The Google Calendar is a little used jewel for keeping you organized. This is especially true for a teacher who has a never-ending list of things to do and places to be. I have a confession to make — I am lousy at using lists. I make them, but then rarely use them to guide my day. Instead, I’ve found that I work best by using a calendar to track my tasks as well as my events. Let’s explore a few ways a teacher can use the Google Calendar to keep them on track and organized.
Layout of Google Calendars
Before we look at specific uses, we need to review some of the basics of Google Calendar. The calendar allows you to create multiple planners that can be toggled on and off. This allows you to create calendars that have a specific purpose (homework, lesson plans, cheerleader practice) that can be shared separately. However, you can also view them together. In the above image, you can detect the different calendars by their color.
Different Types of Calendars
The next thing you need to understand is that Google groups your calendars in two lists — My Calendars and Other Calendars. My Calendars are calendars that you created or were created for you and that you have been given the ability to manage. These calendars are located at the top of the list of calendars. Other Calendars are calendars that you have added or that have been added for you by your G Suite administrator. This list of calendars is below the calendars that you own and/or manage.
Let’s start by creating a calendar to help your students and their parents keep track of assigned homework. You only have to generate the homework information once and then let parents and students access the calendar at a time that fits their schedule. No more filling out homework sheets for individual students. You could also assign a different student each day to enter the information on the calendar.
You will next want make sure you share your calendar with the public and possibly give other individuals more specific sharing permissions.
Finally, you will need to decide how you will share your calendar with the world. You can either do this by copying the URL for the calendar and link to the calendar in an email or possibly post the link on a website. You could also embed your calendar either in a Google site or another website.
And finally, you can share the iCal address with individuals who have another type of calendar application.
Lesson Plan Calendar
Using Google Calendar as a place to store your lesson plans can be very useful. For each activity, create an event. Within the event details window, you can attach handouts, links to be used in the lesson, and other instructions you might want to give your students. If you need to print your lesson plans, use the Schedule View.
Add Useful Calendars
There are other calendars you can add to your Google calendar that provide you with information that you may find helpful. A great example are the UIL calendars. UIL has published their events on four Google Calendars and made them available to the public. All you have to do is subscribe to their calendars by clicking on the + sign at the bottom right of the calendar. All four will be added to your Other Calendars.
Google also has some calendars you might find useful or interesting. Remember, these calendars will be added to your Other Calendars.
Viewing the Task List in Calendars
I already confessed that I’m not good with tasks, but for those that are, Google has a very useful Task list that you can access via the Gmail or Calendar app. For this blog, we are going to focus on using the Task list from your calendar.
First, let’s toggle the Task calendar on.
Let’s make sure the Task list is visible and you know how to add tasks to the list. Note that adding tasks to the list works exactly the same in the Gmail app.
In order to view a task in your Task calendar, you must add a date in the event details.
My one complaint is that the task is only visible at the top of the day it is to be accomplished. As of now, you can’t assign a specific time to accomplish the task (i.e. 8:30 am). Google, if you are reading this blog, PLEASE consider adding this feature. Instead of using a list, I assign a specific time to accomplish a task and put those directly on my calendar. I could be persuaded to use this app if I could do this via a Task list.
Most people who use lists love the experience of crossing off the items that have been accomplished. This is as easy as checking a box in the Google Task list. Note that the item is crossed off in the list and calendar view.
Reserving a Room or Resource
One very helpful tool in Calendar is that within the event details you can reserve a room or a resource. No more going to the library to check out the iPad cart or signing up for the library. There all kinds of uses for this feature. The types of resources can be grouped together to make it easy if the list becomes too long. In order to use this feature, your domain administrator must enable it and create the list of rooms and/or resources.
Some people love to organize with color. Google makes this easy. You can color code each calendar so that when you toggle them on and off, you can easily see what events go with each calendar. You can also color code each event. For instance, you could assign a color for parent teacher conferences and a different color for faculty meetings.
As you can see, Google Calendar has the ability to assist you in organizing your events, tasks, and activities. Google also has a Calendar app for both Android and iOS that works very well with the online application. Make a goal to try at least one of these ideas and tell me what you think. Also, if you have any other ways you use the Google Calendar in your classroom, leave a comment below.