Organizing Your Google Classroom Content

24 Apr

I was over at Wredling for our SIP day and provided a breakout session on Google Classroom.  The cat’s out of the bag and we are not renewing our contract for Blackboard after next school year.  Don’t panic…..there are plenty of free online platform alternatives.  Many of you have dabbled in Google Classroom and are seeing the benefits of starting to use that with your students. 

One of the main ways that most teachers use Blackboard is to house content for student access.  Currently, Google Classroom does not really function that way, but you can use a combination of Google Drive and the About section in Classroom to start meeting your needs. 

Here are some tips to help you organize your content.

Content Folders in GDrive

  • Take inventory of what documents, videos, texts, etc. that students reference multiple times in a term and put that into a folder in Google Drive (not nested in the Classroom folder)
    • Document with research links
    • Videos
    • Graphic Organizers
  • Consider working as a PLC, PLT or department to populate these folders
  • Create one folder for your content rather than separate folder for courses
    • you can create a folder within a folder if there are specific documents for certain classes
  • Remember to change share permissions for the content in these folders to “view only” since all of your students could have access to the content. 

Google Classroom About Section

GClassroom About Section

  • Add the link to the Google folder that contains the frequently used content or reference materials
  • Add a link to your Google Site, Edmodo page, Weebly page, etc. 
  • Remember that whatever you add first will be pushed down as you add more materials (this is why teachers decided to use a Google folder instead of just adding separate links)

This is just one way to think about organizing your Google Classroom. 

As always, I’m here to help support you, so let me know if you need any help!

Friday Blogging For Instructional Tech Leaders

10 Apr

One thing I’ve learned in this position is that I need to be a part of a community of others in similar positions.  There is so much knowledge and experience that I can’t possibly keep up with.  I have had the privilege of having a professional learning network of technology coaches, facilitators, directors and coordinators that are constantly sharing, collaborating, troubleshooting and encouraging.  One such group is made up of area HS coaches and coordinators.  We recently started a blog and I’m very excited that I am their Friday blogger!

Today was my first post on the Instructional Tech Leaders blogspot.

Head on over there and check out the resource I blogged about and the resources that have already been shared!

Google Drawing

16 Mar

Some of you know I am obsessed with Google Drawing.  I feel like it’s a little known Google App that people are starting to notice.  People….start noticing it!  It’s ah-mazing – it has so much potential for teacher and student use.

In a nutshell, Google Drawing lets you create, edit and share drawings online.  It’s easy to use.  You can enhance images with text boxes, word art, arrows, shapes, call-outs, etc.  You can use hyperlinks to make it interactive and there are many ways you can publish your drawing, making it easy to get it out in the format you need.  Best of all, it’s a Google tool, so you can collaborate in real-time on the same drawing!

So, how do you start using Google Drawing?  Go to Drive, Select New and Click on Drawing


This is what it would look like from the new Google Drive

You now have a canvas that you can use to insert text boxes, images, hyperlinks, shapes, etc.  There are so many different options here and I’ve found that students really like to use this tool.

How can you and your students use this in your classroom?

  • Graphic organizers
  • Sorts
    • Word sorts; vocabulary; main ideas; parts of the body, etc.
    • Here’s an example of a Branches of Government sort
  • Tutorials
  • Foldable or Tiny Book
  • Posters and Signs
    • You can create custom canvas sizes so you can print legal sized posters, too
  • Label images
    • Insert an image and use text boxes to label
  • Timelines
  • Infographics
  • Maps
  • Comic books
  • Draw!
    • Students use shapes to create microscopes, animals, science apparatus, math symbols… creative!

Here’s a presentation I created that has more ways to use Drawing

I try to be real, so here are a couple things that annoy me (slightly):

  1. You can only work with one canvas at a time – I’d like to be able to have more than one canvas in a Drawing on the same topic, so I end up creating more than one file.  I can, then, publish as a PDF and use the Google Add-On PDF Mergy, to put it together into one document.
  2. You have the option to insert a Drawing into a Google Doc from the Google Doc you’re working on.  I love the option, but sometimes the drawing looks pixelated (blurry).  To work around, I create my Drawing in the Drawing App, download as a .jpeg and then insert it as an image into Doc.  It tends to look better that way

Do you have other ideas for how to use GDraw in your classroom?  Leave a comment with your ideas!

GDocs Suggested Edits

26 Jan

Using Google Docs has changed what writing looks like in my classroom.  It has been the “game changer” for me.  On the surface, Google Docs provides me with the most convenient way to manage all of the writing my students do.  Looking deeper, the collaborative features enhances most student’s writing.  Students tend to enjoy writing better when they can collaborate with their friends in and out of our classroom and even get feedback and ideas from students in other schools, districts and occasionally a professional writer or expert on a topic.  This is why I was excited to see the Suggested Edits feature from Google.  In the past, when I would give feedback to students about their writing, I could do one of two things.

1. Delete what they wrote and rewrite it.  Typically, I would change the color of the font so the author knew where I changed something.  I taught my students how to go back through the Revision History and see what was changed if needed.  2. I would highlight a portion of the text and add a comment with my ideas/thoughts/corrections.  Students could then make the correction themselves and resolve the comment.  They could access all of the resolved comments through the Comments button.

Both of these worked for me and my students.  It required some modeling, required a bit of independence to go back and reflect on the revisions, and was effective for most students.  It was, though, a little bit cumbersome – having to change the color of font and having to go back through the Revision History to make sure students made corrections and didn’t just click resolve, but it still improved student writing and they very much enjoyed using GDocs instead of Microsoft Word.

