Who wouldn't be excited to get started with the fun call-out shapes and bright colors?! So give GDraw a try the next time you are looking for something a bit different to give your lesson or presentation a boost.
OK, the next tool that I want to mention is Google Hangout. Many of you are familiar with this tool for communication with colleagues or family members but here is one way that we use it at our school: to help students attend class who have temporary mobility issues due to injuries. You see, we have a three-story building built in the 1920s, pre-ADA. Thus, no elevators. So when a student athlete (we are a high school with some pretty competitive students) shows up after ACL surgery or a broken leg from her weekend on the slopes, we set them up to use Google Hangout to attend their classes on the second floor or in the basement. Pretty slick! And they thought they would get to skip Pre-Calculus for a few weeks 😊 It is also a great tools for students who might be quarantined at home but want to attend class. Our counselors will meet with the student and provide them a brief tutorial and then they are off and running. When we first started using Hangout to help girls attend class we had them call the teacher directly so that the teacher could screen-share their lecture slide deck. However, that became a burden on the teacher. So now, we have the girls call in via a classmate. It has been a great solution and our parents love that their girls don't have to try and negotiate our stairs on crutches. It's a win-win.
So, on to Google Calendar. As an administrator, this is my must have. I love that I can give my assistant direct access to my calendar to add appointments for me. No more emailing back and forth 17 times to find a time that works for me and whoever wants to meet with me. I also like that my coworkers can see when I am free simply by searching for my calendar. Here is a quick video on how to see coworkers calendars if you aren't familiar with this feature.
I also like being able to create appointment slots for scheduling a series of meetings such as end of year reviews with our faculty. Setting up appointment slots is fairly simple. What I find gets a little tricky is sharing out the appointment calendar link. You see, there is one link for your calendar. And let's say you create slots for one type of meeting in September, another type of meeting in December and a third type of meeting in March (for example, check-ins with your new hires). When you send the link (and it's a long link), it will open to your calendar on the day that the person is looking at it. So, you send out your appointment slot link in August to your new teachers. They scroll to September and book an appointment but don't fully read your email to also scroll to December and March. They then won't see your slots for those later meetings. It takes a little bit of getting used to for some people. This is why I actually prefer using Calendly for setting up appointments with people. I actually shared Calendly with our counseling staff and at least one of them is now using it exclusively to set up meetings with all of her students. Calendly links directly with your Google calendar and will update your calendar, as well as send reminders to both the person coming to see you as well as you. It is more user friendly for many and also free.
The final tool I want to share is Google Keep. I have to give a Google Ninja credit for introducing Keep to my world last summer at a Google Certification Training. Since then, I don't know how I lived without Keep! Here is why I love Keep:
- You can share your lists with others and collaborate just like all the other Google tools. This is great for clubs and work teams that need to keep tasks organized. But my personal favorite use for this is to keep our family shopping lists updated. Try it. Never again can your spouse or partner tell you they forgot the shopping list because there is a mobile app for Keep that is seamless!
- You can geo-tag notes. What a great way to remind a student to do their homework--geotag their homework list to their home address
Of course there are lots of other great tools in the Google Suite, but I thought that these four deserved a little shout-out. I hope that you have a new idea for your classroom or school site (or home life!). How do you use Google to simplify your workflow? Please share in the comments below.