Read and Write for Google Student Activity: Grades 3+

Many educators truly appreciate the benefits of using the Read and Write for Google Chrome Extension by TextHelp in classrooms! When students use the Read and Write extension they have access to a variety of tools that may help all learners with their reading and writing skills. Read and Write provides support for Google Docs, Google Slides, websites, PDFs, and ePub files.

Using this extension students can:

  • Have text read aloud
  • Use a translator
  • Share audio recordings of their reading
  • Simplify busy webpages
  • Collect highlights from websites into one Google Doc
  • Leave Voice Notes
  • Access a picture dictionary
  • Use a screen mask while reading
  • Access speech-to-text typing
  • So much more!

Once you have a subscription to this amazing tool you will obviously need to teach students how to use it. Here’s an activity I made using Google Slides which shows students how to use the Read and Write Extension through different activities. This activity is also good for teachers new to Read and Write to hone their skills too!

If you’d like to edit this template you may by visiting

Read and Write is FREE for teachers, but you do have to purchase a subscription for students to use the extension. They also provide many video resources on YouTube and have helpful information on their website.

How do you use Read and Write?

Sheets “Mad Lib” style activity

This Halloween, I wanted to create a fun activity for students to review the parts of speech and also get a great first impression of Google Sheets. To do this, I decided a “Mad Lib” style activity would be perfect!


The first thing I did was write a simple story in a Google Doc. I underlined the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs I thought would be fun to replace. I decided to keep the story simple as we all know that sometimes less is more.

Google Sheets

I created a new Sheet by typing in Then, I merged the cells in the top row to add the title. I froze the first few rows to allow the headers to remain while students typed the answers.

Next, I added the parts of speech and a simple definition in column A. I then wrote the text “Answer #” in Column B to serve as a placeholder in the story. I hid the remaining columns and rows so students could focus on the activity.

Sheet 1: Students enter the parts of speech

If you don’t know how to hide a column or row it is quite simple. Right click on the name of the column or row, and now you can select “HIDE”. That is why you do not see any other cells in this activity.

Right-click the name of the column or row and select “Hide”

Adding the Formula

I wanted the words from Sheet 1 (titled MadLib) to appear in the story on Sheet 2 (titled Your Story). To do this, I merged cells, added titles, inserted clipart, and used the paint bucket to make the Sheet look festive. For the story, I merged numerous cells to create one large space for the formula. I also hid the remaining columns and cells.

I wrote a formula where the text would appear in quotes, and the answers would appear whenever I added the formula & Madlib!Cellnumber & . So for example, if I wanted the answer for the proper noun in cell B5 to appear in the story, I would write & Madlib!B5 &. This took a few practices and revisions with spacing and punctuation. (Notice how the words “Answer #” from Sheet 1 appear in the text as placeholders.) In the end the formula looked like this


Once satisfied, I tested the “Mad Lib” style activity out on my 9 year old son. After many laughs, I decided it was ready to share! I’m sure there will be many revisions to come, but that’s part of the fun!

Have you ever created your own Mad Libs? I’d love to see some examples.

5 Digital Resources for the Global Read Aloud 2019

What is the Global Read Aloud?

The Global Read Aloud was founded in 2010 with the goal of having one book to connect the world. According to the Global Read Aloud website, now over 4 million students in 80 different countries have participated in this event!

Educators selected recommended titles that they’d like to read with students during a 6 week period of time known as the Global Read Aloud. They make efforts to discuss the literature while making global connections.

This year, the Global Read Aloud runs from September 30th to November 8th. There are no age restrictions on the books so educators may select the titles that work best with their students. The Global Read Aloud helps students and educators become part of a global celebration of literacy while demonstrating how technology may allow us to use digital tools positively while communicating and collaborating with a global audience.

Digital Resources and Activities If you would like to get involved in the Global Read Aloud you may sign up at This website answers many important questions you may have, shares information on this year’s book selections, and offers many resources for you to explore. Make sure to check out the official website of Pernille Ripp. She is the founder of the Global Read Aloud and an expert in literacy and technology integration!

Facebook Groups- Educators have been creating Facebook groups to connect with educators from around the world. Here, you may find lesson plans and amazing opportunities.

