15 MORE Things You Can Do With Google Classroom

Previously I had blogged on 20 things you can do with Google Classroom. Here are 15 more ideas!

  1. Collect Data: Linking to a Google Form or just a Google spreadsheet from an announcement allows you to quickly gather data from students.
  2. Share with Multiple Classes: If you teach multiple sections of the same course, Google Classroom will create the assignment in each section.
  3. Collaborative Note Taking: Create a Google document and designate some students to be note takers for the discussion. Students can collaboratively take notes on the document and those notes are easily accessible by the other students through an announcement in Classroom.
  4. Display Student Work: With student permission, use an announcement to link to student work that is available in your Classroom Google Drive folder.
  5. One Student One Slide: Set an assignment to be a single Google Slides presentation that the class can edit. Modify the slide master to provide a template for student work when they insert their own slide.
  6. Target Parent Phone Calls: Google Classroom clearly shows which students did not complete an assignment. Use this list to make parent calls.
  7. Polling: Create an assignment to find out which students are attending a school event. If yes, have students write their name on a Google Doc that contains event information and then submit the assignment. Now you have a clear list of which students are attending. Unlike a Google Form, you also have a clear list of who is not.
  8. Share a Document with the Class: Google Classroom makes document distribution simple.
  9. Know Who Edits a Collaborative Document: Instead of sharing a Google Doc as anyone can edit, Google Classroom allows you to give edit access to all of the students for a single document without anonymous animals.
  10. Link to a Website: Relying on students to type in a web address correctly costs instructional minutes as you try to get everyone on the same page. Link to websites in a Google Classroom announcement and get everyone on the same page quickly.
  11. After Hours Help: Instead of sending students home to struggle on an assignment, students can post questions to the class to hopefully receive a peer or teacher response before it is due.
  12. Peer Feedback: Share a Google Slides presentation with everyone can edit access. Each student is able to create a slide with their information and other students have easy access to insert comments on other students slides.
  13. Distribute Notes: Rather than focusing on note taking, students are able to focus on discussing. Posting the notes to a Google Classroom announcement allows students to pull up the notes easily and then spend class time talking about them instead of taking them.
  14. Sharing Informal Learning: As students discover ways to connect their classroom learning to their lives they are able to share this on Google Classroom. Students are able to share pictures, Google Docs, YouTube videos or links with the class.
  15. Email the Teacher: Google Classroom gives students an icon to email the teacher. Students can easily email the instructor their questions. Since it will come from the students GAfE account, the teacher can ensure that the message is from that student.


Posted in Classroom, Google | Tagged , | 4 Comments

New Google Drive: PDF Viewer App

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The default in the new Google Drive is to open a PDF in preview mode. If you prefer the way the old Google Drive handled PDF’s there is an app that you may like.

Connect more apps

In Google Drive click on “New” and choose “More” at the bottom of the menu options. At the bottom of the slide out tray choose to “Connect more apps.”
new google drive connect more apps



Type PDF into the search box and locate the app “PDF Viewer.” Click on the blue “Connect” button.
Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 7.25.07 PM


Google Drive will ask you if you want to use this app as your default for PDF’s. If you choose this then your PDF’s will not show up in the preview mode unless you use the menu option for preview.

Preview Mode

Single click on a PDF in Google Drive. In the toolbar above the documents an icon of an eye is available. Clicking on this will allow you to go back to the Google Drive preview mode.
click and choose preview


PDF viewer has it’s own sharing link. Using this link will allow collaborators to open the document in PDF viewer rather than Google Drive preview. Open the document. In the upper right hand corner is a swoopy arrow to share the PDF.
share and comment pdf viewer

Clicking on the swoopy arrow gives you a link you can share with others. Choose to allow them to view or comment on the document.
sharing link


PDF viewer allows you to comment on the document. In the upper right hand of the document the second icon is a comment bubble. Clicking on this icon allows you to highlight sections of the PDF.
share and comment pdf viewer

This puts comment notes on the side similar to what you see in a Google Doc.
comments in PDF

Posted in Drive, Google | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

New Google Drive: Always Convert Office Documents

Convert from Word to Google Docs


In the new Google Drive there is no longer the option to have Google Drive ask you if you want to convert your Office documents to Google Docs. This option is now on or off. I had previously blogged on how to convert an Office document to Google Doc in the new Drive.

