It is summer! A time to celebrate, relax, enjoy the beautiful weather, and keep learning! Summer not only allows teachers a mental break from the day-to-day routine of teaching, but is also an important time for all of us to continue our learning. While attending workshops and conferences are staples for many teachers, for others it is a busy and fast-paced season that can leave little time for focus on continuing learning. However, even during those busy and fast-paced times, it is a good opportunity for teachers to develop their skills for the next school year.
One way to accomplish this is to bring the power of Google Apps into your personal life. People often ask, “how did you develop your skills with Google?” The answer can be directly linked to using the tools, both inside the classroom and outside of it in my personal life. From planning a wedding, to organizing a shopping trip to the store, the power of Google can be a great benefit to all users. If the testament, “Practice makes perfect” is true, then practicing with Google in your personal life will make you more confident to use it with your students in the classroom!
To that end, I suggest four ways that you can practice with Google this summer to prep for the upcoming school year.
Learn to use the Bookmarks Bar in Chrome
The Bookmarks Bar is one of the most powerful features in Chrome and can streamline your web browsing experience as well as organize your online resources. If you do not see it under the Omnibox, turn it on from Chrome menu > Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks Bar.
When you Bookmark a site, you create a link that directly takes you back to that location in one click.
Challenge yourself this summer by adding the bookmarks bar to your Chrome profile. Bookmark your email, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Twitter to get started. Of course, most importantly, you should also bookmark EdTechTeacher.org and visit us for many free resources and unique professional development opportunities! Applying this to the classroom in the fall could come in the form of teaching your students how to organize classroom resources or create Bookmarks Folders for research projects.
Plan a Party Using Google Docs
In the summer, everyone loves attending a BBQ or pool party. There is no better way to efficiently plan a party than with Google Apps! To start, create a guest list with a friend who will be helping you plan the party. Create the list inside of a Google Sheet and practice adjusting the columns and editing headers. If you want to take it up a notch, enter a data validation drop down choice for those that have responded yes or no, and try conditional formatting to match who has RSVP’d. Watch this YouTube video on how to accomplish both tasks.
Also, share a Google Doc with your co-planner to keep track of items needed. If you are planning a bring-your-own-dish, go a step further and make the doc public on the web and invite all of your party guests to edit it and sign up to bring something tasty!
These skills of creating and collaborating will help you share and work with students and staff in the fall. By practicing in a low stress environment and learning with friends, you will be more confident with students and colleagues.
Make a short movie using your phone
It may be a fun day at the pool, or perhaps your children’s sporting events, but the summer is full of moments we want to remember forever. Use your phone to take a series of videos at one of your favorite events this summer, then upload those videos to YouTube Creator Studio.
YouTube Creator Studio, is a feature inside of your YouTube channel that allows you to edit your uploaded YouTube videos. Concerned that you don’t have a YouTube channel? Don’t fret, everyone that has a Google Account can set up a YouTube Channel in only a few clicks after going to YouTube.
Using video editing tools yourself can pay off big dividends for students when they are creating video on their own devices in the fall.
Build a Google Site
When the upcoming school year starts, teachers will be surprised with an updated version of Google Sites. While it is not yet available for all domains, or for personal accounts, it will be shortly. When the new update is released, teachers will be pleasantly surprised with its streamlined interface and integration tools. Everyone will now be able to create Google Sites in a much easier fashion.
The challenge for this summer could be to create a new Google Site based on anything you are passionate about. Create a site for your child’s sports team or design a wedding website for a friend. You might even consider designing your classroom website for the upcoming school year. The possibilities are endless! Having a classroom Google Site can provide an area for students and parents to visit for the most up-to-date information of the ongoings in your classroom.
Entering into the world of Google Apps can be an overwhelming experience for many. By starting with these four activities, you will be able to gain valuable, practical experience in using some of the core Google Apps while in a low-stakes environment. Learning something fun this summer will not only bring you joy as you celebrate, but it will also help you gain the confidence to teach your students or colleagues later.
Come Learn more from Ben this year!
Ben will be a featured presenter in Boston and San Diego this year. He will be joined by other Google experts from across the country to share new ways to innovate student learning Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education.