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TeachNet Grant: Getting Organized with Google Applications

Anne Kornfeld

Please add your school and address.

Grade/Subject: 11-12: Business/Technology/College Prep

About the Grant:


Computers with Internet access and current versions of browsers (i.e., IE 7, Firefox 2.0) (Java scripts should be turned on as well as the web browser acceptance of “cookies”)


The students gain an understanding of the power of the Google Applications as organizational tools to better facilitate time management and achievement while utilizing state-of-the-art Web 2.0 tools.

How it Works: 

By using Google Applications, students will learn to set up Google/G-mail accounts, personalize their homepage (iGoogle) and toolbar, and use applications to fulfill assignments, collaborate with others in online editing, and keep online calendar(s). Assignments are geared toward college-bound seniors, but Google Applications can be used in myriad of ways.

Final Project/Product:

Students will manage their Google accounts; create an original iGoogle start-up page and  customized tool bar, and have at least two co-edited documents and filled-out multiple calendars for at least two months.

Overall Value: 

Having the ability to access Google’s web-based tools and services makes students more productive, as their work can be accessed on any computer, thereby going beyond classroom walls. Applications are available on mobile devices and offer the possibility for collaboration while allowing for integration with other programs such as Microsoft Excel or Open Office. As students utilize their custom-made homepage, they will be able to save time searching for previously used sites while having needed information at their fingertips. Furthermore, Google can be accessed off-line in the event that Internet connectivity is unavailable.

By utilizing a web-based application, students avoid compatibility issues and formatting/program conflicts when working on multiple computers. Moreover, Google Applications offers tools that can help students keep logs of assignments, perform peer-editing and collaborative writing online, and organize their work in a professional manner. The following applications will be discussed here: Gmail accounts, personalized start-up pages, Google Calendar, and Google Docs, which shares and edits documents and offers spreadsheets, slideshows, and more.

Tips for the Teacher:

·      Google Applications are offered free to institutions with domain names ending in "edu".

·      If you already have a Gmail account, you will automatically have a Google account, but not vice-versa.

·      When setting up Google accounts, a box can be checked to “enable web history”.  With this, students can keep track of their own searches for further use.

·      Students can customize the Google toolbar to their liking by adding buttons, bookmarks, etc.

·      If you are the administrator of the accounts, you can share the school district calendar with all users with one of the calendar functions.

·      An educational wiki with videos explaining the features of Google tools would be ideally be viewed by the class with an LCD projector connected to a computer. If this is unavailable, students will need headphones to view these videos individually.


1. Management of a Google account and Gmail for professional/academic purposes.

2. Creation of an individual homepage using iGoogle.

3. Creation of interactive online calendars.

4. Participate in collaborative online writing.

Websites Used


This site provides an overview of time-saving information management tips, including Google Applications.



A wiki dedicated to Google Applications.



A wiki section that explains Google Docs.



Google secure e-mail service for schools.



Google applications educators’ community. 



(See also http://steverubel.com)

Extending the use of Gmail into a business center.



Understanding Internet etiquette (“netiquette”) for online work purposes.

http://edu.googleapps.com/tutorials-and-tips  Tutorials & Tips
View videos and tutorials on using Google Apps in the school and classroom.


Standards Addressed:

Standard 1:

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. They apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes; create original works as a means of personal or group expression; use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues; and identify trends and forecast possibilities.

Grade: High School

Subject: Technology


Standard 2:

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. They interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media; communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats; develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures; and contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.

Grade: High School

Subject: Technology


Standard 3:

Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. They identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation; plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project;

collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions; and

use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions.

Grade: High School

Subject: Technology

Lesson 1:

Title: Getting Started with Google

Project Objectives:

1.  To acquaint students with Google Applications.

2.  To create Google Accounts.

3.  To use Gmail to create and send a letter.


1. Direct students to an overview of Google Applications at the following wiki: http://googletools.barrow.wikispaces.net/ and in class discussion, solicit from them the advantages of using the applications.

2. Student accounts get set up. Explain to students that they can have multiple accounts for their personal e-mail usage, but this Google account will be used for class purposes. You may want to administer and keep a list of working passwords. Passwords must be at least eight characters long. Standard system user names can be created, i.e., last name, first initial and a number to help avoid spammers. Remember that account names are case sensitive, so upper/lower-case-letter usage is important.

3: Accounts can be created at: http://ww.google.com  (see “Create One Now”). Students should follow the prompts. They will be asked to provide an alternative e-mail account where a verification letter will be sent from Google. Students will have to check this other account and should check the e-mail spam folder to see if verification has gone there and also remove the spam guard for Google.

4: After the accounts are set up, direct students to the settings where they can see the possibilities for changing their accounts. Students may edit their personal information, filter mail to be indicated as important, and add applications.


Read the article on netiquette at http://livinginternet.com/i/ia_nq.htm 


Each student sends a e-mail letter of introduction from their new Google accounts that demonstrates adherence to netiquette guidelines.

Lesson 2:

Title: Let’s Get Personal: iGoogle

Project Objectives:

1. To create personalized homepages where necessary information can be called up quickly.

2. To subscribe to an RSS feed.

Materials: The same materials are needed throughout the lesson.


1. View the iGoogle Product Tour to see the possibilities for setting one’s personalized startup page. Students can add content to subscribe to various calendars, RSS feeds, and widgets as needed:  http://googletools.barrow.wikispaces.net/iGoogle

2. Demonstrate an ideal iGoogle page to the class by showing the various areas covered on the page. Point out the various functions, such as Google links (web, images, maps, news, Gmail, etc.), the account name being used, a link to the account, and sign out. Under these tabs are “Select Theme” and “Add Stuff”. These tabs enable the class to do the main work for this lesson by choosing theme and content.

3. You can create a Google page after signing in to your account or going to: http://google.com.au/ig?hl=en Here students can choose a theme according to areas of interest. They can preview several items by using the “See your page” button, will be able to change the items at any time.  Start by choosing a theme for the page, or students can use “search for themes” to find a theme that they like. Some themes change throughout the day to indicate sunrise, sunsets, etc.  After a theme is selected, choose the “Add It Now” button.

4. Now add the content. There are over 20,000 iGoogle gadgets available, so preview and chose those essential to your class’s purpose. When you click on the “Add Stuff” button, an array of offerings appear with thumbnail icons of the website and a brief description of its contents. On the left side of the page, you can click a tab to see most users and the newest gadgets. For high school students, I recommend the following sites: The New York Times, Calendar, Weather, Quote of the Day, etc. This customization relies on the subject area that you are teaching, so choose as needed. As students chose content, use the “Add It Now” button and the content will appear on their homepages in the form of small modules with a few recent postings. Scrolling through these boxes accesses older postings.

5. As certain gadgets are chosen, they may make accommodations for further customization such as weather, which can tell the conditions in more than one place. These changes are made by using the “edit settings” button to expand options. Always hit “Save” after making changes. If you want the entire class to know about a gadget, there is an arrow in the upper right corner so you can send an recommending e-mail. A “Share this Gadget” dialogue box will appear and you can choose from all Gmail contacts, and additional e-mail addresses can be entered at the bottom of the dialogue box. Then click the “Send Invites” button and the notified students can chose it if they like.

6. To keep students abreast of new material on a website or the most current news events on the gadget-adding page, click the "Add Feed or Gadget” link on the lower-left side of the page and then copy and paste a URL inside to activate this feed.

7. By now, there might be a lot of information on the page so check to see if anything needs to be edited or moved. The module boxes can be moved by simply clicking the cursor on the top of the box and dragging it to a new location.


Students will create their iGoogle page to include the following gadgets plus two others of their choosing: The New York Times, Calendar, Weather, and Quote of the Day

(choose sites to fit your content area interest).

Lesson 3:

Title: Keeping It All Together with Google Calendars

Project Objectives:

1. Create a Google calendar.

2. Share and make public the calendar.

3  Enter assignments, deadlines, and other important information on the calendar.

4. Create an RSVP and event discussion from a calendar.

Materials:  The same materials are needed throughout the lesson.


