10 Smart and Simple Ways to Kick off the School Year with the G Suite for Education

Educators across the globe are inundated with tasks they hope to accomplish prior to the start of the upcoming school year. However, thanks to the G Suite for Education, there are many smart and simple ideas teachers can do right now to streamline their workflow, increase communication and share learning.  This blog will explore 10 smart and simple ideas for using the G Suite for Education this school year!

10 G Suite Ways to Kick Off the School year (4)

Infographic for blog. Click image for PDF.

google-calendar-logo.jpg1. Keep Track with Google Calendar

Google Calendar makes it extremely simple for educators to share and organize their calendars, create and add appointment slots, schedule Hangouts, add important test dates or events, and invite collaborators or participants. Users may share their calendars by embedding it on their Google Sites website or by sharing the calendar using Google Classroom.  Google Calendar also makes it simple to add district or administrative calendars to your calendar allowing you to to view multiple calendars on one page.

2. Create a Community with Google Classroom


Sharing and posting assignments has never been easier! Google Classroom allows educators to set due dates, provide instant feedback, send and receive private comments, and update students and parents on missing assignments. Teachers may also  post announcements, blog questions, surveys, and quizzes all within Google Classroom. Students are able to join their teacher’s classroom by either an email invitation or a class code. Teachers may share administrative privileges with co-teachers and/or choose to keep parents involved by inviting them to join and see their student’s work as well.

3. Join a Community with Google Plus or Twitter

It took me a few months to get the swing of things using the social media platforms Google Plus and Twitter, but the payoff has been substantial. Use Google Plus to join a community of like-minded educators and find out about the latest practices, newest download.pngtools, upcoming events, or best resources. Post a question and crowd-source hundreds of answers within minutes! Personally, I have found Twitter to be my favorite resource for personalized professional development. Join thousands of educators online in Twitter Chats and save resources right into your Google Drive!

4. Take Inventory Using Google Forms and Sheets

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Google Forms makes it simple to share a survey with students using a link, QR Code, email, or Google Classroom. Take inventory in students interests, learning habits, goals, concerns, learning styles, and questions. Share a Form with parents and learn about their questions and concerns as well. Collect contact information, volunteer availability, and even have parents sign up for conferences using the Choice Eliminator Add-on which will allow parents to select a time while only displaying available slots. All survey results will be archived into a Google Sheet allowing you to sort, share and filter.

5. Create a Website or Portfolio with Google Sites

Logo_of_Google_Sites (1).pngThe new Google Sites makes it extremely easy for educators to add information directly from their Google Drive by dragging and dropping files. Add text-boxes, images, calendars, and more all while creating a fabulous website for your class. Or, use Google Sites to have students create a learning portfolio. Direct students to add required pages such for classes or topics, customize the colors and artwork, and embed video reflections. Privacy settings are customizable allowing students to share their site with the world or just a select few.

6. Unleash Your Inner Artist Using Google Drawings


Google Drawings is a perfect tool for designing and personalizing your Google Classroom or website header. Also, consider creating a business card for your email signature, favicons for your websites, memes for your social media posts, posters for your classroom, or edit and customize your favorite images.

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7. Share News with Google Docs or Google Slides

Collaborating, sharing and receiving feedback has never been easier thanks to Google Docs. Create your classroom newsletter template first by adding columns, images, headers and footers. Share with a co-teacher or admin for feedback and collaboration. Make a copy of the template for editing each month while sharing and archiving past newsletters using Google Classroom. Or, you can embed the Google Doc right in your Google Site. Students and parents will be so excited to receive your newsletters.

8. Stay Organized Using Google Drive


Now that you have created all these amazing surveys, images, Docs, Forms, and Sheets you will need to stay organized! Google Drive allows you to create folders and drag and drop files with ease. Place files into multiple folders using Shift Z. Share files with co-teachers or administrators with privileges to view, copy or edit. Color code your folders and and emojis for that special touch!


9. Stay Connected with Gmail

Gmail is the perfect communication tool for educators. If you’d like to delay sending your emails, you can easily schedule the emails to go out at any time using the Chrome Extension Right Inbox for Gmail. Add custom signatures and auto-response messages using the Settings.  Or, request a “read receipt” to see the date and time important emails were read.


10. Class Introductions Using Google Slides

Google Slides is one of the most diverse apps in the G Suite for Education. While many people use Google Slides for presentations, it is also a fabulous tool for jigsawing information or gathering formative assessment data. One smart and simple way to use Google Slides during the first few weeks of school is to have students import a slide introducing themselves to the class using a collaborative slide-deck with editing permissions.

Example: A teacher shares a collaborative slide-deck in Google Classroom entitled “Class Introductions” with editing permission granted to all students. Students then create a new slide of their own introducing themselves. Once finished, they add their slide to the collaborative deck by clicking on FILE>IMPORT SLIDES. Now, students may read their classmates’ slides and offer positive feedback, comments and questions. Don’t forget to add your slide as well.

In Summary

The G Suite for Education has so many useful applications that may help teachers streamline their workflow, get organized, communicate information, take inventory, and stay connected. I hope a few of these ideas have inspired you to kick off your school year.   How are you using the G Suite to prepare this year? I’d love to hear from you!

