Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Google Classroom Essential Tips

Google Classroom Introduction

Google Classroom is a great workflow solution from Google Apps for Education. It is important to understand that Google Classroom is not a traditional website that can be fully customized. Google classroom is more of a Learning Management System. Classroom allows teachers to post announcements, assignments, ask questions, share resources, and create a calendar of due dates in a secure online location.

Google Classroom is an essential tool to support collaboration, communication, and digital workflow connected to Google Apps for Education.

We've created this Google Doc to connect new and experienced users with Google Classroom Resources and Updates. 



Google Classroom Essential Tip 1: Teacher and Student Views
It is important to understand both the teacher and student view of Google Classroom. Teachers signing into Classroom for the first time should sign-up as a teacher. Teachers can create sample classes and invite other teachers as students. This will help teachers to better understand the student view. Google Classroom also creates a Google Drive folder for both teachers and students.


Google Classroom Essential Tip 2: Assignment Options
Google Classroom supports different sharing options and it is important to understand the different Sharing Options in Google Drive before venturing too deeply in Google Classroom. Teachers also have the ability to assign an activity to all students or differentiate the distribution by choosing students or groups of students.


Google Classroom Essential Tip 3: Workflow
Understanding the workflow of distributing and collecting assignments for both the student and the teacher is essential.  Learn more about workflow with this Google Classroom Workflow Explanation


Google Classroom Essential Tip 4: Share to Classroom Extension
The Share to Classroom Extension allows teachers to share websites directly to Google Classroom or directly with students.


Google Classroom Essential Tip 5: About Section
The ‘About’ section of Classroom is the place to share resources and links that students will use frequently. This is a great place to organize frequently used digital resources without losing them in the stream.


Google Classroom Essential Tip 6: Archiving Classes
When ending or starting a new year or semester, it is best practice is to archive last year’s classes to preserve the class materials, any assignments, and any postings to the class stream. Reusing an existing class with new students can be a confusing experience. You can still access the old class files in the Classroom Google Drive Folder, but the archived classes are moved to a separate area to help you keep your current classes organized. An archived class can still be viewed by you and the students in the class. Posts can be copied from archived classes. However, when the class is archived, you can't edit or add anything to the class until you restore it. Additional Resource: Archive a Class Tutorial


Google Classroom Tip 7: File Naming Convention
Google Classroom will keep the Google Drive name of the attached file. If the option of giving a copy to each student is used, then the student’s name will be added to the end of the document. Consistency in naming is an essential to help keep teachers and students organized. Try to use the same name for the drive file, classroom assignment post, and your grade book entry. Additional Resource: Alice Keeler’s Naming Conventions for Google Classroom
Google Classroom Tip 8: Assigning Work, Topics, and Scheduling Posts
Teachers can assign posts to specific students to allow for differentiation. Google Classroom allows teachers to organize post by topic. Students and teachers can then sort post by topics. Additionally, teachers can post in the stream immediately or schedule a post for a future day and time. Additional Resource: Organizing Your Class Stream Help


Google Classroom Tip 9: Grading
Google Classroom creates a Google Drive (Called Classroom - It can be renamed.) folder for assignments created. Use these folders to quickly review and grade assignments turned in by students. You can view them in progress or after they have been turned in.


Google Classroom Tip 10: Discussion Questions, Exit Slips, & Formative Assessments.
Google Classroom allows teachers to post short-answer or multiple choice questions. Teachers have the ability to allow students to see each other's responses so this feature can be used to for classroom discussions. Additional Resource: Google Help -  Create a question


Google Classroom Tip 11: Guardian Summaries
Teachers can facilitate communication with parents with Guardian Summaries. These daily or weekly email updates include missing work, upcoming work, and classroom activity. Additional Resource: Google Help - Classroom email summaries for guardians.


Google Classroom Tip 12: Single View Student


See a single view of a student’s work—Teachers and students now have a page that lists all of a student’s work for a class and the status of that work.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Developing a Future Ready Classroom With the 4 Cs

The skills connected to collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity are essential for all students. The best classroom activities provide students with opportunities to practice these skills in learner-centered environments.
  1. Collaboration - Students need the opportunity to work with their peers in both the physical and digital work-space. A classroom full of students with headphones in front of their screens is a dull place no matter how engaging the activity might be. Students also need to learn that collaboration is more than divide and conquer. 
  2. Communication - Personal and digital communication are essential skills that must be developed in a learner-centered classroom. It is also important for students to understand best practices as a "digital citizens" connected to their modes of communication. 
  3. Critical Thinking - If the students can "Google" the answer, did I really need to be asking it? Being connected is more than just access to answers. Students also need to develop the skills needed to evaluate and personalize information. Connected learners should be inspired to discover and explore new questions not just search for answers.
  4. Creativity - Creativity in a 1 to 1 classroom is not just creating artistic works. Creativity is using digital tools to find new ways of doing something. Students need to find and explore new ways of learning and creating connected to digital resources.

