Posted in Cool Tools, G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

Share to Classroom – The Extension of My Dreams!

I wanted to make sure that you are aware of one of the most powerful extensions out there for Google Classroom users – Share to Classroom.

The Share to Classroom extension allows you to take a web source and share it with your students in one of two ways:

  1. Immediately push the source to all students at the same time, allowing every student in your class to navigate to the source without having to type in the URL.
  2. Create an assignment, make an announcement or ask a question with the web source as your primary component.

The reason that I like “Share to Classroom” so much is that it allows me to use current materials with my students with minimal effort. Let’s say I want to discuss the current hurricane and how it is affecting the people in its path. I can go directly to a news source (no fake news here) or a site like weather.com or nationalgeographic.com and find news articles, images, or video that I want my students to use. Then, using the “Share to Classroom” extension, I can create an assignment where students have to interact with the materials and then create a disaster plan, write a personal connection paper, or design a social action plan where they define ways that they will help those affected by the storm.

Another way that I see a benefit in “Share to Classroom” is the ability to get every single one of my students onto the same resource at the same time. When I PUSH the web source or video to the students, it interrupts whatever they happen to be doing at that time and opens up the material I want them working with.

To make the extension work they way it is intended, students and teachers must have it installed. Fortunately for Lebanon City Schools teachers, our awesome tech department has already pushed out the extension to the students. You as teachers will need to install the extension. If you don’t know how to do that, click on this link and click the “Add to Chrome” button.  

To use this extension, follow these easy steps themselves:

  1. Make sure you are already signed in with your G Suite for Edu account.
  2. In Chrome, go to the webpage you want to share. Next to the address bar, click Share to Classroom. share to classroom
  3. Click the name of your class. classroom list
  4. From the drop-down list, choose what you want to do:
    1. To share the webpage to your class, Select Push to students and then click Push. The web material instantly appears in the browsers of all active students.
    2. To attach the web material to a post:
      • To create an assignment, select Create assignment, enter your assignment, and click Assign.
      • To ask a question, select Ask question, enter your question, and click Ask.
    3. To create an announcement, select Make announcement, enter your announcement, and click Post.

Just imagine all the possibilities that this extension opens up for you and your students! And I didn’t even mention the ability of students to share materials with you! More on that at a later day.

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Mastering Your Google Drive, Quick Tech Tips

Quick Tech Tip – Create in Google Drive

Do you want to be the master of your Google Drive? Do you want to conquer it and make it your b…. uh, make it supremely organized and easy to use?

Well, if you do, STOP creating materials on the docs, slides, or forms outside of Drive and START creating them in Drive itself. As I have been working with different people, I have noticed that many of them click on the waffle and select Docs or Slides from the apps manager to create or access materials. This can create confusion because whatever you just created gets dumped in your Drive in an unspecified location. Also, when you use the waffle to go to docs.google.com or slides.google.com, the default setting is “Owned by anyone” which means that any item created by someone in the district with shared rights will show up there. Way too much stuff for the average user to have to wade through.

A better option would be to actually create right in Google Drive. An even better option would be to navigate to the folder you will eventually put the item in any way and create right there. Watch this short video to see how this is done:

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Quick Tech Tips

Quick Tech Tip -Gmail – Archive vs. Delete

Mountains of emails in my inbox give me heart palpitations. Like, for real. Opening my inbox and seeing email after email has me break out in a cold sweat. So, like any reasonable person, as soon as I read something, I want it gone. Gone I tell you! The trash/delete button and I became close and fast friends. Of course, things that I thought were important would get delicately placed in a folder because I was most definitely going to go back later and read them again. Most definitely. Everything else? Trash city, baby.

But, like any poorly thought out plan, this eventually backfired on me. Gmail automatically deletes any items placed in the trash after 30 days. That means anything that I realized that I really needed (registration details to a conference, parent contact information, emails extrapolating how awesome I am) were no longer accessible to me after the 30 day period had lapsed. If only I had ARCHIVED my emails instead of deleting them.

Archiving your emails is as simple as deleting them. It takes that email out of your inbox, removes it from your sight line, but keeps it safely stored away so that if you ever need it again, you can easily access it. How do you access it you ask? Simply use the search feature in your gmail.

