Tag Archives: Google for Education

Taking learning beyond classroom walls with new features for Back to School



(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

As any teacher would tell you, the classroom isn’t the only place where learning happens — it’s just the tip of the iceberg. From parents who help students with homework, to extracurriculars, field trips and more, there are so many ways students can learn beyond the walls of the classroom. This is why today we’re announcing new features to help teachers inspire learning for students, regardless of place or time.

Parents and guardians stay informed with Google Classroom email summaries

Parent participation has a major impact on student learning. Today, we’re launching a new feature in Google Classroom that will automatically share summaries of student work with parents. Once invited by a teacher, parents and guardians can receive automated daily or weekly email summaries of student work and class announcements, making it easier to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the classroom.
“I enjoy helping my children prepare for assignments that they have coming up – and the earlier I know about them, the better,” says Michelle Barrette, a mother of five Medfield, Massachusetts students and pilot user of the new Classroom feature. “This way I can prevent them from missing deadlines and see if they need help brainstorming topics or solutions.”

Annotations help students color outside the lines — and the classroom

When teachers want to help students understand complex math or science concepts, visuals — like drawings on a whiteboard — can help. But how does this work when students and teachers aren’t in the classroom together? Today, we’re announcing the ability to annotate documents in the Google Classroom mobile app.
Using annotations, students can complete assignments, sketch out math problems or even create visuals of creative ideas directly on their devices. This gives students a portable classroom whiteboard on which they can easily draw and sketch. Now, thinking through complex homework challenges from home, school or on the bus is even easier. 

Teachers can use annotations to quickly grade assignments by writing directly on the student’s work, or highlighting the most important passages in a text or novel. Anne Farrahar, an English teacher in the Medfield Public Schools district, explains how her lessons benefitted from her high school students annotating a critique of Shakespeare’s "The Merchant of Venice." “They highlighted all the ideas they thought were convincing arguments in one color, and all the ideas they disagreed with in another color,” says Farraher. “This gave me the chance to assess students' individual understanding and, based on their responses, gather ideas for future lessons.” 

More Expeditions thousands of miles away or inside the human body

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit the White House Kitchen Garden or what it would be like to travel inside the human body? Today we’re announcing new Expeditions that bring students far beyond the usual places they can travel. With these adventures, like a visit to Bhutan or an exploration of the human vascular systems, teachers are able to deeply immerse students in lessons, creating vivid and memorable learning experiences.

In addition, the Expeditions app is coming soon to iOS. More teachers, including those who use iPads, will be able to share Expeditions with their students by using full-screen mode on the devices in place of a VR viewer. With over 200 Expeditions available, we’re excited for them to experience these virtual field trips on more devices. 

More Google for Education features for busy teachers and curious minds

In celebration of the new school year, we’re excited to share more new tools for teachers and students to break down traditional barriers within the classroom: 

  • A more organized Classroom. To make Classroom even easier to use, teachers can organize the class stream by adding topics to posts, and teachers and students can filter the stream for specific topics. Plus, users can now preview documents, PDFs, images and videos, all without leaving Classroom. 
  • Share your screens wirelessly at school. With the latest Chrome update, Cast for Education is now available to all teachers and students. This free Chrome app carries video and audio across complex school networks and has built-in controls for teachers — no new hardware required. Look out for updates including support for secondary domains coming soon. 
  • Google Forms get an upgrade with images. In Forms, teachers can now add images to questions or as multiple choice answers. This is perfect for subjects like math when students need to show their understanding of diagrams and graphs. 
  • Inbox by Gmail for the classroom. Inbox by Gmail is rolling out to Google for Education users. Coming soon, email notifications from Classroom will be intelligently grouped in Inbox, making it easy for teachers and students to find important updates and highlights. 
Whether students are at home or in the classroom, teachers can continue to inspire and support their curiosity with Expeditions, Classroom, Apps and Chromebooks. Stay tuned this week on Google+ and Twitter for more details on these exciting new tools. 

How tech-based learning spaces are helping spark creativity



(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

Editor's note: Teachers are uniquely inspiring people. It takes a teacher to innovate in the classroom and inspire a love for learning. We had a great time celebrating these everyday heroes at ISTE this week, and we wanted to highlight a few of them below. Check out the #GoogleEdu and #ISTE2016 hashtags to get a recap of what went on in Denver this week.


The teachers at Laguna Beach Unified School District in California and Sun Prairie Area School District in Wisconsin wanted to give their traditional classroom a reboot. By upending the typical classroom layout that confines students to desks and teachers to the front of the room, they increased student engagement, introducing technology, hands-on learning and group activities.

Laguna Beach designs learning spaces to enhance engagement through movement 


“The classroom is the most neglected element in education right now,” says Mike Morrison, chief technology officer at Laguna Beach Unified School District. “You’ll find rooms with dark projectors, the lights out and the blinds drawn. How could these dark spaces inspire learning?” At Laguna Beach, Morrison and 15 teachers plunged into research on the impact that environment has on the senses — and tested technologies, furniture and even colored lighting. The core elements, says Morrison, boiled down to flexible furniture, multiple monitors and audio amplification.

To replace bulky desks that were designed decades ago to be placed in rows, Morrison and his team chose desks and chairs with wheels that can revolve in any direction. This frees up teachers and students to quickly group desks together and direct attention at any part of the classroom — or at each other. There are standing desks as well, giving students the option to have their legs engaged — a boon for students dealing with attention-deficit disorders, Morrison says.

More monitors and whiteboards provide more space for students to work as teams, instead of just watching the teacher up front. “The walls can then become anything we want them to be,” says Morrison — a place for a test review, a team project or solving a math problem as a class.

Morrison and his team also changed the audio and lighting to help set the mood for different types of learning and make it easier for teachers to be heard. Teachers wear lanyard microphones connected to each classroom’s speaker system. “A teacher who spends the day shouting to be heard is stressed, and so is the class,” Morrison says. Teachers use lighting to change wall colors depending on the activity — yellow to encourage quiet reading time, blue for creativity and brainstorming.

About 40 classrooms have been reconfigured to date, with 20 more to come this summer — and the change is palpable, Morrison says. “Teachers are walking around more, and they’re in touch with what students are doing,” Morrison says. “The atmosphere in classrooms is also much calmer.”

Laguna Beach Unified School district put together this fun video — a takeoff on TV’s “The Office” — showing off the classroom improvements.

Classrooms become technology incubators for Sun Prairie Area students 

At Sun Prairie Area School District, teachers are inspiring students to be entrepreneurial and engage with technology. They found that by creating dedicated spaces without any of the usual trappings of a classroom, they could motivate students to break out of their comfort zones and think more outside the box.

One of these learning spaces, “Fab Lab,” was created by Stephanie Breunig, a media specialist for the district’s Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School. Students can use the Fab Lab for school or personal projects. The lab has Legos, digital and GoPro cameras, art supplies, circuit boards and software such as GarageBand, recording software for music and Final Cut Pro, a video editing software. In the Fab Lab, students work with teachers to create their own videos or music mashups and internet memes. They've even started learning 3D printing and robotics.
Student working on a project in the Fab Lab
At Sun Prairie Area, teachers are also evolving learning spaces inside the classroom. With Google Maps, students take virtual tours of the world in their geography lessons, learning details about other cultures that they couldn’t find on a regular map. “Students use Google Maps to explore and take interactive tours of other countries,” says Tim Mortensen, 6th and 7th grade social studies teacher at Patrick Marsh Middle School. “When we learned about the pyramids, they could actually see them on the map and they started asking questions about what they’re made of. Some students even explored the surrounding area, wanting to know more about the hotels and restaurants in Egypt and asking questions like why the McDonalds there has different items on the menu.”

“Literacy no longer means just reading and writing words on a page. Technology has created a new definition of literacy that includes digital,” says Curt Mould, director of innovation, assessment and continuous improvement at Sun Prairie Area School District. To teach with technology, teachers are creating learning spaces defined by interactive learning and experimentation.

Laguna Beach and Sun Prairie Area School Districts have discovered just a few of the ways that disrupting the traditional classroom environment can help engage students. From exploring the world with online activities, to simply taking the classroom outside for a lesson, there are an infinite number of ways that teachers all over are creating new learning spaces to inspire students. Is your school district trying to reinvent the rooms where learning happens? Tell us about your plans to inspire curiosity in the classroom environment.



Teach and learn from everywhere in the classroom with Google Cast for Education



(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

Editor's note: This week we announced four new ways to help teachers engage their classes using Google educational tools. This post dives deeper into one of the those announcements: Cast for Education


In his 11 years of teaching at Hillcrest Elementary in the Lake Stevens School district in Washington State, Bob Coleman has witnessed how educational technology can help advance collaboration and engagement in the classroom. So when the 4th grade teacher found his students stuck on a common math problem, he gathered the class in front of the classroom projector. Sitting behind his desk — now in front of his students and not among them — Mr. Coleman realized that the biggest screen in the room was only available to the teacher.

In Mr. Coleman’s classroom — and for millions of students around the world — both education and technology are expected to be collaborative. But today, the classroom projector is most often out of reach for students. Educators are eager to overcome this barrier, so much so that wireless screen sharing for schools was one of the top features requested by teachers in 2015.

Teachers, we heard you loud and clear. Yesterday we announced Google Cast for Education, a free Chrome app that allows students and teachers to share their screens wirelessly from anywhere in the classroom. Cast for Education carries video and audio across complex school networks, has built-in controls for teachers, and works seamlessly with Google Classroom. And because the app runs on the teacher’s computer that’s connected to the projector, it doesn’t require new hardware. Teachers run the Cast for Education app, and students share their screens through the Cast feature in Chrome.
Teacher view (click image to see larger)
Student view (click image to see larger)
To gather feedback on the product, we had teachers like Mr. Coleman and his colleague Tony Koumaros pilot Cast for Education in their classrooms. Mr. Koumaros knew his students would be excited to share their work with the rest of the class, but he was surprised to discover that they were eager to share even when they didn’t know all of the answers. “Casting makes it fun to ask for help,” he said. “My students enjoyed working through challenges together.”

Erin Turnbach, a 2nd grade teacher who piloted Cast for Education at Tom’s River Regional School District in New Jersey, found herself “co-teaching with a 2nd grader” during a lesson on animals. When the class got stuck during research time, Ms. Turnbach was able to work one-on-one with a student while another casted to the rest of the class. “We’re always trying to encourage teamwork,” Ms Turnbach says. “The end product is stronger when you collaborate and build off each other’s ideas. With Cast for Education, everyone engages and the students take ownership of their learning.”

“It’s hard to imagine not using it now that we have it”, Mr. Coleman says. “Sharing student screens was a big need for us, and now Cast for Education is our daily classroom tool.”

*Note: Visit g.co/CastForEDU to try Cast for Education today in beta, with full availability for Back to School 2016. Chrome management admins can install the new Cast for Education app for all teachers, and the Google Cast extension for their entire domain.

Canberra Public Schools use Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education to help students to "Learn, Anywhere"


(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Daniel Bray, Program Manager, eLearning, for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Education Directorate. A former teacher, Bray initiated a districtwide digital program, which brought Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education into all Canberra public schools. The “Learn, Anywhere” program has since been recognised at the federal government level as a finalist for the national eGovernment Excellence awards for Project and Program Management. You can read full the full ACT case study here.


I work for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Education Directorate, which serves 45,000 students from preschool through year 12 in the 87 schools comprising the Canberra Public School system. In 2013, the Directorate launched a district wide digital transformation program with the goal of empowering students to "Learn, Anywhere.”
Students at Amaroo School, a 'super' school in the Canberra district, that has classes from Kindergarten to Year 12
While we were thrilled at the prospect of helping students learn both inside and outside of the classroom, making this goal a reality came with it’s own unique set of challenges. Our first step was to bring all of Canberra Public Schools into a single, centralised network. We soon realised that our learning management system didn’t scale, and that many schools’ laptops were beyond obsolete. A group of our students, frustrated with computer log-in times, sent our CIO an assignment that recorded log-in times of up to 7 minutes on multiple laptops. That was one of our 'a-ha' moments, and since then, we've taken every effort to use student feedback to inform our overall program strategy.

When we realized that we needed to overhaul the district’s entire technology infrastructure, Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education (including Google Classroom) stood out as a clear choice for us.
Primary students at Amaroo School collaborating on a class project
Chromebooks were affordable and intuitive; Google Apps would let students work from anywhere, on any device; and Google Classroom would let teachers share assignments, track student progress and grade papers — all without printing a single piece of paper.

In 2014, we ran a pilot test with 208 Chromebooks and Google Apps in four primary and secondary schools. During the pilot, the students using Chromebooks and Google Apps experienced super quick logon times and went from 2GB of network storage to enjoying unlimited Google Drive storage. As a Directorate, we couldn’t have been happier with the results: the pilot was a huge success for students, parents and teachers. Most importantly, Google was the choice selected by the schools. Not me. Not the CIO. The schools.

Based on that pilot, in 2015 we decided to roll out Google Apps accounts for all teachers and 32,000 students across the Canberra Public Schools. We also purchased 4,500 Chromebooks (and counting) for schools across the district.

Today, we equip students and teachers with a “Digital Backpack” that comes with Google Classroom and Google Apps, all available in one dashboard. Students get a single login and password for their Google accounts, which stays with them from primary through secondary school.

It’s amazing to watch student learning portfolios grow from year to year. Families can track student development and celebrate achievements, and teachers have a richer, more holistic view of student progress.

By adopting Chromebooks and Google Apps districtwide, we’ve greatly improved the way our students share ideas, give peer feedback and collaborate with each other, in real time. These intuitive and helpful technologies have helped us achieve and exceed our “Learn, Anywhere” vision.


You can read full the full ACT case study here.

Announcing Google Cloud Platform Education Grants for computer science



(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

While university students are on their summer holidays, internships or jobs, their professors are already hard at work planning for fall courses. These course maps will be at the center of student learning, research and academic growth. Google was founded on the basis of the work that Larry and Sergey did as computer science students at Stanford, and we understand the critical role that teachers play in fostering and inspiring the innovation we see today and will see in the years to come. That’s why we’re excited to offer Google Cloud Platform Education Grants for computer science.

Starting today, university faculty in the United States who teach courses in computer science or related subjects can apply for free credits for their students to use across the full suite of Google Cloud Platform tools, like App Engine and the Cloud Machine Learning platform. These credits can be used any time during the 2016-17 academic year and give students access to the same tools and infrastructure used by Google engineers.
Students like Duke University undergrad Brittany Wenger are already taking advantage of cloud computing. After watching several women in her family suffer from breast cancer, Brittany used her knowledge of artificial intelligence to create Cloud4Cancer, an artificial neural network built on top of Google App Engine. By analyzing uploaded scans of benign and malignant breast cancer tumors, Cloud4Cancer has learned to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue. It’s providing health care professionals with a powerful diagnostic tool in the fight against cancer.

Google Cloud Platform offers a range of tools and services that are unique among cloud providers. The tool that Brittany used  Google App Engine  lets you simply build and run an application without having to configure custom infrastructure. Our Machine Learning platform allows you to build models for any type of data, at any size, and TensorFlow provides access to an open-source public software library (tinker with that extensive data here). Students will also be able to get their hands on one of Cloud Platform’s most popular new innovations: the Cloud Vision API, which allows you to incorporate Google’s state-of-the-art image recognition capabilities into the most basic web or mobile app.

We look forward to seeing the creative ways that computer science students will use their Google Cloud Platform Education Grants, and will share stories along the way on this blog.

Computer science faculty in the United States can apply here for Education Grants. Students and others interested in Cloud Platform for Higher Education, should complete this form to register and stay up to date with the latest from Cloud Platform. For more information on Cloud Platform and its uses for higher education, visit our Google Cloud Platform for Higher Education site.

Appreciating 3 computer science teachers upending stereotypes



(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

Editor's note: This post is part of our series for U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week. Look for more content on our blog and social media throughout the week. Don’t forget to add to the conversation using #ThankATeacher.


When I was five years old, I immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan. My sister and I were the only Asians in our entire school, and I remember how my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Marvin, went out of her way to make me feel welcome in the classroom and country. I stayed in touch with her until her passing a few years ago. Our relationship speaks volumes about how influential teachers can be. Later in high school, my math teacher, Mr. Fee, showed me how to apply my math skills in the real world. His practical guidance shaped my career aspirations to study chemical engineering in college and to become a high school math teacher myself.
After moving from Taiwan to the U.S. at age 5, Mo Fong's first experiences with the U.S. School system was formed by her kindergarten teacher Mrs. Marvin, who helped set her up on a path to success. 
All good teachers inspire students to pursue new opportunities and challenge themselves, but science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) teachers and specifically computer science (CS) teachers have to overcome some obstacles that others don’t. Often, there’s not enough access to CS resources in schools, and school officials haven’t adopted a CS curriculum. Only 22% of public school principals say that CS education is a top priority, despite the fact that more than 1.3 million computer and math-based jobs will be created by 2022, according to a joint Google and Gallup study. CS teachers also have to overcome stereotypes that keep many students, especially girls and underrepresented minorities, away from the subject.


In the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to share the stories of three high school CS teachers who are overcoming these obstacles and inspiring students to be passionate about the problems they want to solve in the world.



Diane Terrell - Exposing more students to computer science 



When I think of Diane Johnson Terrell words like strength, empowerment and role model come to mind. Terrell, a high school math and engineering teacher at Oakland Unified School District in California, became a CS teacher via an unconventional path. She was working as a programmer analyst and quickly realized she was one of the only African Americans and females in the industry. One of the main reasons the field isn’t more diverse is because people haven’t been exposed to the field, Terrell says. Now her students understand they can build amazing things with a CS degree, and they can have a lucrative career doing so.


Terrell also is breaking down the idea that CS is only for boys and the affluent. She's introducing a CS program that more than 400 9th graders will take next year, and teaching youth at her church how to code and develop an app for the church together.


“Many students in my community play video games and post on social media, but they don’t understand that a lot of programming and code goes into building them,” Terrell says. “My goal is to get my students to move from being consumers to being builders by creating apps on their phones.”


Another inspiring way Terrell is empowering female students to pursue CS is by connecting them with female executives and doctoral students in the field who mentor them and show them that women can be as successful in the field as men. “After spending time with their mentors at UC Berkeley, girls of color learned they have a phenomenal aptitude to change the world,” Terrell says. “Their confidence exploded and they realized how much of a difference they can make.”



Seth Reichelson - Breaking down the computer science stereotype 



The field of CS shares the unfortunate “geek” stereotype that math and engineering do. But that stereotype doesn’t exist at Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Teacher Seth Reichelson, a White House Champion of Change, has toppled those preconceived notions and made his AP CS class appealing to all students. To make the subject relatable and interesting, he changes his in-class examples to be fun, for example by having students manipulate pixels in a picture instead of doing a bug simulation.


“I won’t acknowledge a stereotype because if you acknowledge it, that’s the same as promoting it,” says Reichelson, who learned this strategy at a National Center for Women & Information Technology workshop. “My students have no idea what the stereotype is.”
The computer science class of 2015 at Lake Brantley High School
Reichelson believes that there should be a diversity requirement that the AP CS student population reflect the diversity of the entire school. He believes a more diverse classroom will lead to a greater diversity of ideas and opinions and thus a smarter, better run workplace. “If you have one type of person working for your company, you’re only going to have one type of solution,” Reichelson says. “You have to have a diverse company to have diverse solutions.”


Leslie Aaronson - Turning the classroom into a startup environment 



After working for Nickelodeon for three years, Leslie Aaronson realized she wanted to teach students communication, collaboration and networking skills in a way that reflects the real world. Today as lead teacher of Foshay Learning Center’s Technology Academy in Los Angeles, California, she’s turned her classroom into a startup environment. She encourages students to take control of their learning and be proactive, instead of waiting for the teacher to provide instructions. “I put learning back into the student’s hands. Students show each other their screens, and when they can’t figure out a solution to a problem, I ask them, ‘What have you tried, and who have you talked to?’ I challenge them to explore all of their resources.”

Aaronson teaches her students to meet with professionals, both to develop the skill of networking and to form strong relationships with people in the industry. She coordinates mentor days and field trips for her students to connect with people at local colleges like USC and UCLA.

