Dec 5, 2016

Google Product Updates & the Citation Tool

This weekend, Google hosted the Education On Air:  It Takes A Teacher online conference.  This conference included a host of global online workshop opportunities, as well as discussion forums and product updates.  If you missed it, you can still access the workshops and keynotes on demand at this link.

As part of this weekend online conference, Google announced some important updates that will positively impact the way schools communicate and share files.

Chromebook Login

The first feature focuses on Chromebook login. Logging in to a Chromebook can be a simple task for a middle school or high school student, and is something that we take for granted on a daily basis.  But when I look to our resource teachers who work with K-2 students, I know that logging in to Chromebooks can be a task that takes a while - especially when they need to remember an email address and password.  Now there are two ways younger students can login easily!

Clever Badges

With Clever Badges, students can use a specialized badge, with a code that they can hold up in front of the webcam.  The Chromebook webcam will recognize the code and log the student in using their GSuite credentials.


Another login solution comes in the form of CloudWise.  This login solution allows students to login using a series of pictures they have pre-selected.  

Parent / Guardian Access to Classroom

Earlier this school year, a major advancement was added to Google Classroom, allowing parents and guardians with a Gmail, the ability to sign up and receive email updates on Google Classroom.  With this weekend's product announcement, you no longer need a Gmail account to gain access to your student's classroom updates!  Any email can be used to sign a Parent or Guardian up for classroom.

Google Drive & Gmail Migration

While this ability was available using Google Takeout, Google has promised that early next year, the migration of Drive data and Gmail to another Google Account will become much easier.  This is a big deal for graduating students who would like to take their portfolio of work with them after they leave public school.  Plus, Google Admins will have the ability to ease this transition through settings on the Google Admin Dashboard.  For more information, stay tuned to updates in early 2017.

Citation Tool

Finally, the one thing that many users have been waiting to see the return of is the citation tool.  With the addition of the Explore tool to Docs, Sheets, and Slides, the citation tool - ability to search and cite sources, quotes, etc... in MLA/APA/Chicago - was removed.  Users, through a concerted online polling effort, requested that the citation feature return.  Google has listened and now, with the simple click of a quotation mark found on search results, you can cite a source in your document.  See the Gsuite Update Blog for details.

Dec 2, 2016

New Online Course - Getting Started with Google Classroom

Think that Google Classroom is just a place to post your Syllabus?  Think Again!

Are you interested in sharpening your skills with Google Classroom?  Just getting started and need some guidance?  

Enroll now in "Getting Started with Google Classroom"

This course will fill you in on all the tips needed to create a great course, as well as timely tips on how to go Paperless!

Nov 30, 2016

Early Look: Google Team Drives

Team Drives

Recently Google announced the Early Adoption Program for Google Team Drives.  This feature - available in Google Drive - allows teams to create and use a Team Drive, which is a collaborative space to create and share files.  

Who can use Team Drives?  

Once available, anyone in your domain - individuals and Google Groups included - can be added to a Team Drive.  Likewise, anyone in your domain can create a team drive.  


By creating a Team Drive, any files that are in the drive can be viewed or edited - depending on managed access - by anyone in the team.  If any member of the team leaves, no files are lost, as the files belong to the team - not an individual.


There are 4 tiers of access for members of a Team Drive:

  • Full Access - can manage members and Upload/Delete/Edit all Files
  • Edit Access - can edit all files and upload new files
  • Comment Access - can view and comment on all files
  • View Access - can view all files

This allows you to set users with different levels of access, to prevent accidental deletion of files, and to prevent users from uploading content without permission.

As a general rule it will be good to set at least 2-3 other users you trust to Full Access.  This will allow management of the Team Drive to continue if one person leaves the organization.


Currently, the only files you can create within a Team Drive are Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Drawings.  

If a file is deleted, it will reside in the Team Trash for 30 days, upon which time it will be deleted forever.

Video Tutorial

Watch this video for more information and stay tuned for the release of this feature by watching the GSuite Update Blog.

Nov 22, 2016

Google Classroom: Creating A Question for Discussion

As I have been developing online PD courses for my district, I have been working toward updating my catalog of videos for Google Classroom.

In this video, I discuss the use of the Create Question option.  As far as classroom assignments go in an online environment, one thing that I had been waiting for was an effective method for conducting an online discussion forum or journal-type assignment in Google Classroom.  Prior to the addition of Create Question, I used to generate discussion assignments using a Google Sheet or Hyperdoc.  

To use the Create Question option in classroom, just click on the + sign and choose Create Question.  You have the option of choosing between Short Answer and Multiple Choice, which is what I use for Poll Questions, Bellringer Activities, and Exit Tickets.

Watch this video for more information.  Enjoy!

Digital Badges Part 2: Creating a Leaderboard

In the first part of this series, I explained how the use of digital badges in District Online Professional Development has taken off.  In this article, I explain how I set up our Badge Leader-board.

In our district, I have had a great response to professional development, and I wouldn't necessarily guess it is because of the badges themselves - although many people like to have that tangible (digital) item to show they have completed something.  No, I believe what has created such a surge in online PD is the leader-board!  Some people in general are naturally competitive - they see that others are involved, and they want to be at the same level - or greater - in terms of training and understanding.  As a result, I created our leader-board to show how many and what type of badges have been earned by each building/school site.  Each week, I send a reminder of which school is in the lead.

I created our leader-board using Google Sheets, and then posted (embedded) my Google Sheet on the Google Site we use for Professional Development.  This allows those who have completed /earned a badge to show off their name, and allows everyone to see who is in the lead.  

This video explains how I set up our Google Sheet/Leader-board.  Enjoy!

Nov 16, 2016

New Google Sites is Now Available to Regular GMail Users

If you are a regular Gmail user (not affiliated with GSuite for Education or Work), you now have access to the New Google Sites.  

The New Google Sites is available through Google Drive.  To use Google Sites:

  1. Just go to
  2. Click New > More > Google Sites

Resources and Links

If you need help getting started, there are several resources available: