Google Home in the Classroom

I’m going to try something new! I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate technology in my classroom and after being inspired by a colleague down the hall, I’ve decided to bring a Google Home back to school with me in January!

We absolutely love our Google Home. It controls our thermostat, turns on our lights, keeps our shopping lists, plays our music, casts our shows to the TV and does countless more tasks that make small things much easier!

Thinking of all the wonderful things it does at home, I’m excited about the possibilities in my classroom.

Inquiry 

Sparking and enhancing inquiry is where I’m most excited to incorporate Google Home into my teaching. At first, I’ll need to model how to properly use it for my students but my goal will be to get them to do the following independently:

Asking Questions – A great excuse to model not knowing the answer to something and finding out – “Miss Bottrell, what do giraffes eat?”…. “Well, I don’t know – let’s ask Google!”

Finding Sources – “Hey Google, how can I learn more about giraffes?” / what are some books about… / what are some websites that teach about… / And then a trip to the school library!

Fun Facts – A fun fact each day can be a great starting point for further inquiry!

Literacy

Word Spelling – I’ve taught my students a process for problem solving an unknown word when writing, but when they reach the end of the process and are still dying to know how to properly spell a word, instead of “Miss Bottrell, how do you spell giraffe?”, they can ask, “Okay Google, how do you spell giraffe?”. This might free me up to answer other questions!

Storytelling – Google has a great storytelling feature. On demand, it’ll play five to ten minute long stories – both familiar and original – complete with engaging and entertaining voice effects. There are so many opportunities here for literacy, I could write a whole post just about that!

Language Translation – I love including the home languages of all of my students in the classroom, and the translating feature will enhance that. “Hey Google, how do you say ‘giraffe’ in Spanish?” What’s wonderful, too, is that it will pronounce it properly for you.

Book Recommendations – “Okay Google, what are some good books about giraffes?”, or “Who is the author of….?”

Word Definitions – When we come across an unknown word, students can ask Google for the definition. Google will also provide synonyms and use it in a sentence.

Numeracy 

Math Answers – Of course, the use of problem solving skills and mental math strategies is most important, but that are certainly some benefits to a student asking “Okay Google, what is the sum of….?”, or “How many centimetres are in…?”, when appropriate.

Classroom Management 

Timer – Throughout the day, I’ll use the timer feature to remind us of upcoming transitions, keep track of small group timing, and help remind my students when it’s time to pack up their lunches and get dressed for recess.

Heads or Tails – A quick and fair way to make a class decision!

Weather Forecasting – Before heading outdoors, we can ask Google, “What should I wear outside today?” and it will respond with the temperature, forecast and a suggestion of attire – an excellent connection to grade one/two science and math! This will also help my students make informed decisions when dressing themselves for outside.

Teacher’s Assistant 

Reminders – I can set reminders for myself, such as to make a phone call or take afternoon attendance, because I am notoriously bad at remembering this – anyone else?

Shopping Lists – I can ask Google to keep a running list of classroom materials and supplies that we are running out of.

Community Building

Mad Libs – A fun way to spend an extra five minutes, and a great way to sneakily review nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs!

Joke of the Day – A fun incentive to use during transitions or when you’ve got just one or two minutes to fill between activities!

Mystery Animal – Google will play 20 Questions so you can guess the secret animal. My students love playing this game already, and it’s great practice with formulating questions.

A Cool Classroom Job – I suspect “Googler of the Day” might become the most coveted job in our classroom job market! One student could be responsible for all of the Google tasks, which is a great opportunity for them to take leadership.

Music Playlists – Paired with my Spotify account, I can use Google to play self-curated playlists suitable for different types of environments I want to create throughout the day – “Hey Google, play Brain Break music!”, or “Hey Google, play Dance Party music!”.

 

Be sure to create a new professional account (separate from your home) when setting up the speaker, and ensure that family friendly filters are activated in the settings!

Of course, it’s going to take some teaching and learning to get all of this up and running. I know my students and therefore I know there will be temptation to be silly with the technology. I suspect many of them might have one at home and will have figured out how to interrupt someone speaking to Google by shouting something silly when the microphone is activated. Or, they might think Google is here just to tell jokes.

My goal is to teach them otherwise – to formulate questions, to take turns, to be responsible, to recognize the valuable resource that it is, but most importantly, to embrace the technology that surrounds them to drive their curiosity.

I look forward to reporting back on how it goes! Does anyone else use Google Home, or something similar, in their classroom?

 

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Updated: January 7, 2019 — 3:39 pm

The Author

Laura Bottrell

Laura is an LTO teacher with HWDSB. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Youth & Children's Studies and is a Registered Early Childhood Educator. Laura is currently enjoying teaching grade 1/2, after teaching Kindergarten, 2/3 and 5/6! With a passion for the arts, Laura is an advocate for the arts in education and is currently the director of a theatre performance program for Kindergarten aged students!

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