Using Google Tools in K-12 Education

Add Your Notes to this Community Document This is an interesting legal notice about Google and what rights you have and don't have as you use this site.

Google provides much more than just a web search engine; they offer a wide variety of free web-based and desktop applications. This wiki was created to support a workshop that introduces participants to many of these services that may be useful to teachers and students. Please feel free to add to these resources by clicking on "Edit This Page" above.

Classroom activities: All grade levels -

Google in Education

Google for Educators
Educational Technology and Life (Google in Education Category)
See also the GooglEd Wiki

More... Even More

Google More...
Google Labs
Google Help Center

Search Tools: 21st Century Skills

Web Search Support (Don't forget to learn the Google Operators like Define: and others.)
News Search Support
Book Search Support
Scholar Search Support
Blog Search Support
Custom Search Engine Support
Image Search Support
Video Search Support
Map Search Support (Check out Street View in Yosemite Valley!)
Google SMS (Just text a search to 466453)
Google 411

Don't forget Google Translations!

Web-based Applications

Docs and Spreadsheets Support
Calendar Support
Google SitesGoogle Sites Support
Blogger Support
Reader Support
iGoogle (Google Homepage) Support (See "Personalizing iGoogle")
Google Notebook Support

Desktop Applications

Earth Support
Sketch Up Support
Desktop Support (Windows Only)
Picasa Support (Windows Only)

Additional Links

Google Hacks - A good reference book. The first half or so includes some great tips... the rest gets a bit technical.
Googlepedia - Another good reference book to use when teaching particular applications.
Google Earth Lessons - A bunch of lesson plans.
Google Lit Trips - By Jerome Berg

Google Docs ~ Word Processing Features

Handout on Using

What is it?
Google Docs is an easy-to-use, online
word processor, presentation creator & spreadsheet editor where you can create, share, collaborate and store documents. If you know how to use any word processor, presentation creator or spreadsheet program, you will quickly learn Google Docs. You can even import existing documents.

Instructional Ideas Shared:
Google Docs In Plain English from YouTube:
Creating a New Google Document File

Step #1: Sign in with your Google Account
Step #2: Click the "New Document" link, located on the upper left-hand side of the screen.
Step #3: From the dropdown menu, select Document.

How To Format Documents for Use in Word
  • Google Documents can't be cut and pasted into Microsoft Word—without the formatting getting all messed up, along with the font, size of the letters, and a lot of other stuff.
  • Excellent Workaround--instead of copying, go to "File" and choose "export as Word." This will preserve your formatting and save the document in a Word format.

Getting a Word Count
  • Word count feature is located in the FILE drop down menu
  • Word counts are slightly different in Google Documents than in Word
  • Google is a bit more lenient on what constitutes a separate word
  • Most schools and jobs will go by what Word says, so be sure to export to word if word count docsetting.jpgis important!

Document Settings
  • Defaults for documents can be set to select the opening font, line spacing and background color.
  • Located under FILE→ Document settings

How To Share a Document and Track Revisions
Google docs has the ability to share a document with multiple users, letting users change (or just view) files. For group projects, this can be a fantastic way to collaborate* Click on the "Share" button in the upper right hand corner of a Google document.
  • You can invite viewers, or collaborators (send them an e-mail invite OR not)
  • Once multiple users are working with a document, hit the "Revisions" tab to track all the revisions and roll back unnecessary changes
  • With multiple collaborators working at once, it is best to simply “refresh” rather than SAVE. (could “wipe out” others work)

Starring Documents
  • Click the star next to a document name in the folder view to highlight that document as important.
  • Stars help prioritize documents when you have a lot of projects going
  • Click on the star at the top of the column to bring “starred’ documents to the top of the column

Rename a Google Document File: Once you save a document, you can rename the document. From the FILE tab, click the Rename option and a dialog box will open allowing the document to be renamed.

Shortcuts for Google Docs

Ctrl+A / Ctrl+5 to Select All
Ctrl+S to Save document
Ctrl+W to Close document
Ctrl+K to Insert Link
Ctrl+M to Insert Comment
Ctrl+B to Bold
Ctrl+I to Italicize
Ctrl+C to Copy
Ctrl+V to Paste
Ctrl+X to Cut
Ctrl+Home to go to the top of the document
Ctrl+End to go to the end of the document
Ctrl+O to open the Open dialog box
Ctrl+P to Print the document
Ctrl+F to open the Find dialog box
Ctrl+N to open a New document
Ctrl+Z to Undo
Ctrl+Y to Redo

Google Docs ~ Spreadsheets Features

Spreadsheet Help


In your spreadsheet, just point your cursor to an icon on the toolbar to see a message describing what that option can do. Here are the main formatting options:
  • add bold and italics
  • change font size and family
  • align text
  • wrap text
  • add charts
  • change cell alignment
  • merge cells horizontally in selected rows
  • insert or delete rows and columns
  • add borders

Working with Formulas

  1. Double click on an empty cell
  2. Click on the Formula tab
  3. Choose formula from those shown
  4. See additional formulas by clicking "More"


  • With the Sort tab, you can do the following:
    Freeze rows: Click the Sort tab. Use the Freeze header rows drop-down to select up to 5 rows at the top of the current sheet that you want to remain unsorted.
    Sort your data: Use your cursor and select the cell that you want sorting to start in. Next, click the Sort tab, and select either A->Z (ascending order) or Z->A (descending order). The Sort feature will order all rows of a spreadsheet, except any "frozen rows," using the column or the currently selected cell (or the first cell in a range, if a range is selected).

