5 Google Classroom Tips & Tricks for the New Year

5 Google Classroom Tips

Welcome back to the new school year! Google Classroom has added some new features including parent/guardian email summaries as well as topics (tagging) for posts in the Stream to make finding related assignments easier. As you begin to set up your Google Classroom classes for the new school year, you might find these tips helpful:

1 – Archive Last Year’s Classes

Clear the deck for the new year by “Archiving” classes from last year. This will help your students from last year by removing the icon for your class from their Home Screen, too, but for you and your kids, all work will remain in Google Drive and all posts are available to “Re-Use” in your new classes. If students come to your room with classes from last year, they can “unenroll” by clicking the three dots at the top of the class thumbnail from the Home Page.

Archive Class

2 – Add New Classes in Reverse Order

Tiles for each of your classes on the Classroom Home Page, cannot be moved or re-ordered once they are added. If you teach multiple classes, create them in the REVERSE order that you want them to appear on your homepage. This way, they will appear in the order you want to view them, e.g., periods 1 – 7, should be added backwards so that period 1 appears FIRST on your Homepage.

Class Order

3 – Include the Class Year in Your Class Name

It’s best to archive classes from last year, but be sure to include the school year as part of the Class name to make it easier to identify classes over time.

Classroom Class icon

4 – Know Your Options for Keeping Parents in the Loop

Teachers will be happy to learn that Classroom now allows teachers to associate parent/guardian email addresses for students so that adults can receive email summaries of upcoming assignments as well as current activity and missing work. While this might be cause for celebration, given that teachers have to manually add these email addresses, many middle and high school teachers with 100+ students, will not find this a realistic option. It is worth noting that once a guardian email is added, ALL of the classes that student is in will be part of the parent updates provided teach of that student’s teachers have the guardian feature enabled. For those who aren’t ready or able to push the Guardian feature to all families, I’ve been suggesting to teachers three alternatives:

    1. Selective Use of Guardian Email Feature:  Utilize the guardian email feature for parents who request regular updates and/or students whose education plans may require daily or weekly progress updates.
    2. Make your Classroom Calendar Public: All assignments in Classroom appear on a Google Calendar as events based on the assignments’ due date. Since any Google Calendar can be made “Public” and public calendars can be shared via a link or embedded, this may be an option to make assignment information viewable for parents on your teacher website or by sending parents the link. For more information on how to make your Classroom Calendar public, check out an earlier post on this topic.
    3. Suggest Classroom App: Since most parents prefer text updates, they may prefer to download the Classroom app for students on their phone and have their student sign in so they can receive push notifications every time an assignment is posted. This will only require their child sign in once to their parent’s phone app.

5 – Make Sure You’re Using Classroom to It’s Potential!

Many teachers “use” Classroom, but are you using it to push out digital assignments and provide student feedback? Have you used the “Ask a Question” feature as an exit ticket to formatively assess students? Check out my Google Classroom Cheat Sheet for detailed information about the various menus in Google Classroom. This handout can be printed to serve as a helpful reference for those new to Classroom!

Classroom Sheet

Twitter Teams: Share your account NOT your Password

TwitterTeams

Schools and organizations who want to have a presence on Twitter often struggle with keeping their feed populated with Tweets because it can be such a hassle to sign in and out of accounts, not to mention the huge security risk of sharing a password with multiple contributors.  Twitter has a little-known “Teams” feature that enables account owners to invite contributors without having to share a password.  Not only does this dramatically reduce the security risk associated with sharing passwords, but makes it simple for contributors to Tweet from an account other than their primary Twitter account.

Setting up a Twitter Team:

  1. Sign into the account you wish to share with TwitterTeamAddcollaborators via TweetDeck, a web-based Twitter dashboard (owned by Twitter) that allows you to toggle easily between accounts and create customized views of hashtags, timelines or mentions.  If you’ve never used TweetDeck before, you’re in for a treat!!
  2. Click the “Accounts” button from the left sidebar menu
  3. From the expanded “Accounts” menu, you will see “Team @(account)” as an option.  Click this to access the Twitter Teams menu
  4. Enter the Twitter handle of the team member you wish to add.  You can set the role of anyone to “Contributor” which means they can Tweet from the shared account, or “Admin” allowing them to also add more contributors to the account.
  5. Once you have added and authorized a new user, that person will receive an email notification.  They will need to login to their Twitter account via TweetDeck and will see a notification icon in the “Accounts” tab on the left sidebar menu.  Once they accept the invitation, they will see the shared account listed under their “Accounts” tab.

Tweeting from a Shared Account:

Once you have logged in via TweetDeck to your primary account, the shared account will also be available to you, so you can easily toggle between accounts.  If you Tweet from TweetDeck, you will be able to click to select which account(s) you want the Tweet to send from (see green check marks next to accounts in the image below).  As a result, you can send the same Tweet from multiple accounts at ONE time!  It’s a huge time-saver and makes it much easier to fill the Twitter feed of a shared account.

TweetShare

Search ‘Smarter’ NOT ‘Harder’ using Google’s Advanced Search

Search_Header

Of course you know how to search, but if you aren’t using Google’s “Advanced Search” feature, you’re missing out on searching efficiently. With “Advanced Search” you can easily filter and narrow your search results, without needing to recall Boolean logic operators.  Adv_Search_2

Advanced Search allows you to filter a web search by:

  • Finding a specific word or phrase in sequence rather than anywhere on a page
  • Excluding words to further narrow search results
  • When a page was last updated (great for current events!)
  • Site or domain (e.g. search nasa.gov only)

In addition to searching for information, educators are often on the hunt for resources, whether it be worksheets, lesson plans, slide shows or school policies that can be used directly or modified to suit the needs of their particular school or classroom.  Advanced search will allow you to return only links to files of a certain type (PDF, DOC, PPT and more), not web pages that leave you searching for files.

Accessing & Using Advanced Search:

  1. Go to Google.com (or use the omnibox) to enter your search words.  Hit the search icon to execute the search.
  2. When your search results appear, you should see a gear icon in the top right corner of the page (see image below).  Click the gear & select “Advanced Search” to access the menu.
  3. Narrow and filter your search using any of the available fields in the Advanced Search menu to refine your results.

Adv_Search_1

Advanced Image Search

If you are conducting an image search (images.google.com) you can narrow your image results using Advanced Search.  As with the standard web search above, you first enter your search terms and will see the gear icon in the top right when you get your initial search results.  The Advanced Image Search menu is somewhat different, in that it allows users to filter by:Image_Search

  • Image size
  • Aspect ratio
  • Colors in image
  • Type of image (e.g. clip art, photo, animated)
  • File type (JPG, PNG, SVG, etc.)
  • Usage rights (e.g. return only images you are free to use/share or modify)

 

For more information about effective search strategies, including how to conduct an “Advanced Search”, check out the Google Search Tips tutorial video below: