Spartagoogle.jpg
Spartagoogle.jpg





Whether you subscribe to some theorist's views on Google's dominance on the internet or not, it is hard to deny the fact that Google has changed the way we use the web. For the past few years, Google has been busy creating or buying applications that are completely web-based, but function as productivity tools just like those that run from your own computer. The only difference is that you can access them from just about any computer that has internet access.

Furthermore, Google has targeted teachers as a niche market, and has created a suite of applications just for educators. Let's take a quick look at their page to see what they have for us.

We will use this page to explore the functions of all of the applications below and how they can help us become better teachers in the classroom and more efficient users of the internet out of the classroom. To access these tools, we must first create a Google Account. In the resources section there is a step-by-step guide on how to do this, and we will walk you through this to start off the class.


Day One

Basic Search Tips

Tips_Tricks_85x11.jpg
Tips_Tricks_85x11.jpg


iGoogle

A great place to start with Google is their custom home page, which they call iGoogle. Once you have created an account, you can customize your own Google start page. Here is mine:
igoogle.jpg
igoogle.jpg
Each section is a different "widget" or "gadget" that you can customize to your liking. It allows you to access the material you most often use right from your start page.

Here is a video that will walk you through the steps of creating your own iGoogle page.



Classroom uses:
  • Create a page of relevant class materials that is constantly updated.
  • Use this page as a resource bank for your department by setting up a tab that is solely for department-based links.
  • Organize all of your favorite sites by linking to them off of this page.

Notebook.jpg
Notebook.jpg

Notebook

Purpose: The goal of Notebook is to allow researchers to accurately annotate and track where they go on the web so that later on they can retrace their steps. The uses for this one, however, make themselves abundantly clear once you start using it. The best way to use this one, in my opinion, is to attach the Google Notebook add-on to the Mozilla Firefox browser.

To illustrate the many reasons to use Google Notebook, we are going to link to Wesley Fryer's page on the uses of Google Notebook.

What does this do for us as educators? How does this translate into classroom (and out of classroom) application?
Feel free to add more as you see fit.
Check out this recent blog post about using Google Notebook. Or this one too!

And as with Documents and Spreadsheets, Notebook allows you to publish this as an individual web page for students to access as a direct link from your Schoolwires page.





Google Docs and Spreadsheets

googledocs.jpg
googledocs.jpg

Google Documents and Spreadsheets is an online word processor and spreadsheet application that enables users to collaborate on documents in real-time. Here is a brief list of ideal uses in schools:
  • collaborative writing between students
  • in-class writing-in-the-round
  • lab groups wanting to put data tables in spreadsheets and share between lab groups
  • backing up key documents
  • ongoing projects between departments or teachers
Can we add more to this list?

Google Docs functions much the same way as Microsoft Word: you can even save files from Google Docs as Word documents. However, you will need to cut and paste to bring any text in to Google Docs from Word.

Google Spreadsheets is Google's version of Microsoft Excel. The biggest differentiating factor is that of collaboration (Google Spreadsheets has a chat feature so you can converse about the data you inputting and anything else you want). There is some formatting issue when moving between the two, but with a little tinkering, moving from one to the other is not much of a problem.

Both Docs and Spreadsheets offer the option to publish your work as a web page viewable by anyone. This offers the ability for students to publish their work to a very large audience and you could link to it from your Schoolwires page.

Let's follow along with this activity to see the power of Google Docs and Spreadsheets in action, and here are some helpful hints to use while you work.

Both Docs and Spreadsheets offer the option to publish your work as a web page viewable by anyone. This offers the ability for students to publish their work to a very large audience and you could link to it from your Schoolwires page.

Here are some basic examples of what you can use Google Documents and Spreadsheets with:

Teaching_Writing.jpg
Teaching_Writing.jpg
























Teaching_Writing2.jpg
Teaching_Writing2.jpg

























Day 2

Custom Search


Wouldn't it be great to limit the sites that your students can search so that they are only using the sites that you choose for them? This would really eliminate a lot of needless searching and waiting by your students. Instead, that time could be put towards investigating sites that you know are safe, reliable, and full of the resources they need.

Google Custom Search Engine lets anyone create their own search engine by selecting the sites you want to include in the student's search and publishing it either as a website or as a small add-on to an existing website, like Schoolwires. Here is a brief guide to what you need to do:
cse1.jpg
cse1.jpg

1. Go to Google for Educators.

2. On the upper left-hand side, choose "Tools for your classroom."





3. When you do that, the next page will contain a section that says "Newly Featured Products, and among those you will find "Custom Search Engine":
cse2.jpg
cse2.jpg

4. After clicking on that link, you will be taken to a page that explains what the CSE does. Once you read through that, find the link in the first paragraph that says Google Custom Search Engine. Click on it.

5. When you do, you will be prompted for your Google password.

6. Next, you will be take to a page that contatins this
cse4.jpg
cse4.jpg
Click on the big blue button.

7. Fill in the basic information, including name of search engine, description, keywords, sites to search, etc.

8. Next you will taken to a page where you can decide how you want to display your search engine. If you choose homepage, you will be taken to a page like this. If you choose control panel, you will be taken to a page that gives you HTML code to insert on a page of your choosing.
cse6.jpg
cse6.jpg