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.

 

Posted in Cool Tools, Creating Accessibility, EquatIO, extensions, G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

Math in GSuite with EquatIO and EquatIO mathspace

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. 

equatio toolbar
EquatIO Toolbar – Available in Docs, Slides and Forms

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.

Desmos Graph

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. 

Handwriting

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.

EquatIO’s mathspace

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.

shows squares with math work in them and a plus sign to make a new math canvas

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.

graph paper with a drawing canvas and shape tools
Different shapes and symbols available in the mathspace canvas.

This space now becomes an interactive math problem.

Advanced Problems

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!

 

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom, Google Drawings, Google Slides

Create Sorting Activities with Google Drawings or Slides

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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)

  1. Go to your Google Drive and navigate to the folder where you want your sort to be housed.
  2. Click New, mouse over More and select Google Drawings (or Slides)
  3. Give it a name!
  4. Click “Insert” and select “Table” from the drop-down.
  5. Create a table by mousing over the squares until you have the columns you want for your sort.
  6. Click and drag the corners of the table until it covers the entire white space in my Drawing.
  7. Using the traditional formatting tools, I can then add titles to each box of my sort.
  8. Click on the text box icon in the menu and draw a text box in the gray space
  9. Change your font style and size to what you want and type in your first word.
  10. 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.
  11. Separate out the text boxes you have created by dragging them around into the gray space around your drawing.
  12. Change the text to the words you need for your sort.
  13. 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
  • Copy and paste will be your best friend.

Happy sorting!

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom

New Materials Option in Google Classroom

Last year, I used the “About” section in Google Classroom to post links and resources that my students would need throughout the year. These were materials that were not necessarily tied to a specific assignment, but items that students might need to revisit or access randomly.

With the “About” section gone, I have had to make a quick change in how I manage this need. Fortunately, Google just released a new feature in Classroom called “Materials.” This “Materials” option will allow me to create a space in my Classwork feed where I can place these items for student access.

To create a space in my feed, I simply need to:

  1. Create a topic and call it something like “Class Resources” or “Class Materials.”
  2. Once the topic has been created, hit “Create” again and select “Materials” from the drop-down list. Add materials like Docs or Slides from my Drive or paste in a link to a website for my students.
  3. Before I post the material, I need to make sure that I select the “Class Resources” topic.
  4. Once I have created this “Materials” post, I can then go back to my Classroom feed and by clicking on the three dots to the right of the “Class Resources” topic, select “Move Up” from the menu to essentially pin this topic to the top of the feed.

And just like that, I almost have my “About” section back! Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Posted in Creating Accessibility, Google Classroom

Add Events to the Google Classroom Calendar

I love Google Classroom. I think it creates an easy way to manage workflow of assignments in the classroom, and if you supercharge your Google Classroom, you can create amazing learning opportunities that were previously impossible. 
 
The one thing I don’t love about Google Classroom is the calendar view located under the three bars on the left in Classroom. If you create an assignment with a due date, Classroom will helpfully create an event on the Classroom calendar. That is basically it. The teacher is unable to add any additional events to the calendar, which makes it frustrating if you want to add reminders, special events, or long range dates that are not tied to assignments.
 
But did you know that your Classroom calendar actually shows up in your regular Google calendar? And did you know that your students also have access to that calendar from their regular Google calendar? You can add any event to your Classroom by visiting your regular calendar. Once you have added the event to the calendar, it will show up on their school Google calendars. Of course, you will have to show your students where to find their Google calendar. Most students aren’t even aware that they have a calendar! I was working with freshman at the high school last week and one of the kids exclaimed, “How did I not know this was available? I would have been using it if I knew!”
 
Here is a short (2 minute) video that shows how this process works. I think getting our students to start using their calendars could cause an organizational revolution. And, brother, I am there for that! 

 

Posted in #onenewthing, Creating Accessibility, Google Classroom, Student Creation, Teacher Workflow

Spend Your Summer Trying #OneNewThing

It is almost time for summer break, where all teachers stop working and spend the summer working on their tans while they sip frosty beverages by the pool!

HAHAHAHAHAHA….excuse me for a second. I think I might have just laughed so hard that I peed a little.

This summer, like every summer, most of us are going to spend significant time on our teaching craft. Self-directed learning, grad classes, conferences, seminars, professional books, team plannings, curriculum overhauls; you name it, we are doing it.

My district is hosting a Twitter challenge where teachers are encouraged to tweet about one new thing they are working on this summer. This new thing can be something for school or something personal. For example, my #onenewthing on a personal level is I am going to try running a mile…without dying. On a professional level, my #onenewthing is attending ISTE for the first time to hopefully learn more about using edtech to personalize learning. When you think about what you want your classroom to be like next year, what one new thing are you going to focus on this summer? Can I make some suggestions?

Master Teacher and Student Workflow in the Classroom

If you haven’t yet embraced it, make learning how to use Google Classroom your #onenewthing. Google Classroom provides you with the ability to create a well-defined workflow for yourself and your students. Get yourself organized. Get your students organized. Make it the one-stop-shop for your students. Use it as a place where students can create, collaborate and share. One of my favorite ways to use Google Classroom is as a way to give timely feedback to students. A great resource to help you get started is 50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom by Alice Keeler and Libbi Miller.Image result for 50 things you can do with google classroom

If you aren’t the book-buying type, check out the Google Classroom section of www.alickeeler.com or the Google Classroom section of the Shake Up Learning website.

Increase Student Engagement and Amplify Student Voice

Have you been acting as the “sage on the stage” in your classroom? Does all information run through you and you direct access to content while controlling the pace with which students interact with said content and show mastery? Do your students all show mastery in the exact same way and either turn in identical answers on assessments or projects that are almost identical to each other? If you are ready to start giving students ownership of their learning and a choice in how they show what they know, then make your #onenewthing all about student empowerment and student agency through voice and choice in the classroom.

Sure, you can use Google Classroom to pass out and collect assignments and you can use other Google tools to provide lecture notes and guided learning opportunities, but if you become more innovative and embrace learning in a digitally rich environment, Google Classroom and other GSuite for Edu apps can have a profound impact on student learning. Instead of just having your students write a paper, why not give them a choice of tools to use to either create an infographic, a video, a presentation or any other way they might decide best allows them to show their learning? Perhaps your students will combine Google Draw and Screencastify to explain their mathematical thinking and create a visual of the problem they are solving. Or maybe your students will use Google tools to collaborate with other students in the next classroom, the next city or the next state.

To get started with this #onenewthing, check out one of these three awesome books (click on each cover for more information):

Image result for google infused classroom

Image result for 50 things to go further with google classroom

Image result for google apps for littles

 

Package Lessons to Allow for Choice, Pace, and Place

Are you ready to take that increased student engagement and amplified student voice and kick it up a notch? Are you ready to be a “guide on the side” and give students the ability to learn at their own pace and perhaps even in their own place? If so, then make HyperDocs your #onenewthing. HyperDocs are lesson designing for the 21st-century classroom because it removes the teacher from the front of the room and creates opportunities for the students to engage with content in a way that forces them to move from consumption to creation. The tenants of a HyperDoc require a student to engage, explore, explain, apply, share and reflect on their learning. Since the lesson is packaged in a digital format (which means that you can give students a choice in how they access content), it allows the teacher to remove themselves from the front of the room and assist students on an individual basis as they work through the HyperDoc. And since students are not bound by a traditional lecture session, they are able to work at their own pace, often in their own place, seeking out assistance as needed. To learn more about HyperDocs, check out the official website, https://hyperdocs.co/ or explore the HyperDocs Facebook group to interact with other teachers on this HyperDoc journey. There is also an awesome book that will walk you through the philosophy and creation of Hyperdocs.

The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps by [Highfill, Lisa, Hilton, Kelly, Landis, Sarah]

Gives Students a Platform to Share and Celebrate Their Awesomeness

We live in a Youtube world where people have become millionaires by sharing videos of the most mundane aspects of their lives.  I cannot even count the number of times I have seen my kids watching videos of other kids play video games, playing with slime, unwrapping boxes or sharing their thoughts and beliefs about any random topic that pops into their minds. Our students want to be heard. They want to leave a footprint and they want to see what their peers are up to. Not only do kids want to see each other, but their parents want to be able to see what they are doing as well. That is why learning how to use social platforms like Flipgrid or Seesaw might be a great #onenewthing.

Image result for flipgrid iconFlipgrid bills itself as a place for students to go to share ideas and learn together. Give your students a prompt. Give your students a place to share. Allow them to be creative and express themselves as individuals. Spark discussion and find opportunities to share with other Flipgrid classes from around the globe! Or, keep your discussions personal and give students a chance to speak directly to you without other distractions. Check it out and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Image result for seesaw icon Seesaw is is a student-driven digital portfolio that empowers students to independently document what they are learning at school. The family of each student has the opportunity to connect with the Seesaw classroom to see videos, pictures, and the awesome work of their very own child.

What Should Your One New Thing Be?

I know that trying new things in the classroom can be daunting and intimidating, but never forget that your students are trying something new every single day at school. Spending the summer as a learner is an amazing way to connect with your students. If you try out any one of these new things, or any new thing for that matter,  you are modeling risk-taking and growth mindset for your students. Be a learner! Be a risk taker! Try out just #onenewthing this summer that will help turn your fall classroom into a place where learners feel engaged and empowered.