5 Reasons to Use the Google Classroom Mobile App

5 Reasons to Use the Google Classroom Mobile App

I’ve been a Google Classroom stan for years. I am still impressed by this relatively simple tool as it grows and evolves. This is especially true of the Google Classroom mobile app. 

The Google Classroom mobile app is great on iPads, Play Store enabled Chromebooks, Android or Chrome OS tablets, and phones. Here are 5 reasons to use the Classroom mobile app. Before we get started, be sure to install the app:

☑️ Reason 1: Give Students Video Directions.

As the creator of a few digital breakouts, I can attest that the best place to hide anything is in printed instructions. Kids rarely read them! What better way to conquer this problem than with video!

All teachers should post lesson videos on YouTube but assignment directions don’t belong there. Instead, create the video directions as you create an assignment in the Classroom mobile app!

To do so, create an assignment. Add an attachment. Click “Take photo” on a Chromebook or “Use camera” on an iPad. Here is an animated GIF from my Chromebook:

Animated GIF demonstrating how to add a video to a Google Classroom assignment.

☑️ Reason 2: Give Students Written Feedback.

If a student works on a Google Drive file attached using “Make a copy for each student” or if they add a file to their assignment, teachers can annotate the file. What an easy way to give written feedback! The file becomes a PDF added to the assignment. Please note: At present (December 2018) the PDF saves to My Drive, not the assignment’s Google Drive folder. Please send Google feedback in the Google Classroom app. 

Watch as I demonstrate creating a PDF for student feedback:

☑️ Reason 3: Students Can Write on Assignments Too!

The ability to write on files in assignments extends to students too. The PDF generated is simply added to the assignment.

Want to have students digitally annotate? The Classroom mobile app makes it possible. Watch as I write on an attached Google Doc as a student:

A great application for this is students using emojis as they mark up documents. 

Animated GIF showing a student adding an emoji to a document using the Chromebook onscreen keyboard.
A student adding an emoji to a document using the Chromebook onscreen keyboard.

Watch as I demonstrate how to do this with a convertible Chromebook’s onscreen keyboard:

☑️ Reason 4: Rearrange Assignments and Topics by Grabbing and Dragging.

Need to rearrange assignments in the Classwork tab? Open the mobile app. and have at it! Check this out:

Animated GIF demonstrating how to rearrange assignments in the Google Classroom mobile app.

Better yet, change an assignment’s topic using this method:

Animated GIF demonstrating how to grab and drag to change an assignment's topic in the Google Classroom mobile app.

Please note: Topics can also be rearranged using this method.

☑️ Reason 5: Randomly Select a Student.

Need to randomly select students to group them, choose team captains, or any other reason? Look for this icon in the upper-right corner of the People tab: 

Watch as I use the student selector app:

What questions do you have about the Google Classroom mobile app? Comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

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Immersive Learning with Google – SXSW EDU Panel Recap

I was honored to be part of the Immersive Learning with Google panel at SXSW EDU 2018. My fellow panelists included our moderator, Google Classroom Product Manager Ope Bukola, sixth-and-seventh-grade Science teacher Carolina Carner, and Instructional Technology Specialist Melissa Lopez. Please read my recap or listen to the panel:

The session started with four hands-on stations for attendees to engage in immersive learning:

Link to Unlock the Lesson Plan Digital Breakout

After the immersive learning stations, we started the panel by introducing ourselves and sharing our definitions of immersive learning. I strongly believe immersive learning happens when students lose themselves in what they are doing. Thank you, Jonathan Rochelle from Google, for documenting my answer:

The panel shared their favorite technologies, including the immersive technologies in the stations and G Suite apps, and edtech apps such as Thinglink and Kahoot!.  

Melissa shared the impact she has seen Expeditions VR have on students:

Carolina shared her experiences pioneering Expeditions AR with students and how it made them better understand forces of nature:

I shared that Google Classroom and Google Jamboard are two of my favorites because within 30 seconds of watching YouTube videos about them I could envision how I would use them with students.

The panel continued with a discussion of teachers using technology. Ope asked us how we manage the noise and excitement of a classroom using immersive technologies such as Expeditions, Jamboard, and digital breakouts:

Ope asked me about the best uses of digital breakouts in the classroom. I replied that teachers can make them using response validation in Google Forms to help prepare students for a cumulative assessment at the end of a unit. Teachers can try smaller scale digital breakouts as exit tickets or help students learn vocabulary.