Want to learn more?

Explore Resources and Tools in this Interactive HyperDoc for Educators Connected to the 4 Cs.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Google Keep & The Organized Digital Student



Google Keep can be a powerful tool for organization and workflow.





If you need help when working with G Suite Education Resources, click on the G Suite Training icon near the top right of the computer screen. 

The G Suite Training extension  consists of searchable interactive video resources and tutorials to support teachers and students. If you do not see the G Suite Training Symbol, make sure you are signed into Chrome


Start With Color to Organize Classes

Notes and Lists can be color coded to match classes or to group resources.
Click here to learn more about changing the color of a note. 


Use Labels to Support Class Projects and Connect Resources

Labels can be used to organize resources and connect them to classes. Notes and lists can have more than 1 label.

Click here to learn more about labels in Google Keep. 


Pin Important Notes and Lists to the Top of Keep

Important notes and lists can be pinned to the top of Keep.

Click here to learn about pinning notes. 


Reminders in Keep

Reminders can be scheduled for a time or a location. You can receive notifications on your Chromebook and Mobile Devices.

Click here to learn about searching in Google Keep.




Monday, July 24, 2017

The Digital Playground - Summer Learning

The More You Share, The More You Learn!


In his classic 1975 book, Schoolteacher, Dan Lortie described teacher isolation as one of the main structural impediments to improved instruction and student learning in American public schools.” (Source)





A playground is much more fun when you have someone to play with, right? The same should be said for teaching and learning. The purpose of this post is to get teachers collaborating and sharing during the summer. Have lunch or coffee with another educator or share your thoughts and ideas in this Padlet / Flipgrid to get your summer PD experience moving.



“Alone we can do so little: together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

Find someone to collaborate with and explore digital resources for teaching and learning.
Who? What? When? Where? Why? And then How?
Make Choices and Share Your Voice
  • Explore the resources below and have a collaborative conversation with someone about using digital resources.
  • Share resources and ideas in this Padlet.
  • Share your thoughts about a resource or idea in this Flipgrid.


Digital Resources for Teaching and Learning


Personal Learning Networks


SAMR Model Resources


ISTE Resources



Monday, July 17, 2017

Chrome Apps for Teaching and Learning

Chrome Apps are web-based applications (programs) that are designed to be used entirely within the browser. Chrome Apps add functionality and features to a Chromebook or your Chrome Browser.

Chrome Apps can be accessed on Chromebooks by clicking on the Chromebook launcher or by clicking on the Apps Launcher in Chrome menu if you are not on a Chromebook.




Apps can be explored and added to the browser in the Chrome Web Store.

We've also organized a collection of Recommended Chrome Apps to Support Teaching and Learning in this Google Document.

Recommended Chrome Apps

Additional Resources



Monday, July 3, 2017

I Wish My Students Knew . . .

Before reading this post, can you reflect on this question? 
What do you wish your students knew? 
I'd love for everyone who reads this post to share 3 wishes for their students in the comments below. 

Over the years I've read and explored a variety of educational posts with a wish list of what teachers want students to know. Some of these posts have been very positive and some have mixed in a bit of teacher frustration. Some have gone in some unique directions. I will link to a few that I've saved to Pocket over the years at the end of this post. 



My list is not meant to be complaints about my students. I love all of my students and my goal is for each of them to embrace life-long learning. Please, consider my 3 wishes to be proactive goals and not frustrating failures. Here are my 3 wishes for my students. 
I wish my students remembered what it was like to be curious. I teach high school and too often my students get so focused on what they think they need to know that they forget to ask questions and explore what they want to know. 

I wish my students knew that the best learners are active participants. I've shifted to a student-centered classroom model, but I still have kids ask me to lecture. They just want me to tell them stuff so they can passively engage in the learning experience. They should not be waiting for someone else to tell them what is important, they should be telling me and each other what is important. 

I wish my students knew that the journey is more important than the end result. I believe that the best learning experiences connect almost everything to the 4 Cs of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity. Content is important, but the process of learning is a skill that we all need to develop. 


