Google Tools Meets Middle School


Michael J. Graham & Jason Borgen

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    To our families: Thank you for supporting us through this work.


    Every student deserves a high-quality, technology-rich learning environment. Students who enter kindergarten today will retire sometime in the 2070s. No one knows what education, the world economy, and jobs will look like then, but one thing is certain—the future will be increasingly technology dependent. Educators have a mandate to ensure that students will be ready to enter college and the workplace with the necessary skills to perform in the technology-based economy. That is why college- and career-readiness state standards across the United States focus on preparing students for the unknown challenges of the 21st century. Given this reality, the most pressing questions for educators today are the following:

    • How will educators incorporate technology into their lesson plans to meet the expectations of the various college- and career-ready standards?
    • To be successful, how proficient do teachers and students need to be in using technology?
    • What are the technology and software products available that will help educators meet the rigorous standards, while also offering students experiences that will ensure their success in high school and beyond?

    One of the best ways to tackle meeting standards and preparing students for the future is to take advantage of Google’s free service built exclusively for schools, called G Suite for Education. Google provides a robust and vigorous suite of educational tools for schools that include everything necessary to meet and exceed the technology integration components of the various college- and career-ready standards. Over 40 million students and teachers around the world are using G Suite for Education every day. If your school uses Gmail as its email, then your school is a G Suite for Education school. If your school is not a G Suite institution, it is easy to get started. Direct your technology department to to get signed up. Even if your district does not sign up for G Suite for Education, individual educators may still use most of these tools to organize, collaborate, and share content with students and faculty.

    What’s New in the Second Edition?

    Middle School Focused. The second edition has a middle school focus with clear examples of how to use G Suite with young adolescents in mind. Jason and Michael are both middle-level educators who can share their experience about why these tools will be useful to you and your students.

    All New Screenshots. It has been 3 years since the first edition. Several buttons have moved in the G Suite. The updated screenshots will help you see where and why to click.

    Addition of Google Classroom to G Suite. Since the publication of the first edition, Google has added Google Classroom to the G Suite. It has made the suite even stronger. Classroom gives students and teachers a learning management system (LMS) to assign work, turn in assignments, communicate with parents, and organize students’ and teachers’ digital work.

    Broadened Focus to All Standards. The book has shifted from an exclusive Common Core State Standards to a variety of standard sets including Next Generation Science Standards to the updated International Society for Technology in Education Standards (ISTE). The Common Core Standards are of course also still a focus, but the book is no longer limited to just Common Core.

    New Coauthor. Jason Borgen brings so much to the table. As a California educator and former school teacher, he has a wide range of experience. Currently working as a Curriculum and Technology Director in a small district in the Silicon Valley, he supports Google tools across all grade levels. Jason also is a Google Certified Innovator and Google Education Trainer. He has worked with schools and districts across the country in training teachers and building strategic plans focused on innovation.

    Focus on Transformative Use of Technology. Teachers can integrate technology day-in and day-out, but is it truly transforming teaching and learning? The SAMR Model of technology integration focuses on how teachers integrate technology from substituting a physical instructional strategy with technology, which does not change the functionality of the lesson, to redefining how technology is used to transform the lesson. Each chapter now has examples of how each Google tool written about in the book can modify or completely redefine the lesson.

    New Chapters. In the new edition, new chapters include an overview of digital learning and the SAMR Model. There is an introduction to Google Classroom, which didn’t exist during the first edition. Also, several new features that Google offers through G Suite are also included, such as Quizzes in Google Forms and Add-ons with all core Google Drive applications.


    Based on our experience in the trenches of education, we have heard over and over again how difficult teachers and administrators find it to incorporate technology into their lessons, maximize learning, and meet the college and career standards of their particular state. We offer this guide to the G Suite for Education as a solution to that ongoing effort. The book offers step-by-step tutorials that can help any teacher master G Suite. It also appeals to the needs of tech-savvy teachers by challenging them to think of new ways of learning with tech. For each app, the book provides lesson plan ideas for how to implement technology with a focus on the standards. Ultimately, this book is written as a resource and a guide for educators to use G Suite for Education to meet and exceed standards and help students be prepared for tools that they will inevitably work with in college and their careers. It is as if Google’s education team reviewed the various state standards, polled teachers, and then created free software to meet and exceed their wildest dreams. The G Suite is almost perfect.

