August 14, 2019

7 Creative Ways to Use Google Apps for Education in Your Classroom

Nina W.
Teacher smiling and working with students on computers

As teachers, we’re constantly looking for tools to enhance and extend learning and make our lives easier. Google Apps for Education provides a variety of unique resources that are perfect for exactly this. From scheduling, to sharing assignment information and updates with students and parents, to hosting guest lecturers, there are so many ways Google can help enhance your classroom and simplify your life as a teacher. Using Gmail for easy communication, Drive for information and document sharing, and Google Docs for easy creation of documents for classroom management are just a few of the creative ways that you can use Google in your classroom to improve structure and better support learning.

1. Gmail

Gmail is an invaluable tool for classroom communication. There are many ways to use Gmail to simplify correspondence and keep teachers, parents, and students connected to one another. Assigned classroom email addresses through Gmail will allow students to email one another for homework support and create group chats to work on group projects together, as well as creating a portal for both teacher-student and teacher-parent communication. Gmail can also help bridge connections and build a broader community for students outside of their classroom and school by partnering with neighboring schools or schools across the globe to build global penpal relationships.

2. Google Search

Use Google’s search engine to teach students digital literacy through reviewing how to perform an effective search, the effectiveness of keyword vs. question searches, and how to use search filters. Teach students to understand source credibility by having them perform a search, isolate three sources of information, and rate them on their accuracy and reliability as sources. Have them perform similar searches with different keywords and grouping to see how these factors can affect the accuracy of a search.

3. Google Drive

Students benefit from knowing what to expect, and one way to define those expectations it to use assignment models. Assignment models are great for helping students better understand learning objectives and grading criteria. Use Google Drive to upload examples of assignments, outline what was done well and what was missing, and upload your rubric. This can give students a point of reference when brainstorming project ideas and ways to showcase their own learning.

4. Google Docs

From seating charts to classroom job charts, classroom rules, and rubrics, Google Docs can be used to create all the forms you utilize for classroom management. Doc links can easily be shared with students through Teacher’s Open Tab command when you need to get your students on-task for a class assignment. Use Google Drive to store Docs in a place that’s accessible to both you and your students, where you can easily update your docs and both you and students can have remote access to the most updated version at any time, from any device.

5. Google Hangouts and Meet

Host guest lectures and view presentations using Google Hangouts or Meet. Both Hangouts and Meet are great for video conferencing, although Meet does come with a few unique features such as screen-sharing. Another advantage of Meet is the fact that it automatically creates a room and link for the conference call to be shared with all guests in the invitation, making scheduling and managing easier. Invite special guest lecturers into your room with ease and convenience for both of you, or conference with your students’ penpals from around the world.

6. Google Forms

Getting student feedback is a necessary part of enhancing learning environments and increasing learning. Use Google Forms to create surveys to find out what topics students are excited to learn about, which parts of lessons the students are struggling with, and how they learn best. Include surveys as a part of assignments/projects to get feedback about the process, or use anonymous surveys to allow students to give peer reviews on their partners, groupmates, and even your teaching.

7. Google for Gamified Learning

Google’s search engine can be a great way to design your own simple “gamified learning” lesson plans. Create a list of questions and have students work in pairs or groups to complete searches for the answers with rewards for the group/pair that answers the most questions correctly first. Construct virtual scavenger hunts by giving students a list of information or resources to find online (ex: “find a library resource” or “find a website other than our school website with our mascot on it.”)

Is Google Apps for Education Free?

There’s good news for administrators concerned about educational technology that doesn’t fit into their current budget. Google Apps for Education costs nothing and is tailored specifically for school use. You’ll get unlimited cloud storage through Google Drive, just like G Suite for Business. There are plenty of free accessibility features built in to help you make learning inclusive. Google even offers free teacher training in their online Teacher Center.