By default, when you drag or upload an Office document to Google Drive the Office document will not convert. It will remain as an Office document. Part of the reason for this is that the new Google Drive allows you to edit Office documents and leave them as Office files. The editing however is limited and you lose collaboration capabilities and automatic saving.


In the upper right hand corner of the new Google Drive is a settings cog. Click on this and choose “Settings.”
settings in new google drive


In the settings click on the check box to “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format.” This will cause all of your Office uploads to automatically convert to Google Docs. If you do not want this to happen you will need to go back to the settings cog and uncheck the checkbox before you upload a file.
convert office documents to google documents

Gmail Add to Drive

In Gmail when you are sent an email attachment of an Office document you can hover over the attachment to have the option to download or “Save to Drive.” When you save to Drive you are able to choose the Drive folder you want to save the file into. REGARDLESS of your Drive settings, these Office Documents will NOT automatically convert. They will be saved in your Google Drive as an Office Document. You will need to manually convert from Office by opening the file in Google Drive and using the File menu to save as a Google Doc.
add word from gmail to drive

Posted in docs, Drive, Google | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Getting Started with Google Classroom

I have been doing some blog posts lately on Google Classroom to address some best practices. If you are looking to getting started with Google Classroom here are some excellent tutorials other bloggers have created:


Amy Meyer: FriEdTechnology http://www.friedtechnology.com/2014/09/getting-started-with-google-classroom.html
Jeff Herb http://instructionaltechtalk.com/getting-started-google-classroom/
Aaron Svoboda Playlist of Getting Started http://mrsvoboda.blogspot.com/2014/08/google-classroom-how-to-videos.html
Jeremy Rochelle YouTube: Click Here
Google for Education YouTube: Click Here
Michael Fricano II YouTube Playlist: Click Here
More videos to be added
Posted in Classroom, Google | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Google Forms: Trick for Listing a Lot of Dates

Google Forms list of dates

At the start of each class my students fill out a quick Google Form to indicate their attendance in class. I also use this to ask my students if they have any questions, comments, concerns or compliments. This gives me an opportunity to listen to each student in the class each day. I could also include my warm up activity on this Form if I wanted to.

Choose From a List

While the Form automatically collects the time stamp of the date and time the student submitted the form I like to ask students to choose the date from a list. This gives me the date only, separate from the timestamp, which is necessary for filtering. This also helps solve the problem of students who for whatever reason need to sign in on a date other than the day they are signing in on.

When creating the Form choose the question type “Choose from a list.”
question type google forms choose from a list

Paste the List of Dates

You do not have to type the entire list of dates for the semester into the options. If you have the list of dates in a spreadsheet or in a text document (each date on its own line) you can simply copy and paste the list into option 1. Each date will automatically be a new option.
paste list of dates

Use a Spreadsheet

Typing the dates into the Form directly or having to type out the dates onto a document are both equally tedious. Instead use the magic of a spreadsheet to automatically generate your dates for you. I will show how to do this using Google Sheets, however it will work equally well in Excel.

Class Meets Once a Week

In the spreadsheet type the date of the first class.
In the cell below it type the formula =A1+7
spreadsheet plus seven
This will give the next weeks date.
Click on cell A2. A small square will show up in the bottom right hand corner of the cell. Hold the mouse down on the square and pull down. This will generate a list of the dates for each week.
fill down

Highlight and Copy

Highlight the list of dates in the spreadsheet. Use Control C (PC) or Command C (Mac) to copy the dates. Go to the Google Form and highlight “Option 1″ in the choose from a list options. Use Control V (PC) or Command V (Mac) to paste the values.

