Sunday, November 25, 2018

Google Classroom: How to Order New Assignments to the Top of the Classwork Tab?

**Please note, since the date of this blog post, Google Classroom has introduced a drag and drop feature. You can now drag and drop topics and assignments within topics into the desired order.

One of the biggest complaints I've seen so far about the new updates to Google Classroom is the fact that new topics and the assignments within them go to the bottom of the Classwork Tab. Many teachers don't like the fact that their students have to scroll down through all previous assignments in order to find the most recent ones. Today, I want to share a workaround with you that can help alleviate this issue.

The Default
By default, new topics and/or assignments will go to the bottom of the list on the Classwork tab. You can move topics and assignments within topics up and down on the Classwork tab by clicking the three dots to the right and selecting "move up" or "move down".

However, if you have a long list of previous assignments, this is a lot of moving up/down after adding a new assignment. There is no way to archive or hide previous assignments, other than deleting them. However, I don't recommend deleting past assignments as you won't be able to "reuse" them in later Classrooms. Additionally, once an assignment is deleted, the grades and any private comments are also deleted.

The Workaround
If you create an assignment, question or material without assigning it to a topic, it will appear at the top of the Classwork tab.

Leave it there until the assignment is completed. Then click the three dots and select "edit".

Find the topic dropdown and add a topic to the post by creating a new topic or selecting an existing topic. This will move the assignment from the top of the stream into a topic module, clearing the way at the top of the Classwork tab for the next set of new assignments.

In my opinion, this is the easiest way to get new assignments to the top of the Classwork tab without having to endlessly click "move up" or "move down". Let me know how this works for you in the comments!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The LATEST Feature Release in Google Classroom

In the weeks since the launch of the updates to Google Classroom, many teachers have sent feedback to the developers. Today, they release several new highly requested features. Read on to learn about those features! Keep in mind that these features will be rolling out to all users over the next few days, so if you don't see them yet- never fear! They'll show up in your Classrooms soon. 

Add Materials

Many teachers were disappointed to find that the "about" tab and the ability to add resources there is gone. Today, Google added a new option under the "Create" button on the Classwork tab labeled "Materials". This allows you to add static materials (not as an assignment or question) to the classwork tab. They can also be organized under any topic on your Classwork tab as well. I created a topic called "resources" to stay at the top of my Classwork stream where items like my syllabus and course website are housed. See the gif below to learn how to add materials to your Classroom- click to see it larger.

Add Classwork Tab

Many teachers started school around or prior to the launch of new features and had already created their Classrooms. Those classes created prior to the launch did not update with the new features. However, today Google released a feature to allow you to add the Classwork tab to your legacy classes. You can now have the Classwork Tab in your classroom created prior to the launch. Watch the gif below to learn how!

Quicker Announcements

Now, instead of having to hover over the + button in the lower right of the page to add an announcement, instead you can do it straight from the top of the stream. 

To reuse an announcement from an archived class, you just click the arrows at the far right of the announcement box, as shown below. 

Important to know

If your students are using mobile devices such as phones or tablets, they will need to update their app in order to have all the latest features. If your students using mobile devices aren't able to see materials that you've posted, this is likely the reason!

Still Coming

Some features are still currently in development, such as the ability to create a quiz from the "create" button on the Classwork tab and create locked quizzes in Forms for students using managed Chromebooks. 

I also know many teachers and students have been missing the To-Do List and the return of this feature has been highly requested. Google did also announce today that in the coming weeks, they will be bringing back the To-Do List

Hopefully, these changes will make the new Google Classroom even better for you!

Monday, July 16, 2018

The NEW Google Classroom- Beta Preview

As announced at ISTE 2018, there are major changes coming to Google Classroom this August. If you've signed up for the beta program, you may be seeing some of these changes on your Google Classroom already. If you didn't sign up for the beta, you'll see these changes coming in August. I wanted to take a few minutes and give you a quick overview.

The Stream
Instead of assignments being posted on the stream, the stream is now more of a social hub- a place for updates and announcements to appear. It is no longer possible to add assignments to the stream. Instead, when you post an assignment, a notification will appear in the stream, while the actual assignment can be seen on the Classwork page.

The Classwork Page
The Classwork page is now the new location for assignments. This is where all the assignments and questions that you create will appear. The Classwork page now also hosts the links to the Classroom folder on Drive, the Class Calendar, and the Google Calendar.