Facebook Groups:

Twitter– The official hashtag this year is #GRA19. You don’t need to have an account to search the hashtag to view posts with ideas and opportunities. Educators may also participate in Twitter “slow chats” where they may respond to questions about the literature posed by authors, educators and students.

  • Diaz Has Something to Say – #GRAStellaFront Desk – #GRAFront
  • The Bridge Home – #GRABridge
  • The Marrow Thieves– #GRAMarrow
  • Picture book author study – #GRAYuyi

Seesaw– There are so many amazing activities for students to discuss this year’s selections when you search the Community at Seesaw. Enter keyword #GRA19 and you’ll find dozens of amazing activities submitted by educators. These activities allow students to share their thinking about the literature and receive feedback from classmates. Many of these wonderful activities were submitted by Seesaw Ambassador @smalchow.

Here are some example activities:

Flipgrid Flipgrid is one of the world’s most popular video platforms for allowing students to share their ideas about any topic. Educators may search for pre-made activities in the Disco Library or create their own topics for students to engage and collaborate. Many educators use Flipgrid to create a class or school shared read aloud. Or, another popular option is to discuss literature with classrooms around the world by searching for educators looking to collaborate in the GridPals section of Flipgrid.

How do you use technology to participate in the Global Read Aloud? I’d love to hear about it!

Google Sheets Planbook

Looking for a new digital planbook?

School will be in session before we know it and many educators are scrambling to decide which tool to use this year while lesson planning. Over the past few years, I have tried creating lessons using Google Calendar, Docs and Slides templates. Each of these tools makes it super easy to create a template, edit, revise, share and archive lessons.

Last year I tried using Google Sheets and decided this is the tool that best fits my needs as:

  • Tabs may be duplicated each week
  • You may share an entire Sheet or Tab with admin or co-teachers
  • Images are now easily inserted
  • It’s easy to merge and wrap cells
  • Color coding is easy with the paint bucket

Here’s the link if you’d like to make a copy of the Template.

Which tool do you prefer for your digital lesson planning?

5 Back to (Elementary) School Ideas with the G Suite for Education


The first week of school is around the corner and we are all scrambling for some fabulous ideas for kicking-off the school year and staying organized. Here are five ideas using G Suite for Education!

1: This is Me: Collaborative Slide Deck

Question: How could we have students introduce themselves to classmates and receive instant feedback?

It is so important for students and teachers to introduce themselves and get to know their classmates. Consider asking students (or staff) to create a slide about themselves and add it to a collaborative slide-deck. Then, students and staff may offer comments and feedback using the Commenting Tool. Don’t forget to include your own slide!

Our district’s theme last year was “This is Me! Who are you?” Inspired by music from the movie The Greatest Showman. Students put together the most amazing performance that was recorded and actually went viral. Consider including a video clip of the performance for inspiration using the Google Slides template below. It is so important that we build a community within our school. Sharing our goals, differences, and similarities is a great way to kickoff the school year! Template

2: Student Questionnaire

Question: How could we learn about our students interests and learning styles and share the information quickly with co-teachers?

Receiving input and feedback from students (and parents) is so important for understanding learning styles, study habits and other pertinent information. Google Forms makes it so easy to sort and share the information. Template for elementary school

3: Organize and Share your Classroom Library Inventory

Do you forget which books are in your large classroom library?

Question: How could we make our library searchable by titles, genres and reading levels?

My colleague, Lauren Fitzgerald asked if it could be possible to create a large database of all our reading books, including the genres and reading levels. This would make it incredibly easy to search for materials while lesson planning and sharing with staff. Together, we decided it was time to digitize the classroom library using Google Sheets and

Searchable Database of Classroom Library using

The first thing we needed to do with create a spreadsheet of our inventory. We then inserted code on a sheet labeled “Template below”. (If you’d like to learn more, my next post will explain how to make this all happen.)

Photo of Spreadsheet
Second Sheet has Code

4. Digital Morning Meeting Wall

Question: How could I reinvent my Morning Meeting wall to free up wall space?

Is your Morning Meeting wall taking up too much space? Consider going digital with Google Slides! Not only will you save wall space, you’ll also be able to archive past walls to review throughout the year.

Blog Post: Read post and get the template for editing!

5. Digital Hall Passes

Question: How could I log and sort student hall activity more efficiently?