To showcase their projects, Aaronson’s students develop a digital portfolio that speaks to their technology skills when applying for college or interviewing for jobs. “Some kids come back to me three years later and say that the portfolio they created in my class got them a job. The most rewarding thing is to know I’m helping people get on their feet and achieve great things in life.”
Leslie with nine of her students who won the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award
These are the stories of just a few of the inspirational CS teachers that are educating the data scientists and software developers of tomorrow. Reach out a hand and support teachers like Diane, Seth and Leslie by donating to a classroom in need at DonorsChoose.org, or partnering with a school to introduce a CS program.

Giving thanks (and time back) to teachers with new updates to Google Classroom




(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)


Matthew Agrall teaches fifth grade at South Elementary School in Des Plaines, Illinois. He juggles teaching all core subjects, leading before-school tutoring, managing fifth grade patrol, participating in student council and playing volleyball in his “free time.”

This is why we created Google Classroom—to help busy teachers like Matt spend less time on logistics and more time on teaching, tutoring and student council-ing. Since we launched Classroom two years ago, we’ve added more than 50 updates to make it easier to manage assignments, communicate with students and stay organized.

Today, on National Teacher Appreciation Day, to show our thanks for the millions of hardworking teachers like Matthew, we’re making it even easier to stay organized and save time with Classroom.

Schedule ahead, post later 


Starting today, teachers can plan ahead by scheduling announcements, assignments and questions to post at a later date or a specific time (great for the early birds who want to get a head start on school planning during the summer ;). Just look for the scheduling option when posting new assignments, questions and announcements. You can find scheduled and draft posts in the “Saved posts” section of your class stream, and you’ll get email and mobile notifications when your scheduled posts go live.


We’re also adding new updates to Classroom over the next week—all designed to help teachers save time and stay organized. Look out for easier-to-read email notifications and updates to our iOS and Android apps.

Coming this fall: keeping parents and guardians in the loop 


We know parents and guardians are instrumental to student success at school. And to the school leaders and teachers who’ve told us they need an easy way to keep guardians updated with what’s happening in Classroom—we hear you! Later this year, we’ll launch email notifications for guardians so they can stay involved and help to motivate their students.

Guardians will be able to sign-up to receive daily or weekly email digests of their student’s progress, upcoming work and class announcements. Administrators will be able to invite guardians directly and set domain-wide policies for guardian linking and notifications.

To teachers like Matthew who are fueling the future—we thank you. Here’s hoping you get all the appreciation you deserve this week . . . and for the rest of the school year.

Incubating leadership: Thank you to the teachers encouraging innovation


Editor's note: This post is part of our series for U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week. Look for more content on our blog and social media throughout the week. Don’t forget to add to the conversation using #ThankATeacher.

I’m in awe of Mrs. Zazulak, my daughter’s 5th grade teacher. She is constantly finding new ways to engage students with her inquiry based learning approach. She inspires her student’s creative writing with “Who would win Wednesdays?” and asks them to write any story about what would happen if King Kong faced off against Godzilla. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States, so we’d like to honor teachers like Mrs. Zazulak and the millions of others who put their talents and passion into educating our children. Below are a few more examples of teachers using creative methods to engage students and teach valuable skills for the future.

Majoring in leadership 

Teachers are dedicated to building the next generation of leaders. Teachers like Lou Ann McKibben at Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, Mississippi are fostering leadership skills and giving students opportunities to experiment with the kinds of projects and tools they’ll encounter in the workplace. For example, Ms. McKibben, an economics teacher, hosts an annual “Shark Tank” day where students pitch their ideas to local business leaders. She’s giving the students a fun way to guide their own learning, while preparing them to share ideas and drive projects in the workplace.
Ms. McKibben with one of her graduating students



Classroom commerce

In addition to developing crucial skills for the future, teachers are empowering students to dream big. Matt Martin, a chemistry teacher at High Tech High in San Diego, California, gave his students a crash course in entrepreneurship that led them to create the Wicked Soap Company, a student-run ecommerce business. Students are involved in every aspect of the company, from creating the soap to reporting on the business to their classmates. From day one, Mr. Martin has encouraged his students to experiment — the idea for Wicked Soap came from one student’s science project — and to follow their instincts. Mr. Martin’s class uses the revenue from the business to fund field trips, reinvest and organize a scholarship for fellow students. By rallying the class around a complex project, Mr. Martin created an experience that inspired students to try new things, work together and believe in their ability to run a business.
Mr. Martin, chemistry teacher at High Tech High




