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Organizing Google Drive

There are many great things about Google Drive for kids. It's on the cloud, so students can see their files from any computer and it saves their work automatically, so they don't need to worry about losing their work. Students can use the version history to check older versions of their files and see the changes they've made. Sharing files with friends and teachers is simple, which makes group projects smoother. And if they need to find a file, the search tool is there to help.

Even the best tools are useless if they are not used right. I've seen kids with dozens of files in their drives that didn't have names or had names not related to the assignments. Often, they have several copies of the same file in their Google Drive and no clear organization structure. This means when they can’t find their homework or other assignments, they can become frustrated. This can be even more stressful when they have tests or are working on a group project and have to share files.

Fortunately, it's not too hard to organize Google Drive and teach kids how to keep it organized. As the new school year starts up, it's a great time to initiate this process. By teaching them simple ways to file and name things from the start, you can make sure they have a system that works well and is easy to use. This helps them keep their work in order and sets a good, organized tone for the rest of the school year.

Old Work

It might seem like a big job to organize old files, but there's an easy way to do it. Instead of sorting every file, just make a folder called "Old Work" and put all of your old assignments and files in there. After that, your Google Drive will look tidy and organized. And if you ever need something, you can find all of your old work in the "Old Work" folder.

It's simple to move your old files quickly into the "old work" folder. First, you select all files in your Google Drive by pressing CTL and A simultaneously or select a group of files, by clicking on the first file, then holding down the shift key, and then clicking on the last file. Drag all of these files into the "Old Work" folder. Watch this video if you need help with this or if you want to show your kids how to do it.


Picture your bedroom without a closet or a chest of drawers; clothes would be everywhere, right? The same principle applies to digital work space. Just as you'd organize your clothes, it's crucial to organize files on Google Drive. A little time spent organizing now can save a lot of hassle later. To make these folders easier to find, you can give them different colors, add icons, and put them in a logical order.

Think of your Google Drive as a digital version of a well-organized backpack. Just as you'd designate separate pockets for various subjects in a backpack, you can create distinct folders in Drive for core subjects like science, math, ELA, and social studies. Remember to also make folders for electives such as PE, art, and music. Adding a folder for miscellaneous and personal files can be beneficial as well. To set up these folders, either click the 'New' icon on Google Drive's top left corner or right-click in a blank space, then choose 'New Folder'.

For easy identification, students can color-code these folders. Just right-click on a chosen folder, select 'Organize', and then pick a color. It's up to the student to decide how to color-coding the files. They might opt to color all core classes with one shade, say blue, or assign a distinct color for each subject. There's also room for creativity; maybe the color green feels right for science!

A fun way to further personalize folders is by adding emojis as icons. Websites like Emojipedia and Get Emoji offer a myriad of options. Once a desired emoji is chosen and copied, right-click on the respective folder, select 'Rename', click where you'd like to insert the icon, and paste it.

By default, Google Drive arranges folders and files alphabetically. If you'd prefer a custom order, say based on your daily schedule, simply add a number before the folder name. For instance, '1. Math' could be your first class of the day.

Watch this video if you need help with creating and labeling folders. You can also use the video to instruct students.

Naming and Storing Files

It is important for both students and teachers that our students label their files properly. Instead of letting them use names like "Assignment1.doc," they should choose names like "Biology-Essay-on-Cells.doc" that are more specific. Often, the title of the assignment can be used to name files. If a student has more than one part of a task, they need to clearly label each one with words like "draft," "final," or "outline." I've also found it helpful to tell students to start the name of their file with their name followed by the teacher’s name. For example, "JohnD-MrSmith-MathHomework.doc.” This helps teachers quickly figure out whose work they’re looking at, streamlining the grading process.

It's important to remind students to save their assignments in the right subject folder. For example, an essay about Shakespeare should go in the 'English Literature' folder. Google Drive makes it easy because when students make a new document, they can pick the right folder straight away. If an assignment has many parts like notes, outlines, or drafts, students should make a special sub-folder just for that assignment. Inside, they can name their files clearly, like 'ResearchNotes.doc' or 'FinalDraft.doc'. This organized method keeps their work tidy and helps them find things faster, instead of searching through a cluttered Drive.

Watch this video if you need help with naming and placing files. You can also use the video to instruct students.


Instructional Videos:

Organizing Old Work

Creating Folders for Courses

Naming and Storing Files

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