Coping with language difficulties using Doctopus

I work in a school where many of the pupils come from overseas. They arrive in deepest, darkest Shropshire and are immediately thrown into the rather idiosyncratic environment of a fairly traditional British boarding school.

I wanted to explore whether technology could be brought to bear - particularly in those all important first few weeks - to help pupils adapt to the demands of a new language and to quickly integrate. What I needed, for want of a better phrase was 'differentiation on steroids'!

I found just such a thing in the shape of a GoogleApps script called Doctopus.

Having seen overseas pupils struggle to keep up in class, frantically translating each new word into their own tongue and scrawling annotations over worksheets and textbooks it occurred to me that Doctopus could be used to produce custom made worksheets for each nationality.

Here's what needs to be done.

Open a Google spreadsheet and type in the names of the pupils, together with their e-mail addresses (use real addresses or it won't work!) and native language:

Make your differentiated worksheets and place them in a suitable folder. In this case I have put together an extract from Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie for German pupils and for French and for Chinese.
Back in your Google spreadsheet choose Tools>Script Gallery:

In the Script Gallery dialogue box search for Doctopus and install the version shown below:

Click continue to authorize and then choose Accept in the next dialogue box that appears:

Close the Script Gallery. You will now notice Doctopus has appeared as an option on the menu bar:

Select Doctopus from the menu bar, then select Launch installation.

In the next dialogue box that appears set all the variables as below:

Click Okay and a message informing you that an extra column has been added to your spreadsheet will appear.

Now move to Step 2: Choose which documents to copy and distribute

Choose the folder where you have stored your differentiated documents. This is what this step looked like for me:

Click Save settings and move to the next dialogue box. Fill it in as below (though choose your own suitable destination folder - this is where completed assignments will be filed):

On Step 4 click Run copy and share:

Your various differentiated files will have been sent to pupils according the the language they speak. Their work will be accessible to you via the links in the spreadsheet you created.

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