The Google team used Google Classroom to both facilitate the pre-panel stations and collect participants’ thoughts on what they would like to use with their students. My favorite response in the classroom was from a participant who wrote, “I’m already writing an email to our system admin [to enable Jamboard]!

Speaking of Google Jamboard, I was too tired to pre-write this post on the flight home in Google Docs, so I used the Jamboard app to jot some pre-writing notes:

Thank you to the team at Google for Education for inviting me to be part of the panel. It was an honor to be included the company of innovative, passionate educators such as Carolina, Melissa, and Ope.

What do you think of when you think of immersive learning with G Suite and other edtech? Please share in the comments below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

I used this graphic and this photo from the @GoogleForEDU Twitter handle to make the image for this post.

Collaboration in G Suite – An Overview

G Suite for Education is a great platform for giving students feedback on their work. The apps in G Suite are also great for facilitating student collaboration.  Let’s look at how teachers can use G Suite for student collaboration.

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

Sharing (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

G Suite allows sharing in which collaborators can receive edit access.

Give a collaborator edit access
Give a collaborator edit access

Collaborators can also receive “Can comment” access that allows for commenting in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing.

Give a collaborator comment access
Give a collaborator comment access

Email Collaborators (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Email collaborators is a great way for collaborators to communicate about a file they are working on. The person initiating the conversation need not open Gmail. They also get to choose the exact collaborators they want to send a message to. Click File>>>Email collaborators… to use this function.

"Use

Assign Action Items (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Use the comment function and type a “+” or “@” with a collaborator’s email address to assign them an action item. That pushes an email to their inbox telling them they have been assigned an action item.

Assign an Action Item using Comments.
Assign an Action Item using Comments.

Suggesting Mode (Works in Docs)

In the Google Docs editor, notice the pencil in the upper-right corner. Click it and choose “Suggesting” in the drop-down menu.

Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.
Suggesting Mode in the Google Docs editor.

Make edits. They appear as suggestions.

Suggesting Mode in Action
Suggesting Mode in Action

Collaborators can approve or reject suggestions by checking “✔️” or “✖️.”

Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.
Collaborators can accept or reject suggestions.

Version History (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Version history is a great way for teachers and collaborating students to keep track of ongoing collaborations. Ever wonder which member of a group made a contribution to a G Suite file? Version history reveals all. Click File>>>Version history to access a detailed history of all edits to a G Suite file. Version history allows editors to restore a version. This is a great way to save the day if one collaborator has made many incorrect edits to a G Suite file/

Accessing Version History in Google Docs.
Accessing Version History in Google Docs.

Differentiation in Google Classroom

Let’s conclude with an easy way for teachers to turbo-charge collaboration in Google Classroom. Any post (announcement, question, or assignment) can be shared only with specific students even though the default is set to all students in a class. Have a look at how it works from Google’s The Keyword blog:

Google Classroom Differentiation
Google Classroom Differentiation

Teachers can use this to facilitate collaboration in two ways:

  1. Create a post that shares files only with group captains. Each group captain can then share their files with their group members.
  2. Create posts only for groups. This is not that difficult because of the reuse post feature. Use it to use the same post for each group with slight adjustments for each group.

For more information on differentiation in Google Classroom, please watch this video.

The Future of Collaboration in G Suite – Google Jamboard

If your district uses iPads or Play Store enabled Chromebooks, your students can use the Google Jamboard app right now. This online collaborative whiteboard is the new frontier in G Suite collaboration.  Have a look at me demonstrating it on my Chromebook. As you watch, please note – I now know what the lasso tool does. It selects elements on the screen, resizes, and moves them. It’s actually very useful.

Thank you for reading. If you would like to share your thoughts about collaboration in G Suite with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

Feedback for Students in G Suite – An Overview

Teachers and students in districts that use Google for Education have access to a free suite of apps, G Suite, to create and publish. But why use G Suite? Why not Microsoft, pen-and-paper, or go full tactile and have students use typewriters? The reason to use G Suite is feedback – collaboration too, but that is a separate blog post!

