiest way to add items into your folders is to literally drag and drop them inside.

Drag and Drop file into a google folder

Item placed in Google folder

You can also right-click on your item and you’ll see the option, “move to”.

"Move to" feature on Google Drive

Once you click on this option, another dropdown menu will pop up with all your folders and you can just click on the one you want. 

"move to" drop down on Google Drive

Step seven: Check your child’s Google Drive at least once a week

One of the biggest adjustments parents have to make when their child begins learning digitally is how to stay on track of their child’s work. There will no longer be a backpack full of papers to go through each night. Instead, most everything will be paperless.

This can be scary and you might feel lost as a parent in terms of what your child is learning. Because of this, I recommend sitting with your child, at least once a week, to look within their Google Drive and see what they’re learning. 

During this time, you can also make sure your child is staying organized too. Any item added to your child’s Google Drive will just live under the section called “files” until it’s organized into a folder. Go through these items with your child and find a home for them within a folder. You might end up even having to make more folders as time progresses to house newer assignments that don’t fit into your originally created folders.

"Files" in Google Drive


And there you have it. Not too bad to set up your Google Drive, right? 

It’s a simple process and totally worth doing. Without an organizational system in place, your child will most likely lose assignments or forget where they placed them on their computer. When it comes time to turn assignments in, you’ll spare yourself unnecessary tears and tantrums from your child. I promise, keeping students digitally organized using Google Drive will honestly and truly be a lifesaver for you. 

I hope you found this useful and helpful for yourself and your child. I’d love your feedback and encourage you to ask any additional questions you may have about Google Drive. I would be more than happy to add additional posts and make this a series. My first instinct is to do a post on all things Google Docs but I’d love to hear from you if you’d prefer I start with something different.

Thanks for reading and good luck with digital learning. You’ve got this!



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  1. This is just WONDERFUL!!! I love being digitally organized! I think I will be using this for myself too! Thank you! Btw I was also an elementary school teacher for 8 years! So fun!

    1. I love to be organized, PERIOD! It’s a sickness…or maybe not. I definitely use this type of organization for my own Google Drive and highly recommend it for adults and kiddos. How funny that you taught too! I find that many teachers turn to blogging after being in the classroom. It seems like an easy switch.

    1. Thanks, Brittany! I didn’t realize you were a freelancer too. You’re a jack of all trades 😉

  2. Tiffany! This is absolutely an amazing blogpost in every way! So informative, up-to-date and needed–especially NOW! I’m so impressed with your background–and your expertise in this area is so needed for parents. I’m sending this blog to every one of my kids–all their kids are doing distance learning right now–and they need your knowledge and expertise.

    I know you like to blog–and everyone loves your blogs–but you need to make yourself “for hire”–at least until the pandemic is over–and who knows–this may become a way that most kids will want to learn.

    Thank you for helping me be a little bit smarter today!

    1. I feel so helpless at the moment. I’m trying everything I can to use my skills to be helpful during this time. I’ve been pulling out all the stops. Thank you for your kind words. I’m hoping I can help at least one family during this crazy time we’re going through.

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