Encouraging innovation 


Teachers are also redefining traditional notions of the classroom and challenging students to do the same. Stacy Dang, who teaches at Cornwall Terrace Elementary in Pennsylvania, created a virtual classroom that supports inquiry-based learning, a method for prompting students to solve problems themselves. In one instance, Ms. Dang created a shared classroom with second graders from Pennsylvania and seventh graders in neighboring New Jersey. Second graders submitted science questions using online forms for the seventh graders to research and answer with presentations. She also encourages students to teach one another in the virtual classroom through “live lessons.” Teachers like Ms. Dang are encouraging young people to learn from themselves and from one another — skills that will help them to think critically, embrace curiosity and see the world in new ways.

To the millions of teachers, including Mrs. Zazulak, Ms. McKibben, Mr. Martin and Ms. Dang, who create dynamic learning experiences that prepare and inspire our children to lead: thank you for the work you do every day. We’ll be posting more on Google for Education Twitter channel and here on this blog throughout the week. It’s a great time to thank teachers for the difference they make — share what you’re thankful for by joining the conversation: #ThankATeacher.

Incubating leadership: Thank you to the teachers encouraging innovation




(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)


Editor's note: This post is part of our series for U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week. Look for more content on our blog and social media throughout the week. Don’t forget to add to the conversation using #ThankATeacher.

I’m in awe of Mrs. Zazulak, my daughter’s 5th grade teacher. She is constantly finding new ways to engage students with her inquiry based learning approach. She inspires her student’s creative writing with “Who would win Wednesdays?” and asks them to write any story about what would happen if King Kong faced off against Godzilla. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States, so we’d like to honor teachers like Mrs. Zazulak and the millions of others who put their talents and passion into educating our children. Below are a few more examples of teachers using creative methods to engage students and teach valuable skills for the future.

Majoring in leadership 

Teachers are dedicated to building the next generation of leaders. Teachers like Lou Ann McKibben at Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson, Mississippi are fostering leadership skills and giving students opportunities to experiment with the kinds of projects and tools they’ll encounter in the workplace. For example, Ms. McKibben, an economics teacher, hosts an annual “Shark Tank” day where students pitch their ideas to local business leaders. She’s giving the students a fun way to guide their own learning, while preparing them to share ideas and drive projects in the workplace.
Ms. McKibben with one of her graduating students

Classroom commerce

In addition to developing crucial skills for the future, teachers are empowering students to dream big. Matt Martin, a chemistry teacher at High Tech High in San Diego, California, gave his students a crash course in entrepreneurship that led them to create the Wicked Soap Company, a student-run ecommerce business. Students are involved in every aspect of the company, from creating the soap to reporting on the business to their classmates. From day one, Mr. Martin has encouraged his students to experiment — the idea for Wicked Soap came from one student’s science project — and to follow their instincts. Mr. Martin’s class uses the revenue from the business to fund field trips, reinvest and organize a scholarship for fellow students. By rallying the class around a complex project, Mr. Martin created an experience that inspired students to try new things, work together and believe in their ability to run a business.
Mr. Martin, chemistry teacher at High Tech High

Encouraging innovation 

Teachers are also redefining traditional notions of the classroom and challenging students to do the same. Stacy Dang, who teaches at Cornwall Terrace Elementary in Pennsylvania, created a virtual classroom that supports inquiry-based learning, a method for prompting students to solve problems themselves. In one instance, Ms. Dang created a shared classroom with second graders from Pennsylvania and seventh graders in neighboring New Jersey. Second graders submitted science questions using online forms for the seventh graders to research and answer with presentations. She also encourages students to teach one another in the virtual classroom through “live lessons.” Teachers like Ms. Dang are encouraging young people to learn from themselves and from one another — skills that will help them to think critically, embrace curiosity and see the world in new ways.


To the millions of teachers, including Mrs. Zazulak, Ms. McKibben, Mr. Martin and Ms. Dang, who create dynamic learning experiences that prepare and inspire our children to lead: thank you for the work you do every day. We’ll be posting more on Google for Education Twitter channel and here on this blog throughout the week. It’s a great time to thank teachers for the difference they make — share what you’re thankful for by joining the conversation: #ThankATeacher.