A Quick Note

This post is meant for teachers who are almost proficient with or just learning G Suite. Additionally, this post contains nothing about add-ons, extensions, coding, or anything extra. Strictly G Suite.

What is so special about feedback?

One of the most valuable interventions teachers can use with students is feedback. According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) feedback is vital:

…Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement…The feedback that students receive from their teachers is also vital. It enables students to progress towards challenging learning intentions and goals.

– Visible Learning

Marianne Stenger shared research tips for providing students meaningful feedback in Edutopia. Number 2 on the list? The sooner the better. That’s where G Suite comes in. Here is a quick-and-dirty look at using G Suite to give students immediate feedback.

Comments (Works in Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings)

Comments are a great way to give students immediate feedback as they work in G Suite. Select text or an image. There are three ways to insert a comment:

Demonstration of 3 Ways to Insert a Comment in the Google Docs Editor

Use either of these methods and type a comment:

Animated GIF of a comment inserted into a Google Doc

Comments are even better when an editor is tagged in them. This sends an email to their Gmail. Tag an editor by typing “+” or “@” followed by their email address.

Animated GIF of an editor tagged in a comment

Comment boxes serve as spaces where teachers and students can converse. Here teachers and peers can give feedback about work.

Screen capture of a discussion in a Google Docs comment

Comments “disappear” when they are resolved. The good news is they never truly disappear. The “Comments” button in the upper right of the editor keeps a record of them. This is great for keep track of all feedback students receive, whether it is from teachers or peers.

Demonstration of Comments history in Google Docs

Feedback in Google Classroom

Teachers can add a private comment to any assignment in Google Classroom. This is what it looks like as a student:

Private comment feedback from a teacher in Google Classroom

Teachers can also give feedback for students’ answers when they reply to questions in Google Classroom:

Feedback on a student's reply to a question in Google Classroom

A nice aspect of feedback in Google Classroom is that it keeps track of the number of private feedback comments exchanged between student and teacher. What a great way to document the amount of feedback provided to a student.

Google Classroom keeps track of the feedback comments exchanged between teacher and student

Google Keep (Works in Docs, Drawings and Slides)

Google Keep integration is a great way to give feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. One way to do this is to have comments ready to go in a Google Keep note, then copy-and-paste them into comments.

Additionally, Google Keep can be used to give students longer-form narrative feedback in Docs, Drawings, and Slides. To make the most of this strategy, create a label for each student and each assignment in Google Keep. That way, feedback can be organized by assignment and by student.

In Docs:

In Drawings:

In Slides:

Google Forms (Response Validation and Quiz Mode)

Response validation is a great way to give students a question they work on until they get correct. I love using Response Validation for digital breakouts. Simply use short-answer questions in Google Forms, click the three dots, and choose Response Validation.

Screen capture of Response validation in Google Forms

This is a great strategy for a math problem – students receive an error message until they type the correct answer. They know immediately if they are correct or wrong – instant feedback!

Animated GIF of response validation in Google Forms

Error messages (the red text above) are a great way to scaffold for students as they work on finding an answer.

Here I demonstrate to use Response Validation:

Quiz Mode is another good way to give students feedback in Google Forms.  Quiz mode allows teachers to give different feedback for correct and incorrect answers. It also allows for links to be added to answer feedback, meaning students can be directed to a resource to re-learn questions they answered incorrectly. Watch as I demonstrate:

Two G Suite Apps That Are Not Great for Student Feedback – (Forms?! and Sites)

Didn’t I just discuss ways to use Google Forms to give students feedback? Yes, I did. Forms is great for giving feedback when they answer forms their teachers create. However, when students create Google Forms, there is no good way for teachers to give feedback inside of Google Forms. The same holds true for the Google Sites (still called New Sites). As much as I love Google Sites, I wish there was a way teachers and students could exchange feedback inside its editor.

If you would like to share your thoughts with me, please comment below or tweet me at @TomEMullaney. Thank you for reading.

The G Suite logo I used in the image for this blog post.

Five Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks

Update (11/5/2017): I have published Five More Educational Android Apps for Chromebooks.

When Google announced Android apps were coming to Chromebooks, I was not enthused. Chromebooks are great for learners and teachers because of the Chrome OS’s simplicity and lightning-fast boot-up. I was defensive about Chromebooks and not excited about change.

My love of Chromebooks for education is not universal. Joe Wilcox, citing kids’ love of iPhones, argues, “The PC, whether desktop or notebook, is obsolete in the classroom… If the fruit-logo company doesn’t seize the moment, a competitor will—and almost certainly selling devices running Android.”

But what if Chromebooks incorporated Android apps in a way that did not compromise the OS while giving teachers and learners the best of all worlds – mobile apps, keyboards, and touchscreens?

I recently purchased the ASUS Flip C302 which has Play Store access. My wariness of Android on Chrome OS was mistaken. The Flip C302 is a dream. Everything works great, including Android apps.

Long term, I hope companies make convertible flip touchscreen Chromebooks with a world-facing camera above the keyboard. This gives the device full tablet functionality. ASUS has done this with its C213. Time will tell if these Chromebooks are iPad killers. In the meantime, here are five educational Android apps to consider using with your students.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom’s web interface is great. One thing missing is the ability to instantly embed content from a laptop’s webcam and/or mic. The Classroom Android app allows this:

Further, John Sowash documented the app giving very useful notifications.

Pros:

  • Very mouse friendly. It actually works better with the mouse rather than the touchscreen.
  • Ability to embed directions and content using the webcam and/or mic.
  • Enhanced notifications.
  • The Android app allows teachers annotate on student work and saves it as a PDF.

Cons:

  • Why doesn’t Google Classroom’s web interface allow teachers to use their webcam and mic?

Google Expeditions

The Google Expedition Android app renders beautifully on a Chromebook. I made this screencast with it:

Pros:

  • Teachers can search for and preview Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks.
  • Teachers can lead Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks.
  • Students can view Google Expeditions from their Chromebooks like they would with iPads.

Cons:

  • None I have encountered yet.

For more on using the Google Jamboard Android app on Chromebooks, please read my blog post, Bring Collaboration to Next Level with Google Jamboard app.

Squid

Squid is an Android app for note-taking, Math, and sketch-noting. Thank you, Robby Payne of Chrome Unboxed, for turning me on to it. Have a look at me trying it out:

Pros:

  • Its simplicity of use.
  • Graph and lined paper in the free version.
  • Annotate images in the free version.
  • Notes can be exported as PDFs, JPEGs, and PNGs for free.
  • Premium is relatively cheap – $1/month or $10/year.

Cons:

  • The highlighter is a premium feature.
  • Importing PDFs is a premium feature.
  • Writing does not work with the mouse.
  • On my Chromebook, the only input that works is “Finger,” meaning it does not recognize pressure sensitivity with my stylus.

Screenshot 2017-07-04 at 10.01.52 AM
Active pen does not work on my Chromebook.

Adobe Illustrator Draw

The Adobe Illustrator Draw Android app is a wonderful tool for art and sketch-noting:

Pros:

  • The mouse works for a lot of features.
  • It’s free!
  • So many beautiful options for colors, shapes, and brushes.
  • Images can be saved as PNGs – with transparent backgrounds if desired.

Cons:

  • Shapes cannot be manipulated by the mouse.

Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is a $5,000 piece of hardware marketed at businesses. The device looks very fun to play with but at that price point, it is likely a non-starter for education. However, the hardware is powered by an Android app available for free in the Google Play Store. The app renders well on Chromebooks. While not perfect, it has great potential for students to collaborate in a fun way:

Pros:

  • Real-time collaboration.
  • Very fun!
  • Handwriting recognition.
  • Nice ability to clip anything from the web and add it to a jam.
  • Jams can be shared as PDFs and images to Google Classroom. This makes me hopeful there might be more education integration coming for the app in the future.

Google Jamboard exports jams as PDFs or images to Google Classroom.
Google Jamboard exports jams as PDFs or images to Google Classroom.

Cons:

  • A touchscreen is essential. The mouse does not play well with Jamboard.
  • The app renders nicely on Chromebooks but is not very useful on phones and rendered very darkly on my wife’s Samsung Galaxy Tab A.
  • Only five colors available for drawing.
  • Shape recognition not perfected.
  • Difficulty grabbing objects. Notice the difficulty I experienced in the video.
  • Google Drive files render very small.

