Monday, March 21, 2016

Google Drive: Set Expiration Date for Shared Files

Google announced a new feature for Google Drive, the ability to set an expiration date for shared files and folders. When the appointed hour arrives (11:59pm on the set date), the recipient's comment and visibility privileges are automatically revoked.

This feature will not work when the recipient has Edit access, which includes Google Forms collaborators. The expiration date is also not available for blanket shares (public, anyone with the link, or all within domain).

To set an expiration date:
  1. Share a file or folder with individual users or a Google Group email address.
  2. Once file or folder is shared, hover over the blank space between the username and level of access. A stopwatch will appear.
  3. Click the stopwatch to open the options.
  4. Choose 7 days, 30 days, or select a specific date. Note that you can return to this window to cancel the expiration.
  5. Click the blue Save Changes.

Google reports that this will rolled out gradually. We are starting to see it in GTSD, If you don't see it yet, be patient, it will be available to you soon!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Classroom: Automated Notifications and Your Overwhelmed Inbox

I love Google Classroom. Each of my Library/Media classes, and my Media Medics group, have a Classroom. I am able to be more efficient in sharing and receiving information, links, documents, and comments, so I can be more present while my students are present.

While the Classrooms allow me to more easily keep classwork and student work more organized, I have found two areas of frustration:
inefficient navigation and an overflowing inbox.

Inefficient Navigation
The simple solution would be for Google to allow a list view, as opposed to the block view. Until that happens (fingers crossed), I alternate use between two keyboard shortcuts:
  • Control-F: Search the page for a specific keyword or phrase.
  • Control-Minus: Zoom out, making screen content small and therefore showing more of the boxes.

Overflowing Inbox
Classroom automatically generates a message each time an assignment or question is posted. After the first grade level assignment, my inbox swelled with automatically generated notifications about postings and comments. The amount of information was so overwhelming that I decided to disable all Classroom notifications (via Classroom Settings page).

However, Classroom also lets me know each time a student sends a private message. With 20+ active Classrooms, I am not checking each assignment or section on a daily basis. For this reason I re-enabled the feature, and the deluge of messages that clutter my inbox. At this time, notifications are all or nothing. Perhaps at some point Google will allow teachers to enable or disable choose notification types (fingers crossed).

Until then, here are the steps to create a Gmail filter that automatically move these messages into a new label/folder and out of your inbox:
  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click Gear icon, choose Settings.
  3. Click Filters and Blocked Addresses tab.
  4. At bottom of list, chose Create a new filter. A small popup will appear attached to the Gmail Search box.
  5. Paste "" (without the quotes) in the From field.
  6. Click "Create filter with this search" link (lower right corner of box). Gmail will perform a search using this criteria, you should only see the automated messages sent from Classroom.
  7. In the popup box check the box to Skip the Inbox (Archive it).
  8. Next check the box Apply the label. Click the dropdown for this option, choose New label. Enter Classroom as the label name, click Create.
  9. Click the checkbox to Also apply filter to matching conversations.
  10. Double check your settings, then click the blue Create filter button.
  11. You will see the new Classroom label/folder in the left margin. Click that to see your filtered messages.

If you want to get really fancy, it is possible to flag notifications for Private Comments differently than other messages. Add "Private comment" (without the quotes) to the subject field (step 5 above).


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Google Docs Add-on: Revision Assistant

Revision Assistant is a free add-on for Google Docs. This simple yet effective tool inputs formatted proofreading markings into a Document. These marks are tracked in the sidebar, making it a bit easier for teachers to evaluate and assess punctuation and grammar. Students will not be able to quickly click Resolve (Comments) or Accept (Suggestions) to ignore or incorporate corrections.

Marks are divided into two categories:
  • Conventions: apostrophe, capitalize, colon, comma, exclamation point, hyphen, insert, lower case, omit, period, question mark, quotation, semicolon, spelling, and spell out.
  • Structure: accuracy, comma splice, fragment, paragraph, run-on, space, and transpose.

This add-on also allows reviewers to gather existing Google Doc comments into a table at the bottom of the document. While there is not connection to the original document location, these comments become preserved and printable.

