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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Join Me for Transform Your Learning Space with Jamboard

I was honored to participate in Transform Your Learning Space with Jamboard, a Google for Education EDU on Air event on November 28, 2018.

I was joined by fellow educators and Googlers. We discussed both the Jamboard device and the Jamboard app. Please note the app is free! I shared how students and teachers are using the Jamboard app on iPads at my school.

Enjoy this EDU on Air event:

Do you have questions about how students and teachers can use the Jamboard app for collaboration and brainstorming? Comment below or tweet me @TomEMullaney? Thank you for reading and watching.

Congratulations! It’s Your First Day of Google Jamboard!

First Day of Google Jamboard

The Google Jamboard mobile app is a game-changing tool for collaboration on Play Store enabled Chromebooks and iPads. Additionally, there is now a streamlined Google Jamboard web app (2:43 explainer video).  

Please note: The Google Jamboard app is 100% FREE. No Jamboard device required.

Ever since I discovered the Jamboard app in June 2017, I have wanted to see it used in classrooms as a collaboration tool. I am excited to share that Google for Education has created a First Day of Google Jamboard resource in their Google Teacher Center to help teachers get started. Additionally, I am honored that five of my videos are part of this resource. 

Check out First Day of Jamboard to get started using this awesome app. Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below or with me on Twitter, @TomEMullaney.

I Converted My Digital Breakouts from Classic to New Google Sites

The summer before my senior year of high school, I had to read Crime and Punishment for my AP Literature class. At first glance, the book’s 545 pages seemed an insurmountable challenge. Then I realized that if I read 10 pages a day, every day, I would complete the novel with time to spare before the first day of school. That’s exactly what I did.

A similarly daunting task presented itself when Google finally allowed Classic Sites to be converted to New Sites this spring. I had 14 digital breakouts created in Classic Sites. The Classic and New Sites platforms are very different. Simply clicking the “Try it now” button only starts the work of making a site visually appealing.

Image depicting the
Clicking “Try it now” only starts the work.

Additionally, I wanted to improve the digital breakouts as I converted them. Starting the third week of June, I set out to convert all 14 breakouts by the end of July. It took six weeks of working like Charlie when he landed a job in a mailroom on Always Sunny, but I am proud to say, much like reading Crime and Punishment 23 years ago, it is finally done. Read on to learn about the changes I made, which digital breakouts are affected, the edtech tools I used, and how I addressed accessibility.

Changes made:

  • Nicer design – Classic Google Sites rendered unattractive websites. New Sites makes beautiful websites. Classic sites did not have the option to have a banner at the top of a page, so that was the foremost design issue to address when converting to New Sites.
  • Fewer browser tabs – One of my concerns with edtech is the overwhelming amount of tabs students and teachers constantly have open in their web browsers. While I was unable to completely eradicate multiple tabs, I was able to reduce the number of tabs in most of the digital breakouts.
  • Favicons and site logos – I added a favicon and site logo (usually the same image) for each site. This avoids the generic Google Sites favicon and makes the site feel more immersive.
  • Accessibility – I regret that I did not consider accessibility when I created the 14 digital breakouts. Thank goodness I learned so much about accessibility from my colleague Lindsey Blass when I worked for SFUSD. As I converted the digital breakouts I was able to use what she taught me about color contrast, narration, and alt text to make the breakouts more inclusive.
  • Some locks have changed. For teachers who have used any of these breakouts before, please have a look to see how they have changed.
  • The URLs are all the same. One great aspect of the conversion is that no URLs change. There is no need to update links anywhere they have been published.

