Google Is Your Friend: Learning and Embracing Google for Your Classroom Success

I was recently presented with a student-teacher who was unfamiliar with Google Classroom. Within a week, he was a card-carrying Google Classroom evangelist.

However, being a student-teacher meant that he didn’t have a school Google email account. No worries: He made his own separate school Gmail account in less than thirty seconds. The students found it effortless to interact with him electronically.

This got me thinking: Wow Google is engaging, powerful, familiar, and pervasive. Even a teacher at a non-Google school could harness many of the incredible advantages of this institution of the modern age.

Quite simply, students are extremely comfortable expressing themselves through Google.

Ed Kitchen is a school technology specialist. He’s presented all over the country about how to use Google in the classroom. Here’s what Ed says about becoming a Google School:

A school that embraces Google embraces collaboration.

It gives students and teachers anywhere/anytime access to all classroom documents. I once watched a class of fourth-graders work with Google Docs for the first time. They were certainly engaged in the creation process, which is awesome.

Later I learned that these same kids were collaborating even after school hours by using the comment features in Google Docs to interact with one another.

Becoming a Google School is easy and free. In James Sturtevant's book Hacking Engagement, he provides 50 unique, exciting, and actionable tips and tools that you can apply right now.

Empower students to express themselves with Google

Your first step will be to assess students understanding of Google.

Log in to your school Google Account. If, like my student teacher you don’t have one, create your own. Construct a Google Form comprised of two questions that measure student familiarity with Google.

For example, you provide a list of Google tools, like Gmail, Google Slides, and Google Docs and ask students to check which ones they’ve used. Then you can ask for the Gmail address and/or provide a link where they can get one.

By submitting this electronic form, students will provide you with plenty of information about their comfort level with Google. This will allow you to support them as they move through the rest of the hack.

When students submit writing assignments, have them do it via Google Docs. Google Docs looks and feels similar to Microsoft Word. In fact, you can easily transform a Word document into a Google Doc. You go through the same steps to create a Google Doc as you did to make a Google Form.

Google Docs gives teachers and students remarkable collaboration opportunities.

Challenge students to create a Google Slides presentation. Google Slides are similar to PowerPoint. Students rapidly gain confidence and mastery of this platform. 

What You Can Do Tomorrow

  • Create a Google account. This step is only necessary if you don’t teach at a Google school. If you haven’t done this already, it takes less than a minute. 
  • Direct learners to complete the “Google Intro” form. You could provide the direct link via Google Classroom, provide the URL, or pass out a QR code that transports them to the page (QR codes can be useful in so many ways). When they’ve completed the form, direct them to submit it.
  • Share a Google Doc. This activity might be something like a brief greeting. Instruct students to write something about themselves and share it with you, a group, or the entire class. This exercise will be foundational to future collaboration.  
  • Instruct students to construct a Google Slides presentation. This presentation will be comprised of three slides: 
    1. Interesting personal information
    2. Thoughts about Google’s role in the classroom
    3. Their favorite way to express themselves with Google

After they’ve finished building their presentations, they should share them with you. 

  • Create presentation groups. Organize kids into groups of four and have them present their Google Slides to one another. This will be an engaging hands-on demonstration of the potential of this amazing tool.

The world collaborates with Google. Make certain that you interact with students via this foundational platform.

This article includes excerpts from Hacking Engagement, published by Times 10


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