Google Sites Website Creation in G4 – Coetail Course 1 Final Project

Unit Planner

I started out writing this unit based on an idea I had for our Grade 4 Sharing the Planet unit. This is a unit that the Grade 4 team had always written a nonfiction report as their writing integration. This year we looked at ways to develop that into something integrated technology beyond the student’s typing their report. Since I had been using Google Sites this year to build several websites, I suggested using a Google Site as the product of the writing unit that integrated with this unit of inquiry. I choose to develop what we started this year into a more fully realized unit for my final unit. One of the reasons is that am developing this lesson further is because I can see it being used with several grade levels and several units. I wanted to make sure that I had a fully developed lesson so that when I discuss integration with teachers I can give them a fuller understanding of what is involved in a project of this nature.

One of the struggles that I find is that teachers severely underestimate the amount of time needed to complete a unit like this. Also, they don’t always see all of the ways they can incorporate elements of this unit into what they already do within the course of a unit. Writing it out in this much detail allows me to show them all of these things.

Most of the changes that I made were to break down the lessons in more detail to include both the integrationist role and the class teacher role. I also had to think of the unit differently than I was originally thinking since my role is fully integrated into the classroom, I had originally started to plan this unit using the original Unit of Inquiry. Then, I realized that I needed to think of it as a sub unit within the full unit. Once I realized that I began to see more clearly where I needed to develop the unit and how to explain the steps and elements necessary to complete it.

One element that could make this unit link into the coursework that we have done so far would be to try to create a global collaboration with another school/class doing a similar unit for their Sharing the Planet theme. We could work together on the websites with each class member having different pages/roles with the creation of the website. This would also allow students to do peer editing with peers that may have different perspectives. Because of this, I have already contacted a fellow teacher about this possibility. So hopefully that is something that we can develop further.

The biggest influence I think has been making sure that the unit plan clearly identifies both the integrationist and class teacher’s roles so that they have a clear understanding of the plan. It also gives me a good understanding of the amount of time it takes to teach the lesson effectively as well as the level of commitment that the teachers will need to give to make sure that the unit is a success. In my unit plan, I tried to make the roles and time needed clear for everyone to understand. I also tried to show areas where elements of this unit can be integrated into lessons and time commitments that the teacher will have already set aside for the unit of inquiry. All of this is part of the planning process which is what I talked about in my third week.

In the end, I hope to see student created websites that show many different ways for information to be shared with others. I hope that students will take some of their time and think of interesting ways to add to their website. I look forward to seeing what creative ways they can share their knowledge with others in interesting ways. I would like to see a progression of student’s skills in regards to their research skills in their ability to find information, site information and rewording of the information for their audience. As well as a progression of their skills with using the G Suite apps. Especially students who were using them heavily in previous years.

I look forward to sharing this unit plan and to teaching it in the next school year!

Slam Session: Google Feedback Button

I have it on good authority from Google employees that the feedback button on the Google Apps is actually used to collect information which leads to the further development of an app. I have also had personal experience of Google customer service contacting me after I have submitted feedback to follow up on the information that I gave and help resolve it. 

Here is a quick video on how to give feedback in the Google apps. 


Google in Reality

I recently shared google drive with our 4th and 5th grade classrooms.
I was not surprised by the speed at which they understood the basics of how the google drive works and how they can use it to make things easier for themselves. I have found that once I have a chance to show someone how google works they are always amazed at how fast they pick it up.  I have to say that much of that is due to the fact that Google has made an effort to make their icons universal to other word processors.  Why reinvent the wheel when it works well already!

The students were able to grasp the concept of the importance of knowing where everyone is on a document when I let 17 of the them loose on the same document with only the instruction of “type this …”  It was fun to sit back, watch and listen to the chaos that ensued!  But in the chaos they quickly realised what I could have told them, but they might not have taken in.  “Make sure you know where the other people are on the document and watch what you are doing.”  Much of their issues comes from the fact that many of them still type with their eyes pointed at their hands so they don’t see what is happening on the screen until they finish typing.

In a similar way I let them loose on a presentation with the instruction to add a slide with some specific things on it.  I also said that they could change anything but the theme.  Most listened a couple didn’t, but the chaos wasn’t nearly as crazy.  They were a bit more cautious after having the first exposure to the document.

They quickly began to see how the google drive options are going to help them in their exhibition in the spring to work together in a collaborative way.

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Google Shortner

I discovered Google Shortener a few years ago and I fell in love.

 If you have ever tried to give a group of students a web address to copy then you will love this too!  Google shortener allows you to take a web address and make it shorter.  All google shortened addresses begin with then end in 5 or 6 characters.  You don’t need to have the “www.” or the “http://” in front of it.  Just click in the address bar and start with the  You can imagine how much easier that is for kids to copy.

