Thursday, August 24, 2017

Using Google Team Drives to Create and Share Lesson Plans

With Google's release of Team Drives this last year, the process of creating and sharing lesson plans suddenly got a whole lot easier.

With a Team Drive, teachers don't have to wonder if they've shared their lesson plan folder with the right administrators or if the view/edit permissions are set correctly: everyone who has access to the Team Drive can see and provide feedback on their plans.

And to further improve the lesson planning workflow, you can submit a Docs lesson plan template for your organization to use. This helps teachers get to the work of lesson planning more quickly by starting with a pre-formatted document.

Below are the directions for how I set up several of the schools I support to use lesson plan templates in Team Drives. First we created a Team Drive, then we set up a reusable district lesson plan template. The final set of directions shows teachers how to use the template to quickly create new lesson plans.

(If you'd like my training resources, here's the step-by-step handout and video that shows teachers how to create lesson plans using their campus Team Drive.)

Creating a Team Drive
  1. Go to your Google Drive and click on "Team Drives" on the left-hand side.

  2. Click the "New" button in the top left-hand corner and name your Team Drive.

  3. Select "+ Add Members" and enter the email addresses of the people you want to have access to the Team Drive.

You'll have to decide what you want your folder structure to look like in the Team Drive. We make folders by grade level, then create a folder for each teacher to create their lesson plan in.

Creating the Lesson Plan Template

  1. Create a Google Doc with the lesson plan template for your campus.

  2. Go to and click on "Template Gallery."

  3. Select the name of your organization and click "Submit Template." Choose the Doc with your lesson plan template and click "Submit."

Depending on the settings for your district, you may have to wait for your template to be approved by your GSuite administrator. If there isn't an option to submit a template, you can talk to your GSuite Admin. If they're not familiar with templates, show them the screenshot below. The settings to allow custom templates are in the Admin Console under Apps > G Suite > Settings for Drive and Docs > Templates.

Creating a Lesson Plan from a Template
  1. Go to your Team Drive and select the correct folder.

  2. Click "New," then hover over the arrow next to Google Docs. Select "From a template."

  3. Select the name of your district, then click on the correct lesson plan template.

  4. Rename the template, then create your lesson plan. Since it's a Doc, everything saves automatically.


  1. Hello: Thanks for demystifying Team Drives and giving us a usage case in EdTech. Here's my question: It seems like all of this can be achieved via a standard shared Google Drive folder. Instead of adding members to a Team Drive, I would give edit permissions to members of my team. For the example you gave, what does a Team Drive give me that I can't get via a shared Google drive?

    Seems like a fancy re-packaging for functionality that already exists... What am I missing?

    1. Hey, John - you make some great points. The key thing that sets Team Drives apart from shared folders is that files created or stored in them are owned by the team instead of individuals.

      Consider this situation: you're working as part of a campus leadership team, and an instructional coach has a shared folder which has spreadsheets with the assessment data for students on your campus. If he/she leaves your district and the account is disabled, you've lost access to the Sheet with all the info you need because the IC was the owner of the Sheet.

      However, if you use a Team Drive and create/store your student data Sheet there, it's owned by the team. If the IC leaves and their account is disabled, no worries. The original Sheet is still in the Team Drive and accessible by the remaining members of the team.

      Here's a good article by Samantha Vardanega that goes into more detail on the benefits of Team Drives for preventing shared data loss.

  2. This is great!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

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  6. Lesson planning templates are designed to help you plan and share lessons and it is always easier to plan lessons with templates.

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