How Google Apps Saved My Sanity

I’m excited to link back up with my friends in The Reading Crew to share my Back to School Literacy Teaching Tips.  I LOVE Google Apps - at this point I’m not really sure what I ever did before them.  I use Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Calendar, and Slides regularly!   I could not find a way to limit myself to 3 tips, so for each App I am going to share with you (1) how these Apps have saved my sanity as an Instructional Specialist, (2) how my teammates and I collaborate with these Apps and of course (3) how I use them with students

Google Apps have truly changed by life as a teacher! I will share with you (1) how these Apps have saved my sanity as an teacher, (2) how my teammates and I collaborate with these Apps and of course (3) how I use them with students. Apps include: Docs, Slides, Forms, Drive and more!

Side Note:

One of the greatest features of these Google Apps is the ability to collaborate.  Collaborating can be as easy as clicking a button to share a Doc/project with someone else or it can involve multiple people having access to a document to type or edit.

GOOGLE CALENDAR

Self:

I had always been a diehard paper planner girl!  I waited anxiously each summer as Target came out with a new planner and hemmed and hawed over which format I liked best.  One day my amazing friend/technology drug dealer got me hooked on Google Calendar.  I chucked my paper planner and have never looked back!  I use the term technology drug dealer very lovingly - she will introduce me to something like Pinterest, Candy Crush, Instagram, Snapchat, Bloglovin (to name a few) and then I am completely addicted!

I also love that with Google Calendar it will send a notification to your phone 30 minutes (or whatever you choose) ahead of time.  It is difficult to keep track of morning meetings - but this has saved me many times.

Team:

Having a shared calendar is amazing!  My teammates and I have always shared a Google Calendar to help keep track of meetings, special days at school, etc.  Everyone has the ability to edit the calendar which is very helpful!

In the Fall we will use a Google Calendar to coordinate our rotating push-in schedule with teachers.  Since it isn’t every day I can’t imagine how we would keep track of it otherwise!

GOOGLE DOCS


Self:

One amazing feature in Google Docs is autosave!  On one too many occasions something has happened to my computer and I’ve lost a lot of work in Microsoft Office! Not a problem here!

I can access it from my phone, iPad, computer - wherever!  I often keep a list of things to do on Google Docs and I love that I don’t have to be on my computer to add to it!

Team:

Have you ever had to write a letter/email to a parent or administrator that you needed to word very carefully?  I always type it up first on Google Docs and share it with one of my teammates for proof-reading.  You can even see the list of edits they made if you want!


Students:

There are so many uses for Google Docs with students and one of the most amazing pieces is that students can speak their text! Simply go to Tools > Voice Typing.  This allows you to do so much more since you are not held back by typing speed!

Another great feature of Google Docs is that you can share a template/set of questions with students and have them click File > Make a Copy.  This will allow you to maintain your original but provide the students with the activity they need!

I often have students respond to questions on a Google Doc.  Sometimes we they work on separate documents and I pop in and out commenting and helping them edit.  Other times we all work on a shared Doc together.

One skill that I have seen greatly improve using Docs is summarizing.  It can be a hard skill to learn, but I have a template for the students to use, and a gradual release process to make them more independent.  If you are interested in learning more or having a free link to a Google Doc summarizing template, click H E R E to check out a brief blog post I wrote on this specific topic.

GOOGLE POST


GOOGLE DRIVE

Self:

In some ways I am super organized and in other ways I’m a hot mess!  One thing I always struggle with is email attachments!  Did I delete the email?  Did I save it?  Where did I save it to?  If you use Gmail this is no longer a problem!  If you hover over the Google Drive Image you have the option to save it to your Drive with one click from your email!

I can admit that I am a digital hoarder!  This enables me to store things in a more organized fashion online.  You can upload almost anything to the Drive including Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, PDFs etc.

It is also very easy to add folders, organize, and even color coordinate your folders!

Team:

There is a lot of lesson/activity sharing happening with my teammates and sometimes files are just too big to email!  You also may recall me mentioning that I struggle to find email attachments anyway - so Google Drive is the solution!

We have Promethean Boards and share flipcharts regularly.  Sometimes a Unit will have multiple flipcharts so I add the flipcharts to the Drive, put them in a folder and then share the folder with whoever needs it.  I can add another flipchart to the folder without having to re-share it with everyone!

Students:

This is a great way to help students keep their materials organized.  Since they use Google Apps in their classroom and in their intervention group, they can make a separate folder for our work so it doesn’t get confused with classroom work.

