(Cross-posted on the Google Docs Blog.)

Editor's note: Alice Keeler is a mother of five children, a Google Certified Teacher, and the author of the book “50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.” Recently we sat down with the self-proclaimed “Queen of Spreadsheets” to learn more about how she relies on (and pushes the boundaries of) Google Docs both in the classroom and in her busy everyday life. 

We want to know how you use the Google Docs family of products, too, so share your own examples at +GoogleDocs or @googledocs with the hashtag #mygoogledocs. -Ed. 

Tell us about yourself, the self proclaimed “Queen of Spreadsheets.” 
I am a mother of five children, have a master’s degree in educational media design and technology and am working on my doctorate in EdTech with an emphasis in games and simulation. While working on my masters degree in 2009, I realized the power of games to motivate students, so I’ve been working on applying gamification techniques and games in my instruction, built with Sheets

I’m extremely high energy and I really enjoy innovating and sharing with teachers. I also have a unique talent: I can make people love data and spreadsheets. When you can get the information you need in the format that you need it, it’s truly exciting.

How does Google Docs fit into your teaching? 
Google Docs is essential for my instruction. I’ve been paperless for years and Google Docs makes that possible. If I were to choose one word that is most important when choosing tools for student use, I would say collaboration. Google Docs transforms group work from one student doing most of the work to a truly collaborative endeavor. Each student is able contribute concurrently to a single document; enhancing, adding, and editing work.

Tell us about one unconventional way you’re using Google Docs to teach. 
I use gamification techniques to motivate students. Rather than assignments, students have quests they can choose from, in a Google Sheet. Once a student selects a quest, they use a Google Form, linked in the spreadsheet, to turn in their quests. The ability to collect quests and have it neatly organized in one place saves me hours and hours of time.

Collecting work this way allows me to give students choices in what they learn and to be more flexible with due dates, and grading and feedback become immensely easier. When having a classroom discussion, it’s important to give every student a chance to participate and have their voice heard. This is nearly impossible with a verbal discussion. Having students respond to discussion prompts in a spreadsheet not only allows me to hear from every student, but allows the entire class to hear from every student.

What are the three best tips you can suggest for teachers that are using Google Docs? 
First, give feedback via comments to students before they submit their work. I highly recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts for inserting a comment (Control Alt M) and closing a comment (Control Enter) as this significantly speeds up the feedback process.

Second, a kid’s best day is when they can teach you something. Don’t be afraid to try something you do not know, embrace and celebrate help from your students. Challenge them to teach you something new about using Google Docs.

And third, if you use Google Slides or Google Sheets as a collaborative document with all of your students, this gives you only one document that you have to assess. Look for opportunities to do collaborative activities using Sheets and Slides.
You have a big family and a ton of extracurricular activities—do you also use Google Docs to take care of things outside of school? 
I use Google Docs for everything. Woe to anyone standing next to me in the grocery line or driving me in a taxi—I will tell you all about Google Docs and how it will change your life. I have a passion for helping find creative solutions to whatever problem someone has—and educator or not, more often than not the solution is a Google Doc. I used to make wedding cakes and created a massive spreadsheet that calculates the number of servings, the supplies I need, how much to charge, creates the invoice and more. Really, what can you not do with Google Docs?

Do you have any handy docs to share?
Teachers may be interested in creating rubrics with Google Sheets. This template allows you to create a rubric on the second tab and set the percentages for each category. Insert your class roster on the first tab and use the “Create Rubrics” menu to create a copy of the rubric for each student in your class. This makes it easy to assess students using a rubric.