Class Meets Daily

This is a little trickier to write the formula for. The weekends make it a little more complicated than simply adding 1 to the previous date.
Type the date of the first class in cell A1.
In cell A2 type =A1+1
In cell A3 type =A2+1
In cell A4 type =A3+1
In cell A5 type =A4+1
The next cell needs to cycle back to Monday. Monday is 3 days later.
In cell A5 type =A5+3
google sheets copy the formulas

Highlight cells A2 through A6. You only want to highlight the cells that contain the formulas. (Notice that in my screenshot I turned on View All Formulas in the View menu. This is unnecessary). In the bottom right hand corner of the five cells you highlighted is the fill down square. Hold the mouse arrow down on this box and pull down. This will give you a list of daily dates.

A template

Alternatively I have made a spreadsheet template to help you do this. CLICK HERE: http://goo.gl/7YY2Mk Use the File menu to make a copy.

In this template you can mark the letter H to indicate holidays. Insert the first Monday and a list of dates will automatically be produced. Highlight the portion of the list that is within your date range.

Block Schedule

Block Schedule is really tricky. CLICK HERE for my template: http://goo.gl/PGKrSJ

Type in the date of the first Monday and indicate if it is an Even or an Odd day. You can also indicate the dates of any holidays by marking an H in column D.
Even or odd block schedule

Two lists are generated. One a list of even dates, the other the list of odd dates. Copy the date range you desire and paste into the Google Form.

Posted in forms, Google, Spreadsheet | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agoogleaday.com – Your Daily Warm-Up

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Technology has the ability to transform a culture (cite this). A pair of technologies has undoubtedly changed modern society: search engines and mobile devices.

Look at a group of people interacting. What are the odds that someone in the group will pull out their phone to look up some information? This is the transformation, we are able to instantly access information in the moment we are wondering something. Our actions and decisions are impacted by the infusion of the information we discover.
Let us not pretend that this technology does not exist. It does and our students will have access to it for their whole lives. This ability will only get better.

Being able to search effectively is a life skill.

Sometimes we take for granted that young people know how to use a search engine. They do not. This is a skill we need to practice with students.

My husband, Barton Keeler, teaches high school English. Wanting to have students do research and be able to answer essential questions he realized that he needed to do searches with them. His daily warm up is to have the students practice the gamified website www.agoogleaday.com. This provides an opportunity for students to daily tackle a question that can answered through advanced searching techniques.

How did you find your answer?

The students explain their process. When the students are stuck is the perfect opportunity for students to collaborate together, persevere, and use critical thinking skills to derive other methods of finding the answer. These conversations happen in partners, small groups and whole class.

I love it when I (the teacher) am not able to solve the agoogleaday.com challenge and a student is able to teach me how to find the solution. – Barton Keeler

Common Core Standards

Below are only a few of the Common Core standards that support students conducting internet research and understanding advanced search techniques.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.1.B Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.2.B Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.6 With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.8 Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.

Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.

Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.7 and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.8  and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

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Google Classroom: Sorting Student Scores by Student Last Name

Google Classroom Grade Export

For now, Google Classroom sorts students by their first name. This of course does not match how the students are listed on our rosters or in our gradebooks. If you are putting student scores into Google Classroom you can export the scores, per assignment.

Click on Download

Google Classroom Download Grades

Go into the assignment in Google Classroom. Click the “Download” button to download a CSV file. If you open the file it will open in an Excel spreadsheet.

Google Sheets

If you prefer to use Google Sheets you can drag the CSV file into Google Drive. Right click on the grades.csv file and choose to “Open with” “Google Sheets.”
right click on file in google drive

Insert Columns

For both Excel and Google Sheets you will want to insert blank columns to the right of the name column. You are going to separate the first and last name into the blank columns.  I would recommend 3-5 blank columns. You need enough columns to account for students with two last names or extra middle initials.
insert blank columns

Google Sheets

Freeze the top row.