Digital Breakouts Updated:

Social Studies

Let’s start with a four-pack of 60’s-70s US history digital breakouts I am especially proud of:

  • Cuban Missile Crisis – The Cuban Missile Crisis was the very first digital breakout I created. I was never satisfied with it so I completely revamped it. Realizing the Armageddon Letters and Time Ghost YouTube channels told the story better than I can, I leaned heavily on their content. Another big change is the breakout is now sequential, meaning students work on one lock at a time to advance to the next lock. There are four locks in total.
  • Defeat Barry Goldwater – This is most difficult of my digital breakouts. It could be a whole class exercise or an end-of-year US II review because it focuses on the Summer of 1964, a critical time for the Civil Rights Movement and US escalation in Vietnam. Warning: I did not reduce the number of tabs in this breakout. There are a lot of them.
  • Shirley Chisholm: Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked – This digital breakout tells the story of the first Black woman to run for president – Shirley Chisholm. It broke my heart when beta testers told me they did not know about her. US II teachers: if you try just one of my digital breakouts with your students, please make it this one!
Image links to the Shirley, Chisholm, Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked! digital breakout.
US II Teachers: Please use this digital breakout!
  • Richard KNICKSon – A New York Knicks-themed digital breakout. Why the Knicks? Because they’re my favorite team and they won their only two NBA championships when Nixon was president!
  • Other Social Studies digital breakouts I updated include Escape the Guillotine (French Revolution), Ratify the Bill of Rights, Decide the 1800 Election (Alexander Hamilton), Sell World War I to the American Public, and Liberate Paris (middle school version) (high school version).

    Math

    • Combine Like Terms & Save Halloween – This very popular breakout is now more user-friendly.
    • Liberate the Sphero – A good breakout for reviewing broad concepts with 7th and 8th-grade students or to introduce Spheros and digital breakouts. to Math teachers.
    • Escape to Summer Vacation – Another broad review for 7th and 8th-grade Math. This breakout is much less complicated now and uses fewer browser tabs.

    English Language Arts

    EdTech Tools Used:

    I used a number of tools to improve these digital breakouts:

    Image links to a virtual tour of the White House I created for the Richard KNICKSon digital breakout.
    Click this image to view the tour.
    • EdPuzzle EdPuzzle adds questions to YouTube videos. It also crops YouTube videos. New Google Sites now allows for embedding external tools so EdPuzzle is fair game. I wish it rendered perfectly with the next tool.
    • ThingLink ThingLink is the go-to weapon in the fight against multiple browser tabs. YouTube videos, Google Slides, and Google Forms render perfectly on ThingLink images – with no need to open new tabs. If only EdPuzzles did too! Escape to Summer Vacation benefited greatly from ThingLink. ThingLink also a video component. I used that in Unbought, Unbossed, & Unlocked. I wish it also cropped videos.
    • Google Drawings – I replaced Google Drawings hotspot image maps with ThingLink images because they do not open new tabs for YouTube, Google Slides, and Google Forms. I still used Google Drawings to create favicons (512×512-pixel dimensions) because it produces transparent images.
    Animated GIF demonstrating how to click the 3 dots in the Google Sites editor to add a site favicon
    Click the 3 dots in the Google Sites editor to add a favicon.

    Additionally, I used Google Drawings for those times when I did not like the options my chosen Google Sites theme generated for section backgrounds.

    Create a Google Drawing with 800×200 pixel dimensions and use it as an image for the section background. Or just make a copy of this Google Drawing and change the color as needed.

    Google Sites Section Style options: Regular, Emphasis 1, Emphasis 2, Image
    Don’t like the section background options? Use Google Drawings to create the background you want and use it as an image.