The biggest trick is to teach the kids that they have to use case sensitivity.  They must make capital letters, capital and lower case letters, lower case.  Some kids get that straight away and others, well they struggle.  Once they get it sorted though it helps them with other types of addresses too.  I have used this with children as young as grade one and they have been able to successfully link to a website by typing in a google shortened address.  
I have also found that this is a good resource when emailing addresses to people or putting web addresses in newsletters.  It saves loads of space and leads to less mistakes when people copy the address.

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Google Forms-the Basics

Google Forms are a great way to collect data.  I have used them to register teachers for PD, find out how comfortable teachers are with IT and schedule my IT lessons.  I will attempt to explain the basics of how to use Google Forms in this post.

Start by opening your Google Drive.  Then click ‘Create” and choose Form.  You will open into the default screen where you can name your form and choose a template.  At the moment Google’s templates are very limited.  Once you have chosen a template, which you can change later, it will open into the editing screen.  You are able to give your form a title and a description. Unfortunately at this moment in time, you can’t change any of the format features like font, size and color.

I have found that on nearly all of the forms I create “your name” is the first question I make.  Once you type your first question into the “question title” box, you can add more information in the “help text” where you can give an example of more information on what you want the question to be about.  Then you choose the type of answer that you want.  All of these things can be edited at a later date.  You can also move questions up and down on the form by clicking them and dragging it to where you want it. You can add as many questions as you want in this section.  Google has also recently added the option to add images to your form.

Once you are finished with your questions you need to tell the form where to send your responses.  At the top you will see a “choose response destination” button.  When you click on it you can choose to send your responses to a new spreadsheet or a new page in an existing one.

You also see a button towards the top called “view live form” which allows you to see the form as it looks to viewers.  This is helpful to get an idea of what it looks like, if the questions are in the order you would like and if you want to test it.  Viewing the live form is also where you get the URL to email people who you would like to use your form.

One of the things that you might want to do occasionally is unlink and relink a form so that you can de-clutter your responses page.  I do this at the end of each month so that I don’t have to scroll through so many responses.  You do this on the form by clicking “responses” then “unlink” form.  They you can click the “choose response destination” and then add a new page to the existing response page.  This will keep all of your responses in one spreadsheet workbook but on different tabs.

You might want to set up your form so that it sends you an email notification each time you receive a response.  You will need to do this by going to the spreadsheet that the form is connected to.  Click on “Tools” then click “notification rules”.  You have several options to choose from here for how the form notifies you.

If you would like to see these in action check out this video from Google on Google Forms.

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Google Docs-Getting Started

Step 1 of getting into Google Docs is to get a Google account. and create an account.  You need to decide if you want a new account that will include a new email address, which you will need to occasionally check. Or if you want to use an existing email address.  I use my account because I didn’t want another email account to check. The only disadvantage I have noticed so far is when trying to log into multiple accounts.
If you already use Gmail for your email, then you already have a Google account! If you don’t then you need to set one up.  Start by going to any Google site like

Once you have set up and account you only need to bookmark so that you can go back to it.  If you are a person with intermittent internet you might want to download Google Drive. This allows you to work offline when your internet is down and then sync your files when your internet is working.  If you are not using Google Chrome as a web browser, then you may want to download that as well.  It is the best, but not only, browser to use with Docs.  You can use any other browser.
Now that your set up. When you log in the default page is your “drive”. On the left you will see a menu of choices.  Their is a create button next to an upload button. This is where you start a new project or upload an existing one.  If you upload a document from your files it will ask you to convert it.  If you are simply storing this document in your drive, then it is not necessary to covert it.  If you want to edit the document it is better to convert it.

 **** Warning: Google Docs does not like tables from Word, you will have to reformat them.****

To start a new document, click on “create”.  When you do you will get some choices.  New folder is for creating folders to organize your drive items into. Document is a blank piece of paper defaulted to US letter.  (This can be changed.) Presentation is like a Powerpoint or Keynote. Spreadsheet is like and Excel or Numbers workbook.  Form is to create an online submittable for for people to fill in.  Drawing which allows you to create a drawing. I will discuss these options in more detail in a later post.

Another thing that you will see on the left is “shared with me” this is where files created by someone else, but shared with you will appear.  You can move these files into your folders if you want to organize them.  You will also see “starred”.  This is a handy aspect because it allows you to star a document.  I like this for frequently used documents or documents that I am currently editing or teaching with.  Starring them also makes them easier to find on the app for the iPad. 

Another important thing to know about is Sharing documents.  You will see in the top right of the screen after you create a document the option to share it.  This is where Google Docs shines.  If you share a document, form, presentation, etc. with someone then they can edit it, view, or comment on it.  You can choose what they are allowed to do with the document when you share it with them.  You can share a document with multiple people by putting in their email address, or you can send them a link to the document.  This is also where you can set your privacy settings for the document.  You are also able to share whole folders so that when a new document is created in created in the folder, it is automatically shared with those people.

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