    Target Audience

    All middle school stakeholders will find this book to be a valuable source of how to implement technology into the teaching and learning environment. Technology integration is the book’s main focus aligned with rigorous standards, but the step-by-step tutorials are helpful for educators from any nation, state, or educational institution. College and career readiness is a worldwide goal. It is not restricted to the United States. Teachers, curriculum specialists, administrators, and college instructors alike will find the information in this book worthwhile and meaningful. Professors of education at universities are encouraged to read and recommend this work to their students. Teachers who come directly out of college with the skills and understanding of this book will be ready to lead in the fight to get students college and career ready.

    A note to veteran teachers: Many experienced educators we have talked to are contemplating retirement because of the changes brought about by new standards such as the Common Core and its mandatory technology integration. If you are one of these educators, please consider using this book. Although it may seem difficult to implement technology as an older teacher, we strongly encourage you to try because your wisdom and experience as a veteran teacher is sorely needed and plays a vital role in the school community. This book can dispel your fears, but also challenge you to break out of your comfort level to try something new. We’re willing to bet you’ll find renewed energy and inspiration that will transform your teaching practice.

    How This Book Is Unique

    There is nothing like this book available for educators. Most books about Google only tell educators about the wide swath of tools that Google provides. If you plan on incorporating G Suite into your classroom, this book is essential because it can help educators match specific state standards to the most appropriate Google app, while also offering step-by-step tutorials for implementation that will maximize learning. It is meant as a tool to smooth your path to successful integration of technology into your classroom. The beauty of G Suite is that you don’t have to scour the Internet for a hodge-podge of tools to use. At Google, the apps are all easily accessible in one place and all follow the same basic principles of use. Much of the work is already done for you!

    Another key aspect of the book is that it is written by two educators who still work with students and teachers every day. They practice what they preach. Michael and Jason live over 2,000 miles apart, but they have collaborated in real time to author this book. This book was written primarily using Google Docs and discussed over video conference using Google Hangouts. Jason Borgen is the Director of Learning & Innovation for Portola Valley School District in California. Michael J. Graham is the principal at Westside High School in Arkansas. Before becoming an administrator, he taught fifth through eighth grade at a local middle school. One of our specialties is to provide professional development to teachers who are scared of implementing technology because they feel that it is too complicated or out of their skillset. We are eager to show you that with a little guidance, the path doesn’t have to be scary at all—we hope you’ll find it fun and exciting!

    Organization of the Book

    Each chapter is designed to highlight specific standards. Each standard discussed is followed by how G Suite for Education can be used to meet or exceed it with real classroom examples. Along the way, some authentic student work is displayed showcasing the power of G Suite for Education. Each core chapter of the book has a similar structure including

    • Key Features: Highlights that will be covered in the book
    • Standards Identified: Specific academic and/or technology standards that are evident and can be related to the tool
    • Technology-Infused Teaching Tip: A quick example of how technology can leverage the use of each tool
    • Lesson in Focus: A short objective and procedure on implementing a relevant lesson relating to the tool being written about in the chapter
    • SAMR Implications—Transforming Instruction: Examples of how the tool written about can be applied to transformative teaching and learning
    • Summary: A short summary of how the specific tool(s) can be used in the middle school classroom
    Step-by-Step Tutorials

    Every chapter contains clear instructions illustrated by screenshots that show exactly when and where to click. These tutorials make it easy for anyone to access the features of G Suite no matter what level of experience they have with technology. For an example, see the short tutorial below.

    How to Use Google’s URL Shortener

    Links to web addresses can often be long and complex. Google offers a tool to shorten links to make them more accessible. For example, this is a link to a Google Doc that I want readers to access: It would be very difficult to type all of this into a web browser. But Google’s URL Shortener can convert the link to This shorter link can easily be typed into a web browser to access the file. The shortened links created by Google never expire. All links are case sensitive, meaning that capital and lowercase letters must be typed in exactly as shown. Follow the steps below to use Google’s URL Shortener.

    • Go to in a web browser.
    • Copy any web address to shorten.
    • Paste the web address in the box shown in Figure P.1.

      Figure P.1

    • Click the button to reveal the shortened link found in Figure P.2.
    • Email, tweet, post on Facebook, or write the shortened link down to access it later or share with friends.

      Figure P.2

    Technology-Infused Teaching Tips

    Throughout the book, notice the boxed feature Technology-Infused Teaching Tip. This feature offers readers commentary on how to explicitly use G Suite to meet the rigors of college- and career-ready standards. These boxes often contain lesson plan ideas and short descriptions on how to maximize learning using technology.