Do you struggle monitoring student activity using a notebook sign-out system? Consider going digital using QR Codes!

By linking a Google Form to a QR code, students can scan the correct code whenever they need to leave the classroom. All data is then stored into a spreadsheet. The information can then be sorted and shared with parents, co-teachers or administrators.

Want to learn how? Here’s the blog post.

If you want to sort the student responses into separate sheets you can do that! Here’s a video tutorial explaining how:

Looking for more ideas?

Check out last year’s post “10 Smart and Simple Ways to Kickoff the School Year with the G Suite for EDU”

Sparking Innovation

All of these ideas started by asking a simple question: “How could we…?” Special thanks to my colleagues for asking questions and imagining the possibilities.

New G Suite Feature: Add Audio to Your Slides

Google Slides just recently received the capability to add audio to your slides! Simply click on INSERT and select AUDIO to add a file from your Google Drive. Unfortunately, the ability to upload files from your computer is currently unavailable.

Why add audio?

  1. Add audio recordings of thinking and explanations.
  2. Add narrations to presentations or digital books.
  3. Add audio directions for younger students.
  4. Explaining diagrams, maps or information.
  5. Add music to enhance presentations.

How may I add audio?

There are hundreds of audio recording tools available, however I prefer to use the Chrome extensions Cloud Audio Recorder or Mic Note as they will save audio files directly into my Google Drive. This will make it simple to insert the audio into my Google Slides.

Step 1: Add the Chrome Extension Cloud Audio or Mic Note

Step 2: Open the app and record audio

Step 3: Save audio into Google Drive. Cloud audio will do that automatically, while Mic Note will need you to switch the Option to Google Drive.

Step 4: Open Slides and go to Insert- Audio. You’re done!

Video Tutorial

Ideas? I’d love to hear from you!

Tips and Tricks for Google Slides Picture Books

Why Google Slides?

Teachers and students are loving Google Slides for digital storytelling projects. For years, Google Slides was known for presentations but now educators have found dozens of innovative ways to use Google Slides in the classroom. Google Slides allows students to collaborate, add music and videos, receive feedback, insert images, work from a template, research information, and add animations and transitions.There are so many features that allow even the youngest students to create a pretty impressive picture book. Hopefully, this blog will provide you with many different ideas.

In this blog, we are going to look at a presentation created by my 8 year old son as an example.

1. View the Presentation

View the presentation by clicking here. You should hear audio and narration.

2. Adding Music

There is a fun “hack” to add music and narration to finished slideshows. First, go to INSERT-VIDEO and choose a video from YouTube or your Google Drive that has music. Then, resize the video to make it as small as possible and place it in the corner of the slide. Next, change the video format settings so that the video starts playing as soon as you present the slideshow. You do this by clicking on the video and selecting FORMAT in the toolbar. Now, you may checking off the box to autoplay. Your music will now start automatically once you click PRESENT.

I selected “Mute audio” for the video on Slide 7 so that you could watch the action taking place, but not necessarily hear all the distracting and unnecessary audio. You may also set the start and end time for video playback.

Set Format for Video Playback

3. Inserting narration

We used the Screencastify extension to record my son narrating each page. Screencastify is normally used to create a video of your screen, but we are simply using it to record the audio while narrating the digital picture book. Then, we will follow the steps noted above.

My son named each Screencastify video as Slide 1, Slide 2, and Slide 3 etc. so that we would easily be able to locate them while inserting them into the presentation. He then used the brand new Screencastify Add-on to insert the videos into each page. As mentioned above, we then resized the video and set the formatting to allow the video to play as soon as the slide appears.

Another option would be to use Screencastify to record the entire slideshow at once instead of page-by-page. Then, you could share your presentation as a video.

NEW Screencastify Add-on

4. Using a template with placeholders

We did not use a theme for this presentation. I did however create a template for my son to use by copying and pasting text boxes with image placeholders for editing. To edit each placeholder, we clicked on the shape and selected REPLACE IMAGE in the toolbar. This allowed my son to easily add images without having to resize and crop them. It also added some uniformity throughout the presentation. I created different placeholders using the cropping tool. Or, check out for some awesome FREE templates.

