Innovative Leadership and Digital Learning

Dr. Matthew X. Joseph – Follow on Twitter @MatthewXJoseph

Google Tools


Click here to view the website dedicated to Google Apps that Sarah Boyle and the Milford Tech Team this year worked to build. I am excited to join that team.

In my opinion and my experience as a building principal, collaboration is a pivotal 21st century skill. Docs, Sheets, and Slides provide a collaborative learning platform for educators and students.


With Google Docs, educators can easily place comments in the comments box and in the margins. In addition, with Google Docs, it’s easy for one student to share his or her work with another for peer editing.

Sharing and commenting provide students with opportunities to receive immediate feedback on their writing from teachers and peers in the 24/7 classroom. Google Docs has integrated reference tools and smart spell checker to provide students with convenient writing support right on the page. The built-in research tool expands opportunities for students to engage in real world writing and streamline the process of creating links and citations with a handy one click feature.

Educators can provide learners feedback right away; this means that feedback becomes more effective, as fresh comments and remarks have bigger impact on learners’ minds.

When students enter the document, they can:

  • read the reading,
  • type comments that others can read without actually adding text to the reading itself,
  • look up and define tricky words with comments or by typing text into the reading,
  • type questions for the teacher or classmates,
  • use the chat feature at the bottom to engage in digital conversation, and
  • save, share or print the entire experience for access later.

Resources: (click to view)

The Google Apps for Education provides teachers and students with countless ways to stay organized, get creative, and collaborate with others. Another application in the GAFE suite is Google Sheets. Spreadsheets are powerful possibilities for students and educators in education. In addition to creating a new sheet, you can import existing ones from Excel.  You also can add links in a cell to add to your data and even format your data by

  • Number
  • Percent
  • Currency
  • Date
  • Time
  • …and more!

Finally the new Explore panel is a great way to see an overview of your data – including summaries and pre-populated charts.

Ways to Use Google Sheets in Your Classroom? (Some suggestions from Imagine Easy Solutions)

  • Sign up sheets: Schedule parent-teacher conferences
  • Collect names, addresses, and emails of group members or class parents
  • Track student homework–give each student an anonymous number and share grades with students.
  • Create a survey for opinions, votes, or preferences
  • Collaborate with others for data collection
  • Plan a project
  • Collect and store student information
  • Classroom discussions
  • Graphic organizers
  • Rubric grading
  • Peer evaluation

Resources: (click to view)

Google Slides

Collaboration is the big reason to go with Google Slides. The ability to easily share and simultaneously edit a Google Drive document is the GAFE star. A tool that is built around collaboration is a tool I am going to get behind. Additionally, the ability to access any Google Drive document from any browser has always been a big selling point of browser-based applications. There are lots of advantages, from always having your files backed up in the cloud to being able to keep working if your main computer dies. My dissertation group at BC built every presentation (even our dissertation defense) using Google Slides.

In my opinion, Google Slides is much more compatible than Powerpoint. Educators and students can import and export graphics, text formats, PDFs and even Powerpoint presentations without a hassle. They can also publish their creations to the Internet quickly and easily. Google Slides is supported by the cloud. This means that several different colleagues or peers can access and modify a presentation as it is being formulated. As long as you are using an internet connected device, you’ll have access to your team’s projects on Google Slides. Those who choose to design a meeting, presentation, speech or other significant project with the help of Google Slides will be equipped with the a 21st century creative tool.

Google Slides ideas for the classroom

My favorite: Make students the experts! Give collaborative groups a topic to research collectively using a shared Google doc, then ask them to use their research to create a comprehensive presentation to present to the class.

Other ideas:

Visual Note/Flash Cards

Imagery is a powerful tool in all subjects. Using Google Slides, students can create their own visual note cards to help highlight their understanding of concepts and ideas. Because they can use it collaboratively, they can not only put together their own collection but build a classlibrary of cards that are handy for review.

Visually Outline a Project

Google slides are a great way to engage in pre-writing exercises. Using shapes and bubbles, students can build venn-diagrams, sketch out ideas, or create a storyboard that visually outlines their ideas. Students can also work collaboratively (and if you have been reading – you know I think this is key for learning) to broaden group projects or share their pre-writing exercises for peer-review and critique. Students and teachers are empowered to use the “comment” feature, to engage one another in a discussion on the document as students modify their ideas and mold their finished product. Pretty COOL!!

Create a Repository of Images with Citation

Citing images properly is a key skill in the 21st century (trust me after writing a dissertation – APA is King). Using a “Title Only” slide, students can build a visual bibliography in which they store images along with the accompanying citation. This is especially useful if students putting together a group project; they all have access to and can edit the same document. In addition to the citation, students can include relevant notes about the image.

Write a children’s book combining text and media. Use this as a way to motivate narrative writing.
With credit to Joey Allen from Coolhead Tech, Ed Tech Teachers, and inside Higher Ed Blog

Dr. Matthew X. Joseph

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