Kyle B. Pace

Category: Google

Google Docs for Administrators – 5 Ideas to Get Started

'Reams' photo (c) 2007, pawpaw67 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

As another school year begins to come to a close, I have recently had some of our administrators (mostly elementary) contact me with ideas for making administrative tasks more paperless and create a more efficient workflow not only for themselves but for their teachers.  Some of these have been regular “end of year” tasks and others are being put into motion in preparation for next year.  Given my known affinity for Google Apps for Education, and being we are a Google Apps for Education district, my first inclination is always to figure out how these tasks could be completed using GAFE in one way or another.  As I begin to help several of our administrators with these projects, I thought I’d start a post that I could come back and add to over time. They might be beneficial to you as a teacher or you might want to share them with administrators in your district. So here they are in no particular order:

1. End of year checkout form – we all remember this one right? The checkout form for the end of the year that has to be completed before teachers can leave for the summer. Why not use Google Forms to make the form electronic and send out the link to staff? The principal sends out the link to the form, teachers can fill it out as they complete their required tasks, and the information goes straight into a spreadsheet for administrators.

2. Student information collection – When I was in the classroom this was another end of the year task to be completed. We would need to fill out a student information card on each of our students to help provide any pertinent information (academic or otherwise) to next year’s classroom teacher(s).  Again, this has always been something traditionally done on paper, so why not give it a digital go? Our administrator created a Google Forms version, then copied it the appropriate number of times for each grade level so that the data would come back to separate spreadsheets already separated by grade level.  This information also helps the administrative team build next year’s class lists.

3. Staff communication – We all know one of the best, if not the best feature of Google Docs is collaboration. The ability to have multiple people working on the same document at the same time is a huge efficiency booster for many. Documents don’t have to be emailed back and forth or saved on a network drive where only one person can have the document open at a time. Administrative teams can now easily create their staff newsletters in Google Docs so they can be built collaboratively and then easily shared out with the staff directly from Google Docs. This not only helps increase administrator productivity, but teachers can have a digital copy of building communication delivered right to their inbox.

4. Committees – Again, Google Forms can come in very handy for this. I recently assisted one of our principals who wanted to create a form for teachers to fill out monthly with any specific concerns/needs for individual students that will go directly to the building student assistance committee. This provides the team with valuable information ahead of time prior to the referring teacher meeting with the team. Documents and Forms can also help any building or district level committees communicate and collaborate which builds a more efficient workflow for everyone.

5. Fun stuff – Since this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and schools, parents, and communities are showing their appreciation, it reminds us that some times we also need better ways to work to plan fun stuff too. This could be to collaborate on a document to plan for this week’s teacher goodies, or a spreadsheet to plan Field Day, or make a form to send out to gather ideas for an end of year staff celebration. This possibilities could be anything with this one.

What I think is also great about this is that there’s positive modeling going on for use of Google Apps for Education. Administrators modeling for teachers, which will hopefully lead to teachers modeling for students. Helping the production equal or outweigh the consumption. A snowball effect that will always be in motion.

Please feel free to add your ideas in the comments section! Thanks!

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Telling Search Stories with Google

Yesterday, my district hosted a day of professional development for teachers and staff that are involved with the e-learning program at three area districts (including mine).  It was a great day for teachers to collaborate and learn with each other about best practices and hopefully get some new ideas for teaching online.

In the afternoon, we had a good ol’ tech tools smackdown where folks from each respective district went back and forth sharing a favorite tool they have used or think students would enjoy using in an online course. I decided to share the Google Search Story Creator.  If you’ve never created a Google Search Story, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to quickly share a search experience. Since the search story creator is kind of hard to find (it’s located towards the bottom of this page and says YouTube is making a new, permanent home for it), I also made a custom link that was easier to share with others. Please feel free to pass this along: http://bit.ly/searchstorycreator.

I wanted the teachers to see a relevant example first before I explained how to create one. I only had about 4 minutes total during the smackdown so the first 35 seconds was sharing an example of a finished search story. One of the online courses in my district (American Government), students have an assignment to create a short commercial for a political candidate. I thought this would be a great way for students to chronicle locating information about a specific candidate. So I created this search story:

I picked the first candidate that came to mind and it very briefly shows how I located information on a particular subject. Students would have a great time creating these and I’m sure would do a much better job than my example (as I alluded to in a conversation later that day).

Then I went on to explain how the search story creator works. You plug-in your search terms, define the type of Google search to be completed on each of those terms (web, images, maps, news, blog, product, or books), add some music and upload to your YouTube account. As you can see in the above example, YouTube (Google) packages it all together in a nice little video to share with classmates or make it a nice addition to an overall assignment.

Click for a larger preview

When you’re creating one, definitely take advantage of the preview area as you plug-in your search terms and define the kind of search you want to perform. This comes in handy for checking out the kind of results that are going to appear in your video before you finalize it.

Have fun creating your search story!

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