Going Google and going green: How digital tools help schools reduce their environmental footprint



Editor's note: To celebrate Earth Day, we’re sharing how schools are using technology to be more environmentally friendly.

It’s a tradition in many parts of the world to plant a tree on April 22nd in honor of Earth Day, but some schools are going even further by reducing their use of paper and going digital. Here’s how environmentalism is coming to life in the classroom.

Going paperless 

When Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, introduced Google for Education tools in 2014, they started down the path to becoming paperless. Today, students access handouts, work on assignments and turn them in using Google Classroom, decreasing the amount of printed pages by 100,000 sheets per year and reducing printing by 20 percent. This spring, teachers told Mike Daugherty, director of technology and information systems at Chagrin Schools, they haven’t been to the copier since the start of the school year.

“The traditional model of printing a worksheet for every student is wasteful and outdated,” says Daugherty. “Now printing is an afterthought for most classes.”

Similarly, with more than 900 students and 40 teachers, Westlake Charter Schools in Sacramento, California, used a lot of paper in the classroom and for administrative tasks. Since introducing Google for Education tools a year ago, the schools have reduced their paper use by a third, saving them thousands of dollars. For example, the board of directors stopped printing dozens of paper meeting agendas and policies, and now share Google Docs on a password-protected website. “Before, our schools went through 120 cases of paper a year on average — that’s over a million pieces of paper,” says John Eick, executive director at Westlake Charter Schools.
Students at Westlake Charter Schools use Chromebooks to access resources and turn in assignments, reducing their paper consumption.




Turning paper-based books into digital books

Tennessee’s Tullahoma City Schools took a creative earth-friendly approach by integrating interactive content into the classroom: they created digital textbooks using Google Docs. These open-source textbooks are accessible on any device and can be edited to include timely information, reducing the number of paper textbooks purchased. “Since our district is 1:1 in grades 3 through 12, we have the capability to deliver digital content electronically. However, those districts who are not 1:1 can still use open-source textbooks since hard copies can be generated and printed for students’ use at a fraction of the cost in comparison to paying a publisher $80 for a textbook,” says Dan Lawson, superintendent at Tullahoma City Schools.

The schools have transitioned to digital social studies and math content, and plan to have digital textbooks for all core subjects in the 2017-2018 school year. They’re also helping other schools create digital textbooks and take a green approach when introducing new technology.
Tullahoma City Schools is reducing the number of paper textbooks in the classroom by creating digital textbooks.




Building awareness about recycling 

Many green programs are spearheaded by schools and teachers, but at Bronx Community Charter School in New York, fifth graders Amma Nkatiaah and Julia Malyzsko led the environmental initiative. Nkatiaah says, “We wanted our classmates to realize how much waste they’re producing.”

The students emailed Google asking them to bring the Expeditions Pioneer Program, a virtual reality program in which students use Android phones and Google Cardboard to go on virtual field trips, to their school and teach their peers the importance of being environmentally friendly. Their wish was granted: the Google for Education team and our partner Subaru brought Expeditions to Bronx Community Charter School, and fifth graders went on virtual field trips to the local sanitation facility and recycling plant to see where their waste goes. Students were immediately inspired to start identifying ways to cut back on their waste.

 “Since we started this big idea, there can be many other students that can follow in our footsteps, or many other people try and maybe get different ideas,” Malyzsko says. “I think it’s really amazing that we get to take the first step and be the root of all of this.”

Bronx Community Charter School students going on an Expedition to a local recycling plant to learn more about being environmentally friendly




These schools are pushing the boundaries on how they use educational technology by adopting a paperless mindset and finding 21st century solutions to use less paper. Here are four ways to make your school more green:
  1. Replace paper-based resources with digital ones
  2. Choose technology with low-energy consumption and long battery life 
  3. Encourage students to find new ways to introduce digital tools 
  4. Start a classroom recycling program for paper and used electronics 
How is your school reducing its environmental footprint using technology? We want to hear from you — share your story below or on Twitter and tag us (@GoogleEdu) or include the #GoogleEdu hashtag.