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

To-Do List in Google Classroom – The Best Thing for Students Since Video Games

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.

Google Classroom To Do

To Do 1

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.

View of to do list

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.

Accessing work from todo list

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.

Done

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 your Google Drive for the rest of your life!)

Posted in Google Classroom, how to, Screencastify, Teacher Workflow

Screencastify and Google Classroom – Remote Learning Edition

I have been getting a lot of questions from teachers about issues they are having with Google Classroom and Screencastify while trying to teach remotely.

The first, and probably most pressing issue teachers seem to be having is that when they create their Screencastify videos, their words don’t match their mouths. Nobody has time to look like they are a star in a poorly dubbed film! The fix for this is hard, arduous, and absolutely necessary. Are you ready for it?

RESTART YOUR DEVICE!!!!

Seriously, when is the last time you actually did something other than close the lid on your Chromebook or laptop? If you can’t even remember when, then you must shut down and restart right now (or after you finish reading this). Your device is managing a billion processes that you started and just left running. Doing a hard shut down and restart will help immensely.

The other way to fix this issue is to close the gabillion tabs you have open before you start recording. If your device is trying to manage a gabillion things at one time, your video is not going to get priority attention.

The second issue people are having is that they will create Google Classroom assignments with the “make a copy for each student” option, but the attachments don’t appear for all students. This is a known glitch in Classroom. Alice Keeler wrote a blog post about it. She says that eventually, the attachment will appear for the students. I have also heard that if you send the student a private message on that particular assignment, it will force the attachment to appear. What seems to work best is if students follow these steps:

1) Click the classwork tab at the top
2) Click on the assignment title to expand the assignment
3) Click on “View Assignment”
4) Locate “Your Work” in the top right corner and click on the file with your name on it.

Just remember, you are awesome and amazing and you are doing your best for your students as you try to learn this whole new way of teaching! Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ve got this!

 

Posted in Creating Accessibility, Google Classroom

Access Google Classroom with your phone, your Xbox or your Playstation!

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.

 

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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:

  1. Type in classroom.google.com in the URL bar.
  2. A prompt for a Google account will appear.
  3. Type in your school district email and password – it doesn’t end in google.com and that is ok!
  4. 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.

 

Posted in Cool Tools, Google Classroom, Teacher Workflow

Originality Reports in Google Classroom

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. 

classroom dialog with originality report button showing
Originality reports are still in beta but if you see this button, you are ready to go!

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 it in

Originality Report 2

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. 

internet page showing professional content created by a program
Online content my student copied and pasted.
It was easy to just create a Doc and paste in whatever content I found online!
It was easy to just create a Doc and paste in whatever content I found online!

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. Originality Report 5Classroom 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.

Originality Report 7
Students simply click on the link to view the report.

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!

Originality Report 8
Guess I am a big, fat cheater!

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. 

Originality Report 11

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. 

Originality Report 12

Originality Report 13
When I click on that blue link, I can see the full originality report and identified web sources.

 When I open each individual assignment, I can see that content has been flagged. 

Originality Report 14

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. 

Posted in Cool Tools, Google Classroom, Screencastify

Screencastify and Reading Fluency

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:

  1. Find or create short reading passages in a digital format. Good places to find already created passages are Newsela, ReadTheoryEpic!, 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.
  2. 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! assignment dialog box in Google Classroom with directions to the assignment.
  3. 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.Screencastify for Fluency
  4. 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. Screencastify Screen
  5. 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.” Share Screencastify
  6. 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. Turn in Screencastify Video
  7. Now that the student has turned their video in to you, you can watch the student videos directly from the assignment view in Classroom. Teacher Screencast FeedbackDon’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!
  8. 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!

Posted in Google Classroom, Teacher Workflow

Sharing is not caring – Use Google Classroom to collect assignments

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!

