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:
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:
☑️ 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.
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:
Better yet, change an assignment’s topic using this method:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
WebAIM Color Contrast Checker – The 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!
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:
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.”
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?
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
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:
Watch as I demonstrate this great tool:
Sketching/Drawing/Jotting/Tool #4: (Annotating Websites Edition): The Web Paint Google Chrome Extension
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Google Jamboard – Use Google Jamboard and the Jamboard app to Design a ‘be kind’ policy for your school.
Digital Breakouts – I helped facilitate the digital breakout station. Googlers Anita Flanagan, Willie, Maddox, and I created a quick digital citizenship and Google Expeditions themed digital breakout, Unlock the Lesson Plan! Try this breakout for yourself by clicking the thumbnail:
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:
Carolina shared her experiences pioneering Expeditions AR with students and how it made them better understand forces of nature:
Fun session talking about #GoogleEDU‘s integration of AR and VR “When a hurricane is spinning around in the classroom the students are truly impacted….’Why is there a big hole in the middle?’ Thx for sharing @CarnerCarolina#SXSWEDU
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:
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.
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.
Collaborators can also receive “Can comment” access that allows for commenting in a doc, spreadsheet, presentation, or drawing.
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.
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.
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.
Make edits. They appear as suggestions.
Collaborators can approve or reject suggestions by checking “✔️” or “✖️.”
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/
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:
Teachers can use this to facilitate collaboration in two ways:
Create a post that shares files only with group captains. Each group captain can then share their files with their group members.
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
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:
When you have collected your responses, go back to editing your form:
This creates a Google Sheet with your responses. In that Google Sheet:
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:
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.