While Google is the best known internet search engine, Google tools for teachers are not nearly as well known nor used simply because many teachers are not aware of how to use the tools. Google tools for teachers offer innovative methods for engaging students in higher level learning as well as making development of learning modules easier to develop as cross-curricular modules.
For example, the science teacher can base a learning unit around a specific time period in history, an invention in science or an inventor. The teacher can use Google Books Advanced Search to find full-length, public domain books that are available for free download and/or printing. The book can be embedded into the class blog or website for easy access by the students. In order to find these free domain books go to books.google.com making sure to select “public domain” in the advanced search option menu.
When selecting books for the classroom, a teacher not only has to chose the book based on subject matter but also the reading level. Google Docs has a great feature, which will allow a teacher to differentiate instruction by selecting books based on reading level for the students.
While the entire class may not be able to read the same book due to variability in reading levels, each student in the class can be reading a book about the same subject matter.
To determine the reading level of a reading selection, copy a section or an entire article and paste into Google Docs. Highlight the reading selection and select the word count option. The Google Docs tools menu will use the Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and the Automatic Readability Index to calculate three indicators of the reading level of the selected document.
After selecting the book, the students can then analyze the book in several different manners, in history class, the students can use Google’s Timeline option to search history for the dates referenced in the book. Timeline will display a chart, which will allow users to find the materials that reference a specific date or range of dates. World events, cultural events, even what happened on a specific date can be researched with the Timeline option. Students can then analyze the book based on events in history, how those events shape outcomes, decisions of the characters and themes that are prevalent in the book.
Google Docs has a form tool that teachers can use to create, publish and grade an online quiz. Google Docs Forms allow the teacher to create a quiz that is specific to each class and has several options of using tests questions that are multiple choice, short paragraph answers, checklist, scales or grids. The quiz is posted on line, students login and take the quiz. The results are reported to the teacher in the form of an easy to grade spreadsheet.
Google offers dozens of free tools as educational resources to help teachers enhance the learning environment in the classroom.