Click on shape- select REPLACE-IMAGE

5. Creating and Adding Clipart

Clipart was created using ABCYA’s Paint program. My son quickly sketched his clipart and then saved it as a PNG file. This made it simple to click and drag the png file into the digital storybook. Or, we could have selected INSERT-IMAGE-UPLOAD. Did you notice the spelling “Mikey Mouse”? 🙂 ABCYA Paint is a great option for elementary school students.

In lieu of actual photographs, we could have created a picture book completely using student created clipart. Another option would be to add photographs of illustrations by selecting INSERT-IMAGE-CAMERA and taking a photograph. also has many copyright-friendly images with citations included.

6. Auto-Advance Each Slide

When you publish a slideshow, an option appears that allows you to set the timer to auto-advance each slide. Due to the length of his narration, we set the timer to 5 seconds. You can also check off the box to restart the presentation when finished. Finally, this option makes it easy to copy the embed code and add the presentation to your blog or Google Site.

Advance slides using File-Publish to Web

Do you have any tricks for creating picture books with Google Slides?

Tour Creator in the Elementary Classroom

What is Tour Creator?

Last year, Google released the web-based Tour Creator that allows users to create interactive 360 degree tours right from their computers. Photographs may be uploaded from the Google Street View app or directly from a computer. Users may add points of interest, photos, text, audio recordings, and ambient music to their tours which may be published as public or unlisted. Teachers and students have been really excited about using Tour Creator as teachers may now create their own virtual reality experiences for students.

Slideshow Tutorial

If you are not sure how Tour Creator works then check out this slideshow tutorial below.

Adding Audio Narration

Users also have the option to add audio recordings to enhance their tours. I used to narrate and download an MP3 file so that students may listen to narration independently using a shared link. At the elementary school level, I found this step necessary as I do not want struggling readers to miss out on any information during the tour. Plus, the students really get a kick out of hearing a recording of their teacher during the tour.

The goal for most teachers is to provide the virtual reality as a center that students may use independently. Otherwise, the teacher would have to guide every center rotation to read the text and advance the slides.

Tip: Include guest speakers such as principals, parents, students, and co-teachers in audo recordings.

Add Ambient Music Using YouTube

Teachers may also add ambient music to their tours. Consider adding classical music or even sounds from nature that coincide with the photographs. I used YouTube to search for and download copyright-friendly music.

Share Using Google Expeditions

Teachers may now add their tours to Google Expeditions by publishing their tour as either public or unlisted. Once the user logs in to Google Expeditions, they will then see an option to select from the “Library”. Here they will find the tours created using Tour Creator. Please note: I had to update and reinstall the Google Expeditions app to see the new Library update. The user may now download the tour onto the device.

The Good

  • Google Expeditions allows teachers to GUIDE tours with students following along. This method allows the teacher to keep students at the same pace while they discuss different scenes as a class. This is fabulous especially for elementary students.

The Bad

  • If you share your tour using Google Expeditions, the audio and narration will only play on your teacher device.
  • Teachers have to login to Google Expeditions on the devices in order to share their tours.

Share Using a Link

If a user shares their tour by copying and pasting the link, then the audience may view the tour independently while listening to the audio and ambient music on their own devices. Since we only have 8 devices in our school, teachers and students would use the devices in a small group setting. It would be ideal for the teacher to share information via an audio recording, while allowing students to explore independently at their own pace. This method also frees the teacher from having to GUIDE the center as they would using Google Expeditions.

How do students access the link?

Students are not allowed to open the devices at our school. Therefore, teachers would have to use Google Chrome to access the website or Padlet wall in advance of the lesson. To make things easy, I allowed teachers to email me the link to their tours and I posted it on my website. I also remind teachers they must TURN ON the narration and music before giving students the device.

Final Thoughts

I am really excited to create virtual reality tours using Tour Creator.
It is intuitive and easy to use.

Since our building only has 8 headsets to use for virtual reality, teachers plan to use the headsets in a small group setting as opposed to a whole class lesson. I was disappointed that Google Expeditions only played the audio through the teacher’s device. For that reason, we will most likely be sharing a link with students so that they may navigate the tour independently while hearing the teacher explain points of interest with the audio.

I’m hoping Google Expeditions will soon allow users to share tours with independent navigation and sound as an option on the student devices.

Google Sheets Holiday “Shopping”

Teach an introductory lesson to Google Sheets by doing some holiday shopping!

