Google for Teachers: A Guide by "Free Technology for Teachers"
Teacher Richard Byrne realized that many educators aren't aware of the wide variety of tools Google offers, nor what these products deliver beyond their main features. To help teachers best take advantage of Google's tools, he developed Google for Teachers, a one-stop manual on making the most out of Google products. In Part One, Byrne looks at Google Search, Docs, Books, News, and Maps and provides users with in-depth overviews of how each tool can be used in the classroom. Part Two examines other (and less well-known) tools such as Google Sites, Custom Search, Alerts, Bookmarks, Groups, and Calendar.
Published digitally using Yudu and DocStoc, Google for Teachers provides visual aids that help viewers better understand the multiple functions of various Google tools. Together, these guides focus on lesser-used tool options: publishing an online quiz using Google Docs, creating placemarks on Google Maps, and embedding books into a class blog.
Both parts of Google for Teachers can be accessed by using the Yudu and DocStoc viewing window, or by downloading the documents to your computer. A print feature is available in each option and Yudu and DocStoc also allow users to read the documents in fullscreen, zoom-in, and search within documents.
One of the first considerations to keep in mind while viewing this free resource is that because it deals with technology, some of its suggestions may be out of date. For example, a recommended secondary search option in Google is the "wonder wheel"—a feature discontinued by Google. We recommend having Google open in another window or tab while reading the document. Yudu allows users to make notes while browsing the document, which is very helpful.
Nonetheless, the suggestions Google for Teachers outlines are well worth reading. For example, the ability to use Google Docs to construct quizzes and publish them online is a wonderful asset for teachers. Quizzes published online can help teachers create practice assessments for students who are struggling or have missed several days of classes. In addition, each Google Doc (like a Microsoft Word document) is able to produce grade-level and readability indexes through the Word Count feature. These types of functions are often unknown to educators. Byrne also highlights how using the Google Translator tool in a Google Doc can help English Language Learners (ELLs) better understand the history-specific content being asked in a quiz. [Note: Despite the benefits of Google Translator mentioned by Byrne, the end results of these translations are rough and often clumsy. A better approach for the history teacher is to develop assessments that are linguistically simple—for students across the learning spectrum—but ask students to think at a high cognitive level. In other words, complex ideas do not require complex language.]
Overall, Byrne's expertise working with Google products as a Google-certified teacher makes these guides extremely useful for the history educator. The visual demonstrations makes learning new features simple and easy to understand. Most importantly, Google for Teachers is a guide developed with the student in mind. History teachers can make easy connections with the suggestions provided by Byrne, who is also a U.S. History and Civics teacher.