Saturday, June 10, 2017

5 Steps: Student Drive and Classroom Clean-Up

Many teachers are organizing and cleaning as they wrap up their year, but what about students? Teachers should help students not only clean out their lockers, but help students organize and clean their Google Drive and Classroom.

Step 1:  The Infamous Untitled

Open Google Drive and search for any untitled doc, sheets, slides, etc.  Rename the items or move to the trash.  To rename an item, right click and select rename.

How to Rename a File

Step 2:  Create Folders

Have students create a general folder for this school year.  For example, 2016-2017 or their grade.
  1. Open the folder up with a double-click.
  2. Create sub-folders for each subject, if desired.
  3. Drag and drop work into each subject folder or move the file
    How to move files in Google Drive
  4. Add a color to your folder(s) if you choose.  Pay attention to the awesome names of each color like Slime Green or Macaroni!
    How to Change a Folder Color
  5. Empty the trash in Google Drive
Tip:  Select a range of files using Shift + Click or specific files using CTRL or Command + Click

Step 3:  Organize Google Classroom Folder in Drive

Many students often forget that they have a classroom folder in Google Drive.  Now that I have completed my third year as a teacher using Google Classroom, I like to organize my folders within Classroom.  Students could do the same OR move their work out and into their previously created folder (See Step 2). 

  1. Create a folder for the year, 2016-2017 Classes or the year in school.  For example, 8th Grade.
  2. Select class folders and drag into the newly created folder.

Step 4:  If it isn't archived, unenroll!

August or even September hits and you, the student notices that your teacher(s) has not removed or archived their class and you are still enrolled.  No worries!  You can unenroll yourself and make that "tile" disappear!  You will still have your work in your Google Drive Classroom folder.
How to unenroll yourself from a class.

Step 5:  I'm Moving, Graduating or Changing Districts

No worries, Google has you covered.  Google Transfer helps G Suite districts by easily copying and moving your email and Google Drive files.

Want to move your items to a new Gmail or Google Account?  

Google Transfer is for you!  It will make a copy and transfer it to your new Gmail account.  Make sure all of your content transferred. (See comment on this post below)

Want to create an archive of your data?

Google Takeout will export the data you choose into a zip file.  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Google Slides: Insert Video from Drive!

Many districts restrict usage of YouTube.  This has been a real challenge when working in Google Slides.  Until recently, you could only embed videos from YouTube.  Now, you can embed videos from  your Google Drive into Google Slides!

Step 1:  Insert Menu & Select Video

Step 2: Choose Google Drive

Step 3: Select Video & Insert

Your slide should look similar to the image below with an embedded image of the video.  When you switch to presentation mode, you will be able to play the video.

Some of you may have the question, "How do I convert a video to an MP4?"  Here is a link to a video to help you out.  As always, make sure you cite your sources in your work.  After you convert the video, upload it to Google Drive and turn the link sharing on.  I personally set most of my videos to "anyone with the link can view" unless it is of students.

I am very happy about this update!  Bravo Google!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Differentiation and Group Work in Google Classroom

Since the launch of Google Classroom, educators have been asking for a way to assign group work and ways to differentiate their instruction.  I even came up with complex directions for students with group work which was time consuming and tedious.  Many educators create multiple Google Classrooms to address the issue.  I saw one student's account had 12 different topics for their 5th grade class last year!  Google has heard us and answered us!  You can now assign work to an entire class, a group of students or even just one student! You can even post a question or an announcement to an entire class, a group of students or even just one student too!  


With this is new update, I am able to accomplish the following:
  • Assign group work
  • Accommodate assignment needs of students with IEPs, 504 and English Language Learners in a discreet delivery which is key for my middle school students
  • Adjust length of assignments for students based on need
  • Assign reinforcement lessons/videos to students struggling with a specific concept
  • Assign an extension activity to students who grasp concepts quickly and need an extra challenge
  • Assign questions or assignments based on a "book club" model with students reading various books in class in small groups
  • Vary math assignments based on concepts
  • Assign composers to specific students for a group research/presentation project in a music class
I could go on and on with listing the possibilities.  These are just a few that popped into my head.  The one item you may want to think about is document organization.  If you create variations on the same assignment, I suggest you come up with a system that clearly, yet discreetly identifies the assignment.  I prefer Alice Keeler's tip on numbering assignments (#001, #002, etc.).  You could take that one step further with #001, #001.1, #001.2 or #001a, #001b, #001c, for example.  This would keep all of the work together in your Google Drive and in numerical order.  I find Alice's numbering system helpful for myself and when speaking with students about work.  It is much easier to reference a number over a long title.