Link to Template (Click TEMPLATE in the right corner to make a copy)

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.23.07 PM

What will students learn?

Students will learn how to enter data, enter basic formulas, use FUNCTIONS, and create a graph by following the directions in the second tab. They can even checkoff the items as they work using the checkboxes.

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.25.38 PM.png

Where do students “shop”?

Students shop using this imaginary inventory. Shop for toys, household items, electronics, or even clothes and personal items!

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.38.40 PM

How can I differentiate for different learners?

This activity is geared towards students in Grades 3-5. You may differentiate the activity by using different templates linked using the Tabs at the bottom of the Sheet. For example, if you want a template with the formulas or headings already inserted, you could use the tab labeled “Differentiation with Formulas”.

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.27.59 PM

What do students graph?

I added this easy activity for students to graph sales of popular toys. Then, use the checklist below to analyze the data and enter formulas!

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.39.53 PM.png

How may I assess learning?

Use this nifty exit ticket to assess learning! Add questions, tasks and activities as needed! You can pretty much turn Google Sheets into an activity pack! Or, add a rubric on a new tab!

(Example Exit Ticket Tab)

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 5.31.31 PM.png

Do your students do any “holiday shopping” using Google Sheets? I’d love to see your lesson!


Evaluating the Authenticity of Websites

The Objective

This month, students in grades 3-5 evaluated the authenticity of three different websites. We know students must learn to evaluate websites as they often believe anything and everything that they read online. Students forget that anyone may create a website, so it our job to question whether or not the author is creditable. Also, students must be reminded that some websites may have creditable authors, but the information may now be outdated. Or, the website’s purpose may be to entertain or persuade, rather than to inform. If we are going to teach students how to use search engines and conduct research, then we must show them how to evaluate the search results.

The Lesson

Each class had roughly 15-20 minutes to explore the websites on their own. Fourth and fifth grade students had received the same lesson the year prior, only they were presented with a different website.

I introduced the following (fake) websites by stating that I would appreciate some student opinions before I started a project.

  • Third Graders: Dog IslandPreface: My dog has been acting up. Should I send her on a vacation to Dog Island?
  • Fourth Graders: The Northwest Tree OctopusPreface: I found this amazing creature online and realized it was endangered. Should we start a school fundraiser?
  • Fifth Graders: All About ExplorersPreface: We will be learning about different explorers this year.  Would this website be a good resource for me to recommend to teachers?

Assistive Technology: Read and Write for Google Chrome Extension

Since not all students are able to read at grade level, I reminded students to use the Read and Write for Google extension to help them read text aloud and define words. We used the highlight collector to highlight important information to support our opinions and then collected the highlights into a Google Doc. I find this extension to be extremely helpful with any and all reading activities.

The results were far from shocking.

Grade 3: Third graders decided I should NOT send my dog to Dog Island as it did not seem like a nice place. However, they did not question the website’s authenticity.

Grade 4: Fourth graders voted to save the Northwest Tree Octopus.  Only a couple students seemed confused while learning that this octopus lived in a tree. But, they still did not question the websites authenticity. Only one student raised their hand to share that they thought “something is wrong with the website”.

Grade 5: Roughly a quarter of the fifth graders picked up on the false information. I politely asked those students to hold their thoughts until after I asked the class to vote if we should use this website as a resource. The majority of the students still voted YES!

Action Taken

After I revealed the objective of this lesson, students laughed and pretended like they knew the websites were “fake” the whole time. But, in reality they absolutely did not. We then talked about how we can evaluate websites for authenticity and brainstormed many different ideas.

Students then used this Google Sheets checklist to go back and evaluate the authenticity of the website using the 5 W’s:

  • Who wrote the information?
  • Where did the author get their information?
  • What is the purpose of this website?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Why is this site useful for your research?

Evaluating Website Google Sheet Template: Click USE TEMPLATE to modify.

Evaluating Websites PDF: If you choose to print hardcopy

Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 9.41.48 PMConclusion

Not only was this lesson extremely important; it was also extremely fun! Many students laughed as they exited the classroom stating, “You got us again, Mrs. Boucher! Not next year!” Hopefully, they are correct.

How do you teach students to evaluate website authenticity? Have any great resources you’d like to share?