Suggested Edits is a newer GDoc feature.  This feature does not actually change the document, but it provides guidance for the student’s writing.  To use this feature,  you first need to change to Suggested Editing mode.  When you access the document you want to edit/revise, click the Editing button under Comments/Share buttons in the upper right hand corner.

Suggested Edits

Choose “Suggesting” and the Editing button will turn green.  As you make “corrections”, GDocs strikes through the current writing and inserts your suggestion before it.  Students will see your suggestion in the margin and will be able to choose whether or not they want to accept the change or reject the change.

suggested edits example

Click to see a larger version

When students are writing, we want them to be able to make decisions about their writing – we want them to feel like authors.  Authors take suggestions from their editors, their peers, other authors, their families – they take suggestions – they have the final say in what gets published.   We don’t just want to tell our students how to make it better, we want them to reflect on the feedback and make good decisions about how to make it better.

Welcome 2015!

5 Jan

Today’s the first school day of 2015.  I’ve never been much of a resolution maker, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal and professional goals for the year.

  • Become a Google Certified Teacher – I have to take a couple tests that will show my proficiency using Google Apps with teachers and students

  • Facilitate at least three professional development courses for our teachers
    • Flipped classroom?
    • Maximizing the efficient use of digital resources?
    • Google integration in the classroom?
    • 21st Century Design online course?
    • What other tech driven classes would you like to see offered?
  • Get myself into a classroom at least once a week (I really miss working with students on a regular basis!)
  • A Tweet a day – this one is hard for me, I don’t want my tweets to be contrived and I want them to be somewhat spontaneous

Twitter logo

  • Blog 3 times a month – well, this is a good start, right? I still feel like teachers don’t really know who I am or what my position is.  I think this blog can be the transparency I need and help me define this position.


What are your goals for 2015?!


Tech Byte: Biblionasium

16 Sep

A couple years ago when I was teaching 5th grade at Norton Creek – one of my fab colleagues really wanted to figure out how to have a Goodreads-type website for her classroom.  We toyed with using Edmodo but it didn’t have the flair that Goodreads had.

And now….our problem is solved! Cue lights – drum roll please……if you’re a K-8 teacher and want to get kids excited about reading and talking about books, get yourself over to Biblionasium!

biblionasium logo

I’ve put together a Google Folder that includes written directions for setting up an account, templates for organizing student username and passwords and videos that highlight the basic features to help you get started.  As always, let me know how I can support you in your classroom with using this tool!

Follow them on Twitter! @BiblioNasium

Web 2.0 Resources

9 Sep

Part of my job as your Instructional Technology Coordinator is to evaluate Web 2.0 resources and approve them for use in and out of your classroom.  I want to make sure you understand the what and why behind the decision to request and approve the use of Web 2.0 resources.

What is a Web 2.0 resource?

Web 2.0 resources are web-based tools that are used on the Internet.  They are usually free or inexpensive and is a way digital information is created, shared, stored, distributed, and managed.  Frequently these tools require some type of account or sign up procedure.  We have a process to identify and approve Web 2.0 resources because many of the tools require the collection of information.  Since we work with students who fall into different age brackets – 13 and under, 13-17 and 18 and up – we have to be diligent to understand what types of information these sites require, collect, use, and even distribute.

What is COPPA?

Alright, a little history here.  In 1998 Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  These rules regulated what kinds of information could be collected online from children under 13 and when parent approval is required for a child to submit information.  COPPA is important to school districts because we are also held accountable to protect our student’s privacy and information.  Although, legally, COPPA applies to children 13 and under, we believe we need to protect the privacy of all of our students regardless of age.  Some resources that may be geared for educational purposes may not be COPPA compliant, and will not be approved.  Some resources may be COPPA compliant; however, we may not approve the site if it collects too much or unnecessary information (e.g., home address, phone number, etc.).

Here is the Federal Trade Commission’s FAQ page about COPPA if you’d like to learn more about it.

How do I know if I am using a Web 2.0 resource?

In general, if an account needs to be set up in order to use the resource, it is considered a Web 2.0 resource.  When students or teachers need to input information about themselves in order to use the site, it is considered a Web 2.0 resource.

Where do I find the list of already approved resources?

Through the D303 staff page, you can find the List of Approved Web 2.0 Resources – you can also find the forms that need to go home to elementary and middle school families for student permissions.  High school families were sent home an “opt-out” form as a part of registration.

How do I request a resource to be used in my classroom?

Complete the Web 2.0 Resource Request form – previously you would send an email with the website information.  I decided to revise the form so that I had more information before I evaluated the site.  This will help to expedite the process.

How long do I have to wait for approval?

My goal is 24 hours, but sometimes I need to contact the website in order to get some extra information.  The D303 goal is to ensure our students’ personally identifiable information is protected at all times.

What happens if you approve my request?

I’ll send you an email letting you know that the site has been approved and you can start using the resource with your students.

What happens if you deny my request?

I’ll also send you an email letting you know why I did not approve the site.  I’ll also schedule a follow-up phone call or meeting so we can find a resource that meets your learning objectives while still protecting student information.

Now that my resource has been approved, do I need to do anything else?

If you are a elementary or middle school classroom teacher, you will need to complete and send home the Parent Approval Letter for Student Login.  High school classrooms participated in an opt-out form at registration and do not need to get additional permissions.

I hope this gives you a basic idea of what Web 2.0 resources are and the process for reviewing and approving those resources.  Feel free to leave comments with suggestions or additional questions.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.