It’s a brave new world– one without floppy drives, cd roms, or any other relics of yesteryear. Now, you can do just about everything for your classroom in the cloud, using a bunch of Google tools for teachers.
That’s right. The search engine that’s a household name is also a formidable tool in the classroom.
Instead of cobbling together apps and tools that may not work perfectly with each other, consider the Google ecosystem. You’ll find almost everything you need to create a resourceful and organised classroom– all for free.
Below, we’re discussing the top Google tools for teachers. There’s no doubt they will help you become the best educator possible: Let’s get started!
01. Google Classroom: publish assignments, create classes, make announcements, plus more
Google Classroom is the ultimate online hub for your classroom. Use it to publish assignments, create classes, make announcements, and organise digital files for your classroom.
Rest assured that the information you store on Google Classroom is kept secure. It’s never sold to advertisers. Neither is your student data. You also won’t see any ads on Google Classroom.
Another benefit of Google Classroom is that it, along with every other app on this list, is completely free.
Google Classroom allows you to communicate with your students via email, without even leaving the app. You can also start a conversation with one, several, or all students within the same interface.
02. Google Drive: store all your files in the cloud for easy access (up to 15Go for Free)
Did you know that Google provides 15 GB of online storage to all of its users, completely free of charge? It’s one of the greatest and most convenient perks around. Simply store or save your files in the cloud for easy access, as long as you have Internet connectivity.
With Google Drive, you can store many different file types, including PDF files, audio, images, Word documents, videos, and more.
Perhaps the most useful aspect of Google Drive is the ability to collaborate with others. You can share files and folders with your students, and allow them to view, download, or even create their own files to a central folder. Google Drive is a handy way to organise files that you, your pupils, their parents, and/ or your colleagues can securely access.
Cool Tip for Teachers: Just because it’s cloud-based doesn’t mean that you can’t use Google Drive offline. Set up Google Drive for offline use so that you can still access your files even when you’re not connected to the Internet.
03. Google Docs: the free alternative to Microsoft Word, 100% Online & Free
Google Docs is often confused with Google Drive, but the two are different. While Google Drive is online storage for your digital files, Google Docs is a word processing tool that you can use to create word documents. It is strikingly similar to Microsoft Word with two exceptions: Google Docs is free and it’s cloud-based.
When it comes to the classroom, you can use Google Docs to go paperless. Gone are the days of “the dog ate my homework”. Ask students to turn in term papers, essays, book reports, etc. over Google Docs. This way, you can make notes, edits, and suggestions all from your computer, no need to lug around a stack of papers. Yay for going green.
You can also use Google Docs in a collaborative assignment where a group of students work on a writing project together. Google Docs comes with a built-in chat module for real time teamwork.
04. Google Forms: create pop quizzes and other assessments
Use Google Forms to create pop quizzes and other assessments. The beauty of Google Forms is that these tests are self-grading. Life just keeps getting better.
To set up a self-grading assessment, you’ll start by creating a new Form in Google Drive. (Navigate to New -> More -> Google Forms) Then, you’ll populate your test and create an answer key. To make it fully functional, you’ll need to install Flubaroo as an add-on. (Navigate to Add-ons -> Get add-ons…)
With Flubaroo, you can assign tests to specific student, record responses, and then send email results to both student and parent. Plus, Flubaroo is a free add-on for Google Forms.
05. Google CS First: Computer Science for kids
The CS stands for Computer Science. There’s little doubt that computer science is the face of the future. If you teach children from ages 9 to 14, the Google CS First program is worth considering. Through this program, Google provides all training and materials for starting and instructing a computer science club in your school– no experience needed. What a wonderful gift– teaching your students a skill that they will continue to use the rest of their lives.
06. Google Science Fair: an online competition open to students around the globe
Google also runs its own science fair. This online competition is open to students around the globe, aged 13 to 18. Winners are awarded scholarship funding, mentorship, and an educational trip.
In addition to competing on a local or regional stage, encourage your teen students to participate in the Google Science Fair this year.