In the B column write this formula =Split(A2,” “) into cell B2. This will split up the names at the spacebar. Press enter.
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Click back on cell B2 and double click on the fill down square in the bottom right hand corner of the cell. This will copy the formula down to the bottom of the student roster list.
double click fill down


If you opened the CSV file in Excel you will need to select “Text to Columns” from the data tab and choose the space as the delimiter.

Sort by Column C

Column C should be the student last names. In Google Sheets you can hover over the column indicator to reveal a drop down arrow. Choose to “Sort sheet A->Z.” Now your grades are listed alphabetically by last name.
google sheets sort A to Z


Excel users will go to the “Data” tab in the ribbon and choose the “Sort” icon.

Posted in Classroom, Google, Grading, Spreadsheet | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

5 Potential Mistakes in Google Classroom

A teacher I respect and admire, John Sowash, recently posted a blog on “5 Google Classroom Mistakes.” He has some very good points in his post, but on a few of them I take a different approach.

1) Do Not Click Student

When setting up your Google Classroom be careful as to which role you select. John is correct that it can be a bit of a hassle if you accidentally choose the wrong role. As John points out, you can take on both roles. A teacher can enroll in another teachers class as a student.

2) Grouping All of Your Sections Together

John Sowash’s advice is to NOT group your sections together, and there is a lot of wisdom in that. I actually DO group all of my sections together. I personally prefer not to switch back and forth on sections when assessing and providing feedback on student work. I like the idea that one assignment has one folder for me to look in. When I return work I can do it for every student in all of my classes all at once.

Create Multiple Classes

The drawback is you have all of your students in one place. This means students are seeing messages from all of the sections and that can be too many voices at once and that can be overwhelming.

Google Classroom allows you to create more than one class. The one where I post assignments and announcements has all of my sections in one place.

I am big on capturing informal learning. With the college class that I teach I use a Google Plus Community, unfortunately this is not usually available for K12 classrooms. A Google Classroom can be an excellent way for students to share their informal learning and ask questions.

Create a Separate Class Per Class

In addition to the main classroom, create a Google Classroom for each section. Title the courses something like “Informal Learning Algebra Period 3.” These classes are not for assignments, thus the conversations and sharing in these classes are more student driven.

Send a Message

John makes an excellent point about messaging students in a section, if all of your students are in one section then it is difficult to segregate out a group. By creating a separate classroom for each period you can easily email only that class.

3) Arbitrary Class Names

John Sowash is 100% correct on this. Click Here to read John’s advice for naming classes.  It is likely students will have multiple teachers using Classroom so generic names can get confusing. Be as specific as you can. Remember, what you name the class is the name of the folder in Google Drive. Using a good naming convention can help keep your Google Drive better organized.

4) Messing with Classroom Folders

This is one that differ on. A folder titled “Classroom” is automagically created for each teacher and student. Personally I have multiple email accounts and I like to share my folders with my other selves. I am also a collaborator, which means I have a co-teacher who needs to share my “Classroom” folder in Google Drive. Thus there is the potential to have multiple “Classroom” folders in a Google Drive. I changed the name of my Classroom folder to be specific to the account.
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Changing the name of the folders does not mess up anything in Google Classroom. You can also move the folders without affecting Google Classroom. You want to keep your Google Drive organized and meaningful. If you need to rename or move a folder, do not stress. Deleting a folder you should continue to be careful about.

5) Using Classroom Folders

Should you or students add files directly to the Google Classroom folders? Doing so will not have a negative impact on Google Classroom. If students create a Google Doc for their notes and store it in the Google Classroom folder it will be okay. This allows them to have all of their class documents in a single folder.

Classroom links to the file or folder ID which is unaffected by moves and renames. The problem is students misunderstanding that putting a file in a folder in Google Drive does NOT link to Google Classroom. As with any system, we have to teach students how to use it. Let your students know that the only way to turn in an assignment in Google Classroom is to attach it in Google Classroom. Moving files into the folder in Drive does not turn in the file.

