By Bethany Petty
Google has taken the world of educational technology by storm with its fantastic suite of tools for the classroom. These tools provide seemingly endless possibilities for teachers to enhance the learning environment and increase student engagement. Below are 10 great ways to “Googlfy Your Classroom” and use these tools to their fullest extent.
1) Actively read a primary source (Docs)
Google Docs has come such a long way since I was originally introduced to it in college. At first, Google Docs was a glitchy version of Microsoft Word, but no more—I love assigning a reading to my students on Google Docs and watching the collaboration and engagement happen while they read.
Students highlight certain parts of the text they find interesting, important, or confusing. They also share their thoughts as comments on the document. Students can even research and include references in their document as footnotes with the Explore feature without even leaving their document. It’s spectacular!
2) Create a collaborative presentation (Slides)
Watching students collaborate on a project together is always exciting for us teachers. Students can work together using Google Slides to create fantastic presentations! Using the new Explore feature in Slides, Docs, and Sheets, students can apply templates, search the web, add images, and locate information in their Drive from Slides.
To learn more about the Explore feature, check out my article on it.
3) Go on a Field Trip (Google Earth)
I absolutely love taking my students of field trips with Google Earth. Any topic we cover in my class can be enhanced with this awesome tool. When discussing absolute monarchs in my Government class, I always share King Louis XIV as a prime example. This leads to discussion about the Palace of Versailles and, why just talk about this brilliant structure when you can go there?!
Through Google Earth, we can tour the beautiful gardens and elaborate rooms of Versailles. We also love “visiting” the White House (and actually going inside!), Buckingham Palace, the Pyramids, and more.
4) Create memes to depict course concepts (Drawings)
Google Drawings is probably one of the most underappreciated of the Google tools, and creating memes to depict course concepts is a great way to utilize it’s awesomeness! Creating memes is a great way to review course concepts, classroom procedures, etc., and is an engaging activity for our students who live in a world of memes. Learn more about Google drawings: 10 Ways to Use Google Drawings for Learning.
5) Immerse yourself in cultures from all over the world (Google Culture Institute)
Google Cultural Institute is a FREE tool that allows users to view dozens of exhibits that include great images, virtual tours, and other resources about just about anything! Are you studying Impressionism? Search the GCI for “art movements” and select the Impressionism tile and view more than 3,000 images and sources about that specific art movement! Google Cultural Institute offers fabulous information about historical movements, historical figures, artists, and awesome virtual tours to engage your students.
6) Differentiate instruction (Classroom)
With the most recent update to Classroom, teachers now have the ability to share assignments with groups or individual students. This feature was greeted with elation by Google Classroom users! Read more about this latest update here.
7) Create Color-Coded Formative Assessment (Forms + Sheets)
I absolutely love Google Forms. Google has made so many wonderful updates to Forms recently and I’m learning more and more as I play around with it. The new quiz feature that was added this summer makes it incredibly easy to create awesome formative assessments for your students. Teachers can color-code student responses by using conditional formatting on the Google Sheet attached to the Form. It’s spectacular.
8) Collaborate with classrooms around the world (Google Hangout Video Call)
This. Is. So. Much. FUN! My students and I were able to collaborate with a class in the United Kingdom last semester, and our culminating activity was a Google Hangout video call. We started our call by introducing ourselves (we had already collaborated on a Padlet wall, but it was awesome to put faces with names!) and then playing an international game of Kahoot! Technology has allowed teachers to break down classroom barriers and enhance our students educational experiences! Read more about our global collaboration on my website.
9) Create a database of information (Sites)
The NEW Google Sites is beautiful, user-friendly, and just waiting for you to create awesome sites! Try having your students create an online database using Google Sites. This can be a great review or previewing activity for your students!
10) Create an eBook (Slides)
Encourage your students to create their own eBook or book to print using Google Slides. Simply adjust the page setup to 8.5 x 11, or any size you’d like, and begin creating! I created my eCourse, Google Chrome: Apps, Extensions, and the Bookmark Bar using Google Slides and it was so easy!
Check out this great post by the fabulous Kasey Bell for more ideas about using Google Slides to create eBooks!
These are just a few of my favorite Google tools for the classroom. One of the fabulous things about Google is that they actually listen to input from teachers! If you have any suggestions or new feature requests for Google tools, be sure to share your ideas through the feedback option on the tool you’re using. Who knows, maybe your suggestion will be a new feature!