10 fantastic Google tips from the Google Teacher Tribe

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Wednesday, January 9, 2019

10 fantastic Google tips from the Google Teacher Tribe


It’s hard to keep up with Google — and to know how to best use its tools! Here are 10 fantastic Google tips for the classroom from members of the Google Teacher Tribe.

Google is so deep and so broad and so wide. It’s constantly updating and adding — and sometimes removing — features and services.

It’s almost impossible to keep up.

And even if you do, there’s no way to know all the best ways to use G Suite and all of the Google tools.

It helps when a tribe of teachers has your back.

How does a Google Teacher Tribe sound?

The Google Teacher Tribe is a weekly podcast I co-host with Kasey Bell of Shake Up Learning. In it, we feature practical ways to use Google in the classroom. We also include Google news and updates, feedback from our listeners and blog posts to check out.

We used a popular format in a recent episode — tips from the Tribe! Listeners recorded and submitted their best tips for using Google tools in the classroom. The ideas were diverse, practical and helpful!

Catch all 18 ideas by listening to the episode below …

… or check out 10 of my favorites right here in this post:

1. Naming different versions of Google Docs (from Laura Steinbrink, Missouri) — As you create a Google Doc, it automatically saves different versions of the document. It’s like “Save as” in MS Word, and you can refer back to those versions at any time. To view them, go to File – Version history or click the “All changes saved in Drive” line at the top of the document. Name a specific previous version of the document — or the current version of it — to refer quickly and easily to them. Simply view the versions, click the three dots next to a version, and choose to name it. Why? It’s so much easier to find a particular version! Choose a name for version: first draft, final draft, etc.

2. Create digital student portfolios in Google Sites (from Evan Mosier, Iowa) — A Google Sites website can be a great home base for student work that grows as the student progresses through school. Create a site for a student — or have the student create the site! Make a page for each grade level (and, optionally, a subpage for each content area). Start adding student work — or create a heading for each standard for organization. Include artifacts, links, personal reflections, etc. By the time they reach graduation, students will have an impressive digital portfolio for employers or colleges.

3. Encourage “pair programming” within Google tools (from Karly Moura, California) — You don’t have to have one device for each student to have effective tech use in class! When students learn a new app or website, have them collaborate on one device — two to one (2:1) instead of one to one (1:1). This encourages them to help each other and work with each other instead of working in isolation. It also means the teacher spends less time troubleshooting.

4. Use prefilled links in Google Forms (from Craig Klement, Texas) —  Ever get frustrated when students, parents — or anyone! — fills out a Google Form incorrectly? You send them a survey and typos or inaccurate responses wreck your data. If there’s an expected answer and you want to prompt your users to use that answer, create a prefilled link. This will fill in suggested answers when the form is loaded. In a Google Form, click the three dots menu button and choose “Get pre-filled link”. Fill in the suggested answers you want to provide and click the “Get link” button at the bottom. Share that link! (FYI: Here’s a blog post if you want to get even more detailed and geeky with your prefilled links!)

5. Use response validation in Google Forms (from Stephanie Howell) — If you ever wonder, “How do I provide feedback to ALL of my students without spending hours and hours of work?” … response validation is one way to accomplish that. Response validation can provide custom help responses for short answer questions. This makes sure the response contains certain text, and if it doesn’t, it can give students a note to share hints or talk to the teacher. Response validation is an option in individual questions in Google Forms.

6. Provide live captions of your class discussion with Google Slides (from Joe Marquez, California) — Live closed captioning is an impressive Google Slides feature. It transcribes what you say automatically and instantly onto the screen while you run a Slides presentation. If you like the transcription, you don’t need to teach with a bunch of slides to use it! Simply put a single slide on the screen, maybe summarizing the day’s work or displaying a chart students can reference. Leave that same slide up throughout your entire class with the live closed captions running. Your students with hearing disabilities or those who need extra visual processing may thank you!

7. Watch all students working on one screen with Google Slides (from Krista Harmsworth, Michigan) — Create a shared Google Slide presentation where every student has a slide for his/her workspace. Give them a task and get them started. Want to see everyone’s progress all at once? Use the master slide sorter to view all of your slides at once. (It’s that 2×3 rectangles icon in the bottom left of the screen.) Then, click on an individual slide to see a particular student’s work.

8. Remove the background from an image to add to Slides or Drawings (from Cathy Hink, Washington) — Having images with transparent backgrounds lets you layer them and create some cool custom images. Create your own images with transparent backgrounds for use in Slides, Drawings and more with Pixlr (pixlr.com). Use the magic wand and click on the areas in the background to make transparent. (Tip: If the background isn’t a solid color, change the tolerance.) Save it as a transparent PNG image file and add it to a Slides or Drawings file!

9. Put Google Forms to work for YOU (from David Platt, California) — You might know that Google Forms can create surveys you can use as quizzes and to collect student info. But you can also create Forms where the only purpose is for YOU to fill out. What information would you want to collect on a regular basis from yourself to add into a spreadsheet? Create a Google Form that asks yourself those questions. Fill it out and have the data saved automatically for you in a spreadsheet.

10. Use Slides Randomizer for sequencing (from Sean Fahey, Indiana) — Use Google Slides to help students put items in order. Create slides with the items you want students to sequence. Then use the Slides Randomizer add-on. Randomize the slides. Use the master slide sorter (again, the 2×3 rectangles icon in the bottom left) to see all of the slides. Students drag the slides into order!

Great tips, right? Interested in some more?

The 10 ideas above are from our most recent “Tips from the Tribe” episode. There are two more!

Check them out below. If you haven’t already, head to googleteachertribe.com/subscribe to get subscribed to the show!

Volume 2

Volume 1

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