23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Kids About Learning

Eric Curts on episode 214 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Eric Curts @ericcurts  teaches us twenty-three ways to use Gsuite tools in our classroom. With ideas for Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings for all subjects and ages, you’ll want to scroll down and follow the links in our enhanced show notes.

eric curts 28 ways to use gsuite

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Transcript of Episode 214: 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts

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VICKI:          It’s back to school and so many of us are getting ready to introduce the G-Suite of tools in the classroom for those of you who don’t know what that is. That’s all these Google tools. And Eric Curts @ericcurts from Control Alt Achieve   and co-leader of their higher Google Educators group has so many fantastic ideas. You’d definitely want to check the transcript and show notes for all of these ideas.

This blog post is being added to 100+ Great Google Classroom Resources for Educators. This resource has a curated list of Gsuite resources, books, and tips.

You’ll definitely want to go to Eric’s website Control Alt Achieve and his YouTube channel.

VICKI:                    So Eric, give us some cool ways that we can use G-Suite to start of the school year with a punch.

ERIC:               What I’m going to take a look at here as we run through these today are just some of the common Google tools that we tend to use but maybe look at them from a different angle and some fun ways they can be used. So why don’t we start off with Google Docs. http://ift.tt/2eKfGZe

Today, Eric goes through some engaging ideas for using 4 of the Gsuite apps:

    ERIC:               Most people think of that as Google’s word processing program which obviously it is and that’s a fantastic way for students to write reports and wrote stories on all the normal things. But some fun twists that you can put on this, some folks don’t know that Google Docs support emojis. You can actually insert emojis right from the ‘insert special characters’ menu and it’s going to open up a lot of really fun activities for students.

gsuite ideas to excite kids about learning

Idea #1: Write Emoji Stories

Idea #2: Summarize Something You’ve Seen or Read Using Emojis

If you’re looking for a way to get them engaged and excited early on in the year, they can write emoji stories or they can summarize a story or a movie or something they’ve seen recently using emojis.

See: 5 Emoji Activities for Google Docs  where Eric describes how to do all of these emoji activities including the emoji math picture shown below.

Idea #3: Use Emojis to Explain Math Variables

ERIC: They can also incorporate this into math. Yes, I used to be a math teacher so I just have a soft spot for math.


Emojis can be a great way to replace variables to bring a better concrete understanding of what you’re doing when solving math problems. And then there’s a lot of other possible neat examples. And like you said in the show notes, there’d be links to all of my blog post that go into the specific details on those. But that’s a fun thing.

Emojis help variables come alive and make sense. See Eric's blog post on emojis in Google docs to learn how to do this.

Emojis help variables come alive and make sense. See Eric’s blog post on emojis in Google docs to learn how to do this.

Idea #4: Black Out Poetry in Google Docs

ERIC: While still on the topic of docs another neat thing to do is to use the highlight tool but not for highlighting. Let’s turn it on its head and use it to black things out. In Google Docs you can use the highlighting tool to do blackout poetry where students start with some text and then remove all the words except what they want to leave for their found poem, you can also use the exact same tool to do summarization.

Idea #5: Article Summarization with Black Out in Google Docs

It’s a process called text reduction strategy which is typically done with a big black marker and an actual piece of paper or an article, but you can do it in Google Docs as well, you can take an article from one of the many excellent websites like DOGO News, throw that in there and have the students go through and remove everything that’s not critical so that they end up with their summarization of the article. It’s a great way to help move students toward those summarization skills.

Read More: Improve Reading Comprehension with Google Docs “Black Out”

Idea #6: Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

Beyond that, lots of other fun things you can do include creating choose your own adventure stories. Create one for students to work together in a group where they write a story and use hyperlinks inside of the doc to jump to different pages as they write their choose your own adventure stories.

Those are just a couple of Docs ideas.