  • LunaPicLunaPic is a great website for adding artistic effects to images. Ignore the 1997 web design – the site is actually very powerful. And it’s free. I used LunaPic to manipulate the site banners for Cuban Missile Crisis, Decide the 1800 Election, and Liberate the Sphero.
  • Canva Canva is another wonderful tool for manipulating images. It is a freemium site. I use the free version. Use either the YouTube thumbnail template or set 767×280 pixel custom dimensions to make a Sites banner. I used Canva to make the site banner for Sell World War I to the American Public and the Eiffel Tower ThingLink images in Liberate Paris (middle school version) (high school version).
  • SoundtrapThe Soundtrap mobile app is great for recording quick sound clips. It works on any Play Store enabled Chromebook. I detail how I used sound clips in the Accessibility section.
  • Google Forms – Classic Google Forms are still more customizable for background colors and fonts. I did not convert any of my classic Forms to new. Google recently announced that classic Forms will migrate to the new editor soon. I hope this does not change the fonts and colors on these forms because…
  • FontFace Ninja Google Chrome Extension – The FontFace Google Chrome extension is great for identifying fonts on websites. I used it to match the fonts in my classic Google Forms to the fonts in Google Sites themes. Please note: this extension does not work well with the Google Sites editor. I often clicked “Publish” before sites were complete so I could use Fontface Ninja to identify fonts in the “view published site” version.
  • Colorzilla Google Chrome Extension – The Colorzilla Google Chrome extension grabs the hex code of a color on a website. That color can then be used in components of a digital breakout such as Google Forms and Google Slides.
  • Accessibility:

    • WebAIM Color Contrast CheckerThe WebAim Color Contrast Checker website details the contrast between any two colors using hex codes. If colors don’t have enough contrast, the site has clickable levers to adjust a color until there is enough contrast. I used this to ensure text and background had enough contrast in Google Forms and Sites.
    • Narration in Tour Creator – Add audio to points of interest in Tour Creator. When I discovered this, I was excited!
    • Alt text for images in Google Sites – One final tip for accessibility – add alt text to images so students with screen readers know what an image depicts. Click the image to add alt text:
    Animated GIF depicting adding alt text to an image in Google Sites
    Click the image to add alt text.

    Thank you for reading. I hope these digital breakouts are useful for your classroom or better yet, inspire you to create your own. Please comment below, tweet me @TomEMullaney, or email me (mistermullaney@gmail.com) if you have questions, need hints, or notice a mistake.

    The Getting Started Guide for Touchscreen Chromebooks in the Classroom

    “The new Chromebooks are here!”

    Many teachers will be saying that as their school transitions to Chromebooks for students or refreshes old Chromebooks. The new education model Chromebooks have touchscreens and convert to tablet mode. The combination of touch and Chrome OS is probably here to stay awhile. Lenovo has released a Chromebook with a screen students can literally draw on with a pencil.  There is even a just-released Chromebook tablet. David Andrade breaks down the reasons why schools may switch from iPads to Chromebook tablets for elementary students in his blog post, New tablets for Education – comparing the new Acer Chromebook Tab 10 and the new Apple iPad.

    This guide is meant to help educators get started using these new Chromebooks that have both touchscreens and keyboards. Everything referenced in this post until the very end is web-based and immediately accessible upon signing in to a Chromebook. The very end of this guide suggests some tools that are great but will require district Google administrators to enable the Google Play Store.

    Before you do anything, even before reading this – beg, borrow, steal, cheat, lie, simply ask, or do whatever is necessary to get your hands on a new Chromebook the second it arrives in a district warehouse.  Reading about apps and educational uses is great but nothing matches the experience of actually using the device.

    On to the guide. Let’s start with sketching, jotting, and drawing on touchscreen Chromebooks.

    Isn’t that straight up substitution?

    Of course it is! “Substitution” has become a loaded dirty word in education. Even the most innovative teacher uses substitution in every lesson. Effective technology integration incorporates constant motion through different levels of SAMR. Jaclyn B. Stevens‘s SAMR swimming pool clearly illustrates this:

    The SAMR Swimming Pool Infographic by Jaclyn B. Stevens
    The SAMR Swimming Pool by Jaclyn B. Stevens of the Friday Institute. Source

    As Stevens says in this video, “Just as educators work across the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the levels of the SAMR model must also be flexible and align to what students are doing in a classroom.”

    Classrooms should be places where students always feel free to quickly jot or draw something to help them process and make connections. Research suggests drawing is the most effective way to learn! Or just doodle for brain breaks. For more on the benefits of drawing for learning, please read A Simple Way to Better Remember Things: Draw a Picture from The New York Times (1/6/19).

