Apr 26, 2017

Google Classroom - Available to All Gmail Users

A few weeks ago on this blog, I wrote that Google Classroom would soon become available for everyone.  Google made an announcement today that all the features of Google Classroom are now working and available to consumer users.  

So now if you want to create or join another user's class in Google Classroom, you can!  Here are a few thoughts on how it can be used...


If you are a parent who home-schools your children, Google Classroom can be the perfect space for you to post links to online documents, videos, and other resources.  And if you have more than one child at home that you teach, you can differentiate between students by assigning work specifically to the child that needs it.  

After School Clubs

If you are a club sponsor for a school, or volunteer for an organization, but don't have access to Google Classroom as part of a Google for Education District, you can use Google Classroom on your personal Gmail login.  Keep track of club members, post announcements for your club, and share videos of  your events through classroom.  Plus, since you can email directly from Classroom, you can keep all of your members up to speed on important dates.  

Online Courses

Have you always wanted to offer Online Professional Development to fellow teachers outside of your district?  Do you have a consulting business and have a need for an online learning management system?  Try using Google Classroom.  Since it is now open to consumer users, anyone can join your class.

Organizational Meeting Space

If you are a member of an organization that meets regularly (think Rotary Club), you can leverage the tools in Google Classroom to carry on discussions related to important topics in our organization.  

PLC Sharing Space

Are you part of an online PLC for education?  Previous to the new updates for consumers, users had to be part of the same domain to use Google Classroom together, or at least they had to be approved by a domain.  Now you can use Google Classroom and share ideas with anyone in  your PLC, regardless of what school or district you are from.  Try using Classroom as a discussion board, chat room, or a place to curate and share resources.  Just make sure to set the Student settings so that all students can post and comment.  This will allow all users in the PLC to post and reply to one another.  

Apr 24, 2017

EasyChalk - Digital Whiteboard for Chromebook Users

I found a new Google Chrome App today called Easy Chalk. As many classrooms are moving away from Interactive Whiteboards toward Chromebooks and LED TVs, there is still sometimes a need for a digital whiteboard.

If this sounds like you, you have to try EasyChalk. This Chrome App allows you the freedom of a digital whiteboard on your computer or Chromebook, complete with:

  • Pens
  • Markers
  • Shapes
  • Tables
  • Charts
  • Measuring Tools
  • Video
  • Sounds
  • Images

Plus, you can also upload your own images for use with any of the pages you create. Since this is a chrome app, the developers of Easy Chalk have given you the ability to sign in with your Google Account allowing you to access your media files that you have uploaded at any time. If you are a former Smart Notebook user, think Notebook in the cloud.

Need a quick way to project what you are working on to your projector or TV? Use a Chromecast and broadcast your page to the screen so students can follow along.

If you have a touchscreen Chromebook, this is the perfect app to add to your arsenal. G
ive it a try!

Apr 19, 2017

Check Out the New Google Earth!

If you haven’t heard about the changes coming to Google Earth, you’ve got to check it out. You don’t need to install anything, you can simply go to https://www.google.com/earth/ and click the Launch button. 

Here is a sample of what it can do…Watch this! Or view a shorter version below:

Plus, there is a whole host of other tools including a Pro Version for Educators, Street View, and the ability to create Lessons using Voyager.

Check out the many possibilities of using Google Earth in class today!

Mar 31, 2017

Password Protect a Google Form

This is an old school tip, but it is a good one.  If you are using Google Forms to accept file uploads, register attendees for a closed conference, or just as a test, you may want to password protect the form. 

There is a quick an easy way to do this.  Watch this video tutorial to see how!

Mar 30, 2017

An Interactive Notebook for the Digital Classroom

Recently, while teaching an online class covering Differentiated Instruction, several discussions turned to the topic of Interactive Notebooks.  As a learning/study tool, Interactive Notebooks have been handy in terms of allowing students to culminate resources, integrate visuals, and prepare for exams.  But as the digital classroom continues to evolve, finding ways to move Interactive Notebooks from page to screen have become necessary.

With the new update to Google Sites, this opportunity has never been greater.  Google Sites provides a platform allowing students to create an online notebook that can include interactive and video content.  

Here are a few ways that you can create an Interactive Notebook using Google Sites...

Setting Up Your Interactive Notebook

The best way to insure that students get the most of their online interactive notebook, make sure to provide some guidelines for setting up the Google Site.  You can walk them through the process or you may even want to look into developing a template they can use.  In any case, here are a few tips on getting started:

A Page for Everything

If you need to add more pages, just click on the Pages menu and add it.  Have students create a page for each unit  you cover.  Pages can include items such as:

A Launch Page - 

Students should include information about themselves, as well as the course, class period, and links to each page on the site.

A Gallery of work - 

Have students store photos of their unit work, or documents in a Google Drive folder.  Then, add the folder to a Google Sites page.  If displaying photos, set the folder to a Grid view for easier viewing.

Links for Study

When teaching a unit, you may share a lot of links that students can benefit from.  Encourage students to save those links by adding them to a page on their Site.

Flash Cards and Study Tools

Do you use flash cards as a study tool?  Try adding links to your Quizlet  or Flippity Study Sets. 

Videos for Teaching and Learning

Have students gather resources to help them study.  Teach them to search and share videos that may help them prepare and supplement learning on the unit you are covering.  YouTube has tons of great resources.  Search for channels by teachers that cover the subject you teach. Help students understand the difference between a good and a bad resource before they start culminating a library.