Collaborative Poetry Snaps

Poetry Snaps

Looking for a new and exciting way for students to share and receive immediate feedback on their original poems? Curious how you can spark student motivation by providing an authentic audience? Or, are you interested in new ways for students to annotate poetry and share their thinking? Try giving “poetry snaps” a whirl by using Google Slides!

What are poetry snaps?

Poetry snaps are annotated snapshots of poems inserted into a collaborative Google Slides deck. It’s a spin off of #BookSnaps, the term coined by Tara Martin for annotating texts digitally.

Here’s how:

  1. The teacher creates the master deck in Google Slides. In this example, the master deck is titled Poetry Anthology.
  2. Teacher then shares the deck via Google Classroom with the permissions “Students May Edit”.
  3. Students may then create their own slide and insert an image of their original poetry by going to INSERT>PHOTO>CAMERA. (Or, of course they may just copy and paste digital text.)
  4. Once finished, students may go to FILE>IMPORT SLIDES to add their slide to the master deck, thus creating a collaborative poetry anthology.
  5. Students may then annotate their classmates’ poems by adding thoughts about the author’s craft, connections, imagery, or questions that may have arisen while reading. Students can add images, text boxes, thought bubbles, or even create their own annotated GIF’s using the Sticky AI app.
  6. Option: Have students type and illustrate their poems using Google Drawings! Then save file as a JPEG or PNG file to import into Slides! This would look fantastic.

Example Poetry Snap Template

Click image to Make a Copy

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Not sure how to import slides? No worries, there is an animated GIF included in the slideshow.


Poetry Snaps are a fabulous way to provide instant feedback! And, the authentic audience may help motivate reluctant students to try and write some quality poems. Of course, you do not have to use original poems. Students could annotate any poems you provide! Have fun snapping!

Have you or your students created and shared Poetry Snaps?


Do Your BookSnaps Seem Flat or Disorganized? Spice Up and Organize BookSnaps Using Google Drawings while adding GIFs, Bitmojis, and Word Art to Code Text!

What are BookSnaps?

BookSnaps is a term used for annotated digital snapshots taken by students while reading texts. Popular apps for BookSnaps include SnapChat, Seesaw, Instagram, and Explain Everything. Tara Martin is one popular educator credited for coining the phrase “BookSnaps” and sharing her fabulous BookSnap ideas all over Social Media.

Do your BookSnaps seem flat or disorganized?

Use Google Drawings to help students stay organized while promoting creativity!  Use animated GIFs from Sticky Al app, or add images using Google Search or the Bitmoji Chrome Extension. And, don’t forget how simple it is to use Word Art to code the Text! Or, if you have never created BookSnaps, consider starting your journey using Google Drawings!

Google Drawings is my favorite tool for a number of reasons:

  1. Students may collaborate on BookSnaps using the Share Tool.
  2. Students may provide and receive feedback using the Comment Tool.
  3. Google Drawings saves in the Cloud.
  4. Students may use the Explore Tool to locate images and research topics.
  5. A Key for coding the text can be provided in the margin or “gutter”.
  6. Bitmojis are easily integrated using Chrome Extensions.
  7. Insert animated GIFs or captioned student-created images Using Sticky Al App.
  8. Students can use the Screencastify Extension to explain and record thinking about their BookSnaps.
  9. Students can “Turn In” their work using Google Classroom.
  10. Teachers can “Make a Copy” of a template for every student or differentiate by modifying templates to meet individual needs.

Example BookSnap With ANIMATED GIF! Click Image to View

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Student Created Stickers for Annotating Text

Students may create their own images  or ANIMATED GIFs by using the amazing FREE apps such as Sticky Al. Sticky Al allows students to create their own selfie-stickers and GIFs that may be used with Google Drawings by:

  1. Using the Free Sticky Al on iPad to take photos using various facial expressions and gestures to use in the reading responses. (I recommend students model being surprised, angry, sad, happy, confused, and also using hand gestures. Then add fun labels to express the thoughts.)
  2. Uploading images into Google Drive and placing them in a folder. Students may now use the images for the rest of the year. They would only have to do this once!

Go to Insert-Image to locate student-created images and insert them to BookSnaps.


You can even caption the images or customize animated GIFs right in the Sticky Al App! Awesome!


Google Drawings BookSnap Template (Click and Make a Copy)

booksnaps template

Here is a template you may wish to use with students.  I provided the Bitmojis for my students using the Chrome Extension as they are too young to have their own Bitmoji accounts. I would provide both male and female Bitmojis so students may select the desired gender. But, ultimately, student-created images using the Sticky Al app would be the way to go! Click the image above to create your own copy and modify as needed.

Video Tutorial


In Summary, I think Google Drawings allows teachers and students to stay highly organized by inserting a coding key and distributing assignments using Google Classroom. The ability to work in the Cloud while collaborating with group members is also a key to engaging students. Immediate feedback using the Commenting Tool is surely a way to allow students to revise and reflect with peers and educators. Throw in some animated student-created GIFs and Bitmojis and you have a winner!