I could probably continue to add wishes, but I think three is enough for now. 

Here are a few more posts about what students should know.


I'd love for everyone who reads this post to share 3 wishes for their students in the comments below. 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Organized Learner - Special #ISTE17 Edition


Full disclosure, I've never been to ISTE, but I've been reading some great tips and tricks from some incredible educators to help me prepare for the conference. The purpose of this post is to share a few general tips to better organize your digital life at ISTE this year. 
(I will include links to some great tips and tricks from my PLN at the end of this post.)

While I can't rely on my past ISTE experiences, I have attended a few conferences and I've learned that being organized can make or break your conference experience. There are many great digital resources that support organization and these tips include some of my favorites. I hope you can make the most of your experience before, during, and after the conference with these quick tips.

Tip 1 - Stay Organized with Google Keep
Google Keep is a great resource to create reminders, notes, and checklists. If you use the extension you can save links to resources. The Keep Notepad in Google Docs is a bonus!

Learn More
Google Essentials - Google Keep

Tip 2 - Organize Your Notes & Shared Session Resources in Google Drive
Google Drive is a great collaborative resource, but it can quickly become a cluttered mess if not organized. Check out the posts below to learn more about staying organized with Drive.

Learn More
Organizing Files and Folders in Drive
Creative Organization of Google Drive with Google Keep
Organizing Files and Folders in Google Drive - Move vs. Add


Tip 3 - Team Folders in Google Drive
I've only recently begun to explore Team Folders on Google Drive. Google Drive is a great place to share resources when attending a conference. 
"Google Team Drives are shared spaces where teams can easily store, search, and access their files anywhere, from any device.
Unlike files in My Drive, files in Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay exactly where they are so your team can continue to share information and get work done."
I've organized a Google Team Drive for anyone interested in exploring this resource for collaboration. If you are interested, please share your G Suite email in the comments below. 

Tip 4 - Organize Your Social Feed

  • The hashtag this year is #ISTE17 and it will be going fast. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are great resources, but I also recommend some of the built-in Twitter features.
  • Create a Twitter list of anyone who catches your interest. Great way to narrow down some of the clutter that a busy conference hashtag will generate.
  • Have a heart and like tweets to save them for future reference.
  • If This Then That (IFTTT) has some great Twitter Recipes to help you save and organize tweets.
  • Particpate is a great place to keep up with your Twitter Chats and Hashtags. They will be a great ally for anyone at ISTE17
  • Another great place to share is the ISTE Google + Community

Tip 5 - ISTE App and Agenda
The ISTE Website has some great resources for attendees and I recently discovered the mobile app. I've only scratched the surface of the app, but I already love the Agenda (mobile calendar) that is personalized for me. 

Additional Tips From Some ISTE Veterans

Monday, June 19, 2017

Questions That Can't Be Answered by Google


I would say that I am 75% yes and 25% no on this recent Twitter post. (Those percentages are completely made up, I really do not know how I would quantify this idea.) I do not believe that we should be creating assessments and activities where every answer can be memorized, but I do believe that that searching for some answers that could have been memorized from a lecture or found in a textbook has value. 
In this new narrative, learning ceases to focus on consuming information or knowledge that’s no longer scarce. Instead, it’s about asking questions, working with others to find the answers, doing real work for real audiences, and adding to, not simply taking from, the storehouse of knowledge that the Web is becoming. It’s about developing the kinds of habits and dispositions that deep, lifelong learners need to succeed in a world rife with information and connections.”  Will RichardsonWhy School?: How Education Must Change When Learning and Information Are Everywhere
The idea that educators should focus more on skills and less on content has been around for a few years now. The growth of BYOD and 1 to 1 initiatives have shifted where we all learn. Teaching has become more challenging because educators are no longer the only best source of knowledge. We need to learn to be both teachers and facilitators. 

Where do you go when you have a question or want to learn how to do something? Shouldn't we make sure our students are learning how to effectively find an answer when an "expert" is not in the room? 

  • Siri . . . ?
  • Alexa . . . ?
  • OK Google . . . ?
  • Google?
  • Yahoo?
  • Bing?
  • YouTube?
  • Something else?
How does a teacher avoid questions that have answers that are a simple Google search away? Have you ever taken a look at one of your activities from a textbook and searched some of the questions in quotes? You might find the activity with the answers available for anyone. 

I teach AP Environmental Science so I will admit that it is often pretty easy for me to create some questions that can't be Googled. The world of Environmental Science often does not have questions with established answers. We also have a great deal of content that the students must know, so the quest for knowledge never ends. 