Using the topics feature when posting assignments and questions can help you easily organize the Classwork page by units, modules, or sessions. The box for assigning topics can be found next to the due date on the assignment creation box.

Assigning topics to the assignments and questions you create will group them together on the classwork page in modules. Below is an example of a Classroom I'm using for professional development- you can see how my first module is nicely grouped together. You can rearrange assignments within a topic, and rearrange the order of topics as well. This is done by clicking the three dots in the right of the assignment or topic- there is no drag and drop option at this time.

The People Page
This page is very much like the "students'' tab that you're familiar with.

From here, you can add students and co-teachers, mute students, email students or guardians, and invite guardians to receive daily or weekly Guardian Summaries. Not much has changed about this page except a slight change to the layout and the name of the page. 

A few things are no longer located on this page:
  • Student posting permissions
  • Turning on/off guardian summaries for the class
  • Class code

Classroom Settings
This is new, and this is now where you will find the student posting permissions, the toggle for guardian summaries, and is one of the places you can find the class code.  From your Classroom, click the "gear" setting in the upper right of the page. This is where you'll also be able to toggle on and off your ability to see posts that have been deleted.

You'll next see a screen that allows you to change the settings mentioned above for that class. 

You've probably noticed that the "about" tab is conspicuously missing. About is now a tiny link in the bottom right corner of your banner image.
When you click "about", you'll see a little pop-up appear with the name of the class and the class code. Clicking the box next to the class code will allow you to display it via projector so students can easily join with the code. The ability to add class materials will no longer exist in the new Classroom.

What about my existing Classrooms? 
While there will be some minor visual changes in your existing Classrooms, features like the "Classwork" page will only be available in newly created Classrooms, and will not appear in existing classes. On existing classrooms, the "about" tab will now no longer be a tab in the teacher view (it will still appear as a tab to students), but it will appear on your existing Classrooms the same as above. In existing classrooms only, it will also contain any class materials you'd added and you will still have the ability to add additional materials. The new classroom does not allow you to add materials to the "about" section any longer.

Can I still Join the Beta?
If you want to get a headstart on your classes for next school year, consider joining the beta by filling out this form. if you have a question I haven't covered here, you might find it in the FAQ

I hope you find this quick overview helpful to begin learning about the changes coming in Google Classroom. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to reply below!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Adding a Google Educator Badge to your Gmail Signature

Hi there teachers! I know many of you are already on summer break (sadly, I still have a few more days to go 😑). I also know that teachers are hard-working people, and many of you will be taking one or more Google Educator Exams this summer. Once you pass your exam, you'll probably be wondering how to put that nifty badge into your email signature.

I created the video below to help you out with that!

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Understanding the Workflow Between Google Drive and Google Classroom

When making use of Google Classroom, it's important to understand how Google Classroom works with Google Drive, and the workflow that an assignment goes through.

Classroom Folder Structure In Google Drive
The first thing that is important to understand is that Google Classroom automatically generates a folder structure on Google Drive for Classroom to use. All documents used by you and your students in Google Classroom will be stored somewhere in the Classroom folder on your Drive. Do not attempt to delete or change this folder structure! Doing so can cause glitches in Classroom and Drive.

Inside the Classroom folder, a subfolder is generated for each separate classroom you create. Inside the subfolder for each Classroom, you'll find subfolders for each and every assignment you post in Google Classroom. The image below shows the structure visually. Instead of "Classroom 1" and "Assignment 1", you'll see folder names that match your Classroom and assignment names.

The Classroom folder on the teacher's Drive contains all the files of all the students. Do not share the Classroom folder with students- this will allow them to see other students' work and constitutes a breach of student privacy. The Classroom folder on the student's Drive contains only the files he or she owns and has worked on. 

Workflow of an Assignment
When you create an assignment and make a copy for every student, the copies are generated the moment you click "assign" and post the assignment to the stream. At this time, the students become the "owner" of their copy and you have viewing rights.

Once students have edited their copy of the document and clicked "turned in" ownership is transferred to the teacher, and student rights are changed to "view only". If the student unsubmits the assignment, ownership will transfer back to the student. When a teacher returns an assignment, the ownership also reverts back to the student.