1. Look at the overview and setup of the Google calendar attributes. Solicit from students what they think is important in a calendar and what the advantages of sharing a calendar can be. Keep in mind that the Google calendars can also be synchronized with proprietary software such as those that come with Blackberrys, Apple’s iCal, Microsoft Outlook, etc.: http://googletools.barrow.wikispaces.net/Google+Calendar

2. The Google calendar is located at: http://calendar.google.com

Sign into the account, or the calendar is easily available by clicking on the upper-left- side link in G-mail.

3. To set up the calendar, add requested information to a dialogue box. The time zone is especially important.

4. A default calendar will then appear and students can begin to place their class schedule in the boxes by clicking on “Create Event” or “Quick Ad” links on the left side of the page.

5. Explain that the calendar can be shown with different views so that they may want to do some long-range planning. I suggest that they must always consider one month ahead.

6. To create a new calendar, go to the left side of the page, click “Add” then “Create a New Calendar”. Give the calendar a name: “Deadlines”.

7. Write a description for the calendar, which, in this case will be for "Seniors who need to register for college admission tests and hand in college applications."

8. Calendars can be made private or public. In this case, the students can be paired with another to share the “Deadlines” information. Sharing is done by choosing the preferred calendar and selecting the “Share” button. Conversely, public calendars can be made private by using the share tab and clicking its drop-down menu, then turning off “Make this Calendar Public” and clicking “Save.”

9. To share your calendar with another person (or group), go to the “Share This Calendar” link and the details will open in a dialogue box and choose the specific person.


Students will use their calendar to give details of an event like a school dance or athletic event. Enter the event on the calendar and double-click it and a dialogue bubble will appear. Add the details by following the prompts and hitting “Save”. To invite others to the event, double-click on the event and a dialogue box will appear and a “Guests” box will be made available. Here, e-mail addresses can be typed along with a message box.

After students have invited each other, they should send an RSVP (the term may need some explaining) when they receive the e-mail by choosing an answer under “Will you attend?”. There are “yes/no/maybe” tabs available. and if yes is checked it will be indicated on the primary Google calendar that was created.


Students will have created at least two calendars, shared one calendar with another, and sent an RSVP to an event.

Lesson 4

Title: Getting Acquainted with Google Docs

 Project Objectives:

1. Students will gain an overview of the uses for Google Docs.

2. Students will create, save, and share a document with a partner or small group using Google docs.

3. Students will leave proofreading comments on a document.

Materials: The same materials are needed throughout the lesson.


1. Go to http://googletools.barrow.wikispaces.net/Google+Docs and view the video “Google Docs in Plain English 2:50”. Have a class discussion on the advantages of using Google Docs. Explain that Google Docs offers the same capabilities as Microsoft, but allows access from any computer and allows collaboration on a document up to 10 people can edit the same document at the same time and multiple users can be invited to edit (or view) the document online.

2. Go to the Google Docs area by either clicking on the tab in Gmail or the sign-in page: www.docs.google.com and enter account name and password. This will bring you to the Google Docs homepage.

3. Outline the features of the homepage, which looks rather similar to a Microsoft Word document.

4. After clicking on the “New” tab, content can be created here or copied and pasted from another document. In this case, students will use their college essay to receive feedback from one another.

5. After saving their work to their Google Docs account, use the “Invite Collaborators” on the upper-right-hand corner. Collaborators can either have the” View Only” option or the ability to “Edit”. Choose edit.

6. In pairs, students will proofread each other’s essays. They can assist with grammar and give feedback by using the Insert>Comments tabs.

 Students should complete their interactive writing by giving their partner at least two positive comments and one comment with an area for improvement or a question if something is unclear.


After students have given feedback to one another, they should share with you, add comments, and then do a second draft on Google Docs. Repeat subsequent drafts via GoogleDocs as necessary.


Students have given feedback to peers utilizing Google Docs. They will have at least two documents saved to their Google Docs homepage.

Anne Kornfeld teaches digital media in all of its many wondrous forms at Newcomers High School in Long Island City, Queens. She also teaches the Web 2.0 class for Teachers Network.


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