Google tools to become a more organized educator

Google tools can make you a more productive teacher. They've helped me, although I still have a long way to go! (Flickr / Robert Scoble)

Google tools can make you a more productive teacher. They’ve helped me, although I still have a long way to go! (Flickr / Robert Scoble)

I have to brag on my wife for a second. I married very, very well.

She really is a perfect complement to me (as in her strengths are my weaknesses … although compliments are nice, too!). She’s unflappable, level-headed and a great mother and wife.

Oh, and she has a memory like a steel trap. She never forgets anything — birthdays, appointments, deadlines or anything else. Most conversations we have after the school day is over start with me saying, “So, what are we doing tonight?” She’s just that good.

From time to time, I try to find tools and techniques that will try to lighten the load of responsibility on my wife for her fourth child (yes, that would be me). I’m a huge Google fanatic, and I’ve recently found some Google gadgets that help me stay on top of things.

Google Keep. (Click for full-size image)

Google Keep. (Click for full-size image)

Google Keep

I get to live out one of my dreams in becoming a Google Certified Teacher in a little less than a month AND tour Google offices in Austin, Texas. My Google Teacher Academy cohort has a Google Plus community, and early on I read about someone using Google Keep. Having never heard of it, what did I do next?

I googled it. And pretty soon after I googled it, I got rid of all the digital sticky notes on my computer’s desktop.

Adding Google Keep to your Google Chrome browser is easy. This image shows you how in less than 30 seconds.

Adding Google Keep to your Google Chrome browser is easy. This image shows you how in less than 30 seconds.

That’s because Google Keep will keep those sticky notes for me online. I can retrieve them anywhere. You can create new notes and give them headlines and text. You can create checklists and even reminders to notify you to do something later. There’s a Google Chrome app and widgets for your Android devices to make Google Keep notes handy.

I make Google Keep one of the tabs that pops up every time I open my Chrome browser. That way, my tabs are readily visible all the time.

(Fun fact: While writing this section of the post, I actually looked up the verb “google” online. (Yep, I googled that, too!) Here’s the definition from Merriam Webster, and it turns out, the verb is lower-cased. Must be the former copy editor in me rearing its head!)


Google Calendar

This one is far from new. Google Calendar is a staple. It keeps all of your appointments online and allows you to share them with other people.

I’ve tried to get excited about Google Calendar. I’ve just struggled with using the website, creating events and taking all the time to type in the information. I’ve known there were easier ways to create calendar events but just haven’t found one that works for me.

Now, I’m starting to use the Sunrise Calendar app for my iPhone and it’s very easy. Sunrise is free and syncs with your Google Calendar account. I like to touch the microphone button on my keyboard and say the title of the calendar entry so I don’t have to type it. A few taps and it’s done.

If you have an Android phone, you don’t have to go through the extra step of installing a different calendar app to sync with Google Calendar. It’s done for you!

Maybe this app will catch me up to a level of memory equal to my wife’s. (You don’t believe it either, do you???)


Google Now (on iOS or Android)

I really like Google’s take on Apple’s Siri, where you can talk to your phone and it will answer your questions.

With my iPhone, as long as I have the app open, I can say “OK, Google …” and ask it questions about traffic, what’s happening around me, weather, or sports scores. I can even ask it to remind me to do something later and it will. (This is one my wife will definitely appreciate!)

Google searches on your computer will do the same thing. With “OK, Google …” enabled in Google Chrome, your computer’s microphone will be constantly listening for you to ask it a question.


With all of these tools at my disposal, I’m hoping to forget fewer student requests and school deadlines. I’m hoping to keep a tighter calendar and give less “Let me check and get back to you” answers.

Maybe, if I get good enough with them, I’ll shed the “fourth child” status.

Maybe. We’ll see.

What works best for you for staying on top of things? Share your ideas in a comment below!

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