26 Tips for Teaching with Google Apps

This guide will teach you to be as tech-savvy as your students.  It is meant to acquaint you with Google Apps’ major features and is loaded with best practices and lots of helpful, actionable tips to optimize your investment in Google Apps and improve your students’ learning experience.  It’s appropriate for school IT admins, teachers, principals, and anyone else interested in learning more about Google Apps for education.

Start implementing these tips today!

Gmail

Using Gmail, you can easily send messages to students & parents.  But you can also combine other Google Apps tools with Gmail to get more out of it.

Tip #1 – Use Google Translate to convert emails to & from non-English speaking parents or between your students and international pen pals.*

*Google Translate is not a tool for learning another language, but can help cut the language barrier between people who speak different languages.

Calendar

Calendar helps keep track of events in an organized way and is accessible to anyone from the desktop or a mobile device.  You can use Calendar in the routine way – for activities, homework assignments, and your class schedule.  You can also use it to set up shared resource calendars for laptops or the library room.

Tip #2 – Instead of running around the building to find out who has the projector you need, check the master projector Calendar right from your desktop.

Tip #3 – Set up pacing guides for your students, allowing parents to remotely schedule parent/ teacher meetings, or developing standards mapping.

Docs

Google Docs can do everything Word (or any other word processing program) can, but it also allows you to share created documents with anyone else on the system you choose.  Group teaching and close communication with students becomes easier with Docs, as does collaboration among students.

Tip #4 – Takes notes at your next school meeting and share them with the other attendees.

Tip #5 – Develop and share collaborative lesson plans with other teachers. Any change made by one of the teachers is instantly available to all the others.

Tip #6 – Develop quizzes and quickly analyze and summarize data from the results.

Tip #7 – Encourage students to work on group projects using Google Docs, so that each student can independently provide their contribution and instantly integrate it into the whole.

Tip #8 - Use shared Docs for student writing assignments to provide quick feedback to help guide them during the process.

Spreadsheets

Google Spreadsheets doesn’t reinvent the Excel wheel. The beauty of it is the same as the other Google Apps components: the ability to virtually share your work with anyone with access to the system.

Tip #9 – Set up a simple Spreadsheet for scheduling parent/teacher conferences (if you decide not to use that feature in Calendar). It’s preferred over the traditional paper version because parents can access the sheet from their Gmail account, see what slots are available, and select the best time for their meeting.

Tip #10 – Use Spreadsheets to track homework assignments, create student-driven vocabulary flashcards, or perhaps even to help students document their science experiments.

Presentations

Google Presentations can be just as impressive as PowerPoint, but again, becomes even more powerful because more than one user can access it.  The phenomenon of fumbling through multiple PowerPoint versions is eliminated.

Tip #11 – For group presentations, have students use Google Presentations so they can create their own slides for their portion of the assignment, then instantly integrate them into the master presentation.

Hangouts

The power of remote access is particularly evident in Google Hangouts, where you can connect with anyone remotely in real-time.

Tip #12 – To give your students a different perspective on the topic you’re covering, invite a guest lecturer to present via Hangouts.

Tip #13 – For particularly busy parents, conduct parent/teacher conferences over Hangouts.

Forms

This tool allows you to quickly create a survey or form that can be sent to parents and students to fill out online. You won’t have to tabulate results; all the answers are immediately collected in a Google Spreadsheet that can then be shared. Forms can be sent outside your school domain, so you’re not limited to just colleagues inside the school. And the result of any forms project are neatly summarized with charts, graphs, bells, whistles and statistics about all your responses.

Tip #14 – Give a pre-assessment test to your students at the beginning of the year to get an idea of the knowledge level of your class. Then do another assessment at the end of each marking period to see how much progress they’ve made.

Tip #15 – Do a quick survey on your students’ interests and try to tie them into your daily work lessons.

Tip #16 – Encourage your students to read more by setting up a form where they can submit their reading records. For example, they can track how many minutes they read each week.

Tip #17 – Create quizzes with Forms and then automatically grade them by using an Apps script like Flubaroo. (more on scripts below)

Sites

Sites is a powerful teaching tool where you can build interactive websites for students to share information and collaborate on documents, videos, schedules, and more.

Tip #18 – Create a Site for your class, including a class calendar with special events and homework assignments. You can add videos and other presentations that tie in with your lesson plans.

Tip #19 – Create a curriculum portal that contains lesson plans and other resources that tie into your day-to-day teaching plan.

Tip #20 – Create e-portfolios for each student. This will allow them to show off their work and develop it from year to year.

Tip #21 – Assign a group project where students need to use Sites to create and consolidate their work.

Groups

Google Groups are online forums and email-based groups that encourage community conversation and discussion among peers.

Tip #22 – Create a Group for your entire class, so students can discuss lessons and materials outside of class.

Tip #23 – Create classroom placement Groups so you can distribute different levels of materials and resources appropriate to each student’s needs.

Tip #24 – Create a Group for your students’ parents so they can easily communicate with each other and share updates and news.

Scripts

This JavaScript Cloud scripting tool enables developers to build more apps to supercharge the functionality of Google Apps for education. There are hundreds of scripts you can use to make your life easier or to enhance the learning experience of the students.

Here are a few:

  • Doctopus – This is a document management script to use for student projects. It allows you to auto-generate, pre-share, and manage grading and feedback on group and individual projects.

  • Flubaroo – This script allows you to automatically grade multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank assignments using Forms. It also computes average assignment scores, average score per question, and highlights low scoring questions.

  • gClassFolders – Based on Spreadsheets, this add-on creates class folders for students and teachers.

Blogger

Blogger allows you to create free blogs, through which students who enjoy blogging can better engage with the subject matter. They can post opinions and questions, and share posts from other students.

Tip #25 – Encourage improved writing skills by having your students use Blogger, but be sure to prohibit text speak like “brb” and “Cu2moro”.

Moderator

Google Moderator allows you to create a series of discussions, and have people submit questions, ideas or suggestions, then vote on various ideas.

Tip #26 – Use Moderator to encourage students to think about their daily lessons and read each other’s thoughts on the material. Then have them vote on the best responses, and continue the conversation in class.

Conclusion

Google Apps for Education is an incredible platform that is revolutionizing the way teachers teach and students learn. Using the power of interactive, cloud-based technology, school administrators and teachers can now connect with students in an enhanced way.

Social media, online games and the internet dominate student lives outside the classroom. Google Apps for Education allows you to bring that environment into the classroom and make the students’ educational experience more relevant and better mirror their day-to-day lives. It’s a giant leap forward for those who choose to take advantage. Go for it and good luck!


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