As with many tools previously discussed in this blog, this one is also well known. Google might even be the most popular website ever. Everyone knows Google, but do they really know what it can do? As a teacher, who wouldn’t want something that can bring together all the students’ assignments, quizzes, a class schedule, class plans and numerous teaching tools and activities! Not only can Google bring all a teachers’ material together but it is also a useful tool for students to work with in individual work as well as in teamwork.
There are many tools other than the traditional Google search that everyone knows and loves (move aside Bing!). For instance, there is Google Drive, where students can share and work on documents together. Documents can be a text document, a spreadsheet, a form or even a drawing. If the work is also shared with the teacher, he or she can correct and even add comments to the students’ work. While working in the same document, students have the possibility to use the “chat” function to write to each other while working. With this tool it is easier to communicate when not working next to one another. As it is, Google makes it possible for students to do long distance teamwork, which is useful because students’ schedules are very full and they cannot always meet for schoolwork. http://www.edutopia.org/google-educators also proposes using Google Drive for making presentations and peer reviewing which can be very useful when writing texts, teammates can comment directly on the text and the author gets instant feedback. Here at Université Laval in the BEALS program, we use Google docs for peer reviewing quite frequently and I think most people appreciate not only being able to access the work from anywhere but also because most of us have an environmental conscience, we appreciate not wasting paper.
Another advantage of Google Drive is that there is the possibility of “connecting” apps to it. For example, I’ve added Heap Note which allows me to take notes, make lists and make schedules directly from Google Drive. Apps like these are useful because they keep everything in the same place and in order. It helps teachers stay organized. There is also Picto4me that creates sheets with different images and their names underneath, it is also possible to record voices to say what the images are when clicked on. It would be a great too to use with less advanced, or younger, learners for vocabulary. I think that it would also be a good way to initiate younger students to using technology in class.
Another interesting tool mentioned here, among many others on this website: http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.ca/p/google-for-educators_22.html is Google Earth and I would add Google Maps to it too. With Google Earth in a English class it is easy to learn names of cities and countries and have a look at them at the same time. Students love to look around at different places on earth. Now on Google Maps there is even a way to create customized maps. With students it would be possible to teach them directions and left/right by asking them to present their own custom maps to the class and describe how to get to their destination. Also mentioned here: http://www.teachhub.com/100-google-tricks-teachers at tip 21, is information about the ocean in Google Earth, students can even look at shipwrecks recreated in 3D. I think interactive tools like these catch students attention and keeps them interested in the class.
A very new tool (or we could also call it a game), that Google has developed is https://www.buildwithchrome.com/ it is a website where students can play with “Legos” on their computers. In an ESL class this could be useful to get students to learn colors or description words. A teacher could ask students to build their house then describe it to the class. I think students would love playing with the “Legos” and I think even older students would like it. I loved trying this tool out I thought it was so full of possibilities and that it really encouraged creativity. To learn how to use Build With Chrome, there is a Build Academy where Google gives you challenges to learn how to use the website, the challenges get more complicated as it goes along.
The link above also talks about Google Translate. Even though in ESL classes we want students to learn English on their own, Google Translate is a good tool to be aware of and to use. It is important to explain to students that it is absolutely not made for sentences or whole texts, it is really made for single words. Some students will rely too heavily on Google Translate but they will be easily recognizable. It is a tool to present after careful consideration only and may be better used with more advanced students who would not need it as a crutch.
I think Google is a wonderful tool with so many facets to explore and I think that as a teacher it can become an integral part of a successful class. In ESL classes as well as in mathematics, Google has a tool for everything.