I am still learning how to best incorporate digital resources, but here are a few things that I do to help my students use the web and search as a learning resource.

1. All of our quizzes are open internet. While I occasionally have partner quizzes, the only resource I tell them they cannot use is other students in the class. I work very hard to emphasize that just getting the answer from another student does not help them or me understand what they know or still need to learn.
Here are some tips for creating an assessment or creating an activity that is open internet.

  • It is ok to have some questions that students can find the answer using a Google search. The students appreciated this and I think it helps them learn to use search effectively. I like to believe that they are gaining some additional as they look for the answer. 
  • Set a time limit for the assessment. I don't want my students to Google every question, so I let them know that they should expect to run out of time if they are trying to Google everything.
  • Most of our multiple choice questions have 5 choices. I try really hard to have no throwaway answers. I am often looking for the best answer, so Googling any question may not always lead them to the best answer. I think 3 or 4 options makes it too easy for them to narrow down the search. I do occassionaly like to use a creative true / false question that gets them thinking. 
  • I sometimes throw in some "Mark all that apply" questions. Often there is more than one correct answer for these questions and sometimes there is not. These questions drive my students crazy because they really need to look at the question and the answers carefully. 
  • Look at the data, if a question has 100 percent of the students getting it right then you might want to do a Google search yourself to see how the students are "finding" this answer. 
  • Some open-ended or free-response questions are necessary. One of my favorites is, "What is something you know about this unit that was not on the quiz?"
  • Follow up with some assessments that do not allow them to use any additional resources. I love to compare the results with my students. "Why did you get it right here, but not there?" is a favorite discussion question.
When creating a digital activity I try to build in a mix of different web resources. I don't want to always just focus on text, videos, images, or interactives. 
Here are a few tips for tips for creating an activity that is open internet.
  • I try to find resources that allow me to blend different media. My best activities include text of all sorts, images, audio, and video. 
  • Student choice is important. Don't just provide them a single resource for the concept they are exploring. I love them to compare and contrast what they learn from different sources connected to the same content. 
  • When I create a web-based activity I try not to ask too many specific questions where they can ignore any content not connected to the question. Most of my questions are opened ended on activities. For example, "What are 5 new things you learned from the resource?" or "What takeaways would you share with someone who did not see this resource? Get the students talking to each other during the activity. 
  • HyperDocs are a great framework for creating digital activities. I try to build digital activities that are more than a worksheet of questions. I want students to collaborate, create, think critically, and communicate effectively. 
What tips do you have to help teachers shift away from questions that can be answered with a Google search? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Extend your learning with this connected Mindshift Post.
How Has Google Affected The Way Students Learn?


Monday, June 12, 2017

Innovative Educational Organizations to Follow on Twitter

It's essential to keep moving, learning and evolving for as long as you're here and this world keeps spinning” ― Rasheed Ogunlaru

In 2012 I read an Atlantic Article titled "Alone in the Classroom: Why Teachers Are Too Isolated?" I rediscovered this article a few weeks ago as I began to explore creating a list of Innovative Educators on Twitter and I believe it serves as a great reminder why we cannot stand alone in our classrooms.

I was just beginning to develop a PLN in 2012 and I started by following a variety of educators and educational organizations. My PLN has grown over the years and educational organizations remain a big part of my learning and sharing.

I purposefully left educational organizations of my first list with the thought that I would create a separate post. This post will be dedicated to some of my favorite educational organizations. I know it is not a complete list, so please consider this a starting point. 

My goal for this organization list was to provide some diversity by choosing organizations that cover a wide range of educational philosophies. This is not meant to be a "Top 10" list, but instead, an opportunity for me to share some of the educational organizations that have influenced me in the past and continue to influence me as an educator today.

Here are some of my favorite education organizations. The best way to experience each organization is to explore their Twitter posts. Please feel free to suggest additional organizations in the comments below.


Edutopia @edutopia

"A comprehensive website and online community that increases knowledge, sharing, and adoption of what works in K-12 education. We emphasize core strategies: project-based learning, comprehensive assessment, integrated studies, social and emotional learning, educational leadership and teacher development, and technology integration."

Mindshift @MindShiftKQED

"MindShift explores the future of learning in all its dimensions. We examine how learning is being impacted by technology, discoveries about how the brain works, poverty and inequities, social and emotional practices, assessments, digital games, design thinking and music, among many other topics. We look at how learning is evolving in the classroom and beyond."

