5 Ways Google Apps for Education Increases Productivity in the Classroom

Google Apps for Education (or as the “Tech Teachers” commonly say, GAFE) is used by

over 40 million students and teachers around the world.  GAFE is a service that Google provides as an alternative to traditional office suites.  Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides perform similarly to traditional word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.  However, because GAFE is web based, it offers more flexibility and mobility.  The main difference between Google’s Apps and say, the Microsoft® Office Suite, is the primary focus on peer to peer and teacher to student collaboration. Google’s online platform may seem a little “leaner” than the full Microsoft options (you can’t add reflections, shadows, bevels and several other cool formatting features), but what it lacks in tools, it makes up for in online accessibility. Schools venturing into Flipped Classrooms, Blended Learning and Differentiated Instruction models will love how GAFE projects can be created and accessed from anywhere in the world (that has an Internet connection).

Twenty-first Century Teachers:  Google’s suite is for you!  Before you take the plunge, want to know what other teachers are saying about Google Apps in their classrooms? Read on. Below are five ways you can use GAFE to enhance your teaching tool belt.

  1. Google Classroom- Google Classroom is an app that is free for those with a GAFE account.  It allows students to access assignments and collaborate with their peersand teachers.  For example, if you’re teaching a unit on the water cycle, you may post a video which offers further explanation or an article that might pose a controversial idea about water conservation.  This forum allows students to comment and pose questions to each other. Classroom also helps the teacher generate, administer and even grade tests or other objective- based assignments. (Wait. GAFE can grade tests?) Yes. It can!
  2. Real Time Feedback- One of the many benefits of Google Docs is that it allows more than one user to collaborate on a document at any time.  It can also track whois using the document and identify who is making the changes.  Teachers can use this function to offer feedback in the rough draft phase.  For example, a teacher may instruct a student to “explain this further” or “omit this” by just accessing the document, highlighting information, and making notes in the comment section.  Students don’t need to print their rough drafts, and teachers can simply access the documents from any computer at any time.
  3. Google Play- This online media resource is aimed at providing teachers with arichcatalog of learning content to enhance their lessons.  Teachers can search bycategory, grade level, or recommendations from other educators. Google has partnered with educational outlets such as PBS and NASA to provide educational rich material.  Each piece of content is pre-approved for school-appropriateness, so teachers can present with confidence!
  4. Challenge your Students- We all wish we had extra instructional time to provide more problem-solving opportunities and real-world experiences for students outside of the curriculum.  But between the demands of standardized testing and new Common Core Standards, teachers are left with very little time.  GAFE offers programs such as Made with Code, Doodle 4 Google, and Google Science Fair that students can access in their free time and work on at their own pace to engage in learning they may be passionate about.
  5. Virtual Field Trips with Google Maps– Though not limited to Google for Education subscribers, Google Maps is an often over-looked resource for exploring the Earth.Google Maps allows users to see the “street view” of major historical sites.  Studying the Himalayas?  Google Maps allows users to take an interactive trek through Khumbu, Nepal and even hear folklore and stories from the locals.  Be sure to check out Google’s underwater adventures as well. Google has ventured into the depths of the oceans and started mapping the sea floor. All from the comfort of your laptop!

Still not convinced? Do you want more information on the Google Application Suite? The Teacher’s Academy recently launched the Google Apps Suite courses for professional development. For the most convenient and affordable professional development, you can learn the basics of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. We have a whole array of technology courses that are ready for your 21st century classroom.

The Teacher’s Academy is “On Board” with Pinterest!

Learn how you can use this social media phenomenon to shake up your class.

What is Pinterest?

There are few people out there unfamiliar with Pinterest, but for the uninitiated, Pinterest is an organizational website where users can store virtual information (referred to as “Pins”) by category.  Pinterest, which started as a site to store images from all over the internet, evolved into a site where users search for ideas by topic and store them onto “boards”, so they  can be easily accessed at a later date.  Images are uploaded or linked from a site through a “Pin” button uploaded to the user’s favorite’s bar or through a website’s “Pin It” button. Pinterest is free, but it requires users to register in order to create pins and store information.

Pinterest Ideas Will Shake Up Your Curriculum

Pinterest allows users to save time when searching for educational topics, because users can search the vast database of Pinterest by subject or keywords.

Each day, over a million educational pins are posted covering just about every unit, lesson, or classroom management topic a teacher could hope for.  Users will find entire units, single lessons, or printable materials on almost any topic. Need a hands-on activity to supplement your lesson on the phases of the moon?  Pinterest has you covered with an activity where students use Oreos to show the shape of the moon through each of its phases. Your students will surely be excited, and your kinesthetic learners will have a meaningful learning experience.

Feeling uneasy about how to incorporate technology into your lessons?  Check out pins on using QR codes to quickly assess student comprehension. Use this form of assessment in any lesson while you’re being formally observed, and you’re sure to score points in that integrating technology professional objective!

As September approaches, teachers are often looking for innovative ways to set up their classrooms or just spruce up a tired environment.  Pinterest offers free downloads which will allow you to carry that mint chevron theme from your posters to your letterhead to your behavior management signs.  If you are looking for creative ideas to implement your behavior management system, your biggest problem will be choosing just one idea. Not only are new ideas easy to find, many teachers offer detailed specifics and allow you to download their creations for free!

The best part is that most lessons and ideas have been created by teachers and found to be successful, so you can implement them with confidence.  Because of Pinterest’s growing popularity, many educational organizations are getting in the game.  Companies such as Scholastic or The Children’s Reading Foundation offer free ideas and lessons to use in the classroom.  There are also many government sites such as NASA and The Library of Congress that provide free educational material on a desired topic.  Topics can be used by teachers in early education through high school.

Pinterest is extremely user friendly.  Users can access it on their computer or through a mobile app, which is how the majority of users access Pinterest.

Help! What are Boards and How do I Organize Them?

Pinterest users store information on a “board” of their creation so the information can be organized and easily accessed.   Check out The Teacher’s Academy board to see what we mean!

When you log into your Pinterest account, you will see a “feed” based on the pinners and boards that you follow, as well as pins that Pinterest has selected for you according to your likes.  You can scroll through the selected pins and select the “Pin It” button if there is something you want to save.  Users then choose a board that they have named or create a new board to fit their need.  Think of your Pinterest boards as virtual file folders. Instead of printing information for future use, you can “Pin” the information onto a board to be accessed when you need it.  Because each pin is an image, users can quickly and easily scan for the information.  Pinterest even gives you the option to create “secret boards” for information you don’t want to share publicly.

How do I decide who to follow?

Because there is so much information on Pinterest, people often become overwhelmed.  To use Pinterest most efficiently, it is important to determine which users or boards to follow.  Pinterest allows users to follow a person or to only follow individual boards.  This saves time because you are only seeing the information in your feed that you want to see.  Deciding who to follow takes a bit of trial and error.  If you see a pin that interests you, check out the user’s entire board.  You may choose to follow this user if you see a lot that interests you.

Many teachers have even found a way to earn additional income through Pinterest.  Teachers set up a business account through Teachers Pay Teachers and charge money for self-created material.  Materials include everything from entire units to individual lessons plans with printable worksheets.  There is also behavior management material, organizational printables and items to decorate the classroom.  If you are not interested in purchasing materials, you will also find many freebies on the Teachers Pay Teachers site.

The Teacher’s Academy Pinterest Boards

Have you checked out the Teacher’s Academy boards on Pinterest? We follow the most innovative teachers and educational companies which inspires us to try new ideas in the classroom!  We have created boards for almost every subject and area of classroom management.  We verify each pin to ensure that there is a viable link, relevant information, and free material.  Follow us today on Pinterest so we can share that information with you!

Teachers, let us know how you use Pinterest in your classroom!

For more ideas on professional development in your state, check out our full catalog of our downloadable PD courses. The Teacher’s Academy is the best option for convenient affordable professional development.