Google Apps have truly changed by life as a teacher! I will share with you (1) how these Apps have saved my sanity as an teacher, (2) how my teammates and I collaborate with these Apps and of course (3) how I use them with students. Apps include: Docs, Slides, Forms, Drive and more!



GOOGLE FORMS
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Self:

I use Google Forms for summer tutoring.  I set up a Form for parents to fill out.  It is a great way to collect all of the information I need in one place!

Teammates:

This year we used Google Forms to communicate with Special Education teachers regarding which students needed testing accommodations for state testing.  Again, it was a nice way to organize material in once place that we all had access to.

Students:

Although I haven’t used this yet with students, I have some ideas for the upcoming school year!
I think it would be a great way to give students a pre and post assessment on a topic.  Having students respond to text-based questions using Forms is another thing I would like to try.


GOOGLE SHEETS


Self:

I use Google Sheets for student checklists, tracking student interventions, and even my school budget!


Team:

We also use Google Sheets for any kind of joint list/to do list.  For example, during Universal Screening we make a list of students who are absent using Google Sheets and needed to be screened.  We include the student name, teacher and test missed.  Each of us and our principal have access to the document and we delete names as we go.  This replaced our previous method of constant group texts/emails about who needed a makeup test!

During various times of the year we meet with classroom teachers to discuss students and data.  Google Sheets streamlined this process as well!  We were able to input student data and share it with classroom teachers ahead of time.  Classroom teachers were able to edit/highlight information and then we reviewed it together at our meeting.

GOOGLE SLIDES


Team:

This is great for Open House projects and any other special thing that we each work on with our students.  For each presentation, we use Google Slides to collaborate on a format/lesson for our project. Each team member was responsible for a certain section of the presentation.  Once the presentation was finished we shared our presentation with our own groups - but everyone was on the same page!

Students:

Google Slides is a great way for students to work on any kind of project!  Some students did individual Animal Research reports on Google Slides and then we were able to easily share them with their families.

For a How-To writing piece, we went over an outline as a group of the steps you take for brushing your teeth.  After that, each student was assigned a step and a Slide.  They were all able to work on the document at the same time and the end result was a great collaborative writing piece!

Google Apps have truly changed by life as a teacher! I will share with you (1) how these Apps have saved my sanity as an teacher, (2) how my teammates and I collaborate with these Apps and of course (3) how I use them with students. Apps include: Docs, Slides, Forms, Drive and more!

Although I have never had a problem accessing Google Drive, I imagine this is an accurate depiction of how I would feel if I couldn’t!

I feel the need to briefly and publicly proclaim my love for my teammates!  This year they embraced all things Google Apps and it increased our productivity 1000%.  Any task we had I said, “Let’s make that a Google Doc/Sheet/Slide/whatever” and they always smiled and said ok. I know not everyone was comfortable at first but they gave it a try and everyone is on board!

Did I miss anything?  Let me know in the comments!  I would love to hear how you use Google Apps to make your life easier!

Pin for later:
Google Apps have truly changed by life as a teacher! I will share with you (1) how these Apps have saved my sanity as an teacher, (2) how my teammates and I collaborate with these Apps and of course (3) how I use them with students. Apps include: Docs, Slides, Forms, Drive and more!



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10 comments

  1. This is a great post! I am ashamed to admit that I have never used anything other than google docs and just to upload a file for others to download. We did a lot of these things through other technologies at my previous school (shared drive for files, outlook calendars, etc.) but not all of it was also accessible at home. I assume in this case it is?

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    1. Thanks Jessica! It is available anytime =) We have a shared folder at school that isn't accessible at home and it is super frustrating but we are moving towards google drive for all of that!

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  2. I'm dying!! "Technology drug dealer friend"...hahahha...I TOTALLY know what you mean :) Awesome post. I don't think I could function without GAFE in my life!
    Julie
    The Techie Teacher

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm so glad you get it - isn't technology amazing =)

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  3. Thank you so much for all of the great Googly ideas. We're a Google school, so I'll use all of it!

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    1. I didn't know there was such a thing as a Google school - that sounds amazing!

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  4. Jenn,
    Thanks for this post. I love how you've organized the info and made understanding what's available and how to use it so simple! I plan to share this post with my school and on social media.
    Wonderful! -Janiel

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Janiel! I hope that you find it as helpful as I do! Thank you for stopping by!

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  5. I love how you included self, team, and students! I love Google Apps!

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