Three ways G Suite can support your Literacy programme in a digital age.

Integration of digital technology is key for teachers who already face a tightly packed curriculum. The good news is that there are countless ways that you can use technology in meaningful, engaging ways to enhance your curriculum and excite your students! Literacy is spread throughout all curriculum and it’s easy to weave some digital magic into your programme using tools and features within G Suite. 

In this blog post I’m focusing on taking a look at how G Suite tools can be used to transform Literacy learning, increasing student (and teachers’) digital fluency and efficiency. There are so many ways to do this but for the sake of this blog post I’m focusing on three areas; scaffolding search, valuing the process not the product and video comprehension.

What is Literacy

Today, if you do a Google search to define ‘Literacy’, you get a result like this…

We educators know that this just doesn’t cut it anymore. Our students MUST know how to search for information safely and effectively, think critically about what they find and then synthesise and apply what they have found out. These are massive skills and many adults don’t know how to do some of these things themselves! The technology and resourcing is constantly changing and we are becoming more and more exposed to ‘fake news’. To ensure our students are equipped for a world in which will have even more information not only available to them but shared with them (even when they don’t choose it) we must start teaching them skills to deal with this from the very early years of school.

1. Scaffolding Search



Where do your students go if you ask them to find information? Even some very young children are incredibly capable of finding information on the web. Does this raise alarm bells for you? It sure does for me! 

I say it often in training – students shouldn’t be going to Google to search UNLESS they are learning how to, or have already learnt, how to use search engines. 

Scaffolding how to use a search engine can help to ensure your students are developing their skills in age appropriate ways.

  1. Provide them with sources of information – share links to online sources through Hyperdocs, Google Classroom, Drawings and more. To challenge them to think critically throw in some unreliable sources and see if they can find them and justify why they think they are unreliable. 
  2. Search within the G Suite tools using the Explore button
  3. Understand how Search works and what a Google Search results interface is all about. There are plenty or resources for understanding how Search works but these resources from Google are comprehensive and great for both adults and students to learn.  
  4. Model searching with Advanced Search then share the results via URL (just copy, paste and drop it into Google Classroom) so students have that as a starting point. Here’s a collection of blog posts from Mike about searching.
  5. Show them how to use Advanced Search independently and ask them to share URLs, screenshots/casts of their search criteria so you can advise them. 
2. Valuing the Process not the Product

I remember when I first started teaching and we had portfolios of student learning that only showed ‘best work’ or finished products. Often this was the only learning from school that ever went home. any parents would complain that their children didn’t write like that at home and were being lazy. Only sharing ‘best work’ places all the value on the end result and not on the learning that has taken place to get there. With digital tools we now have the ability to quickly easily capture milestones in projects so that we celebrate perseverance and improvement.

Version History in G Suite tools (Docs, Slides, Sheets and Drawings) is perfect for this. It’s not just there to get work back when someone has ‘accidentally’ deleted it! 

I loved using this with my students to capture stages in their writing. After taking notes they would name that version ‘Notes’, then start planning paragraphs, adding in details, headings – name as first draft. Then continue to do so as they made changes or reached points within the writing process. I noticed a big improvement in student’s attitudes to reworking and editing their writing. They knew that I would go back and leave comments or discuss with them when they’d made changes that had a big impact on the overall work. It also meant that they didn’t have 4 files for one project! Just the one, clearly named in stages. Here’s a blog post that shows you how to name versions.

4. Video Comprehension

Ask your students how they learn a new skill independently and they are likely to tell you –  YouTube. Who can blame them – that’s exactly where I would go to work out how to play an instrument, operate a sewing machine… just the other day I used it to work out how to set the timer on my garden irrigation. 

Our digital lives are filled with videos whether we like it or not – passive videos that are in our social media feeds, news websites, ads and more. 

If you aren’t using videos in your programmes then I strongly advise that you find ways to do so. Not only will it engage your students but it will provide them with a rich range of resources. HOWEVER, much like Google Search I definitely wouldn’t advise sending your students to YouTube without some support and understanding of how to use it.

So, how can you use YouTube videos without going to YouTube? Here’s some ideas…

1. Share them through Google Classroom by selecting the YouTube button when creating an assignment. You can’t preview videos from here but if you got to YouTube and copy the URL of the video you want, pasting it here will bring you the video you have chosen. When shared this way in Classroom the video plays on top of Classroom, rather than taking you out to YouTube. 

2. Use a tool like EdPuzzle to help focus your student on the content. You can record voice overs, ask questions at points that you have selected and much more! 

3. Think about how you teach your students to filter within YouTube. We obviously don’t always want to be giving them the exact videos but empowering them to use the filters within YouTube to find their own content and think critically about it. This is easy to do – put your keyword/s in the Search field and hit enter or click on the magnifying glass to get the results, then you’ll see ‘Filter’, click on this and you have some great options for narrowing down the results. 


a.) Change the speed of YouTube videos! This is great for teachers who want to preview videos quickly and also for students who would benefit from a slowed down viewing experience. 

b.) Turn on captions – so great for a loud room or for students who need that extra support.

Where to next?

There’s so much more you can do with G Suite to engage your students, transform their learning and improve Literacy in meaningful, relevant ways! If you’ve found these tips helpful I would strongly recommend that you take a look at our G Suite Deep Dive for Education online course. These courses were designed with the teacher in mind, showing you how to utilise the tools you have to improve not only your own efficiency but make lasting change for your students. Click here to see what you get access to with this course! 

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