Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash (but never release balloons into the air)

Many teachers reached out to me on social media after my tweet about giving my 8th graders the opportunity to virtually “sign” each other’s yearbooks while still apart from one another.

Therefore, I wanted to outline how folks could set this up quickly and free for their students using Google tools!

Step 1: Design your Yearbook Google Doc

I used Canva to add a cute, minimal banner to the top of the document. I also clicked “File” → “Page Setup” to change the color of the background document. You can play around with those settings, but be advised that the text will post as black, so you do not want to pick something super dark.

Take some time on this step, because once you send out your documents to students, they cannot be changed. Make sure it looks exactly how you want it to.

Additionally, because of the add-on I used, it has to be a Google Doc. (as opposed to a Google Slide deck)

Step 2: Copy Your Documents

Once your document looks the way you want, you will need a copy for each student in ONE (1) folder. This can be achieved two ways:

– Assign it on Google Classroom

This will ensure that every student in your class/homeroom gets their own copy to work with. Instantly you will have 1 folder full of documents with unique (student) names. You can find the folder under the assignment name in Google Classroom.

(Note: My team has a shared Google Classroom with every 8th grade student in it, which made this part very easy. If you haven’t considered making a grade-wide GC, you may want to for next year. It was a simple way to disseminate high school information and important stuff about graduation all at once.)

– Doctopus

This “oldie-but-goodie” Google Sheet add-on does the exact same function as Google Classroom. It ‘ingests’ a template document, then ‘spits out’ a copy for each student based on a roster. The important thing is that every document is still contained in 1 folder. If you divide it by class or period or group, this won’t be as easy.

(A walk-through of how to use Doctopus)

Step 2.5: Copy a few documents for yourself and teachers

Take this time to duplicate a random student’s blank virtual yearbook document for yourself and change the name for yourself, that way students can sign yours as well.

Step 3: Set Up Your Google Form

Once every student and adult has a Yearbook Google Doc, create a Google Form. (My favorite method is to type “” as the website.)

Think about what you’d write in your friends yearbook. Probably just your name and a quick blurb. You want one identifying question (to trace possible inappropriate responses), and one question with a drop-down menu for the yearbook titles.

To see what ours looked like:

– Setting up Doc Appender

  • Click on the triple-dot menu on the top right of your Google Form
  • Scroll down to the puzzle piece that says “add-ons”. It will pull up an additional menu.
  • Search for “Doc Appender”, click the icon, then the large blue “Install” button.
  • Give it permission to view and edit your files. The add-on is reputable and won’t steal data.

It will ask you to connect a Google Drive folder. This tells it what documents and titles to pull into the Form.

It will then ask you which question do you want those Google Doc titles to populate on, you’ll select the drop down question. (Hint: Drop-Down is going to be a better pick for question type because it decreases the chance of a student picking the wrong yearbook to sign accidentally.)

(To see this visually, start the video at 7:20)

You are also going to want to consider Google Form permissions (do you only want kids and adults in your district to view this form? Do you want it to collect emails automatically?

I selected “Yes” for both of these options because it gave me a papertrail to follow up on any responses in the moment that may be hurtful. I will say I have 108 8th graders this year, we had over 1000+ signatures (like my tweet says), and not ONE of them was inappropriate or mean.

Step 4: Send To Students!

You are the only person who will see every signature. (And anyone you may have added as a collaborator to the Form/Sheet combo.)

A student will enter their name, select from the drop down which student’s yearbook they are responding to, type their “signature”, and hit Submit! Doc Appender will immediately post what they submitted onto the student’s individual documents.

We attached the Form to Google Classroom, but you could also email it out to a group of students. It was very special and the kids really enjoyed getting to share some last moments together, even when we’re far apart.