Read More: Choose Your Own Adventure Stories with Google Docs

Idea #7: Teach Anchors and Hyperlinks

VICKI:          And plus, choose your own adventure, we give you the ability to teach about anchors and teach about hyperlinks. There are so many things you can do with these ideas. I love them, Eric.

A hyperlink links to another web page. (Just go to insert –> Hyperlink.) However, an anchor links within the document. This lets you skip down a long page. I do this an easy way in a long document by making headings. Then, insert a table of contents. The headings automatically become anchors. You can also insert anchors manually.  they are a big time saver for students and teaches on long documents, for example, if you’re writing a book.

ERIC:           Absolutely.

VICKI:          Okay, what’s next?

ERIC:            Sure. Let’s jump over to Google Slides. http://ift.tt/2gZkhrf

A lot of times we think of Google slides as the presentation tool, which of course it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that, please don’t get me wrong. It’s fantastic for kids to just do a presentation. Stand up in front of the class, do a book talk or talk about their explorer or their animal. But there’s a lot of other fun things you can do with slides.

Idea #8: Comic Strips with Google Slides


ERIC: One way to do is to create comic strips with Google Slides.   And what you can do is think of each slide as a different panel of the comic strip. And students could then insert clip art and animations and speech bubbles. And when they then published that to the web you’ve got an online animated comic strip, whether it’s to explain a vocab term or science concept or retell part of a story.

Read more: Creative Slide Uses for Students

Idea #9: Create eBooks or Storybooks with Google Slides

In the same vein you can create eBooks or storybooks with Google Slides   where each slide is a page of the eBook and you are allowed to change the page dimensions, it doesn’t have to be the normal landscape. You can make it portrait, you can make a square to make it whatever size book you want.

Read: Google Slides for Student Created Storybooks

Idea #10: Create Stop Motion Animations in Google Slides

Other fun things include stop motion animation. This is a fun trick you can do with slides where basically you just speed up the slide show by hacking the URL just a little bit on the presentation so that you get each slide going by maybe a quarter of a second and you can either take actual photographs using the built-in webcam of your Chromebook or whatever device you have or you can just add images and move them around from one slide to the other.

Read: Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides

Idea #11: Dr. Seus Manipulative Slide Show

But, again, it’s another great creative way for kids to tell stories or express their understanding. Beyond that, some other fun things you can do especially with the little ones – I do have a bunch of manipulative type slide shows. We’ve got a one-fish, two-fish, red-fish, blue-fish sorting activity,   that’s great when you’re doing Dr. Seuss stuff.

Read: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” Sorting with Google Slides

Idea #12 Build a Snowman Creation and Writing Activity with Google Slides

I’ve also got a Build a snowman one.    You may want to hang off on that a little bit further into the winter month, there’s great template that allows students to build their own snowman with a wide collection of eyes and noses and mouths and ears and hats and all sorts of other things. And so they copy and paste those onto their snowman and then there’s a box where they write a little story about what their snowman has done that day or what he’s going to be going off to do.

So lots of real fun things that you could do with slides besides just a traditional presentation.

Read: Build a Snowman with Google Slides

Idea #13: Pixel Art in Google Sheets

VICKI:          Now, all these hacks, you have cute little videos and tutorials and things to help us. So we’re just giving you teachers an overview and then you could pick what you want. So do we have time for another?


ERIC:                Sure. Google Sheets  is another fun one. We usually think of Google Sheets as something for math or for doing charts and graphs and it certainly is. Don’t forget that it’s always great for that. But it’s also a great way to do things like pixel art.   I have a template that you can use where you simply put in some letters there and it creates a colored in box for each one of those and you can make pixel art.

Read: Pixel Art Activities for Any Subject with Google Sheets

Idea #14: Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

ERIC: Or how about language art with Google Sheets? Absolutely. Sheets are great for randomization.

