During this pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that caregivers and students need a one-stop shop where they can get information about the happenings of our classrooms. Knowing that caregivers cannot actually take a look into Google Classroom without signing in as a student, many teachers have turned to Google Sites to create informational classroom websites.
A useful feature that you can add to your website is you Google Classroom Calendar (or any Google Calendar that you create to keep caregivers and students informed.) When you add the Google Classroom calendar, students (and caregivers) can easily see when assignments are due. They can also get assignment details by clicking on the assignment while viewing the calendar. As I have mentioned before, I have a son who needs a ton of parental management. Being able to see what is due and when it is due without having to sign in as my kid makes my life a lot easier. I am sure I can’t be the only parent out there who has to be “in charge” of learning at home!
With the quick insert feature available in Sites, you can add a calendar in just a few clicks. However, before you get started on that, you need to make sure that the calendar is visible to viewers outside of your domain. This requires you to go to your Google Calendar and change a view setting.
To see how to add a Google Calendar and make sure your settings are correct, watch this short video.
My full time job is to serve as an instructional technology specialist/coach for a small district in Southwest Ohio. Last year, I ran a badging program for my staff. The whole purpose of this program was to slowly introduce teachers to the features of tech tools and then show them how to use those tech tools with students.
The tools I focused on are all things that are in house at my district. I covered Google tools like Google Classroom, Docs, Slides, screencasting and more. There were a few district or state specific tools in there, but for the most part, each training is designed around a program that is free to use. When you look at the materials, anything that is labeled as “Pathfinder” is designed to teach about the basics of the tool. How do you create an amazing doc? Look in the Pathfinder Docs Toolbox badge. You can do all that with Slides? Oh, yes you can. Just look at the Slides Superpowers pathfinder badge. Did you know you can put audio in your Slides? Find out more in the Slides Audio pathfinder badge.
The trailblazer badge for each tool is how you turn around and use that tool in meaningful ways with students. The focus of that challenge (as I call them) is to create teaching and learning opportunities that use the tool as a base. The program was very successful and so many teachers said that completing the challenges helped to prepare them for remote learning.
I want to share these challenges with you, my dear reader. Feel free to look at my badging site: lcspd.org and explore the different materials available to you. If you look under the 19-20 challenge page, you will find 24 learning opportunities.
If you take a look at my site and decide to use it, I ask two things!
1: Drop me a comment and tell me how my site helped you do something amazing with your students.
2: Do not take and reuse my stuff without giving me credit. I happily and freely share my work and it really bums me out when I see it posted on someone else’s site or in TpT and no credit is given to me. All of my work has an attribution creative commons license. Please respect that.
Again, that website is lcspd.org. Take a look. I hope you find something valuable there.
Students have suddenly had to adapt to a new digital learning environment and it can be overwhelming even for the most organized student. If the student has one teacher and is in one Google Classroom, figuring out what needs to be done does not require much more than a quick check-in on the stream or classwork page. If the student has more than one teacher or is in more than one Google Classroom, figuring out what work needs to be completed can be time-consuming as students navigate to each of their classes and view the stream or classwork page for assignments.
There is a feature in Google Classroom that few people seem to be aware of, but can be an amazing lifesaver for students (and teachers)! It is the To-Do List.
If you are looking at your Google Classroom homepage, click on the three lines to reveal the link for the To-Do List.
Once you click on that To-do heading, all activities that have been assigned will appear in order of due date. If there is no due date attached, the assignment will be at the bottom of the list. As you can see, my student has some serious work to do.
Each class has a sidebar color that matches the heading color of the classroom the work came from, but you can also see which class the assignment is from if you look under the title of the assignment. To access the assignment, simply click on the title of the assignment and it will take the student right to the directions and attachments for said assignment.
Students can also click on the “Done” tab and see all assignments that have been turned in along with any digital grades that have been given.
So, my fabulous teacher friends, let your students know about this amazing feature in Google Classroom. I guarantee that you will be helping at least one of your students get a better handle on how to manage their workload. And teachers, did you know that you also have a to-do list? It helps you know what you need to grade and return to your students. (Remember to return graded work to your students so that it doesn’t live in yourGoogle Drive for the rest of your life!)
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!
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.
I opened up my Google Classroom this morning to find the most awesome update ever! My biggest complaint about the updated classroom for the 18-19 school year is that I felt like the Stream was a hot mess of information and that for some of our students, the visual noise was too much for them to deal with. Announcements, assignments, student comments – all flooded the stream.
But as of today, I can control exactly how my Classroom Stream looks. My three options are:
Show attachments and details
This option will keep your Stream looking exactly the same as in the past – no changes will be made.
Show Condensed Notifications
This view minimizes the assignments and collapses all the content. Stream shows full announcements, but only titles of assignments.