Watch this short video to see how this works:

There is also a setting where you can include a “Send and Archive” button to your email. You can use this feature when you are replying to an email and know that you are done with the conversation:

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Mastering Your Google Drive

Use the Google Team Drive Feature for maximum teacher collaboration

For years, teachers working within the G Suite for Education environment have been able to collaborate and share resources with one another by using the share features embedded in Google Drive.  This system works really well until somebody changes grade levels, leaves the district or a new team member comes aboard.

This is why I am so in love with the new “Team Drive” feature that was released last spring. Google’s Team Drive creates a shared work space where team members have access to shared files and folders. Members of the team drive can create right within the drive or they can copy or move materials from their personal drives into the team drive. Materials that are created or placed in the team drive become property of the drive rather than the individual, so there is never the worry that you will lose access to a document if a member of your team leaves. Even better is that when you gain a new team member, you can easily add them to the drive and give them immediate and full access to shared materials.

Team Drive is an excellent place for teachers to collaborate and create materials. A master document or assignment can be created in the team drive, but then each teacher can make a copy of it and move that copy into their own drive in order to personalize it for their students. The original remains untouched for future use, and teachers always know where to go to find a clean copy.

Here are some additional suggestions for items that should live in a team drive:

  • curriculum guides
  • curriculum materials
  • benchmarking materials
  • common assessments
  • meeting agendas and minutes
  • team goals
  • student goals
  • student data
  • field trip forms
  • parent contact forms
  • special event planning

Create a Team Drive

  1. Open Drive
  2. On the left, find and click the link for Team Drives
  3. At top, click New
  4. Name your team drive

create-a-team-drive-e1503329868235.pngAdd Members and Set Permissions

When you add a new member to your team drive, that person is automatically given full permissions to be able to upload, edit and delete files as well as add other members. You can tailor permissions for each member as you add them or even after they have been added.

  1. Click on the Add Members link
  2. Type in the name of the person you wish to add – you may only add members that are already part of your G-Suite domain. Unfortunately, you cannot create Team Drives with educators from other districts
  3. Set your desired level of permission by clicking on the arrow below their name
  4. Write a quick message to let them know you are adding them to the group or just click Send to get the ball rolling.

adding-members-to-team-drives.pngCreate or Add Materials to the Team Drive

Screenshot 2017-08-21 at 12.22.26 PMNow that you have created the Team Drive, it will function in relatively the same manner as your personal drive. You, or any member of the team, can create folders or any other item from G-Suite apps within this drive. You can also upload files from other locations on your computer, including your personal drive, by using the File Upload link under the New button. An even easier way to populate the team drive is to drag and drop files from your drive into the team drive. Unfortunately, you are still unable to move an entire folder into the team drive, but you can select all of the items in the folder and move them over in the same way you would move items around in your own drive (contact me if you are unsure of how to do this).

Team Drive Etiquette – or How Not To Make Your Team Hate You

If you are working in a team drive and want to personalize any of the materials, be sure to first make a copy of the item and then move it into your own drive before you make any changes!

Additional Features or How-to Guides for Google’s Team Drive

If you would like to learn more about the many aspects of adding and controlling team members, creating and deleting materials, or any of the other fine points of team drive, please contact me to set up some one-on-one coaching time. If you prefer to be a self-directed learner, here is an excellent resource from the G Suite Learning Center – Get Started with Team Drives.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Creating Accessibility, G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

Getting Started with Google Classroom

imagine if you willImagine if you will, that there is a free program out there that will allow you to organize your materials, share work with students, collect assignments with ease, and allow for immediate and personalized feedback for each and every one of your students.  Another classroom dimension…Google Classroom Dimension

Google Classroom is an excellent platform for teachers to not just organize learning, but to impact learning. At the most basic level, Google Classroom allows you to ditch the copy machine and share assignments and materials digitally with students. It also keeps work flow nicely in check since students can return their completed work with a simple click of a button. If you like to be organized, you don’t want the hassle of students losing papers or assignments on the regular, you want the opportunity to have students collaborate in a controlled environment, and you want to be able to provide personalized feedback to students on their work, then getting up and running with Google Classroom should be on your must-do list this school year.

Here are the basic (and amazingly awesome) features of Google Classroom:

  • Announcements – update students quickly or have them focus on an event that is coming up – let students read the information instead of listening (or not listening) as you make the announcement in class.
  • Assignments – Create an assignment and decide how students will interact with it (make a copy, view only, share a copy with other students). Each assignment is automatically given a “Turn In” button that students can click when they are finished.
  • Calendar  – Create a calendar for each class that is automatically shared with each student. Due dates for assignments are automatically added, but you can also add important dates for students and parents.
  • Co-Teacher – If you co-teach, you can invite your teacher friend to be an admin in your Google Classroom. Both teachers will have the rights to create, grade, and manage materials in the Classroom.
  • Drive Integration – Anything you have created in your Google Drive is immediately accessible when creating assignments, announcements, and questions in your Classroom.
  • Folders – As soon as you create your initial Classroom, Google automatically creates a folder labeled “Classroom” in your Drive. All of your classes will have a subfolder within this folder, making it easy to quickly access materials either from the Classroom view directly, or within your Google Drive. Students will also have this same experience, with a “Classroom” folder immediately created in their Drive the first time they join a class.
  • Question – Creating a question in Classroom will allow you to take a quick poll, spur discussion or get kids thinking about what is coming next.
  • Share to Classroom Button – Google has created an extension that allows you to share any web content with your classroom. If you have found a video, web page, or other web based resource that you want your students to interact with, simply click the extension. You can even create an assignment, ask a question, or make an announcement that features the resource.
  • Stream  – This is where the students will see the entire flow of information; announcements, upcoming assignments, and questions.

Steps to Creating Your First Class in Classroom

  1. Navigate to classroom.google.com
  2. Sign in for the first time – you can use Classroom with your personal account as per a Google update that came out in the spring. However, I would recommend that if your district uses a G-Suite for Education domain, you live within that domain. It will make it easier for you and your students.
  3. You will see a blank Classroom page with a lovely invitation to create or join your first class. Click that plus sign! Obviously, you are going to select “Create Class”New Google Classroom
  4. Name your class – when naming your class, keep in mind that your students might be enrolled in multiple Google Classrooms. Just calling it the school year or something non-specific like your mascot and the year might cause confusion. Creating naming conventions for yourself where you consistently use your last name or the subject you are teaching as the class title will help students.
  5. Your class is now created and ready for you to personalize, add students, and start creating assignments. Your initial class should look something like this, but you can change your theme to one of the preset options or upload a photo to create something more personal to you.Changing your Theme
  6. Personalize the “About” section. You can use this section to upload permanent documentation that you might need for your class (syllabus, homework policy, contact information, etc). If it is in your Google Drive, you can easily add it to your Classroom. You could even create a welcome video using Youtube or Screencastify and post it in this section. About
  7. You will eventually want to add students to your class and you have two options for how to do this.
    1. First, click on the “Students” tab in the header.
    2. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can add students by inviting them to your class. To do this, click “Invite Students” and begin populating the list by typing in their names or emails. The students will get an email invite that they will need to accept before they are enrolled in your class. Adding Students
    3. If you have students that can navigate to the website and type under their own power, the easier way to have them join your class is by displaying the class code on a screen. Adding Students by Code

Creating Your First Assignment

Now that the hard work is done, you can start using your Classroom to teach. When you create assignments in your Classroom stream, you have the ability to attach videos, web links, or materials from your Drive. You do not have to attach any items if you simply want students to create their own materials to turn in to you. If you do attach an item from your Drive, you need to decide how you want the students to interact with it. The options are:

  • Students can view file
  • Students can edit file – this means all students will be working in the same file
  • Make a copy for each student

Options

It all depends on what you want students to do and the level of collaboration you are looking for on the assignment. If you choose “Make a copy,” each student will take ownership of their own doc. No matter what you do, students will be able to access these materials either directly in the stream or in the classroom folder in their Drive.

You can set due-dates, assign the material now, schedule it for later, or save your work as a draft if you just aren’t ready to push out the assignment just. Once you create a due-date for an assignment, it will automatically be added to the Google calendar tied to your class!

Since I know you are just itching to get started, I will bring this lengthy post to a close. However, over the next few weeks, I will focus on a different feature of Classroom so that your classroom experience is robust and fulfilling!

If you would like more information on how to use Google Classroom, feel free to contact me through the Contact link on this blog. If you are a member of the Lebanon City Schools staff and would like to schedule a one-on-one session for training, email me via district email.

 

 

 

 

Posted in G-Suite for Education

Google Sites – Creating Accessibility for Students and Parents

In my previous post, I waxed poetic about how it is imperative for teachers to make their materials easily accessible to their students. (Read that post here) As a quick summary, I stated that if a teacher is going to give assignments that must be completed outside of the school day, students should be able to access those materials digitally. For those teachers that aren’t ready to make the foray into creating a digital space, I suggested that they allow students to take pictures of the assignments with their cell phones, creating instant access for kids like mine that just can’t seem to get paper items all the way home from school. However, this doesn’t really help students that don’t have their own cell phones or elementary students who still rely heavily on parental support when organizing their lives.

This is where the new Google Sites can come in handy! This is a great way for you to share assignments, announcements, hand outs, and even a calendar of events quickly and easily with students and parents. All you need to create a Site is a Google account and materials stored in Google Drive. Set-up for Sites is easy and quick, and you don’t have to be a tech guru to make an amazing looking classroom site in just a few minutes. It is also easy to quickly update and add materials to your site, limiting the amount of time you have to spend managing your digital portal.

To create a Site for yourself, go to http://www.sites.google.com. You will arrive at a landing page that gives you the option of creating a site or navigating to the new Google Sites platform. Make sure you go to “New Google Sites” since the old platform will cease to exist in the future.

Google Sites - Creating Accessibility for Students and Parents

Once there, simply click on the red and white plus sign Plus.JPGand you are on your way!

Google will create a blank site for you, and you simply need to click and type to make the classroom web portal of your dreams! The beauty of Google Sites is that it is a “what you see is what you get” creation tool. As you add elements, you can see how they will look live on your page, and you can easily add or remove elements by clicking on them. There are six themes to choose from, and while some people may find this limiting, I find it allows me to spend less time agonizing over my design and more time just getting stuff done!

Your blank site will look like this when you begin:

Blank Site.JPG

You will use the creation and navigation tools on the right side to create your site. The first decisions you will need to make are:

  • Site and page name (it might be a good idea to use your last name)
  • Theme and color scheme
  • If you want all content to be on one page or if you want multiple pages

My recommendation when you begin is to go easy on yourself and go with a few elements until the school year is underway and you decide if you need more or if you need to alter what you can realistically manage time wise. A good beginning would be to have “Announcements,” “Homework,” and if you are calendar savvy, a Google calendar with all important events like quizzes, tests, field trips, and project due dates listed. You can have all of these elements on one page. Simply use the “Divider” component to create a break or place a line between each of these elements. Of, if you are all about layout, put each on its own page.

Google Sites - Creating Accessibility for Students and Parents (1)

In less than 20 minutes, I was able to create a site to share my announcements, embed the materials for the assignments for the week, and add a calendar for students and parents to quickly find important dates. It was easy to grab the materials that were already in my Google Drive (creating the Form on the fly). Each day or week, I will just need to retype my announcements and change the materials I want students to access.

classroom of awesomeness.JPG

For the full site: https://sites.google.com/view/classroomofawesomeness/home

What I created was a very basic site for which I can share the link via email or on my school’s external web page. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles and some web designers might not love my sparse/bare bones set-up, but it gets the job done! It is a great start at accessibility, and as the school year goes on, I might find that I want to use multiple pages, add additional elements, include video links, etc. The point is that I now have a place my students can go to find the materials and information they need.

The limitation of Sites is that it is more like a repository of material, with very little two-way interaction between you and your audience. If you are looking for a robust way to interact with your students, you should investigate other options like Google Classroom or a learning management system like Schoology. I will cover these options in future posts, so stay tuned!

If you would like more information on how to create and use Google Sites, feel free to contact me through the Contact link on this blog. If you are a member of the Lebanon City Schools staff and would like to schedule a one-on-one session for training, email me via district email.