EdTechTeam @EdTechTeam
"EdTechTeam, a California Benefit Corporation, is a global network of educational technologists dedicated to inspiring and empowering other educators. The team is best known for a world-wide series of Summits featuring Google for Education, EdTechTeam Online was launched in early 2016 to provide an online professional development experience on par with the face-to-face experiences EdTechTeam has offered for years. EdTechTeam Press was also launched in 2016, with a goal of capturing the stories of  EdTechTeam’s most inspiring speakers – and sharing their expertise with more educators around the world."

Future Ready Schools @FutureReady

"Future Ready Schools® helps district leaders plan and implement personalized, research-based digital learning strategies so all students can achieve their full potential. We believe every student deserves a rigorous, personalized learning environment filled with caring adults and student agency. District leaders must recognize the potential of digital tools and align necessary technologies with instructional goals to support teaching and learning."

EdTechTeacher @EdTechTeacher21

"At EdTechTeacher, we understand teachers because all of us have been in the classroom. Given our backgrounds, we recognize the challenge of preparing students for an increasingly complex and cognitively demanding world, so we leverage our experiences to provide professional development to teachers who are dedicated to creating innovative learning opportunities for their students."

Google for Education @GoogleForEdu
"The mission of Google is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Ensuring teachers and students everywhere have access to technology to learn and work together fits naturally with that mission."

Office of EdTech @OfficeofEdTech
"The U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology (OET) develops national educational technology policy and establishes the vision for how technology can be used to transform teaching and learning and how to make everywhere, all-the-time learning possible for early learners through K-12, higher education, and adult education."

WeAreTeachers @WeAreTeachers
"WeAreTeachers is an online community for educators committed to one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs out there. Our mission is to inspire teachers and help them succeed by sharing practical classroom ideas, the best freebies and giveaways, and teacher-to-teacher advice and humor."

Simple K12 @SimpleK12
"Our mission is to help educators inspire their students, engage their learners, perfect their craft, and share their experiences to help others do the same. Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Never stop sharing. Online professional development. Anytime. Anywhere… even at home in your pajamas!"

Ed Tech K12 Magazine @EdTech_K12
"EdTech: Focus on K-12 explores technology and education issues that IT leaders and educators face when they’re evaluating and implementing a solution. EdTech: Focus on K-12 is published by CDW which is headquartered in Vernon Hills, Ill."

ISTE @isteconnects
"Because, ultimately, it's not about the technology at all. It's about changing the way learning and teaching takes place to make it more meaningful and impactful for educators and learners around the globe. It's about working together to turn what-ifs into what is."

Edudemic @Edudemic
"Our mission is to prepare educators for the classroom with innovative, informed, and engaging tech resources. Our vision is to provide a place for readers to discover and engage with information about the newest technology, data trends, and digital tools available to them in order to meet the needs of all students in the communities they serve."

TeachThought @TeachThought
"We are dedicated to supporting educators in innovation in teaching and learning for a 21st century audience. This starts with ideas and resources for K-20 teachers through our site, and extends to our design of school models, learning models, curriculum, technology, apps, and other learning tools through collaborations with other organizations."

eSchool News @eschoolnews
"eSchool News covers education technology in all its aspects–from legislation and litigation, to case studies, to purchasing practices and new products. First published in March of 1998, eSchool News is a monthly print and digital newspaper providing the news and information necessary to help K-20 decision-makers successfully use technology and the internet to transform North America’s schools and colleges and achieve their educational goals."

Tech & Learning @techlearning
"For over three decades, Tech & Learning has remained the premier publication and leading resource for education technology professionals responsible for implementing and purchasing technology products in K-12 districts and schools. Our team of award-winning editors and an advisory board of top industry experts provide an inside look at issues, trends, products, and strategies pertinent to the role of all educators –including state-level education decision makers, superintendents, principals, technology coordinators, and lead teachers."

Illinois Computer Educators @ice_il
"ICE's Mission - The mission of Illinois Computing Educators is to lead the educational community in enhancing learning through technology.
ICE's Vision - Illinois Computing Educators is the leader in supporting and promoting innovative education for all."

ASCD @ASCD
"Founded in 1943, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) is the global leader in developing and delivering innovative programs, products, and services that empower educators to support the success of each learner. The association provides expert and innovative solutions in professional development, capacity building, and educational leadership essential to the way educators learn, teach, and lead."

CUE @cueinc
"CUE inspires innovative learners by fostering community, personalizing learning, infusing technology, developing leadership, and advocating educational opportunities for all."

What am I missing? What are your favorite educational organizations?