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.

 

 

Posted in Creating Accessibility, Feedback, Google Classroom, Teacher Workflow

Feedback of Awesomeness in Google Classroom

Giving feedback to students is an essential part of teaching. Back in the dark ages, before tools like Google Classroom had been invented, I taught language arts. I would collect assignments and then spend my entire weekend giving students meaningful and useful feedback on their writing. Oh, the suggestions I made! The wit with which I dispensed my wisdom in the margins of their papers! I was certain that this valuable feedback would change the course of their work and lead them to be the Pulitzer Prize winners of the future! Of course, when I handed it back to them, all of my meaningful and useful feedback would wind up in the recycling bin with no one ever looking at it, fueling my eternal rage. But, you know, bygones…

In the past, it seemed that most of my feedback was after-the-fact feedback. Students were already done with their work and the feedback I was giving was no longer meaningful. Since the students had already received a grade on their work they felt that they were done with the assignment and were not willing to dig back into it. The feedback would have been worthwhile if I could have offered it while the students were working, but short of cramming more writing conferences into my already packed class period, I struggled to give the feedback in a timely fashion. Fast forward to 2018 and a little tool (Google Classroom) and her useful friends (private comments, Screencastify and Google Keep). Feedback no longer has to be scribbled in the margins of student work with the hopes that students will read it and do something with it, I can now reach the students while they are working and guide them in their work even if I don’t have the opportunity to speak with them face to face. Providing students with digital feedback as they work creates more personalized learning for students.

Private Comments: Google Classroom has a neat little feature where you can send private comments to individual students. To do this, simply open up the view of student work and click on the individual student. A private comment box will be below their work attachments.

Private comment in Google Classroom

The student will get an email notifying them of the comment and when they click the blue reply button, they will be taken directly to the assignment. You can have an entire conversation with the student about their assignment via private comments.

The important thing to remember with this is to create comments while the student is still working and not after they have already turned in the assignment. Once that assignment is turned in, the student counts it as done and any feedback you give will be wasted. With this in mind, it is a good idea to not give students a grade on their work until after they have attended to any feedback.

Private Comments and Video Feedback: Sometimes you really want to dig into the work of a student and just leaving a few sentences is not enough. To do this, I like to use a program like Screencastify in conjunction with the private comment feature. When I want to give more detailed feedback, I open the student’s work, open Screencastify, record my screen and voice while I give feedback and then share the link to the video in the private comments. The student can then access the video and see/hear the feedback while they revisit their work.

Here is an example of how to create this type of feedback:

Once I have created the video, I simply grab the link to the video (which is now housed in my Drive in a folder called “Screencastify”) and place the link in the private comment section for the student.

Google Keep, Screencastify and Private Comments: I am a huge fan of Google Keep and feel like it is the best-kept secret in the Googleverse. I have written a few blog posts about the awesomeness of Keep. Check them out here. If you find that you are giving the same feedback over and over, creating that feedback in Keep notes will help streamline your workflow. You can easily open up the Keep notepad in Docs, Slides and Drawings and copy and paste the feedback from the Keep note into a comment dialog to quickly give feedback. You can even include links to mini-lessons or videos to help the student understand the concept they are struggling with. An even fancier idea is to combine the Google Keep feedback with video feedback. By doing this, you are not only giving them solid and concrete visual feedback via Keep, you are also giving them verbal feedback. I don’t know about you, but it seems like students pay a lot more attention to what I say than to what I write.

No matter how you slice it, Classroom makes it easier for you to give meaningful feedback to your students before they finish an assignment. I’m not going to lie and say that it will save you a ton of time. In fact, once you start using private comments, your email is going to blow up. One of my favorite edtech gurus, Alice Keeler, has written an excellent post on how to manage the private comment workflow and email explosion. Rather than try to recreate her awesomeness, here is the link to her original post: My Respond to Private Comments in Google Classroom Workflow. Her suggestions will help save a lot of headaches and keep you from just deleting your email app and heading for the hills.

Inspire your students to revisit their work. Inspire your students to dig back in and make their work better. Do this by giving them meaningful feedback.

 

 

 

Posted in Google Classroom, Mastering Your Google Drive, Quick Tech Tips

Easily Access Google Classroom Materials in Google Drive

Did you know that the materials you use in Google Classroom are easily accessible right in Google Drive? As soon as you create a class in Classroom, a new folder called “Classroom” magically appears in your Drive. Within that folder you will find subfolders with the name of each class you have created. Any time you create an assignment in Classroom, a corresponding folder with assignment name appears as well. What you will find in those folders will be the work that you have assigned to your students in whatever stage of completion it happens to be on any given day. You will also find any external files (not Google products) or attachments you have used with the different assignments.

Students have the same structure in their Drives as well. Once they join their first Classroom, they will now have a Classroom folder with subfolders titled with the name of the class. Unfortunately, their materials are not organized by assignment, they are just loosely placed in the folder for their class. The good thing about this folder is that their materials will now follow them from year to year, even after they leave your class and move on to a new teacher. What an excellent way to track personal growth!

Accessing these materials is a simple process for both you and your students. There are two ways to do this:

Option One:

  1. Go to Google Drive
  2. Locate the “Classroom” folder
  3. Open the “Classroom” folder, locate the folder for a specific class and view the materials inside

 

Option Two:

  1. Go to Google Classroom
  2. Click on the Folder icon on the bottom of the tile for the chosen class.

 

Students have an even better option where they can see all of their assignments and the status of all of those assignments with a simple click of a button.

  1. Go to Google Classroom
  2. Click on the icon on the bottom of the tile that looks like a person

A special note about document ownership: The way the materials in Google Classroom work are based on ownership. When you create the assignment, you are transferring ownership of the item to the students so that they can work on it. When they turn that assignment back into you, they lose ownership of that item to you. This means the student is UNABLE TO SEE ANY COMMENTS ON THE DOCUMENT OR MAKE ANY CHANGES TO THE DOCUMENT while the teacher is the owner. You must use the “Return” feature in Classroom to give ownership of the document back to the students so that it once again belongs to them and follows the student instead of the teacher. Watch this video for a better explanation and example of how this works.

Posted in G-Suite for Education, Google Classroom, Quick Tech Tips

Academic Integrity in the world of Google

In this day and age of G-Suite for Edu, our ability to collaborate and share on a world stage has opened amazing doors to our students. Unfortunately, it has also opened an easy door for students to walk through when it comes to cheating. Google has made it so easy to share that students not willing to do the work have figured out how to take full advantage of share, copy and paste features. If only they would put as much time into their work as they do into figuring out how to cheat!

Some educators have decided that the threat of academic dishonesty is so great that they have will forgo using any Google tools in their classroom. This is an absolute shame since students are really missing out on a large number of collaboration and creation opportunities. Rather than closing the door, there are ways to keep that door open while maintaining academic integrity standards.

One of the first ways to prevent copy and paste style cheating is to create assignments and projects that allow for unique and creative responses from your students. Of course, this isn’t always a reasonable expectation for every assignment and there are lots of times when you will be having your students answer questions in a digital environment. And, as you know, that is where the cheating comes in.

Revision History

Fortunately, Google has provided you with the way to track your little cheater friends and catch them red-handed! Enter Revision History! When a Google Doc, Slide or Sheet is created, all edits, additions, and changes are tracked. These edits are accessible to any editor. When a student shares their work with you, you become an editor and should be able to track the document’s revision history. Every time something is typed, every time an edit is made, every time something is dumped into the document, you can track it! As an added bonus, if students are working on a group project, you can see which student worked on each part of the project. It is like you just stumbled onto some sort of magical powers!

To see revision history:

  1. Open the Doc, Slide or Sheet
  2. Click on the “File”
  3. Mouse down to “Version History”
  4. Click on “See Version History”

Need to see it in action? Watch this video:

If a student has a lot of edits, you can feel pretty comfortable that they have done the work for themselves. If they have only one edit, this is a pretty good indicator that the student has copied and pasted the bulk of the material.

Google Doc with one edit showing
There is evidence of only 1 edit on this entire document
Google Doc with 35 Edits in the history
This student has 35 edits on her document

Be warned, there are ways for your students to work around this as well. Making a copy of something will automatically delete any revision history, but a lack of edits on an assignment is a pretty clear indicator that something fishy is going on.

To be able to see the revision history, you must be an editor (or collaborator) on the document. The easiest way to accomplish this is to assign the work via Google Classroom. Since you are the owner of the Classroom, you are automatically made an editor on any of the work a student creates and turns in through the Classroom engine. Here is a great video by Eric Curts from controlaltachieve.com.

Another creative educator discovered a second way to check for academic integrity on materials students have turned in to you via Google Drive or Classroom. I can’t believe I never thought about this before. Thanks to Dennis Neufeld @mrdennisneufeld for this creative suggestion!

If we lived in a perfect world, none of this would be necessary. But, we know that kids will be kids and many will go to Herculean lengths to avoid working on assignments. If we let our students know that we have all the powers of “The Great and Powerful Oz” and can catch them in their dishonesty, maybe they will be less likely to mosey down that yellow brick road of dishonesty. Have open and honest conversations with your students, ask them what forces them to cheat, and explain that there are easy ways to catch them. Maybe, just maybe, they will learn some valuable lessons while they are in school!

 

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 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.