Posted in Classroom, Google | 3 Comments

Google Drive: A Workflow For Turning In Work by Karin Hogen

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Karen Hogen (@KarinHogen) generously has shared her workflow for turning in student work.

Edit the Document Title

When students create a document in Google Drive they put the word “UNGRADED” at the end of the document title when they are ready to submit the assignment.


The teacher can then type the word “UNGRADED” into the search box at the top of Google Drive to find all the assignments that need attention.


The teacher edits the name of the document title with codes such as “REDO” or “GRADED.” Now it is clear to the teacher and student as to the status of the document.

Posted in Drive, Google, Grading | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Using Google Classroom to Differentiate Assignments

Creative Commons License  by Eric Rice via Flickr

Creative Commons License by Eric Rice via Flickr

What is nice about a digital environment is the ability to differentiate. Google Classroom allows you to build a set of resources for a single assignment. This makes it possible to offer students choices as to how they access the information or how the student would like to address the assignment.

Learning Outcomes.

Rather than focusing on the directions for an assignment, instead focus on what the learning outcomes are suppose to be. What learning do you want students to demonstrate. Offer some choices for ways they can do this.

I always like to include a “choose your own adventure” option. Since Google Classroom allows students to make a private comment to the teacher on the assignment, the teacher and student can negotiate other options without revealing this to other students.
google classroom negotiation

Consider Your Learners

As the teacher you have a good idea of the differing needs of the students in your class. Some students need scaffolding and others are ready for a wicked challenge. Go through your roster of students and compare to your assignment options. Based on your knowledge of each child, is there something that will appeal and excite that student at their level?

When adding resources to the assignment in Google Classroom try to provide different types. A website explanation, a video, a movie clip hook, etc… This allows students to access the content in formats that align to their interests and learning styles.

Just Above Their Ability Level

Games teach us that to motivate a player you want to give them a challenge that is just above their ability level but within their reach. If a task is too hard for a student they will likely give up rather than persevere. Differentiating assignment options to allow students to find something they can be successful at can help maintain motivation.


If you are concerned about students choosing options that are below their ability level consider coding the options with levels. Just like accelerated reader helps students to choose the books that are at their ability level, coding assignment options can help students choose appropriately.

Titling Resources

I number my assignments (#001, #002, #003, etc…) in order to make it easier to locate the assignment in my gradebook and in my Google Drive Classroom folder. This also makes it easy for students to locate the assignments in their Google Drive.

For my collection of resources in Google Classroom I will start each of the assignment titles with the assignment number. This way it is easy to identify which resources go with which learning objective.

Student Submissions

The genius of Google Classroom is the student turn in process. Google Classroom is not simply a swapping of a Google Document, instead it allows the student to build their submission in a variety of ways.
Student Project Build

Have students name their files with the assignment number to clearly demonstrate which learning outcome it goes with.  If a student were to recreate a historical city in Minecraft instead of writing an essay they could screencast their creation, upload to a video service such as YouTube or Vimeo and submit the link to Google Classroom. Other students will add their Google Document from Google Drive.

Unlike traditional turn in methods, Google Classroom makes it easy for students can build a collection of resources to submit. The elements of the student submission are neatly organized and easy for the teacher to access and assess.

Since Google Classroom collects in one place each students submission for a particular learning outcome it makes it easy for the teacher to accept a variety of different options.


When students submit their assignment to Google Classroom their assignment is NOT displayed to anyone else in the class. In a non digital classroom it can be very obvious that different students are handing in different things. This allows students who struggle or who were given alternative options to not be called out in front of their peers.

A Conversation

Within Google Classroom the teacher and the student can have a private back and forth discussion about the document. Even when the student turns in the work the teacher can give suggestions or encourage the student to demonstrate understanding at a higher level. The teacher returns the assignment to allow the student to make those corrections and turn it back in. The comment thread in the assignment itself allows the teacher and the student to have an ongoing conversation about the students work to help get the student where they can be.

Posted in Classroom, Gamification, Google | Tagged , , | 5 Comments