Bitmoji Image

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.  

assignment directions with a section titled "Your Work" on the right with a + sign where students can add content to the assignment.
Student view of an assignment in Google Classroom
add or create button expanded to show a space where students can add content or create a new doc, slide, sheet or drawing
Look at all those options!

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. 

classroom view with tiles of student names. in each tile you can see any attachments of student work.
At a glance, you can see if a student has work attached to the assignment.

You can interact directly with the student work; edit, leave comments and even grade.

view of student work with spaces for grades, comments and editing
Your one stop shop for interacting with student work.
assignment in drive
This assignment can be found in my Google Drive – It is in the Classroom folder.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. Students – Add or create their work by using this button inside the assignment.addThis 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! 
  3. 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.

So, moral of the story? No more sharing.

Posted in Google Classroom

Wrap Up Your Year By Archiving Your Google Classroom

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:

  1. Return all student work
  2. 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.

Google slide view with a yellow arrow pointing at the return button in the upper right.

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!

Have a wonderful summer!

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

Updated Stream Options in Google Classroom

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.

Traditional Stream View
Teacher Stream with all details
Student View of Stream
Student Stream with all details

Show Condensed Notifications 

This view minimizes the assignments and collapses all the content. Stream shows full announcements, but only titles of assignments.

Condensed Teacher View
Cleaner view – Announcements are still mixed between assignments, but there is less visual noise.

Clicking on the title takes the teacher directly to the grading view and takes students to the directions and attachments.

Hide Notifications

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. Notifications Only

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. Move to topNow, if only Google would let us pin items to the top, all of my Google Classroom dreams will come true!

 

Posted in Feedback, G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

Quick and Meaningful Feedback Using The Google Classroom App

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:classroom app
  • Click on the “Classwork” tab

view of google classroom classwork

  • Click on the assignment and click on the individual student to open their content:

student content

  • Click on the pencil at the top of the screen:

click the pencil

  • Use the pen, marker or text tools to give feedback

use the markup tools

  • Click the Save button to turn the marked-up content into a PDF

pdf copy of feedback

  • 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.

 

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.

Posted in Google Classroom

New Semester, New Google Classroom!

You, my friend, are a Google Classroom rockstar! You have embraced your Classroom and use it to share all of your awesomeness with your darling cherubs. But with all that use, your Google Classroom has probably become a very busy place with a lot of content that your students probably don’t really need to access on the regular. If that is the case, it is time to embrace the new semester with a new Classroom.

Now, before you say to yourself, “Self, I will just go into my current class and delete previous assignments to clean things up!” make sure you understand that deleting assignments is very, very bad because once deleted, there is no way to recover an assignment. This means that if you want to reuse that assignment in another class or during another school year, it is gone. FOREVER.

forever

Plus, deleting the assignment also removes any comments, feedback or grades that you might have shared with students. And while this might not be an issue, you never know when you might need to access that kind of stuff. Sometimes, parents can be parents and they have questions about assignments that were turned in months ago. Not like I am speaking from personal experience or anything. Did I ever mention I have a 13-year-old with organizational issues? By creating a new Classroom, you are giving your students a fresh start on the second semester of school. It is a simple thing to do and I promise, your students will appreciate it!

Steps to a New You…er Classroom:

First, return all student work. Student content will always remain with the student in their individual Classroom folder (found in their Google Drive), but only if you return it to them. To see what still needs to be returned to your students, check your “To-Do” list.

If you see assignments where content has been turned in but hasn’t been marked as “Returned” you are going to need to get busy!

Turned In But Not Returned
You can easily see if you have returned content to your students from this view.

Returning work to students only requires a few clicks of the mouse.

Second, archive that class!

Third, create your new class and then add (reuse) any content from your archived class that you want your students to continue to access. This might be your syllabus, links to resources, or ongoing assignments.

Fourth, share your new code with your students.

And that, my friends, is the fastest way to start second semester with a clean slate, easy to navigate Classroom, and grant peace on Earth to all.