For more information, check out Google Classroom's Help page.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Google Classroom: Guardian Email Summaries

January 2017 Update!

Google Classroom rolled out the ability for guardians to receive summaries of student work and activities via email.  Guardians may choose a weekly or daily summary of the following:
  • Missing Work
    • Work that is late at the time the email was sent.
  • Upcoming work
    • For daily summaries - work that is the day of the email or the next day.
    • For weekly summaries - work that is due in the upcoming week
  • Class activity
    • Announcements, assignments and questions posted
See an example below:

Let's Get Started:

Step 1 - You need to turn the feature on!  Under the student tab, on the left side you will find the image below or Include this Class.  If may ask if you would like to add to all of your classes.

Step 2 - Invite guardians!  I teach an A/B schedule, with 12 classes and 380 students.  For me this was a task that seemed daunting until...Google Forms!  Yes!  Create a Google Form.  

Google Forms Tips:

  • Don't forget to set a data validation for the email address:

  • Make sure you adjust your settings so guardians/parents can complete the form.  I did not want to limit to 1 response because I teach multiple grades and do have siblings. 

  • In the response menu, create a spreadsheet to collect and view responses.
  • You can also choose the Google Form Add-On "Form Notifications,"  and set up an automatic response reminding guardians to look out for an email invitation.  You can also set up this add-on to notify you via email when you have 1, 10, 20 or 100 responses.  This will minimize you having to check the response form constantly.
Step 3 - After you send out your Google Form, via email, Remind, paper note with the link to your form).  Sit back and wait for responses to roll in!  Once you collect responses, you will copy the email address the guardian/parent supplies and paste next to their name in Google Classroom: 
Select invite next to the student name and paste the email address.

Once you invite guardians/parents, you will notice (invited) next to the guardian email. Guardians will have 120 days to accept the invitation.  After 120 days, the invitation expires.  I suggest you make this known. This indicates an email was sent and waiting for the guardian/parent to accept the invitation.   If Guardians would like to adjust their email summary settings and choose one of the following:
  1. Daily Summaries (sends out at 5 pm every day)
  2. Weekly Summary (sends out at 5 pm on Fridays)
  3. No Summaries
Guardians will need to create a Google Account.  A Gmail is NOT required.  Guardians may use any email domain of their choice, but they create a Google Account.  Here is the LINK to the page they would need.
It will also send an email notifying students through their G Suite for Education email that a guardian email summary was set up.  I like this feature as a safety check to double-check that this is really their guardian/parent email.


  • Guardians cannot view or access the Google Classroom stream.
  • Guardians do not have to have a Gmail, but they do have to have a Google account.  Use this URL  December 2016, guardians may use any email domain.  Gmail or a Google Account is no longer required.
  • If guardians/parents do not receive a summary, you may not have posted anything new to Google Classroom
  • Your G Suite for Education Administrator can turn-on settings so that once one teacher enters an email for a guardian/parent, any other teacher that chooses to use the feature guardians/parents will automatically get summaries from other teachers.
  • Here is a help link for guardians/parents:
  • Here is a help link for students:  This might be useful to explain this to students.
  • Here is a help link for teachers:
Overall, guardian summaries is working well with guardians/parents who have chosen this option.  They are also getting summaries from my colleagues who are piloting this with me.  I hope to roll this feature out to more of my colleagues now that I have this detailed blog post about it!  Once I set up my Google Form and sent out via Remind, it has been very little work.  I spend a few minutes each day inviting guardians/parents as they sign-up.  The rest is left up to the guardian/parent.  I now offer communication about student work through our online grade book and guardian email summaries.  I also use Remind to communicate with students and parents.  Give Guardian Summaries a try!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Google Classroom: End-of-Year Management

With the school year over, you might want to work poolside in the sun and manage your Google Classroom sections and Drive folders.  Follow these steps to prep your Google Classroom for the next year!

Step 1:  If you plan to use the exact same class next year with a new set of students, remove students from each current class.

Step 2: Archive each class

Select the "hamburger" 

Select Archive


When a class is archived, you can still view the class, but cannot submit or remove anything.  The archived class no longer shows up in students' current classes and is in a separate area.  Archived classes can be accessed in Google Drive.