Only the teacher or editor needs to have the add-on installed to add the marks. To install this add-on:
  1. Open any Google Doc.
  2. On the menu bar, click Add-ons.
  3. Choose Get Add-ons.
  4. Search for Revision Assistant.
  5. Click the blue +Free icon and follow the steps.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Cool Tool: Flocabulary (subscription required)

Free is my favorite, but sometimes paid tools are worth the cost. For me, Flocabulary is one of those tools. If you are a current subscriber or considering a trial, here are few ideas on how to use Flocabulary in the classroom.
  • The Week in Rap? Let me walk you through the steps: Video shows how the Week In Rap is made each week. Share with students as a way to show all that goes into creating a professional media information product.
  • Grammar Videos: Watch videos on big grammar topics to reinforce important concepts. Use these videos to inspire students to create their own musical product.
  • Vocabulary Implementation: The Word Up Project teaches interdisciplinary Tier 2 words to boost reading skills across the curriculum. Engaging videos, exercises, games and quizzes provide a comprehensive resource for direct vocabulary instruction. Word Up is research-based, CCSS-aligned and proven to raise scores on state reading tests.
  • Writing Academic Rhymes: Guide your students to develop higher-order thinking skills through high-interest writing. Once students have listened to Flocabulary songs and learned information in any subject area, they can synthesize what they've learned by writing their own rhymes.
  • Worth 1000 Words: provides an outline for a simple activity to develop student media and information literacy skills. You can follow as written, or work it in to existing lessons as a way to engage students in a discussion about why certain media elements are selected (can also do this with Scholastic readers, book covers, CNN student news, textbooks, etc.). By comparing and contrasting information and media elements between stories/broadcasts can help students identify reliability, currency, authority, and bias. As they engage in academic or independent information seeking, this is the criteria students will use to evaluate their sources.

Looking for more ideas? Visit Teaching with Flocabulary to find links to teacher resources for using Flocabulary to support learning in all content areas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Google Classroom: Reviewing the Basics

Classroom is a free web-based platform available only to Google Apps for Education accounts. Classroom can be used to distribute and turn in assignments, the home base for an online class, or everything in between. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

Classroom can be used in many different ways depending on your class structure and student needs. A few suggestions:
  • Assignment portal: Distribute and collect individual student work.
  • Whole class collaboration: share a Docs or Slides file with the whole class.
  • Share documents or other class materials: share study guides, lists, worksheets, video, images, or other digitized material.
  • Homework reflection: Enter homework assignment as a discussion. When students complete the offline work, they login to Classroom and complete the assignment by sharing what was easy, challenging, or interesting about the assignment.
  • Exit ticket: Assign a discussion with a key question regarding the day’s activities. Students respond prior to leaving the classroom, or as a short homework assignment.
  • Reflect on learning: Create a discussion and invite students to privately reflect on their learning.
  • One-sentence summary of day's lesson: Ask students to write a summary sentence that answers the "who, what where, when, why, how" questions about the day's lesson.
  • Class discussion portal: Begin a class-wide discussion in the Stream.
  • Project management: Create a separate Classroom for a group project to allow students to share documents, resources, and communicate.
  • Digital writing conference: Students submit work when they are ready for review. Teacher comments on product, returns to student who incorporates suggestions and continues working. This process can be repeated as many times as necessary.
  • Writers Workshop class: Students post their writing as a comment or read-only document. Classmates provide constructive feedback through in-document comments or by commenting directly to the post.
  • Multi-School collaborative class: This feature allows students and teachers from different schools to connect, communicate, and collaborate in a way they couldn’t do before. 

Assignment or Communication Types
To post an assignment, click the plus sign in the lower right corner. A menu will pop up. You have the choice to:
  • Reuse post: Go back and reuse an assignment or post published previously, in this class or any other where you are a teacher. Before republishing you will have the opportunity to review and modify the post.
  • Create question: Post a question and have students respond privately (to teachers only) or publicly (to the whole class). Some teachers use this as exit tickets, informal pre-assessment, opinion poll, or just a way to check-in with each student. 
  • Create assignment: Attach a template or even a blank file (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Images) and distribute an individual copy to each student. You have immediate access to student files to monitor progress and provide ongoing feedback. You can also attach any file type for students to view only (PDF, Word, etc.). Link to a specific website, Google Form, or YouTube video. It is possible to add multiple files and links to a single assignment, providing students with everything they need in one post. See the embedded video below for a demonstration.
  • Create announcement: Use this to remind students about upcoming deadlines, share an interesting web-find, or just make a general announcement.