Clicking on the title takes the teacher directly to the grading view and takes students to the directions and attachments.
This will remove everything from the stream except for announcements (and if you have them allowed, student stream comments). With this view, students will have to navigate to the Classwork page to be able to see and interact with assignments.
To access these new options, click on the setting gear in the upper right-hand corner and look for the “Classwork on the stream” option.
You also have the ability to move any items, assignments or announcements to the top in the Stream. Now, if only Google would let us pin items to the top, all of my Google Classroom dreams will come true!
Two years ago I began this website with a blog post about my angelic son and his inability to keep track of assignments, materials, and generally, anything school related. I am dismayed to say that in the time that has passed, not a single thing has changed for him. Some of this is directly related to his 14-year-old self, but more of it is related to the fact that his teachers still do not allow their students to use their devices in any way that isn’t teacher directed. And since they aren’t directing him to use his calendar, he isn’t.
See, we are an extremely calendar driven family. With two kids that are in multiple sports, guitar lessons and a husband that travels extensively for work, we use our calendars to keep our lives in check and make sure we never miss anything. While my son uses his calendar on his phone to keep track of outside of school stuff, he doesn’t use his calendar to keep track of school assignments because his teachers don’t let him pull his phone out in class and they are not yet a 1:1 school were students have regular access to devices. If he were able to access his phone at school, he could easily add assignments to his calendar as the teachers assigned them. He could even take a picture of any of the documents related to the assignment and then immediately attach them to the calendar event, ensuring that he never really loses an important paper. But, alas, this is not allowed.
The district that I work in is slowly going 1:1 and we are at the point where our entire student body from grades 3-10 have their own Chromebooks to use each day. Many of our teachers are using Google Classroom. Some teachers even let their students have their phones out during the day.
But, very few of them are showing their students how powerful their Google Calendars can be. Why are we ignoring this tool? Why not expose our students to as many ways to get themselves organized as possible? Learning how to be organized now will only pay off in spades in the future!
Did you know that as soon as you add an assignment to Google Classroom with a due date that it shows up on a student’s calendar? Did you know that not only does the name of the assignment show up, but the directions and a direct link back to the assignment in Classroom appears as well?
Did you know that students can add their own events to their Google calendars? If their teacher isn’t using Classroom but still giving them assignments, the students can add it themselves. They even have the ability to include content from their Drive and customize reminder notifications. Just imagine; Students can create an event related to the due date of the assignment, set notification reminders that range from a few minutes to a few days before it is due, and they can include a direct link to their work! No more hunting for their work or trying to remember when things are due.
I would also encourage students to include their own events, like sports practice, extracurricular activities, or time with friends or family on their calendar. Since they can download the calendar app, their responsibilities can follow them everywhere!!! (They might not think this is a good thing, but I sure do!)
We don’t need to force all of our students to use their calendars, but showing them the power of a tool they have at their fingertips is essential. If they don’t know what they have access to, they are missing on gaining critical life skills they will need as they try to adult later in life. Give them all the tools they need to be successful and let them select the one that works best for them!
Giving feedback to students is an essential part of the teaching and learning process. Google Classroom has an APP that makes it easy to give your students fast feedback! Access student work, use the tools to give feedback and then save a PDF copy of the edits for your students to review. You can also use the microphone on your phone or tablet to dictate private comments!
To deliver feedback of awesomeness, especially while you are on the go, all you need to do is:
Open the app and navigate to the Classroom where the work is located:
Click on the “Classwork” tab
Click on the assignment and click on the individual student to open their content:
Click on the pencil at the top of the screen:
Use the pen, marker or text tools to give feedback
Click the Save button to turn the marked-up content into a PDF
Add a private comment to let the student know you have provided feedback (or to provide additional feedback not provided on the content). You can even use the microphone tool to dictate that feedback.
Use the microphone!
And just like that, you are done! That is it! Feedback delivered. Students taught. Life goes on. Everyone is happy. Remember though; The most effective way to have students respond to feedback is to not give them a final grade until they have looked at your feedback and made necessary changes to their work.
Math and GSuite have not always gone hand-in-hand. If you wanted to create math-rich Docs or Slides, you were pretty limited in formatting options, and many teachers wound up relying on screenshots and snipping tools to create materials for students. But, rejoice, for now there is EquatIO! The EquatIO extension allows you to add real math language to Google Docs, Slides and Forms. Equations, graphs, formulas, etc are all easy to create and use with your students.
Once you install the extension, you will have a new toolbar available in your GSuite products. With this toolbar, you can create expressions, formulas; all that crazy math stuff that I really don’t understand.