Thank you for reading.  Want to know if your Chromebook can run Android apps? Here is the list of Chromebooks that support Android apps. How would you use Android apps with your students? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney.

Image sources:

Android logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Chrome logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Play logo (Wikimedia Commons)

Why This Teacher Loves Canva

why-this-teacher-loves-canva-blog-post-splash-image

I sat in an eighth-grade math teacher’s classroom, working on problems she shared with her students using Mathspace. I do not usually enjoy multi-step math problems but found myself delighted and completely engaged. Reflecting on it later, I realized a significant part of the experience was Mathspace’s sleek, modern design. I like Google Classroom more than LMSs in part because of its beautiful design but it took my Mathspace experience to realize an important rule when creating digital learning experiences for students:

Design Counts!

If we want students to engage in digital lessons, we owe it to them to make learning materials visually appealing. Personally, I enhance imagery to make Google Sitesdigital breakouts, and YouTube thumbnails that look good and hook students. Canva is a great tool for teachers and students to create imagery that adds beauty to their creations.

Making an image in Canva is easy. Users can create images with template dimensions such as Facebook and Twitter posts, and, my favorite, YouTube thumbnails. Additionally, users can set custom dimensions such as 800 x 200 (Google Classroom images) and 767 x 280 (Google Sites banner images):

The Wikimedia Commons is a great source for copyright-friendly images to jazz up a lesson. Here is how to easily upload them into the Canva editor:

canva-inserting-an-image

Canva lets teachers make images more dramatic or cheerful with Instagram-like filters:

canva-image-filters

A great tool to use in conjunction with Canva is the Colorzilla Google Chrome extension. It allows users to grab any color they see in an image and use it to make more elements. Additionally, Canva’s transparency tool is another way for amateurs to become instant graphic artists:

Canva is a great tool for students to use their creativity. My colleague Cristie Watson had students create six-word memoirs in Canva which inspired me to make my own:

Teachers looking for more ways to incorporate Canva into instruction should look at their lesson plans as well as tutorials and design resources.

There two small drawbacks. I use the free version of Canva so I cannot make images with transparent backgrounds. That is why I made this site’s favicon in Google Drawings. Additionally, images can only be cropped into rectangles, unlike Google Drawings which allows users to crop with different shapes. These drawbacks make Google Drawings a better tool for making digital badges.

We want our students engaging in the 4Cs in our classrooms. That engagement becomes inevitable when we engage in them ourselves. Canva is a great tool for tapping your inner creativity and drawing it out of students too.

Author’s Note: I have not been compensated for writing this. I have not collaborated with Canva. They were unaware I that I worked on this post.

Help Yourself to 30 Minutes of GAFE Professional Development

30 Minutes of GAFE PD

I recorded a Google Hangout on Air for the North Carolina Google Educator Group. Here are the video and the slides. Additionally, there are direct links to when I cover specific topics in the video.

 

 

Google Classroom

Assignments and Content

Feedback

Miscellaneous

Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Updated Going Deeper with Google Classroom

Google Classroom is awesome. Teachers can take it beyond substitution to redefine teaching and learning in their classroom. I have posted ten strategies to help teachers do so on the BAMNetwork Radio blog.

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 1

  • Anchor Activities in the About Tab
  • Create a Question for Class Discussions
  • Easily Find All Google Classroom Files by Student
  • Google Classroom as Backchannel for Students to Help Each Other
  • Make it All Accessible to Absent Students and/or Convert to Blended Learning

Going Deeper with Google Classroom – Part 2

  • Google Forms for Do Nows and Assessment
  • Hyperdocs
  • Choosing a Theme Image
  • Make a New Google Classroom for Each Class Unit
  • A Strategy for Differentiation

Thank you for reading these suggestions. I hope they help you go deeper with Google Classroom. Please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom if you would like to chat more about going deeper with Google Classroom.

Google Classroom – A Differentiation Strategy

google-classroom-a-differentiation-strategy-7

I am honored to contribute to the BAM Radio Network EdWords Blog. In my first post there, I document a strategy for differentiation in Google Classroom. I hope its screen caps and embedded YouTube video help you make even better use of Google Classroom. If you would like to discuss further, please comment below or tweet me at @edtechtom. Thank you for reading.