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!
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.
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 itin.
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.
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. Classroom 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.
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!
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.
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.
When I open each individual assignment, I can see that content has been flagged.
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.
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!
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.
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.
You can interact directly with the student work; edit, leave comments and even grade.
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:
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!
Students – Add or create their work by using this button inside the assignment.This 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!
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.
I was working on a project with one of the Title teachers in my district and she was talking about how she often needs to build background knowledge with her students, However, since she sees the kids for such limited time each day, she needed a solution where they could gain this knowledge in an engaging way that was easily managed but not completely teacher directed.
Mrs. D. wanted her students to watch short videos about the topics they were going to cover in class, but she was worried that the students wouldn’t really attend to the videos and would quickly forget whatever information was presented. She felt that having the students answer a few short questions after watching the video would help them engage with the content. And, if the students could rewatch the video as they figured out the answers to the questions, it would take the stress of having to memorize the correct answer out of the mix. By doing a little app-smashing, I think we came up with the perfect solution!
We searched YouTube for a short video that gave an easy to understand overview of the topic at hand. For this lesson, she was focusing on dolphins. Once we found the video we grabbed the share URL from Youtube and then added it to our blank Google Form using the insert video option.
We also created a few short questions that her students could answer after viewing the video. Because these students struggle with reading, we made sure that the questions were easy to read and followed the flow of the video. Forms not only allows you to add video, but you can also add images. So for one of the questions, we made sure that the students had images to work with as well as words. Adding images is relatively easy since you have so many different options for images in Forms:
I often like to have my images already saved in my Google Drive.
We spent a little time making the Form pretty, but within 5-10 minutes, we were ready to go!
We now had to decide the best way to share this content with the students. Since this teacher is already an avid Seesaw user, we decided that sharing it as a journal item would be the easiest way for the students to interact with the content. To do this, we needed to grab the “send” link from the Form. She didn’t necessarily want to force the students to have to login to Google if they were viewing this activity at home, so we had to make sure that we changed the Form settings to allow responses from users outside of our district domain.
Once we had the link, all we need to do was to post it in Seesaw to the student journal. When you go to add the link, Seesaw will ask if you meant to add it as a file from your Google Drive. You DO NOT want to add it as a file! Simply paste in the link and click the “Continue” option. After you complete this step, you will have the opportunity to share the Form with your entire Seesaw class, or you can individually assign to specific students.
Don’t be alarmed by the ugly “this format” blah, blah, blah! As soon as your students click on the link, it will bounce them directly to your Form where they can watch the video and interact with the content.
Your students will now be able to watch the video and respond to your questions by accessing it through Seesaw. Students get some background knowledge, they can watch the video as many times as they need to understand the content, the teacher is freed up to work with another student while the video is being watched, and everybody wins!
This can be used for a variety of purposes beyond just building background knowledge. Video is a powerful tool! You could do something similar for:
New skill introduction
Making connections with historical content or literature
You aren’t limited to Seesaw. Your delivery method could be Google Classroom, Padlet, Nearpod or any other student content management system.
Tell me how you would use this in your own classroom?
The high school where I work for is in the process of going 1:1 and while some of the teachers are very excited about the change, some of them are trepidatious and are worried about the technology taking over their classrooms. My mantra is always, “It isn’t about the tech, it is about the teaching and learning.” I also want them to understand that just because we have the tech, it doesn’t mean that students need to be on their devices all day. Here are the suggestions I am sharing with them about small changes that will elicit the biggest impact.
If you would like your own copy of this document, click here!
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.
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):
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.
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.
Flipgrid 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.
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.
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.
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.
When creating a PLN, the sheer amount of content that you interact with can be mind-boggling. You read a great tweet that has content you want to remember for always! You stumbled on a blog that has realistic suggestions that you want to incorporate into your classroom. You find an article that was meaningful and full of insights that you relate to.You found a rock star blogger and you want to read every single thing that they write! Oh, what to do with all of these knowledgeable people and their amazing resources? How do you organize or curate the content that you want to keep?
There are three tools that could be very useful in the curation of content from your PLN; Feedly, Diigo, and Google Keep. Each tool has definite strengths and depending on your needs, can be used in isolation or together for maximum, professional librarian style curation! Feedly and Diigo offer a free basic account for users, but as always, there are upgraded accounts available. Google Keep is a free component of G Suite.
Feedly: www.feedly.com – At its core, Feedly is an old-fashioned news aggregator. Select websites, blogs and Youtube channels that interest you and add them to your news feed. Instead of having to remember to visit your favorite websites and blogs each week, you can instead just visit Feedly and review everything you missed since the last time you checked in. What makes Feedly so useful though are the ways you can customize your feeds by category. Your feeds can be categorized into topics such as edtech, innovation in education, classroom management, or frosty beverages to make after a really long day at school. Feedly also has a cool feature called “Boards.” Boards are digital spaces where you can pin material from your current feed or directly from the web using the “Save to Feedly Board” chrome extension. These boards are great for when you are working on an initiative and you want to put all of your research material in one place. With the free account, you can create up to three boards. No more desperate searching for that article or blog that touched your soul but disappeared when you accidentally closed your browser! Feedly will keep it all in one place for you.
Diigo: www.diigo.com – Diigo, which stands for “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other Stuff,” is a tool that allows the user to store, organize and annotate content found on the web. By using the bookmarking and tagging system in Diigo, you can create an online library or collection of material that is useful and meaningful to your projects and personal learning. Whether the content is from a blog or webpage, you can simply use the Diigo chrome extension and save it to your Diigo library. When saving material, you have the option to add tags for easy organization and retrieval. You can even mark the item as “Read Later” which will then show it as new content when you login to your Diigo library. One of the best features of Diigo is the ability to annotate any content that you find online. Once material has been saved via the extension, Diigo provides tools for the user to highlight specific phrases or content and add personal sticky notes. If you want to do more than just collect URLs, then Diigo is an excellent option for your curation needs.
Google Keep: keep.google.com – Google Keep is a multi-use app that has recently seen some upgrades which could make it a valuable curation tool! Every G Suite user already has a Google Keep account, and you might have even used it in the past to make a to-do list or jot down some important information you didn’t want to forget. Keep’s sticky note feature is excellent because within each sticky note you can copy and paste links, add images and type in your own material. Individual notes can also be shared with collaborators in the same way that Docs, Sheets, and Slides can be shared. There is even a new feature where you can load your Google Keep notes as a side panel in Google Docs. This will allow you to drag and drop items from Google Keep right into the flow of your writing. (See this article by Eric Curts at Control Alt Achieve for more on this). But what makes Keep an excellent curation tool is your ability to save web content to Keep by using the “Save to Keep” extension. After you have found an article or blog that interests you, click on this extension and then “add a label” so that you can easily find it in on your Keep board later. As your PLN grows, you can add new labels to Google Keep at any time! And since Google Keep is always free, you will never need to worry about your curated content disappearing. For more on Google Keep, visit my earlier posts, Google Keep – The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Whether you choose to use one of the three suggested tools or decide to travel down your own path, curating your PLN content is valuable and worthwhile! You just never know when you are going to want to revisit something you read, and falling down the black hole of Google trying to re-locate it can be a very frustrating experience! Happy curating!