07. Hangouts on Air: host guest speakers for your classroom
Hangouts on Air is a tool that allows you to host live broadcasts with just a webcam, a computer, and an Internet connection.
There are a lot of great uses for Hangouts on Air in the classroom. A favourite option is to host guest speakers for your classroom with this tool. If you want to interview or interact with a special guest, but you can’t coordinate a visit, use Google Hangouts on Air to do so. With this tool, your entire class can interact with the person on the other side of the screen by taking turns to ask questions.
Another option for Hangouts on Air is to teach a class remotely, which makes sense if you’re collaborating with another teacher.
While Hangouts on Air is a live broadcast, you also have the option to save the file as a private (or public, if you prefer) YouTube video. This way, you can keep the record for future use.
08. Google Maps: a great companion to geography lessons
Chances are, you’ve used Google Maps before. It’s the most popular mapping tool on the Internet that provides driving directions as well as a 360 street view of locations all around the globe.
You can use it in the classroom as a virtual atlas. Pair with Panoramio to find stunning images from use about any location in the world. Google Maps is a great companion to geography lessons because it gives a sense of place to words on a map.
09. Google Earth: a virtual field trip to the farthest reaches of the globe
Google Earth is one of the more fascinating tools available through Google. Use this app to explore the earth in 3D. This is especially useful in geography and social studies, but can even come in handy during history explorations. Take your students on a virtual field trip to the farthest reaches of the globe.
In fact, you can use Google Earth in every major disciple, from computing math equations to understanding marine biology.
Download the desktop version of Google Earth or download the Google Earth plugin to view on the web. You can even access Google Earth through your mobile device.
While it’s named Google Earth, you’re not bound to just this celestial body when using this immersive tool. Explore the moon, see the face of Mars, or even zoom up close to distant galaxies far, far away.
10. YouTube: high quality videos on every topic imaginable
YouTube happens to be the Internet’s second largest search engine, and it’s true that you can find just about any answer on this popular video site. However, YouTube is also an educational resource that you should definitely consider for free, high quality videos on every topic imaginable. From Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to the migratory pattern of wildebeests, you’ll find a wealth of information to support your lesson plan.
Some channels that are worth subscribing to include:
11. Google+: a way to network with other educators
Ever heard of Google+? It’s Google’s answer to social media, and it’s sort of like a mashup between Facebook and Twitter. While there are many applications for Google’s social network, one of the best reasons why a teacher should be on Google+ is to network with other educators. You may not know it, but there are several fantastic educator communities that share resources on Google+.
On Google+, you can keep up with the latest trends in education, get much needed support, and participate in lively discussions with fellow educators.
Some communities worth checking out include:
12. Google Calendar: the perfect way to organise your time
Google Calendar is the perfect way to organise your time. Use Google Calendar to plan your daily schedule, set reminders, create a to do list, and collaborate with others. If you need to set up a parent teacher conference, use Google Calendar to help schedule and confirm.
You can even use Google Calendar for as your lesson planner. Create it and then add the Google Calendar to your Classroom or Site.
13. Google Sites: create a website for your classroom
In addition to Google Classroom, you may choose to create a website for your classroom. Enter Google Sites.
So what’s the difference between Google Classroom and Google Sites? Access. Google Classroom is geared towards a student-teacher relationship. However, Google Sites is open to students, parents, and fellow colleagues. Use Google Sites to quickly set up a functional and relatively attractive website where you can do the following:
- Post announcements
- Publish classroom rules
- Inform of upcoming events
- Create a wiki for class projects
- Upload and share files
- Post reading material
- Introduce topics or themes for the month
- Share curriculum resources
14. Google Cultural Institute: introduce cultural awareness through art
Here’s another way to take a field trip without leaving the classroom. Google Cultural Institute is like a museum where you can explore poignant works of art from different type periods. Deconstruct civil rights photography, admire famous paintings, and discover new ones.
Google Cultural Institute is an excellent additional to visual art class. Use this tool to introduce cultural awareness through art.
Over to You
Do you have a favourite Google tool that we may have missed? Share with us in the comments below.