  • To use the sortbar feature: Simply place your cursor in the gray box at the top of any column. The orange Sortbar appears. Click the arrow at the far right of the Sortbar and select a specific sort order for the data in that column.


To share your Google Docs from a document, spreadsheet or presentation, follow these instructions:
  1. From the doc, click the Share tab in the upper-right corner of the document.
  2. Enter the email addresses of the people or mailing lists that you'd like to add.
  3. Select the appropriate radio button, either as collaborators or as viewers, and click Invite collaborators or Invite viewers.
  4. If desired, add a message and click Send Invitation.
If you choose to skip sending an invitation, your collaborators and viewers will still be able to access the doc from their Docs lists, but they will not receive an email invitation.



You need to be online and signed in to use Google Docs. However, you can export your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, work on them offline, then re-import them to Google Docs.

You can export a spreadsheet in several different file formats, including Excel, .txt, .csv, .pdf, .html, and .ods.
To export a spreadsheet, just choose File > Export and select a file type.

Google Docs ~ Presentation Features

What is it?

Google Presentation is an easy-to-use, online, presentation application where you can create, upload, share, collaborate and store presentations. If you know how to use a presentation program, you will quickly learn Google Presentation.

You can even import existing Powerpoint presentations--but beware.....the program does not currently allow you to download for opening in Powerpoint--other options do exist however.

Creating a New Google Presentation File

Step #1: Sign in with your Google Account
Step #2: Click the "New Document" link, located on the upper left-hand side of the screen.
Step #3: From the dropdown menu, select Presentation

File Menu of Google Presentation

  • New: Creates a New Google Presentation
  • Open: Opens an existing Google presentation
  • Upload a file: Allows you to upload an existing Powerpoint presentation
  • Import Slides: Allows you to import slides from existing Google Presentations
  • Save: Saves the slideshow/presentation
  • Save As: Saves the presentation under a new name
  • Rename: Allows you to change the name of the presentation
  • Delete Presentation: Deletes the presentation from your account (asks first)
  • Print: Allows you to print the presentation
  • Save as a PDF: Allows you to save as a .pdf to your computer
  • Save as Text: Allows you to save as a text file to your computer
  • Start Presentation: Begins the presentation in a new window
  • Discard Changes: Gets rid of the changes back to your last save
  • Save & Close: Saves your presentation and closes the edit window

Edit Menu


From the image above, notice that the EDIT MENU is displayed horizontally, with the insert image, insert shape and change theme selections having additional choices.

Insert Image:
GP_insert_image.jpg* Click on the insert image icon
  • A prompt window will open
  • Browse to the image on your computer and then click OK.

Change Theme:
  • Click on the Change Theme icon
  • A prompt window will open with selections (it scrolls)
  • Make your selection for the theme
(Choices are somewhat limited--know that you can import in a presentation from Powerpoint--some people just save a blank slide and import it in so that they get different themes)
Insert ShapeGP_Shape_window.jpg* Click on the Insert shape icon
  • A dropdown menu will appear
  • Select from the choices given


Editing a Slide:

| Undo | Redo | Font | Font size | Bold | Italics | Underline | Text color | Text background color | Link | List formatting |
  • Listed below the toolbar is a short descriptor of what each icon stands for--most are familiar icons if you have used a word processor before.
  • With a Google Presentation open, you can "mouse over" the tool and a tool indicator will appear letting you know what the tool does.

Presenting, Sharing & Chatting

  • Click on the "Start Presentation" icon along the right side
  • Your presentation will open in a new window
  • The navigation arrows will appear in the lower left corner
  • A URL address will appear in the top right corner that you can share with others
  • A "Chat screen" will appear for people to dialog during the presentation

  • Click on the "Share" Tab from your document
  • Type in the e-mail address of people you would like to share your presentation with.
  • You can allow people to "view" or "collaborate" on your presentation
  • Decide if you want to send an e-mail invitation

  • Chats are "real time" and are not captured or saved
  • Once the chat scrolls off the screen it cannot be read again
  • Screen captures work to "capture" discussions

Other Google Tools
Google Books
Google Book Search is a tool from Google that searches the full text of books that Google scans, OCRs, and stores in its digital database. As of March 2007, the New York Times reported that Google has already digitized one million volumes at an estimated cost of US$5 million[9]

Google Reader - Stay up to date Google Reader constantly checks your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. Whether a site updates daily or monthly, you can be sure that you won't miss a thing.

Why Use Google Reader?
- RSS Compliant: Wealth of high quality content of individual interest is now distributed via RSS, which requires an AGGREGATOR
- Accessibility: As a web-based aggregator, it is accessible from any Internet-connected computer
- Feature-rich: Goes beyond Bloglines in permitting starring and sharing of specific posts
- More Powerful Searching: Permits use of customized live RSS feed searches with tools like Google Blog Search and Technorati
- Free!

RSS: A Quick Start Guide for Educators
Google Groups - A Google Group is a user-owned group created using the Google Groups service. Google Groups not only allows you to manage and archive your mailing list, but also provides a method for true communication and collaboration with group members.
Google Notebook - Google Notebook allows you to clip and organize information from the Web, in the same way you'd clip and save newspaper and magazine articles. You can store these clippings online and access them from any computer with an Internet connection.

Step #1: With your web browser navigate to the Google Notebook

Step #2: Log into Google Notebook using your G-Mail account.

Step #3: Once inside Notebook--click the link to download the browser plug-in. (works with Explorer and Firefox)
Google Blogger - A blog is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.