    Annotating a website or PDF for a grade is rotten. However, getting messy annotating a website or adding content to a Google Jamboard Jam to process information, give feedback, or create a digital gallery walk is different. Use these tools to help kids get messy. Encourage it.

    An example of this is sketchnoting. Sketchnoting is so beneficial for kids and adults.  Sketchnotes are often created on iPads that are more expensive than Chromebooks with a paid app (Procreate). Why shouldn’t kids sketchnote on Chromebooks for free?

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #1: Google Keep

    Google Keep is a great tool for drawing on images or creating sketches. This works in the Google Keep web app:

    Google Keep is great for this purpose though it is not the most robust drawing tool. I lamented there was not another Google tool for drawing (don’t get me started about the misnamed Google Drawings) until I saw this tweet from Jessica Garrigan:

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #2: Google AutoDraw

    Google AutoDraw is much more than an auto draw tool. I created the image for this blog post in AutoDraw using a touchscreen Chromebook. Watch as I demo:

    AutoDraw lacks the ability to save files. Create, download, and start with a blank slate next time. Let’s hope that changes soon. It also does not have an erase tool though it has an undo button and the ability to delete elements of a sketch by selecting and deleting. For more information about AutoDraw, read these two blog posts:

    Google Keep and AutoDraw do not let students sketch or annotate on top of websites. Enter the Web Paint Google Chrome extension.

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting Tool #3: Chrome Canvas

    Discovered by Chrome Unboxed in December 2018, Chrome Canvas is a great Google tool for drawing. It saves images and lets students download as PNG files. I like it better than Google Keep for jotting on top of images. Additionally, each drawing tool has size and opacity sliders which are absent in Keep and AutoDraw. Users of Adobe suite mobile apps are familiar with these sliders. Check out this sketch of Gritty created by The Verge:

    I’m obsessed with Gritty.

    Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:

    Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension

    The Web Paint Google Chrome extension is great for marking up websites.

    Take advantage of this by using Web Paint with Google Keep to search the text on saved clippings from the web:

    One drawback of Web Paint is it only works with what is on screen. There is no ability to scroll down the page. Robby Payne at Chrome Unboxed figured out that using Web Paint in conjunction with the FireShot extension allows for marking up an entire page and then saving it as a PDF.

    Freeform Collaboration Tool: Google Jamboard

    Google Jamboard is a drawing tool but its usefulness is elevated through collaboration. It is the perfect platform for student brainstorming. Google recently announced a streamlined web version of the great mobile Jamboard app. Watch as I demonstrate.

     

    Does your district need some help determining the right Chromebook for students? I can help! E-mail mistermullaney@gmail.com to inquire about my consulting services!

    A Drawing for Assessment Tool: Formative

    Formative, found at goformative.com, allows students to draw in an assignment. The applications for this, especially in Math, are innumerable. In this simple example, I draw in a formative (Formative’s name for assignments) I created asking students to explain the Schlieffen Plan.

    Schlieffen Plan Drawing in Formative

    In this example, I provided students with a map to draw on. Better yet, don’t provide the map! Students can insert images themselves. Or not. Let students determine how best they can depict a concept. I made a formative with two Schlieffen Plan questions – one with a map and one without. Feel free to make a copy for yourself.

    Drag-and-Drop with Instant Feedback Tool – Quizlet

    Dragging-and-dropping isn’t the highest level learning activity but at least Quizlet matching gives students instant feedback. Notice what happens when I choose the wrong answer and then the correct answer:

    Animated GIF of correct and incorrect answers in Quizlet matching
    Incorrect, then correct. Help yourself to this French Revolution vocabulary Quizlet deck.

    Writing by Hand on Touchscreen Convertible Chromebooks

    This applies only to touchscreen Chromebooks that are convertible – meaning that can be used in stand, tent, and tablet form factors. Students can hand write in Google Docs, Slides, to enter a website URL, or basically anywhere they can input text. Please note this does not work if a mouse is connected to the device. Watch as I demonstrate.