So I’ve got two templates for random writing prompt generators.  One gives works being randomly put together…

Read: Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

Idea #15: Random Emoji Writing Prompt Generator

ERIC:  …another one is random emojis being put together.   And both places, it allows you to generate a whole bunch of random writing prompts that will be great for journal entries, short stories or poems.

Read: Emoji Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

Idea #16: Create Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

ERIC: Beyond that, if we can still squeeze something in I’ll throw in Google Drawings. http://ift.tt/2gZl5MJ

One of my favorites, I think it’s overlooked a lot of times because it’s kind of hidden down in the menus there but Google Drawings is a great way to do loads of things including graphic organizers…

Read: Language Arts Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

Idea #17: Create Interactive Posters with Google Drawings (These are like Thinglink)

ERIC: …interactive images which is like ThingLink, people are familiar with that.  You can use Google Drawings to make images and put hyperlinks on that branch out to videos and websites and additional information.

Read: Googlink: Creating Interactive Posters with Google Drawings

Idea #18: Magnetic “Drag and Drop” Poetry

ERIC: Google drawings is a great way for creativity with magnetic poetry, drag and drop poetry.   It’s also fantastic for math.

Read: Eric has two articles on magnetic poetry

Idea #19: Use Manipulatives and Tangrams in Google Drawings

ERIC: A lot of great manipulatives and interactives you can do such as teaching congruent figures and similar figures,  partitioning shapes…

Read: Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings

Idea #20: Download Templates to Teach Shapes and Algebra So You Don’t Have to Create Them Yourself

ERIC: we’ve got algebra tile, pattern blocks, lots and lots of templates that I’ve created that you can just hit the ground running with those.

Read: 11 Ways to Teach Math with Google Drawings

Idea #21: Create Greeting Cards Using Google Drawings

ERIC: But Google Drawing also services well as a desktop publishing tool because it really isn’t something built into Google Suite that quite does what Microsoft publisher does. And so Drawings is a nice stand in for that for things like creating greeting cards, I’ve got a couple of templates for that…

Read: How Your Students Can Use Google Drawings to Make Greeting Cards

Idea #22: Make Motivational Posters in Google Drawings

ERIC: as well as making educational, motivational posters.  We’re used to those big black posters with the big picture and word at the bottom with a neat saying. Those can be done for actual motivation topics or you can pick a vocab term of the week and then add an appropriate image to go with it and a definition in your own terms.

Read: Have Students Create Educational “Motivational Posters” with Google Drawings

Idea #23: Explore Templates on Eric’ Site


ERIC:                    And all of those again, those templates are all available on the control of the ControlAltAchieve.com website.

Read: Here is an index of templates on Eric’s site. What a fantastic resource!

VICKI:          Teachers, I know your mind is blown but here’s the thing, you’ve all got great ideas, whether it’s emojis for variables in algebra there’s so many ideas. So one of the greatest things to do with kids is to show them something they’ve never seen before. And the best time to do that is in the first week or two of school. Blow their minds.

Follow the links in the show notes and I love Eric website particular because he shows us how to do stuff but also all the free templates. I have been tweeting out and sending out stuff of his all day, the day we’re taping here just because I love it. It’s great resource for G-Suite. And good luck with back to school. And get in there and use these tools and have some fun.

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Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at http://ift.tt/2quX4Nu. Never stop learning.

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[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as SubmittedEric Curts

Eric has been in education for 25 years, and is currently serving as a Technology Integration Specialist for the Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium in Canton, Ohio where he oversees Google Apps for Education implementation, training, and support, as well as online learning and other technology integration initiatives.

Eric is an authorized Google Education Trainer and a Google Certified Innovator and provides Google Apps training to schools, organizations, and conferences throughout Ohio and across the country. He is a co-leader of the Ohio Google Educator Group (GEG) at tiny.cc/geg-ohio and runs the award-winning blog http://ift.tt/1W5EJjQ where all of his Google Apps and edtech resources can be found. Eric is married with four children.


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