Exploring Google Classroom

Once you create your classroom (which is as simple as giving it a name), students log in by going to https://classroom.google.com. If you are a Google Apps for Education district, the students will have to log in using their GAFE account information. As a teacher, you can either manually add students into your classroom or provide them with a code that will enable them to register into your classroom.

You have the option of sharing either an announcement or an assignment with students. The announcement options are as follows:

Here are the options available to create assignments to share with students:

You can view how many of your students have submitted their work and how many are outstanding. You can include a due date and time for each assignment you create.

Teachers are able to provide students with grades based on assignments submitted. There is also the option of “sending a note” to students to remind them to complete their work. I am assuming the note will be sent as an email to the student.

I noticed that as I created and shared assignments with the group, they were automatically shared as a “view only” doc with the whole class. I presume I can go into the sharing setting of the doc and change to “edit” or “comment” as needed. I also noticed in my Google Drive that a folder is automatically created with the title of my class. Every assignment that I have posted in the Classroom page is placed in this particular folder. Each assignment that I submitted has its own folder too and the best part is that, I didn’t have to organize this at all. Now I’m thinking, who needs Doctopus or gClassFolders anymore?

My Thoughts thus far: 
  • You have to log out of all your other Gmail accounts and only log in with the one you used to sign up for Google Classroom 
  • You cannot share YouTube or Docs from any other account, just the one you used to sign up for Google Classroom 
  • easy access to Classroom on a Mobile device is needed
  • Need a record of student activities to share with parents and to use for reporting period as part of Learning Skills assessment / comments.
  • Need the option for two or more teachers to have ownership of one classroom
  • Need to be able to direct a conversation to a particular student. For example, on Twitter I can use the @ sign and on Google + I can use the + sign but nothing seems to be in place in Google Classroom (yet).
For teachers new to technology and already using Google Apps for Education, this is a great start. 

Additional Information on Google Classroom:
Other Classroom Managment platforms to use:

GoogleDrive as Storage Space

Did you know your Google Drive is also a really good storage / backup space?

Here are instructions needed to upload all files, images, and videos you may have to your Google Drive.

Step 1:
Step 2: 

Step 3:  I personally suggest uploading "files" instead of folders. For some reason, at times, not all files in folders get uploaded, specially if you have an unstable internet connection.

When you click on files, you can hold down the "Shift" button + down arrow key on your keyboard to select multiple files (50 or more at a time) to be uploaded.

Please feel free to leave comments if you have additional suggestions or any questions. 

Assessment with Google Forms

Here is a step by step video instruction I created that will demonstrate how you can set up a rubric that can be used observational assessment with any grade of students in any subject you may be teaching. 

The best part of this Google Forms assessment is that you can access it on any device and anytime. 

Let me know what you think and share how you are harnessing the power of Google Apps for Education in your district. 

Assessment with Google Forms Video

Capturing Student Learning K-12

Documenting student learning is a major aspect of the Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) program. Even though the focus of this instruction is FDK, the same method can be applied to create portfolio for students in any grade level and subject. 

There are many tools available to support teachers in capturing student learning. However, due to privacy issues, teachers need to be careful of the tool they have decided to use. As always, open communication with parents and school administrator is key.

Many of the school board in Ontario have started to use Google Apps for Education which makes it a great FREE tool to use.

To harness the power of Google Apps any device can be used (e.g. phone, any tablet, iPads, etc). However, you must download the following free apps for your device.

Apps Needed:

Once downloaded, click on Google Drive to sign into your Google Apps for Education account.

Here are the steps to follow to capture learning in your classroom: 

Click on "+" sign to create folders for each student in your class.

               On tablet                                       

This can also be done on your computer by clicking on the following: 
On your computer you will click on "drive" and select "folder". Once you click on "folder" a   window will open where you can input student's name. 

On your tablet, click on the student "folder" you have created. 

This is also a great way for you to organize your student's work in any grade level or use to create an ePortfolio for each student.

What is your collaboration style?

As educators, we strive to create an environment where our students can work collaboratively. This got me thinking ... how often do we really practice what we preach. I think in many cases collaboration among educators is still a working progress. However, thanks to social media tools like Twitter this is starting to shift. In my own experience, I have to say Twitter taught me to be better at sharing and collaborating with others. 

So, what is your collaboration style?

Source: Creative Commons 

Health Lesson for all Ages

It's one thing to teach and discuss healthy eating with kids, but it's more powerful when kids can see a visual representation of what is being discussed / taught. And it's even more powerful when they have to create their own visual representation.

Here is an example:

Source: http://blog.ideatransplant.com/2012/04/sugary-drinks.html By: Carolyn McDowell

  • Create the following or share the image with the students
  • Engage class in a discussion of "What do you see?" and "what does it mean"
  • Record student thinking
  • Discuss "Why is this important?"
  • In groups, have students create a similar model based on an unhealthy eating practice (depending on age group, you may have to brainstorm some examples).  
  • After, have each group engage class in discussion based on their particular visual model. 
It is very powerful to see what the students come up with :)

Also, read the following blog post by @dougpete about our health lesson.

The "Dream" Platform

For the past few years I have been using a variety of online educational tools with my students. However, no matter what tool I use, Moodle, Edmodo, Desire2Learn .. something is always lacking in the platform.

I started to think, what is is that I need as an educator? What do other educators need? How often are these questions asked of classroom teachers before these platforms are developed? Do the developers have an education-background? Do they really understand the need of the classroom teacher and the students?

To find the answer to my questions. I decided to conduct a survey. Please take some time and tell me what do you (as an educator) need from an online tool.

Thank you in advance.

The Modern Classroom

I can't get over how busy the Apple store seems to be all the time, everyday. The store seems like an adult wonderland and no matter what your tech-level may be, you can always find something "cool" and feel like you are part of something big. 

This got me thinking ... why can't we set up our classrooms like an Apple Store?  Huge tables, stools, tons of collaboration going on.  To me it seems like the perfect learning environment.  Isn't the Genius bar really the "guided instruction"? Can you imagine the student engagement? Can you imagine the rich-learning that would go on? 


The Friends

Linux (Ubuntu), WindowsOS, iOS

Providing students with the option of choosing the operating system (or tool) that will support them best in their learning is becoming more important than ever before. It is no longer important to know how to use a particular system or tool, it is more important to know why it works and how it works. Learning to code and being exposed to variety of systems are essential in the era of Web 3.0. It is exciting to learn alongside of students and be witness to our python codes coming alive, creating games and Android apps. 

Our journey continues... 

Problem Solved!

Last week my fridge started making strange sounds and stopped working. My handy man has always been either my father, friends or significant other. And for some reason, everyone seemed to be occupied. There I was, trying to figure out what to do. I picked up my phone and called the 1-888 number found on side of the fridge. I explained the issue to the operator and she indicated that a technician had to be sent to assess the problem. The price for this assessment (not even repair) quoted was just outrageous. I couldn't even imagine how much actual repair and labour would cost. I started to think back to what I always tell my students.... problem solve.  

In my class we work with many new and innovative online tools that may not be familiar to us. We learn how to use these tools by watching YouTube "how-to" videos or reading instructions online. I decided to give this a try. With my laptop on my kitchen counter, I turned to YouTube. Just like magic, there is was, an instructional video on how to fix my fridge. After watching it a few times, I got to work and solved the problem - a major proud moment indeed :) 

Flash forwards a week later.....my Grade 7 class and I had an in-depth math inquiry question that generated amazing discussion and further questions (mostly engineering related). I had no idea how to answer the questions. Problem Solve. Why not talk to an engineer to get the best answers possible? We Skyped my cousin in B.C. In an instant, the students had answers and we had the real-world professional right in our classroom with just a click.  

These incidents got me thinking about the importance of problem solving. As educators, we need to really empower our students with skills needed to be able to solve obstacles they may face. Often times we are too concerned about covering every single aspect of the curriculum and teaching our students to achieve high scores on standardized tests. We live in a very exciting and informative world. We as educators really need to focus on providing our students with skills needed to know and be able to access answers needed.