If you make comments on a submitted document, the student will not be able to see the comments you've made until you return the document, or the student unsubmits the document.

Unsubmitting and Returning Work
It's important to know that students can unsubmit work at any time. Work can be unsubmitted, resubmitted, and returned to the student as many times as necessary for your purposes (for example, writing revisions). Google Classroom and the document activity stream on Drive will show you when these changes in ownership take place, allowing you to see the timeline of activity if needed.

I hope this answers any questions you may have had about the Google Classroom workflow.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Google Classroom: Make a Copy for Every Student

One of my favorite features in Google Classroom is the ability to make a copy of a document for every student automatically. It's a great feature that makes life so much easier for teachers and students. Today, I want to address some common questions I get about this feature.

How do I make a copy of a document for every student?
This short gif outlines the process:

I'm sending a Word Document, PDF or other non-Google Filetype to students. Do I need to make a copy for every student? 
No, this is only necessary if you are using Google filetypes: Sheets, Docs, Slides, Drawings. Non-Google filetypes cannot be edited on the web like Google filetypes. For non-Google filetypes, students will need to download the original to their device to edit it anyway, and reupload their copy with changes saved. So, while using this option for these documents won't hurt, it's not necessary.

It is also not necessary to  make a copy of a Form for every student, as attaching the Form to the assignment will lead them to a blank response page.

I'm editing an assignment to add a new document, but I don't have this option. Why not?
The answer is deceptively simple: this option is only available when first creating an assignment, before hitting the blue "assign" button. If you're adding a document to an assignment that's already posted to the stream, the option won't be available (and the blue button will say "save" instead of "assign"). This is because the student copies are created for all documents attached when the blue "assign" button is clicked.

If students have already been working with the documents attached to the assignment, you'll want to simply create a new assignment with the additional document. If students have not yet begun working on the documents attached to the assignment, then you can reuse the post, attach the new document and assign, then delete the original post.

If I make changes to the original, will students see those changes?
If you've already pushed the assignment out to students, then their copy was created the moment you clicked "assign". Any changes you make to the original after that will not be visible on the student copies. It's kind of like a copy machine- you make 10 copies, then you realize that you made an error and fix it. The correction is only visible in copies you make after- not in the first set of copies you made.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Managing Group Assignments in Google Classroom

Often times, teachers want to assign group work to students using Google Classroom. They want students to be able to work on the same document and turn in a single copy. Right now, there isn't a way to create sub-groups in Google Classroom like many teachers wish, but there is a way to do this without some students having "not done" assignments when it's all over.

Create your assignment document. Create the assignment as you usually would. Give it a title, add instructions, and attach your document for your first group. Then, click where it says all students.

You'll see a dropdown box with the name of each student in the class. Un-click the box next to "all students".

Check only the name of the students in a particular group. Make sure that instead of "make a copy for every student," you'll want to choose "students can edit". This way, all students in the group will be working on the same doc, and each student will be able to click "turn in" when the group is finished. 

To post the assignment for group two, click the "create" button in the upper left of the Classwork Tab. Select "Reuse Assignment". 

Find the first group assignment you posted in the reuse window and select it. Make sure to select the option to "make all new copies of all attachments". Then click the blue "reuse" button. 

In the new posting window, make sure to go to the "all students" dropdown as selected above and select the new group of students. 

Here's the rub to using this method: You'll need to repeat the "reuse post" process for each new group. There is a little more set-up time on the front end for teachers, but it is much less confusing for students and for the teacher, especially when grading time comes!

As always, feel free to reply with any questions!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Google Classroom Parent Letter

If you're using other web 2.0 tools with your students, you've likely noticed that many of them come with an introductory letter for parents to let them know a little about the tool. One of the most common questions I get when leading trainings is whether or not Google has created an introductory letter to send to parents about Google Classroom.

The short answer is.....NO. So, I created one! This letter is pretty appropriate for teachers at about any grade level, and gives parents the basic information about Google Classroom, as well as the opportunity to provide their email address if they're interested in getting Guardian Summaries.

Since I'm an ESOL specialist and work in a district with over 25,000 ELLs, most of whom speak Spanish, I created this in both English and Spanish.

Click here or on the image below to get a copy. This is a Google Slides file, with a text box that allows you to personalize by adding in your name and email address.

I hope this is helpful for you in your classroom- please feel free to share with other teachers!