Not only does EquatIO offer an easy to use equation editor that allows the teacher to either type or dictate mathematical sentences, it also has a nifty prediction tool that helps you add the correct math symbols in your work.
If you are more of a talker than a typer, try the voice input option. When you speak your problem, EquatIO will create the sentence for you. If you want to allow students to talk through their problem solving, they can continue dictating their thinking and add additional lines to their math as they work towards the solution.
EquatIO has paired with Desmos to offer an easy to use graphing tool.
Another bell and whistle EquatIO offers is the ability to handwrite your math. If you are one of the lucky ones and have access to a tablet or touchscreen, you can handwrite all of your amazing math problems.
Sometimes we find the material we want to share with our students online. EquatIO offers a screenreader that not only grabs math from other digital locations and transfers it to your document, it also reads it to you! Here it is in action:
Since the free student EquatIO accounts are limited to Google Docs, I can create all of this math in a doc and then assign it via Google Classroom with the “Make a Copy” option. My students will then be able to use the same tools as they solve my problems. Well, not my personal problems, just my math problems.
Sometimes our math involves more than just numbers and letters and this is where EquatIO’s mathspace comes in. Instead of just adding equations and formulas to a Google Doc or Slide, EquatIO’s mathspace gives you a blank canvas where you can create the math (or chemistry or physics) problems of your dreams!
When you go to equat.io, you will first land on your EquatIO dashboard. Once here, you can create a new mathspace or you can edit/work with an existing one.
The mathspace canvas is amazing! In addition to the equation editor, you have a freehand draw tool and access to a variety of shapes, symbols and clip art.
This space now becomes an interactive math problem.
The teacher can create on the canvas and then share a link to the problem in Google Classroom with the “Make a Copy” option. As a user of a free account, your students will not be able to respond directly on the canvas you have shared, but they can open their own mathspace, construct their response and then turn in their work by adding a link in Classroom.
I am not a math or science teacher, but these tools really excite me. The EquatIO extension and Equat.io mathspace create endless possibilities! To get your free educator account for EquatIO, click here!
Having students sort materials to show their mastery of a concept is not new to education. As a heavy user of Words Their Way, I used word sorts in my classroom each week. I am being honest when I say I came to loathe the day we started our new sorts. My main pain points were having the students use class time to cut their sorts out and the number of words that would go missing from each sort when a piece of paper fluttered to the ground or when a student lost the entire bag or envelope that contained their sort. Sort activities were not my favorite! I finally had the brilliant idea to use GSuite tools to attack these sorting activities and make them more manageable for students (and me, of course!) By digitizing sorts and assigning them through Google Classroom, I cut out the biggest pain points and made life easier for everybody.
Using a Google tool to create a digital sort is a lot easier than you might think. The two tools that work best for this type of activity are Drawings or Slides. Drawings will function more like a one-and-done type of sort whereas Slides will allow you to create multiple activities housed within the same Slide presentation.
The idea is simple. Use the white space (or canvas) in the middle of your screen to create sort topics and use the gray space around the slide or drawing to place items for sorting. These items can be text boxes or images.
Here are some examples of sorts that I have created:
To create the sorts, follow these simple directions: (I like to create within a folder in my Drive so that I always know where my items are)
Go to your Google Drive and navigate to the folder where you want your sort to be housed.
Click New, mouse over More and select Google Drawings (or Slides)
Give it a name!
Click “Insert” and select “Table” from the drop-down.
Create a table by mousing over the squares until you have the columns you want for your sort.
Click and drag the corners of the table until it covers the entire white space in my Drawing.
Using the traditional formatting tools, I can then add titles to each box of my sort.
Click on the text box icon in the menu and draw a text box in the gray space
Change your font style and size to what you want and type in your first word.
Copy the text box (ctrl c on the keyboard) and then paste it (ctrl v) the number of times equal to the number of text boxes that you need.
Separate out the text boxes you have created by dragging them around into the gray space around your drawing.
Change the text to the words you need for your sort.
When you are finished, assign the sort through Google Classroom with the “Make a Copy” for each student option.
If you are more of a visual learner, here is a video that shows how this is done.
This particular sort that I created is a word sort, but you could easily make it a concept sort by putting images instead of text boxes in the gray space around your drawing. You can also create this same activity with Slides, you just have a little less gray space to work with. The nice thing about creating with Slides is that you can have multiple sorts all housed within the same file.
Here are some helpful tips:
Insert a table for your background if you are using columns. That way, kids won’t accidentally click and drag individual lines out of the way. They can always use ctrl z if they accidentally move the entire table.
If you have a more complicated background that is not just going to be using columns, create the background using Drawings. Then, publish it to the web and then insert it as a picture. Here is a video.
Create one template and then duplicate it/copy it/reuse it often