Jan 12, 2017

Google Classroom - Assign to Individual Students

Just yesterday, Google released a new feature to Google Classroom that many teachers have been requesting for quite some time - the ability to assign work to individual students!

Now if you want to differentiate work according to student teams or learning styles, you can!  If you'd like more information, check out the video below to see how it works, or visit the Google Blog post here!

Notifications will also see a change, as teachers will be notified if students turn work in LATE or if they RE-SUBMIT work. 

Hopefully these tools will be of great help to you as you start the Spring 2017 Semester!

Dec 7, 2016

The 3 E's of Teaching

Are students bored?  

How often have you really asked yourself this question?  It is all too easy to stand at the front of the room on a daily basis, with the goal of teaching a lesson - often as you have always done it for  years - and never think about or wonder whether students are bored with your class.  Yes, we see kids who are disconnected, but we often attribute this to apathy or laziness.  

This discussion of whether students are bored came up in a workshop we had this week on Classroom Management.  In a recent survey, it was found that 69% of our students reported being bored with their classes.  When we began to discuss this surprising statistic, we discussed ways that we could avoid this situation.  

One thing I mentioned from my own experience, is that it always comes down to student engagement.  If you aren't keeping students engaged in the curriculum, it is all too easy to send them into fits of boredom.  So as a result of this discussion, I was prompted to write this article, with the suggestion I gave at the workshop. 

To avoid Student Boredom....

For years I would come to work with the same plan in mind - Lecture, seatwork, lab, test.  But this simply does not work with the 21st Century learners we face today. I had to change the way I taught.  So here is how I remedied the situation.  Every day that I worked with my students, I would break up the time so that they never had the chance to get bored.  I created lessons that would engage them at every point, and change things up every 10-15 minutes.  Each time I approached a new unit, I kept the 3 E's in mind - Explore, Explain, & Engage.


For this part of the lesson, I would find some kind of activity, such as a video, that covered the topic of the day.  
  • Look for a video that introduces your topic, or at least explains it in a way that is subtly different from your style.  You can then expand on the topic later.  
  • Make sure your video is short and to the point.  Try to find videos are are 5 minutes or less if possible.  But don't go beyond 15 minutes, as you'll lose them.
  • Use YouTube to get started.  There are many subject specific channels out there that can help.  A quick search of YouTube in your specific subject will yield some good results.  
  • If you are looking for a broad category such as Science or English, filter your search to find a Channel in your Subject Area.  
  • Here are a few good ones....
  • When finished watching the video, take your students into a discussion that isn't necessarily focused on the content.  focus on questions like, "What did you like most about the video?"  "List a few things that you learned from the video" or "What do you already know about this topic that the video covered?"


The next step in the process is to take a moment to explain the topic as you normally would in a lecture.  The key component to this part is to refrain from making this a "Sage on the stage" lecture.  Take about 15 minutes to expand on what was covered by the video.  Allow students to ask questions along the way.  You can do this by allowing students to use their phones with one of the following services or options:

  • Google Slides Presenter View - create your lecture using Google Slides, and then use Presenter View to allow them to ask questions along the way.

  • Use Today's Meet - You can create a Backchannel page that students can navigate to on their phone.  Students can ask questions using Today's meet.  They can then reference the site later if they want to see the backchannel of questions.  


Once you have completed this section of the lesson, its time to move on to something Hands On!  Find an activity -  a science lab, an interactive activity using Google Apps, or a Discussion Forum online - that ties to your subject, but allows students to reflect, respond, and learn by doing.  If you find it difficult to gather materials for an activity, go digital and use interactives such as:

There are tons of activities available on the web, and a simple Google search will help you get started.  These are just a few to give you an idea of how and where to start.  

In using this method of covering material with my students, I've found that it also serves students with different learning styles.  If I have students who are Auditory or Read/Write, they are served best by the Explore or Explain phase.  Visual Learners also benefit from these stages.  The Kinesthetic learners really start to pull it altogether in the Engage phase.  

Hopefully this helps you in addressing student engagement and general high school boredom.  If you have tips of your own, please feel free to add to the Comments section. 

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.