Some things to consider:
  • Now that students can turn in assignments at any time, you may want to set a specific time deadline.
  • You may create a post in one class and assign to multiple classes or cores (you must be a teacher for each class).
  • Teachers and students may comment on posts (unless teachers change student posting privileges on the Students tab). Students have one more way to reach out to classmates (and teacher) regarding any confusion they have about an assignment. This is also a great way for students to practice social media etiquette and digital citizenship.
  • It is possible to limit student posts and comments. Click the drop down on the Students tab to allow students to post and comment, allow students to comment only, or disallow students from posting or commenting.
  • When digitally conferencing with students, use the grade column as a way to count the number of times work has been returned. 
  • Minor editing to an assignment or post is possible after it has been published.
  • Number your assignments so they are easier to find and follow in your Drive (all submitted files will be saved in the Classroom folder on Drive).

Supporting Tools
  • Orange Slice (Google Docs add-on) is a digital rubric tool. The teacher version allows for rubric generation and scoring. The student version allows students to self-assess using a holistic version of a teacher supplied rubric.
  • Share to Classroom (Chrome extension_ allows teachers to automatically push out a website to students (must have Classroom open), or for students to share a website with teachers (does not automatically open).
  • Alice Keeler Open Side by Side (Google Chrome extension) will assist teachers in more quickly viewing the assignment page and student work. This extension adds the ability to right-click a link and open it side-by-side the current window.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Cool Tool: Socrative

Socrative is a cloud-based student response system. It allows teachers to create simple quizzes that students can take quickly on laptops, tablets, or even personal devices. Socrative allows teachers to ask quick questions of students, receiving responses anonymously or attached to a name (no student account needed). Teachers can download or push reports to Drive that detail student responses. Socrative can be used as a formative assessment tool, Exit Ticket, quick review, or even to collect lunch orders. Only one quiz can be live at any given time, results can be displayed immediately on the screen. Quizzes can be saved and pulled up for immediate use.

Access Points
Teachers and students can add a direct link to Socrative by adding a Chrome bookmark (click the Star in the address bar).
  • Teachers: A free account is required to create, save, and publish a quiz. Teachers must be logged in to Google with their GAFE account to be able to use "Login with Google" options. 
  • Students: Students only need a code provided by the teacher to participate in a live quiz.

Tips for Success & Suggested Uses
  • Permanently change the name of your room to something simpler and more personal than the auto-generated code.
  • Create and save quizzes to use and reuse.
  • Finish a quiz and save responses before inviting the next class to participate, otherwise your scores and percentages will be mixed.
  • Add an image (animated gifs are supported!) as the prompt or to support a question.
  • Post a quiz at the start of a lesson to quickly ascertain student understanding. 
  • At end of lesson, post class response summary and discuss new understandings.
  • Create a teacher-led multi-question quiz to cover topics in a single lesson, pause instruction to check for understanding.
  • Enter explanatory text to help students better understand why an answer is correct or incorrect.
  • Invite students to reflect on a topic or lesson (exit ticket).
  • Invite students to collaboratively practice using Space Race.
  • Create a quiz to collect lunch orders.

General Overview
The folks at Socrative created this great guide to their product.

Google Forms: Go to specific page based on answer

Over the last few weeks I have seen renewed interest in Google Forms, hence all of the posts on this great tool! Today's question related to how to create a form that sends respondents to a specific section based on their response to a question. Some potential uses for this feature in the classroom:
  • Differentiate questions based on student ability or interest.
  • Gather information on a specific topic with questions tailored to specific groups.
  • Create (or have students create) a study guide where correct answers lead to the next question, incorrect answers lead to a hint and a retry.
  • Students can create a choose-your-adventure type story.

To have the form advance to a specific section based on response:
  1. Question type must be Multiple Choice or Dropdown.
  2. Click the 3 dots in lower right corner to open additional options.
  3. Choose Go to selection based on answer.
  4. A new column will appear, allowing you to choose section or submit form.

Consider how respondents will navigate the form. You may need to choose what happens after each section. The dropdown below each section will allow you to choose what should happen after respondents complete the section, submit the form or go to a specific page.

Below is a writing prompt selector designed after a childhood Fortune Teller game. The Form is comprised of thirteen sections: five that require a decision which lead to one of eight prompts.