10 Hidden Features of Google Calendars for Teachers

Google Calendars in the Google Apps for Educators suite is pretty easy to use, but under the hood, there are many ‘hidden’ features that can be very useful for teachers with our hectic schedules!  Here are ten power uses for educators:

  1. Color code not only your different calendars, but also events within these calendars. Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 3.42.10 PM(e.g., if you want to highlight which class meetings are associated with homework assignments):  Go to the event details/ edit event, and look down to event color.  This option is also available directly in the event pop up in Calendar view.
  2. Receive reminders of events by text message, email, or a pop up in your web browser: Go to edit event, and scroll down to reminders> add reminder. You will need to set up your SMS text notifications in Settings> Mobile Set Up.
  3. Set up appointment slots on your calendar that students or parents can sign up for (e.g., for parent/teacher Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 3.30.04 PMconferences or office hours): click on the calendar to create an event, and you will see an “Appointment Slots” option.  Once you have set up the event, you will be given a URL to send to appointees for them to claim time slots.  Note, this feature is only available in Google Apps for Education and not through your personal Gmail calendar.
  4. Edit events in different calendars (e.g., if you have calendars for different classes): In edit event, go to Calendars and choose from the drop down menu.
  5. Change the default ‘meeting’ length to a time closer to the length of your class period (e.g., if you class period is 30 minutes or 45 minutes instead of 60 minutes): Go to settings, then scroll down to “default meeting length” and choose from the drop down menu.  Unfortunately, this function currently only works in units of 15 minutes.
  6. Create a repeating event (such a a regularly scheduled class): go to edit event, click on the Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 3.17.59 PMrepeat box just below the date and time, and choose from the options.  You can repeat by day, week, or even by particular days.  Unfortunately, this feature does not accommodate rotating/ modular schedules!
  7. Set up multiple day events (such as “Model UN trip to NY): Make an all day calendar event by clicking in the area above the list of times or by “create event,” then edit the days the event covers.)
  8. When viewing your calendar, click Q to “Quick Add” an entry.  Type, for example, “MeetScreen Shot 2013-04-02 at 3.03.20 PM with Mr. Smith at 1pm on Friday in my classroom” and the event will appear in your calendar.  Google Calendar will recognize the information in your text and apply the event to your calendar.  If you don’t assign the event a day, it will assign the event to today, or tomorrow if the event time has already passed.
  9. Change the time zone of events (e.g., if you Skype with Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 3.34.24 PMa class in a different time zone): go to edit event, then click on the Time Zone button to the right of date and time.  The event will appear on your calendar at the correct time for your time zone.  If you create the event in one time zone, and then travel to another, the event will again appear in the correct time for that time zone.
  10.  Copy events from other people’s calendars on to your own (e.g., an all-school calendar Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 3.49.11 PMevent): click on the event, and you will see a “Copy to my calendar” option.