Google Greatness: 9 Google tricks I had never seen

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Thursday, April 16, 2015

Google Greatness: 9 Google tricks I had never seen


Google tools can make classrooms more efficient, effective and interesting. Here are nine tricks to add to your repertoire. (Flickr / Matt Montagne)

I’m kind of a geek. Going to technology professional development on a weekend actually sounds like fun to me.

When you make it tech PD that’s Google-focused, I’m going to look forward to it for weeks.

If you’ve never been to a Google Apps for Education Summit and you have any interest in Google in the classroom, this is the place to be. It’s a two-day intense workshop with ideas, tools and tricks flying through the air the whole time. I attended the Indiana Summit recently and came away with plenty of new ideas.

The ideas in this post were found or inspired from presentations by Chrystal Hoe, Jeffery Heil, Adam Seipel, Tracy Arner, and Michelle Green. To see resources from all of the sessions at this summit, check out this shared folder.

Here are nine of them:

The Boomerang Chrome extension.

The Boomerang Chrome extension.

Schedule e-mails with Boomerang: The Boomerang extension for the Google Chrome browser adds a “Send Later” button to your Gmail. If you know you want to send a follow-up e-mail later but not right now, this is perfect. Plus, send e-mail reminders to yourself.

Google Connected Classrooms: I’ve loved Google Hangouts and Skypes for a long time and really think they’re one of the most powerful uses of technology in schools. Google Connected Classrooms takes it to the next level. It schedules virtual field trips via live video (or viewable later) and broadcasts them with Hangouts on Air. Sites include the Minnesota Zoo, Birch Aquarium in California, DuPage Children’s Museum in Illinois, and Science Center of Iowa.

drag to desktopDrag URL to desktop: This one was like magic for me. Drag the little icon next to a URL in your web browser onto your computer’s desktop. It creates a shortcut icon for the site you’re on. Brilliant.

Instant participation certificate: If you need to provide professional learning credits or proof of participation, this one will save you hours over the long haul. Create an evaluation survey for participants to take in a Google Form. Make sure you include all the information you’ll need for a participation certificate in it. Then, open the spreadsheet for the results from the form and use the Autocrat add-on. Use Autocrat to create a document that will auto-fill each respondent’s info and e-mail it out to all of them. This one is a bit more advanced, but the tutorial video below helps.

pdf mergy

Merge multiple PDF files with PDF Mergy.

PDF Mergy: PDF Mergy is an app for Google Chrome that combines multiple PDFs into one document. If you’re gathering PDF files for students and want them all in one single file, PDF Mergy can help.

Google Earth field trip: Google Earth makes it fun to see your house from satellite imagery and put you on the street in famous places all over the globe. Google Earth field trips can make the experience more organized and educational. Using Google Earth, place pins in locations important to the content you’re covering in class. Organize them in a folder and take students through them one by one. Check out Adam Seipel’s suggestions in the image below or see them in his presentation.

lit trip


Make a picture clickable in Drawings: Google Drawings is a simple, flexible design tool in Google Apps. You can add text, images, lines, and more to a blank canvas. With this trick, you can make any element on a drawing clickable. Create a rectangle from shapes and change its background to transparent. Then click the link button (looks like a little chain link) and add the link to your rectangle. Make sure your rectangle is in front of the element you want to make clickable.

email comment

Add others to comment conversations via e-mail.

People and email notifications in comments: You might get in a comment conversation in a document, sheet, presentation or drawing and want to make sure someone sees your comment. Type that person’s e-mail into the comment with a plus (+) in front. Then, add anything else you want to that comment and submit it. Google will automatically send an e-mail notification to that e-mail address to check the comments on your file.

The Amazing Race: This game is an intense mashup of Google Slides/Documents, Google Forms and Google Maps (optional). Students must complete several challenges provided by the instructor using Google Slides or Documents. Once the complete the first challenge in the slide presentation or document, they submit the link to the presentation/document in a Google Form. Once submitted, the link to the next challenge in the game is in a link on the confirmation page for the form. Clear as crystal, right? No? Check out this outstanding example by Michelle Green. Once you get it, this activity is super engaging.

[reminder]Which of these ideas are you most likely to use? What are some other Google tricks that work for you?[/reminder]

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  • Erik Cain says:

    The google connected classroom link connects directly to Google

  • Abby says:

    I really love the instant certificate and the amazing race ideas.

  • Marty Cryer says:

    These are great ideas. I am thinking of using the Amazing Race idea to help students learn how to use different tools in Google docs, slides and classroom!

  • Thank you for continually posting great ideas to try in the classroom! I’ve been recently thinking about how to do Escape Room-like activities in my classes, and I think there’s a lot of potential to incorporate Amazing Race ideas into the puzzle-solving aspects. Thank you for sharing!

  • […] Google Greatness: 9 Google tricks I had never seen | Ditch That Textbook […]

  • Juan Baena says:

    Thank You for the ideas, I’m going to use some of this ideas real soon.

  • Jolene says:


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  • Christine Pedersen says:

    The Amazing Race looks like a lot of fun!

  • Brooke Hall says:

    Thanks for sharing the exciting tools you found at the Google Summit! I can’t wait to go in October!

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