Friday, June 21, 2013

Google Tips for Busy Teachers

I just came back from the best conference.  I am re-energized and so excited about some of the new technology tips I learned I can't wait to share! This first post is dedicated to's more than just a search engine!

Basic Search Tips
1. Research the weather for your science unit by typing weather and then the city (weather Denver) and you will see the current forecast for the next five days.

2. Use Google as a quick dictionary by typing define: word.

3. Use Google as a math tool for simple measurement conversions by typing the conversion you are looking for and using the word "in."  Example: pints in a gallon.

4. If you use quotation marks around a term like the phrase "21st Century Leanring" you will automatically filter your results.

5.  You can also filter your results by using the minus sign.  For example, if you want to learn about the ship, try Titanic-movie.

6. Try filtering results of your search by using the links on the left side of your search results.  You can filter by images, videos, updates, and more.

7.  You can search for PowerPoints on a certain topic by typing in your key word and clicking on advanced search.  When you click on advanced search choose the file type by typing Microsoft PowerPoint.

8. Do you want to find PowerPoint games to use with your students?  Simply add the word "Jeopardy" or "Millionaire" and then view the file as a slide show.

Tips For Organizing Google Drive
1.  Create folders for yourself and drag (yes drag from your desktop or where ever things are saved) into the folders.  Now everything is on the cloud and you NEVER have to worry losing a flash drive or summer re-imaging again.  Be careful though, now you can access files on the weekend and at nights which, as you know, is not always a good thing.  

2. If your students have Google docs like me, then you will love this tip!  At the beginning of the year have every student open a new folder called Last initial, first name, grade level (mbrenda3) and share it with you.  This way everything that is saved to that folder in third grade will automatically be shared with you.  As a bonus they will be in alphabetical order for easy grading!

3. Once you have the main folder shared with you, have students save EVERYTHING to this folder.  Here's the trick though-- have kids name their work with their name and the same title.  Here's an example (mbrenda geometry).  By doing this, you can search your google docs for geometry (or whatever the project is called) and you will be able to pull up every student project for easy feedback and grading.  This is way better than my fomer system of "just name it whatever makes sense to you."

4.  Give students feedback by opening the document, PowerPoint, or spreadsheet.  All you have to do is highlight the portion you want to address, right click, and select comment.  This way you are not editing their work, you are merely offering suggestions to improve. 

5. Here's the best part...if you set up your writing workshop with groups then have students share their writing with other students too via Google.  You can set up rotations where students give each other meaningful feedback.  Authentic audience, meaningful feedback, collaboration, learning, awesome!

6.  Teach students how to collaborate on a project by having them share a document or presentation with their group.  Kids can work on the project simultaneously and you can see who is contributing, how often, and what changes they've made through revision history.  If a student deletes another student's work (by mistake, of course) then you can go back to revision history and reload the work from that moment.  

Tips for Using Google Forms
1.  This is one of the most simple, yet underused, Google tools ever.  First here's how to create one.  Go to create>form.  Yes that's it.  Choose your style and give it a title.  You'll have to experiment with the types of questions you want to use but you can view the live form as you go to make sure everything looks just the way you want it to.  So easy!  Make sure when you publish that you pay attention to how you share the form (I usually do public so everyone can complete it).

2. Create a Google form for back to school information.  Click on this example to see how I created a Google form for back to school and volunteering (please don't fill it out!)

3. Use Google forms as a simple way to assess students.

Tips for Researching While Creating
1. When you are working on a document or presentation in Google Docs you can highlight a text, right click, and select research.  When you do this, a window will appear on the right with articles, images, etc about the text you highlighted.

2. When that window appears, teach students how to pull down the arrow at the bottom of the search text and select "free to use, share, and modify" so we are teaching students important copyright rules.

3. If you like a picture, drag it into your presentation.  IT WILL AUTOMATICALLY CITE THE SOURCE FOR YOU!

I hope you found these tips helpful!  What Google tricks do you use?


  1. So helpful - thank you for sharing these valuable tips. I was wondering if you use "forms" for permission slips? And if so, how has that gone for you?

  2. Check the Google Edu site ... I just came back from ISTE and most of my "free" moments were spent in the Google Theatre listening to the teacher presentations. One today was A-MA-ZING. Scripts that you embed in Google Forms so that ... for example ... you can "push" out a template or directions for an activity to all of the kids G Drive accounts ... and name it PROPERLY automatically. THen one that would make a grading rubric pop up and then pasted it at the end of the assignment. All sorts of things. Crazy cool and it didn't seem like it would be too hard to do.
    Thanks for sharing these! (Found you via Pinterest ... someone I followed thought your post was cool. I'll be back!)

  3. I really like forms. I've done class averages by having students take measurements and then they log in to a computer and put their information into a form. I did this for body systems--our intro activity was to come up with the "average" 7th grader--it was a hook to get them interested, and then a good way to link statistical information to our unit.

    I want to try a google form for parents on meet-the-parent night this year. Every year I have parents sign in but more often than not, I can't read their data. By using the form, parents can sign in and I can download the spreadsheet by the end of the night with their contact information (our office does a terrible job with recording info, so I love having the backup directly from the parent).