    Resources is a boxed feature at the end of each chapter. Resources provide the reader with links to full lesson plans that use various G Suite tools for the middle-level student. It will direct the reader to the appropriate part of the Resource section that contains lesson plans found on the website. The web content is a collection of the following:

    • Links to lesson plans at various grade levels and subjects found on the web
    • Links to videos
    • Links to video tutorials
    • Additional resources

    Find the entire collection of web resources that we have gathered or created at

    Lesson plans are included on the website because most of the lesson plans developed use more than one G Suite app. To help the reader align the various G Suite apps and standards of the lesson plans, the website also contains a Lesson Plan Correlation Chart at the beginning of the Resource section. Using the chart, readers can connect various apps they are learning about with real-world lesson plans found in the Resource section.

    Four Reasons to Buy This Book
    • Simplicity: This book is an easy-to-use guide to help you implement G Suite for Education into your classroom with step-by-step instructions.
    • Innovation: This book will enhance your teaching practice with cutting-edge, classroom-tested ideas that implement technology in your classroom.
    • Standards Connected: This book is organized around common college- and career-ready standards that are applicable and adaptable to meet state mandates.
    • Google Certified Authors: Graham and Borgen are certified by Google to provide professional development to teachers and others who use G Suite for Education.


    Corwin wishes to acknowledge the following peer reviewers for their editorial insight and guidance:

    • Lisa Graham, Program Supervisor, Special Education
    • Berkeley Unified School District
    • Berkeley, CA
    • Heidi Guadagni, Learning Specialist
    • French Prairie Middle School
    • Woodburn, OR
    • Deborah Howard
    • Teacher of the Deaf, Teacher ESL, Teacher EFL
    • Consultant with several school districts
    • Pownal, ME
    • Michelle Kocar, Curriculum Specialist
    • North Olmsted City Schools
    • North Olmsted, OH
    • Betty Rivinus, Special Education Teacher
    • Canby School District
    • Canby, OR
    • Susan Stewart, Assistant Professor
    • Ashland University
    • Ashland, OH

    About the Authors

    Michael J. Graham is the principal of Westside High School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Michael specializes in providing professional development to teachers on his staff and across the nation to maximize the learning experience for students through the implementation of technology into the classroom. His strength lies in working directly with teachers, motivating them to become 21st-century learners so they can pass on those skills directly to students. Michael received a BA in chemistry and MSE in educational leadership from Arkansas State University. He has finished his EdS from Arkansas Tech University, credentialing him to become a superintendent. His teaching experience includes 5 years of eighth-grade mathematics and 2 years as instructional technologist at Harrisburg Middle School. In 2014, Michael moved back home to become an administrator of his alma mater. Michael is involved with the Arkansas Department of Education’s Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership Cadre and board member on the Arkansas ASCD. Michael has a new baby, Katherine Olivia, with his wife Jessica. In between changing diapers, Michael continues to write and think about creating the best learning environment possible. Michael is a Google Certified Education Trainer, providing professional development to teachers and others who use G Suite for Education.

    Jason Borgen is a native to using technology in education. Jason taught middle school science and AVID from 2001 to 2007 in the Silicon Valley area. Focused in the use of project-based learning through collaborative projects, he helped many students succeed through 24/7 learning environments. Jason earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from San Jose State University. He spent 8 years with the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (TICAL), a statewide project in California, funded by the Department of Education. TICAL’s mission is to assist administrators across the state with technology integration and support. TICAL also provides services to the state of Arkansas. During his tenure working out of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Jason also provided professional development workshops and credential coursework to local teachers and administrators. Jason currently is Director of Learning & Innovation for Portola Valley School District overseeing Curriculum, Assessment, Professional Development, Information and Education Technology. Jason presents at regional, statewide, and national and international conferences, and he also leads workshops for CUE, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and CASCD. Jason has worked with several schools and districts in technology planning and providing professional development in integrating technology to engage students, increase achievements, and develop higher-order, college- and career-ready skills in the 21st century. Jason has helped design curriculum for the nationally recognized Leading Edge Certification program to support innovative educators. He is a Google Certified Innovator (Mountain View, 2008) and a Google Education Trainer. Jason serves on CUE, Inc.’s Board of Directors. To disconnect, Jason enjoys traveling, hiking, playing drums, and spending time with his family and two dogs. Both Jason and Michael are cofounders of the DigitalEdAlliance, LLC, a professional development consulting company focused on innovative professional learning for the education community. Their flagship event, the Midsouth Summit Featuring Google for Education, occurs every July in Trumann, Arkansas.

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