Harnessing the Power of Technology for Innovation in Education
I am a Google Certified Trainer, blended learning coach, and all around awesome person! I have been an educator for over twenty years, serving in every capacity from classroom teacher to media specialist to digital learning specialist. Currently, you can find me serving as a technology integration specialist for the Lebanon City School District in Ohio.
Now that many of our schools have closed and we have converted to distance learning, you might be wondering how you or your students can access Google Classroom; especially in one computer households or for students without devices. Well, accessing Classroom is easier than you think!
Google Classroom App
I feel like the easiest way to access Google Classroom without a computer is by using the Classroom App on a phone or a tablet. Click here for the app on the App Store and here for Google Play Once the app has been downloaded to a phone or tablet, students login with their school district accounts and will find an interface that feels very similar to the one they find at school.
They can click on any assignment, interact with the content, watch any videos you post (did you know that you can record videos directly into Classroom by using the camera on your phone while you are using the app?), and even create Slides and Docs right on their phones! I have known quite a few students that claim they can type an entire paper on their phone. Now is their time to shine! Teachers can even grade assignments and give feedback directly to students with the app. It is really a great tool to have at your fingertips.
Xbox and Playstation
Classroom can be opened on Xbox and Playstation. There isn’t an app that the students can add to their consoles. Instead, they are going to have to use the built-in browsers that come on the two devices. On Xbox, it is Microsoft Edge. On Playstation, it is the “www” browser. Your students will probably know how to find the browsers on their consoles, but if not, each one has a search function they can access on the home screen.
Once the browser has been opened:
Type in classroom.google.com in the URL bar.
A prompt for a Google account will appear.
Type in your school district email and password – it doesn’t end in google.com and that is ok!
The Classroom home screen will open up.
If students have a keyboard they can plug in, they will have a much easier time of navigation. Otherwise, they will have to use their controllers to click on the classroom tiles, open up assignments and type. I did a trial run on both consoles and was able to open assignments and interact with video and written instructions. I was also able to open attachments like Docs and Slides and type on them. It wasn’t easy with a controller, but at least I could access the content. I will say, I have watched my son type faster with his controller than some kids can on a keyboard, so maybe I am worried about this for nothing!
As we all struggle with ways to meet the needs of our learners, I just thought it would be valuable to know that there are multiple options for students as they access your content.
I love Google Drawings and frequently share it with teachers and students because it is a great tool for teachers to use to create the assets they need for instruction. Students can create pieces that let them show what they know or create their own images for a project. If you aren’t familiar with Drawings, check out some of the other posts I have written about their awesomeness.
The only drawback that I find when I use Drawings is the ability to freehand draw is very limited. Drawings has some native line tools, but they are clunky to use and the scribble line doesn’t really allow the user to do much more than, er, well, scribble.
That is why I was so excited when I discovered Chrome Canvas! Chrome Canvas (https://canvas.apps.chrome/) is truly a drawing tool, complete with a blank canvas, different pen and pencil types, personalization of color options, and the ability to add layers to any drawing.
While I can use shapes and masking in Drawings to create, I have never been able to hand draw any of the elements I want. Canvas allows me to use my mouse or stylus to draw whatever I can dream up. (Caveat, I am not a very talented artist. My artistic career pretty much ended when I gave up safety scissors.)
When using Canvas, you can begin with a blank canvas or you can start with an image that you intend to create on.
Unlike Drawings, which have ordering (move to the front or move to the back) options, Canvas users will need to use layers to create scenes or images that require more fine tuned artistry, but the layers are easy to use and can be hidden, deleted or made transparent.
Once your Canvas masterpiece is finished, you simply click on the three dots on the bottom right of the thumbnail and save your work as an image.
The image will automatically save to your downloads folder on either your computer, laptop or Chromebook. Once it has downloaded, you can do whatever you like with it; even add it to a Google Drawing (or any other GSuite product).
Canvas lives as an app right in your Chrome browser and is free to use. This free tool opens up more possibilities when students and teachers are looking for ways to create and show their awesomeness!
Google Classroom has released a new feature called “Originality Reports.” This feature is designed to help your students avoid ‘accidental plagiarism” from all that copying and pasting from the internet that they do.
Here is the official description of the feature from Google: Originality reports is a new feature that brings the capabilities of Google search right to your student assignments and grading interface through Google Classroom. The learning tool helps both teachers and students thoroughly review and analyze coursework to make sure it is properly cited and avoid unintentional plagiarism. This feature was designed to help students improve their writing and spot potential issues while saving you time while grading.