If you select the 'hamburger' icon again, look towards the bottom of the left pane, you will be able to view ALL archived classes. You can delete or restore a class once in the "Archived Classes."  Be careful, once you delete a class, there is no way to undo this action.  

I suggest you keep at least one section of your previous classes.  You can reuse the posts to any of your new classes...BIG time saver!

Step 3:  Manage your Google Drive Classroom Folder

Go to Google Drive and search (don't sort) for your classroom folder.

As you can see in the image to the right, I have a folder from the 2014-2015 school year along with my current Google Classroom sections.  

Create a new folder and title it the current school year.

Move all class folders into your newly created folder.

Admire how neat and organized your classroom folder looks in Google Drive:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Show What You Know: End of the Year Project

Now that my 8th-grade students have acquired an amazing amount of skills using technology, I decided to switch up they way we end our year.  For their final project, I want to give them choice and freedom to create.  I saw a social media post last fall by Lisa Highfill about a hyperdoc she created called "Show What You Know."  Upon investigating, I discovered her awesome website!  

I decided to use this format and tweak it to fit my 8th-grade students.  Most of the choices review technology skills we have already used like Green Screen by Do Ink, Scratch, We Video and Wix.  I also included some news tools that I believe my students could explore and create with independently.
Select this LINK and make a copy for yourself!
One important item I added was the #Let Me Take a Selfie Video Project a colleague learned about at our state technology conference in 2015.  I re-designed and slightly adjusted the assignment into a hyperdoc and added to this bingo card.  This is a really fun assignment.  It also adds more guidance and structure for students who prefer a choice like this.

My students seem really excited to have variety, choice, and freedom to create!  I cannot wait to see what they create!  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Virtual Reality: Getting Started

At the school where I teach, two teachers were awarded a grant for a class set of View-Master VR.  After exploring Google Cardboard, they decided that the View-Master VR was an ideal product for the following reasons:

  1. Durability - They anticipate this product will not break as easily and last longer.
  2. Health - Let's be honest, schools have germs.  The plastic can be disinfected easily.
  3. Safety - Personal smartphones are safely enclosed.
Students and teachers like the Google Carboard, but for long-term use, the View-Master VR was a better choice for the intended use.

How to Get Started:

  1. Clearly inform parents and students about what devices work.  Even with plenty of notification, we still had students bring in devices that did not optimize for the Cardboard apps. 
  2. Add required apps BEFORE students come to school. Students should prepare their devices for learning at home.  They should load the app at home charge their device at home.  Many parents do not allow students to load their own apps in middle school.
  3. Have students remove their outer cases on their smartphones. We found the View-Master VRs open and close better if students remove their protective cases. Make sure they practice this at home so they can do this in class. Some of their cases are heavy duty and can get their device stuck in the View-Master.  We had one student not follow directions and was stuck.
  4. Have a day to tinker. Prior to the lesson, plan for a day to explore the app or apps, your procedure for getting the View-Master VR or Google Cardboard out and loaded with their device and how to properly put it away. (This will pay off BIG TIME)

Lesson Ideas:

With all of the apps being created, there are endless possibilities.  We are discovering apps all the time and finding a variety of ways to implement the technology into meaningful learning.

Assessment Activity 

Five Themes of Geography.  This assignment is for a 6th-grade social studies class.  The teacher found it best to create an assignment that students could fill out while using virtual reality with the following apps: Google Street View(iOS or Android), Discovery VR and the View-Master VR Experience Packs (Wildlife & Destinations).  

Investigate & Research Activity

Restaurants Around the World. This assignment is for my 6th-grade computer class.  Students are in the middle of a project-based unit learning about various Google productivity apps while designing a restaurant.  Students create a floor plan of their restaurant while using Google Drawings.  Students will also create a menu for their restaurant using an app/website, Canva.  Students will use YouVisit to explore restaurant floor plans.  I plan to assign this through Google Classroom.  Each student has access to a computer in my class.

Introduction Activity

Machu Picchu.  No worksheets needed!  The teacher plans to use this YouVisit experience as a way to introduce a larger unit.  Google Street View has VR images as well, but the YouVisit is a guided tour with a narrator.  Our school was fortunate to have Google visit with their Expeditions program December 2015.  When it is fully released, we cannot wait to go on an expedition with our classes.  It includes many locations as well.  See my previous blog post about Expeditions.

I hope this sparks a few ideas to get started with integrating virtual reality into meaning lessons.  As more content is created, I plan to continue to share!