    Google Earth

    The web version of Google Earth is perfect for touchscreen Chromebooks. It’s not just for exploring and storytelling – Google has added a lot of educational content to Google Earth Voyager. Watch as I demonstrate in this YouTube playlist of 7 short videos:

    Bring Touchscreen Chromebooks to the Next Level – Android Apps!

    Web apps are great but the magic of touchscreen Chromebooks is found in the Google Play Store. Great apps for education productivity, creativity, and collaboration live there including my beloved free Google Jamboard app! Here are two blog posts where I review great Android apps for education on Chromebooks:

    Email your district’s Google administrator to request enabling the Google Play Store in your district’s domain. Share with them this video by Allison Mollica which explains how admins enable Play Store access and this video by Thomas Rup and Eric Lawson which explains pushing Android apps to Chromebooks.

    Keep Yourself in the Chromebook Loop

    More important than any tool is staying up-to-date on what’s happening with Chrome OS and education. To do this:

    • Follow the linked Twitter handles in this post. These educators share great resources for integrating technology in the classroom. Some of them are not Chromebook superfans like me. Great! Better to have a broader perspective.
    • Stay up-to-date about Chrome OS updates with the aforementioned Chrome Unboxed website.  The site is constantly publishing valuable updates and tips-and-tricks.
    • My Education Chromebook Reviews YouTube playlist includes videos that demonstrate the pluses and minuses of each model and show them in action. I will add to the playlist as reviews for new devices are published.

    I hope this guide is useful. To those of you already using touchscreen Chromebooks in the classroom, what did I miss? Please comment below or tweet me, @TomEMullaney. Thanks for reading.

    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.

    Back to School Night Pro Tip: Use Google Forms to Make Parent Contact Lists in Gmail

    Do you want to e-mail all parents for your class without entering twenty-five e-mail addresses into Gmail? Would you like parent e-mail addresses to populate in Gmail so you don’t have to remember them?

    Thanks to a great idea Damien Akelman showed me at Mooresville Summer Connection, you can have parents answer a quick form and accomplish both these goals. Damien’s idea was to have parents input their information themselves into a Google Form.

    This is perfect for Back to School night. Have parents use their phones, classroom devices or simply have them meet in a computer lab. Share the form using a URL shortener such as bit.ly or goo.gl.

    Your form should have four simple questions. Word the questions exactly as you see here:

    Screenshot 2015-09-10 at 4.42.46 PM

    This is what parents will see:

    Screenshot 2015-09-10 at 4.43.34 PM

    When you have collected your responses, go back to editing your form:

    Screenshot 2015-09-10 at 4.44.31 PM

    Screenshot 2015-09-10 at 4.46.22 PM

    This creates a Google Sheet with your responses. In that Google Sheet:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 2.01.06 PM

    You now need to open the CSV and briefly edit it. This means uploading it back to Google Drive if you are using a Chromebook. It’s a small inconvenience. If you are using a computer with Excel, simply use that to edit the CSV. This is the only edit you have to make:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 2.03.52 PM

    Save your file. If working on it in Google Sheets, you will need to download it as a CSV again. The key is that you have to wind up with a CSV file on your hard drive. The file should look like this when you open it:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.31.55 PM

    Now go to Gmail.

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.33.38 PM

    This will open a new window with your Google Contacts.

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.36.49 PM

     

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.37.36 PM

    You will receive the prompt below. Choose the CSV file you downloaded.

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.38.33 PM

    You will see the contacts you just imported on the side of the screen. They will be named “Imported Today’s Date (#of contacts).”

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.45.39 PM

    This is what you see after you click on the group:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.48.25 PM

     

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.51.40 PM

    This is what you see when you click on a single contact:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.55.48 PM

    Now you can e-mail a parent by simply typing their name in the Gmail “to” field:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 3.58.18 PM

    You can also e-mail the whole contact list by typing the name you gave it in the Gmail “to” field:

    Screenshot 2015-07-29 at 4.02.15 PM

    Thanks for reading. I hope this tutorial was helpful for you. Please let me know if you have any questions by commenting below or tweeting at me at @edtechtom.

    Ten Things You Can Do This Summer To Prepare For Teaching In A 1:1 Classroom With Chromebooks

    Has your district told you your students will bring Chromebooks with them to class in the fall? Are you eager to integrate this technology into instruction but unsure how? Here are ten things you can do this summer to hit the ground running in the fall, brought to you by a teacher who has been in your shoes.

    1. Ask your administration for a Chromebook to use this summer.

    You want to know the Chromebook user experience before school starts. What better way to learn than by doing? This teacher loves Chromebooks in the classroom for many reasons. You will too, especially if you understand the platform your students use. See if your administrators are willing to loan you the same model students will use in the fall. Use it for everything this summer and you will be prepared.

    2. Become a Google Educator.

    If you want to successfully use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in classroom instruction, you need to be proficient in them. Go through Google for Education’s process to earn Google Educator certification. The process involves online modules and five $15 (as of Summer 2014) tests. Author’s Note (6/28/15): This process has just changed. Please have a look at Google’s new options and see what works for you. Going through the modules will make you more than proficient in Google Apps. Taking and passing the exams will earn you a Google Educator certificate, a nice asset for your CV.

     3. Upload your files to Google Drive.

    This is essential for you to work with your students in a 1:1 classroom. After the Google Educator modules, you should be able to easily upload folders to Google Drive. Or, you can watch this video about doing it with a Windows computer:

    Or this one about doing it with a Mac:

     

    4. Get to know Google Classroom.

    First, watch this video introducing Google Classroom. Imagine the possibilities. Get excited!

    Then, read up about Google Classroom and how to use it to do transformative things such as seamlessly include absent and home-bound students in your class.

    5. Learn from the experts.

    There is so much great content about integrating technology into the classroom. It can be overwhelming. Start small by following these eight experts on Twitter and reading their blogs regularly. If starting a Twitter account seems overwhelming, read Alice Keeler’s blog post about signing up for Twitter. Here are my favorite education technology experts. Their names hyperlink to their blogs.

    6. Digitize your print documents.

    Do this during the summer to save time during the school year. Once a print document is digitized, it can be altered and, hence, improved.

    7. Convert your multiple-choice assessments to paperless Google Forms your students can answer on their Chromebooks.

    My visual tutorial will guide you through this process. Doing this during the summer will save you untold time at the photocopier and ScanTron machine during the school year. If you are curious about grading, read my grading tutorial, but it will not be necessary until you give your first multiple choice assessment.

    Author’s Note (12/3/15): The visual tutorial linked above will work for you if you are working with the old Google Forms. If you are working with the new Google Forms, please read this post to get acquainted. 

    8. Use TEDEd to change the way video is used in instruction.

    Rather than have the whole class watch a projected video, you can add short-answer and multiple choice assessment questions, discussion prompts and links to further resources to any YouTube video. Make a list of your favorite YouTube videos used in instruction, and make them into powerful instructional tools with YouTube this summer. Students can work with videos at their own pace on their Chromebooks and you can use TEDEd’s tools to assess understanding.

    Author’s Note (12/3/15): EdPuzzle is also a great tool for engaging students with video. Additionally, please read my Five Strategies for Using Video in the Classroom

    9. Use Split PDF to break up large curricular PDFs into smaller documents.

    Instead of printing the pages of the PDF you want your students to read and scanning them, use Split PDFto make original quality PDFs of the exact pages you want students to read. Split PDF connects to your Google Drive to access your PDF. It makes a new file with only the pages you specify. Students then read beautiful PDFs on their Chromebooks, not scans of photocopies.

    10. Join Google Plus education technology communities.

    This will serve as another great source for education technology information. Just like with education technology experts on Twitter, start small. Here are four great communities to join:

    Teaching in a 1:1 classroom with Chromebooks reignited my passion for education. I hope it does for you too! If you would like to talk more about successful technology integration in the 1:1 classroom, please comment below or send me a tweet at @TomEMullaney.