You and your students can check work for unoriginal content with Originality reports. This tool uses Google Search to compare a student’s Google Docs against billions of webpages and millions of books. Originality reports then displays links to the detected webpages and flags uncited text. The reports can:
Help students identify unintentional plagiarism and uncited content before submitting assignments.
Help teachers see where students used source material and if they properly documented their sources.
When you turn on Originality reports for an assignment, students can run 3 reports per assignment before submitting their work. You can’t see the reports students run. After students run their last report, they can continue to improve their work before submitting the assignment.
This feature is actually pretty slick and easy to use. When you create an assignment in Classroom, you have the option of turning on the originality reports by simply clicking the button on the right of the assignment dialog.
Once you have built your assignment and clicked that button, the students will interact with the assignment the way they usually do. They can create content right in Classroom or they can add an already created document to the assignment. When their content is attached to the assignment, they then have the ability to run an originality report on their work up to 3 times before they turn itin.
The idea behind this feature is to teach the students how to write and cite and create original content. When the students run the originality report, Classroom basically runs a Google search and brings back any content matches that are found on the web. Students can then address these findings and rewrite for originality or create better citations for the content they have included.
Here I have a student writing a paper about the industrial revolution. In true lazy student fashion, I simply created a Doc in the assignment, did a quick web search and copies content to my doc.
Once I was done copying and pasting the content, I looked back at the assignment view in Classroom and clicked the “Run” button on the far right of the student assignment view. Classroom ran the originality report and then provided me with a link I could click on to see what was found. My teacher cannot yet see this report; it is private only to me at this point.
As you can see by the giant yellow highlight, Google caught that I had copied and pasted the entire text from a web source. Not only did it flag that all of my content was copied and pasted, it also gave me (as a student) the top web match for where I got the content. If I (as a student) can see that match, you better believe that my teacher can as well if I submit this document as is!
Because I understand the mind of a teenager better than I would ever want to, I then decided to “edit” this paper a little by taking out some key words, changing a few sentences around while trying to “make it my own.” After I made these changes, I then ran the second of three available originality reports. But, alas, Google once again caught my lazy work habits. But, since I am a teen, I went ahead and submitted this assignment anyway! I am sure my teacher won’t notice.
When I change roles and look at student work, you will see that, as the teacher, I do not have to do anything to run my own originality report. Classroom automatically runs an originality report for each submitted Docs file, visible only to you. If a student unsubmits and resubmits an assignment, Classroom runs another originality report for the instructor. These reports don’t appear on this view. You need to open the student work to be able to view the originality report.
When I open each individual assignment, I can see that content has been flagged.
I can now have meaningful conversations with this student about their work and this also lets me know that I have more work to do when it comes to teaching proper research techniques.
Originality reports are viewable for 45 days. After that, you can run another report by opening the student’s submission from within the Classroom grading tool.
When you share this tool with students for the first time, Google suggests that you preview it or share this post in Classroom before you begin.
This feature is not going to automatically check all student assignments. You simply need to enable it when you need it. Originality reports are still in beta, so check and see if your district administrator has asked to pilot this feature in your district.
The ability to add audio to slides has been on my want list since I started using slides years ago. Those of us who were PowerPoint users fondly remember the day when we could add a lovely melody to play over our entire presentation, but we were sadly shut out of this feature when we made the jump to slides.
Well, be sad no more for the ability to insert audio to Google Slides is here! (Or will be here for all users by the end of November if the rumor holds true) This feature is not just for playing sappy music over a photo show of your students at the end of the year; this feature is perfect for so many different teaching and learning activities!
But first, let’s look at how to use the feature. It is relatively simple.
First, you must have the audio file (it should be an MP3 file) in your Google Drive. You can easily use the New < File Upload feature to upload any audio files you might have on your computer. Need to make your own audio files? Check out my blog post about using Screencastify to create your own MP3.
Open your Google Slide presentation. (Remember, if you are starting from scratch, you can type slides.new into your URL bar to quickly create a brand new presentation).
Click Insert and select Audio from the dropdown list.
Once you have inserted the audio, you can choose how your audio will play
You can change the audio icon to an image of your choice if you so choose. Simply click on the audio icon and click “Replace image” from the toolbar. You can either pull an image from your Drive, computer or photos or you can search the web. (Excuse the yucky food images in my gif. I am in the process of lodging a complaint about my bean burrito with a certain fast food chain. 😉)
That’s it! That is all you need to do to add audio to Google Slides. Check in for my next blog post about ideas for using this new feature in your classroom. I mean, beyond that end of the year cry fest when your students fly away and leave you with nothing but the memories.
With the rollout of add audio to Slides finally on the move again, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to create the audio clips you need to make your Slides sparkle. Well, maybe not sparkle, but definitely be a resource for teaching and learning!
If you are a premium Screencastify customer, you might have missed their quiet roll-out of the export audio feature. With this feature, you can pull justthe audio from any of your Screencastify videos. The audio will export as an MP3 file, which is exactly what you need to take that audio clip on the road! You can use the audio file just about everywhere, but especially as an audio file on your Google slide!
To make the most awesome teaching and learning Slides ever, all you have to do is record your video, export the audio, and add it to Slides with the Insert > audio feature. Imagine the possibilities!
Read aloud text
Language acquisition activities
Student read alouds
Goodness, there are so many amazing things that you can do with audio in Slides as long as you know how to create that ever important audio file.
Creating that MP3 file is very easy. Just open Screencastify as you normally would and record your video. It doesn’t matter if you record using the webcam, desktop or tab view because all that matters is the sound of your voice. Once you have finished your recording and the preview/share screen for your video pops up, simply click the downward pointing arrow and select Export audio.
Since Screencastify automatically saves the audio clip to your Google Drive, you can now insert that clip right into Slides once the Insert > audio has hit your domain!
I am sure you have heard of breakout rooms and Google’s Breakout EDU program. One way that you can build a breakout activity is by using digital tools to create a digital environment for your students to work in. Digital breakouts are a great way to engage students and get them showing what they know, and the best part is that there are no physical locks to be reset or clues to be rehidden. There are many different ways to create your breakouts. And there are a wide variety of online tools that will make your breakout awesome. Sometimes all of these options can feel a little overwhelming. With that in mind, I created a simple guide to help as you build your digital breakout. Feel free to use this, but I would be even happier if you shared it with your students and let them build their own digital breakouts! Get your own copy here.
When students are practicing their oral fluency, a key component of that practice is for students to hear themselves reading aloud. Try using Screencastify and Google Classroom to create opportunities for students to record themselves reading, allowing them to hear their own oral fluency.
The idea behind this is that you give students a passage to practice their fluency. The students then use Screencastify to record themselves reading the passage. After finishing the recording, they listen to it and decide if their oral reading was fluid and with expression. If it isn’t, they can practice some more and create another recording. Once they are happy with their recording, they turn it in to the teacher via Google Classroom. Turning in a video created in Screencastify is super easy since the video lives right in the student’s Google Drive. The teacher now has a sample of the student’s reading fluency, and if he or she continues with this assignment over time, they will create a record of student growth and progress.
Creating this activity is relatively easy:
Find or create short reading passages in a digital format. Good places to find already created passages are Newsela, ReadTheory, Epic!, your local library, and if you live in Ohio, Infohio. I really like the idea of creating your own using content you are reading in class or short poems from some of our favorite children’s authors.
Create an assignment in Google Classroom. Remember, you can individually assign to students or assign to small groups of students. There is no reason that all students should be practicing their fluency on the same piece. Differentiation is key!
Students then access the fluency assignment in Google Classroom, open the attached piece and practice reading it. When they feel ready, they will open Screencastify from their Chrome browsers and record themselves reading aloud.
Once students have finished their recording, they can rename the video. They will need to change the privacy settings on the recording so that you can view it once they have turned it in via Google Classroom.
To change the privacy settings for the video, all students need to do is click on the share icon, make sure “Google Drive” is selected and click “Get Link.” This will change the video permissions to “anyone with the link can view.”
The final step is for the student to turn the video in via Google Classroom. To do this, they simply open the assignment, click on the “Add or Create” button on the top right and use the Drive icon to pull the video directly from their Google Drive.
Now that the student has turned their video in to you, you can watch the student videos directly from the assignment view in Classroom. Don’t forget that these turned in assignments also live in the “Classroom” folder in your Drive. You can access them at any time and use them to share with other teachers, administrators or parents. What an excellent way to progress monitor!
If you do not have content in a digital format, don’t worry! You can still do this activity. Students can read directly from a book at school they will just need to record using the webcam camera from Screencastify instead of the desktop or browser camera.
Screencastify is a wonderful extension for both teachers and students. There are so many awesome things you can use Screencastify for. If you don’t already have it on your Chrome browser, sign up for an account download it today!
I can’t believe that I am saying this, but stop letting your students share.
Just say no to the sharing of Google Docs, and Slides, and Sheets, and whatever else they think they want to share with you!
It is time to get rid of those endless emails alerting you that your students have shared something with you to review or grade. Let the natural workflow of Google Classroom work for you!
When you create an assignment in Google Classroom, students can attach virtually anything to that assignment as long as it is in their Drive or available as a web link. They also have the option to create a Doc, Slide, Sheet or Drawing. Once they have attached content to an assignment, you can immediately interact with their content. If the students are turning in something like a Doc, Slide, Sheet or image, all of those are easily located because they are all in one place! You can find them right in the Classroom assignment or you can find them in the Classroom folder with the assignment name in your Drive.
Once they have attached something or created something, you are able to view it, make comments on it, and even grade it. If the students are turning in something like a Doc, Slide, Sheet or image, all of those are easily located because they are all located in the same place. You can find them right in the Classroom assignment or in the Classroom folder with the assignment name in your Drive.
You can interact directly with the student work; edit, leave comments and even grade.
This is in comparison to the hot mess you get when students share their work with you via email or with the share button. Of course, that work will show up on the shared side of your Drive, but how will you track what you have gotten, and from whom? Just put the assignment in Classroom and let it do it’s magic.
Workflow in Classroom:
Teacher – Create assignment. You do not have to attach anything to the assignment. Just make sure that in the instructions section, you tell students that they should add or create their content right there. There is a button. People love to push buttons!
Students – Add or create their work by using this button inside the assignment.This button gives them the option to go right into their Drive and pull something that is already housed there or they can create right on the fly. Students also have the option to add files that are not Google files like images, PDF documents and web links. The possibilities are endless!
Teacher – Interact with the student content right in Classroom. No need to go digging through email or looking at the shared side of your drive.
I can’t believe it, but here in the Cincinnati area the school year is quickly coming to a close. It is getting to be time for final report cards, clean desks, bare walls and the annual cleaning up and archiving of your Google Classrooms.
There are two simple things to do to close out your Google Classroom for the year:
Return all student work
Archive the class
Return Student Work
If you have been using Google Classroom throughout the year to assign and collect work from students, you need to be sure that you return all of their work to them. Classroom works as a file management system. The ownership of any docs, slides, drawings, and sheets that are created or added to Classroom flows back and forth from you to your students. Once a student turns their work into you, their work becomes “view only” for the student until you return it to them.
What this essentially means is that the document will live forever in the student’s Drive as a “view only” document. While they will be able to make a copy of it and then edit the copy, they will never be able to change anything that is on the original document. While this might not be a big deal for a third grader, high school students often have the need to reuse or revisit their work.
Returning work to students can happen in a few different ways. When you are finished grading an assignment, you have the option to return the work right from the grading screen.
If you would rather do a bulk return of an assignment after you have finished grading all of them, you can do this from the assignment page.
Now, let’s say that maybe you haven’t returned any work all year long and now you have a lot (and I mean a lot) of work to return. While Google has not yet given us one fancy button that we can hit to return everything at once, there is a slightly expeditious way to do this from the gradebook view of Classroom. If you open up the gradebook, you will see three dots to the right of each assignment name. Click on those three dots and choose “Return All” from the option menu.
And that’s it! All work is now back in the hands of your students.
Archive Your Class
Archiving your Google Classroom is a must if you want to start with a fresh and clean Classroom dashboard in the fall. Too many teachers fall into the trap of simply deleting students from their old classes and reusing them the following year. They do this because they don’t want to have to recreate the assignments they used in the past. What they probably don’t realize is that they can reuse any assignment or activity from archived classes. Once you create something in Google Classroom, I promise you that you will have access to it in the future. (Unless of course, you delete it. Then you are out of luck.)
Did you know that if you don’t archive your class, it will appear on the Classroom dashboard for your students forever! Many students get frustrated by seeing those old classes every time they open Classroom. The only recourse they have is to remove themselves from your course if they know the trick of clicking on the three dots. Don’t make your students hate you! Archive your course!
Archiving your class is a simple as a click of a button. Click on the three dots on their right of the Classroom tile and click “Archive.” A confirmation pop-up will appear. Click “Archive” again and after a few moments, the Classroom tile will disappear from your dashboard.
All course files remain in your Drive. All content is still accessible in Classroom. You can even view the entire archived course,
You lose nothing by archiving. But, sweetheart, you gain everything!