Review Tool for the End of the Year

Once you've gotten started, you can teach students to create a new page for each unit you cover.  Throughout the year, students will have a site they can use to build on and add knowledge to their understanding of concepts.  By the end of the year, they will have a tool they can use to review for final projects and exams.  

Take a look at this sample site - https://sites.google.com/view/techybio/home

Grading Interactive Notebooks

If you would like to grade students on the work they put toward their Interactive Notebooks on Google Sites, you can create a Google Sheet in which you gather and keep information on each student.  This can be a launching page to take you to each student's notebook and allow for easier grading.  Students will need to publish their site and make sure it is viewable by you.  Then they can share the link to their site with you.

You can also create a Google Form  you can use to grade each student's progress on notebooks. Each question in the form can cover information in your grading rubric.  Use Linear Scale questions to rank students on each objective in the grading rubric.  

Create a Rubric using Forms

Are you new to Google Sites?  

Try this video to introduce you to the New Google Sites so that you and your students can learn more about how to use this versatile tool!

Mar 15, 2017

Google Classroom Now Available for All!

Google just dropped some great news today!  Google Classroom is now available for all users - GSuite for Education AND Personal Gmail Users.  

So it doesn't matter if you are a public school, charter school, or home school - or even if you just want to use it for Professional Development - you can use Classroom no matter who you are.  Users will have the ability to join classes, and create their own classes.

GSuite for Education Admins will have the ability to exercise greater control over Classroom as a result of this update.  If you are not a part of GSuite for Education, Google encourages you to join.  You can find more information about GSuite for Education here.  

In the meantime, if you are a personal Gmail user and you want to learn more about this powerful tool, watch these videos from my Google Classroom Playlist on YouTube!

Mar 7, 2017

Google Expeditions: Tips for Getting Started

This week, I spent some time developing an online class to train teachers in the use of our Google Expeditions Kit.  

As part of that, I produced a few videos that I am sharing here in case anyone needs some tips on getting started with Google Expeditions. If you are interested in getting a Google Expeditions Kit for your school, check with Best Buy.  

This video covers the basics of connecting Phones with a Teacher Tablet

This video explains how to set up the Phones in a View Master Google Cardboard Viewer 

This video covers information on gathering lessons and resources, as well as previewing a lesson before use in class.

You may also benefit from these links:

Mar 1, 2017

Google Keep & Google Docs - Go Together Like PB&J

Recently, Google released an update to Google Keep that links this Note-Taking Tool to Google Docs.  This combo can be a great tool for:

  • Brainstorming
  • Planning
  • Collaboration
  • Working On-the-Go
  • Accessing Docs 

Watch this video to see what I mean!

Feb 23, 2017

New Features for Google Sheets - Text Rotation, Border Tools, and More!

Today, Google released a few new features for Google Sheets.  These include some long awaited tools that include:

  • Text Rotation
  • Extra Border Options
  • Accounting Number Format

Watch this quick tutorial to see these new features and how to use them.

Feb 16, 2017

8 Things You Didn't Know Google Classroom Can Do!

The following is a guest post I wrote for the Whooo's Reading Blog.  For more on this article, follow this link to the Whooo's Reading Blog.

Digital Learning has revolutionized the way teachers do business in education. Teachers now have the ability to communicate, plan, and teach more efficiently than ever before. One advancement that has allowed this type of change is Google Classroom.
If you’ve never used Classroom, here are eight things you probably didn’t know about this powerhouse tool.
To continue reading this article, follow this link...

Feb 13, 2017

123GO! - Online Platform For Education and Professional Development

Recently at BETT, a friend of mine named Mark Allen debuted a new system called 123GO!  This is a wonderful tool for Educators and Online Professional Development.  

Listen to Mark's testimony from BETT2017 and see what all the fuss is about by visiting http://www.123go.training.  Tell him the Techy Coach sent you.

This is an awesome tool for anyone wanting to offer Training or Classroom Lessons along with the ability to award Digital Badges.  

Feb 9, 2017

New Feature: Insert Google Drive Videos into Google Slides

Google released a new feature today that allows users to insert videos hosted and stored in Google Drive, directly into a Google Slide.  So if you create a video for use in a presentation, you can save it in Google Drive, and easily add it to your presentation in just a few short steps.  You can also choose how much of the video clip is shown in the presentation, and choose from other settings as well.  

Also if you are in a school district that normally blocks the use of YouTube on campus, your students can utilize the option of downloading a video from YouTube, and saving it in Google Drive.  Then follow the simple steps shown in the video below to insert the video from Google Drive.  

Just make sure that if you are using videos from YouTube, or are downloading them that you cite your source by copying and sharing the URL in your Google Slide show.  

Jan 12, 2017

Google Classroom - Assign to Individual Students

Just yesterday, Google released a new feature to Google Classroom that many teachers have been requesting for quite some time - the ability to assign work to individual students!

Now if you want to differentiate work according to student teams or learning styles, you can!  If you'd like more information, check out the video below to see how it works, or visit the Google Blog post here!

Notifications will also see a change, as teachers will be notified if students turn work in LATE or if they RE-SUBMIT work. 

Hopefully these tools will be of great help to you as you start the Spring 2017 Semester!