Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Using Google Forms with Google Classroom

Google Forms are a great tool for collecting responses from students. If you are using Google Classroom, it is super easy to add a Google Form for your students to access. However, there are some things about Google Forms that make them a little different from other assignments, such as Google Slide or Doc assignments.

Here are four tips for using Google Forms with Classroom:

Find Form Responses

You can only access student responses from the Google Form itself. You cannot see individual student responses from within Google Classroom like you can when you assign Slides or Docs.

You can see student responses by clicking on the edit button (the pencil icon in the bottom right corner) and then selecting the "Responses" tab at the top of the form. There are several ways you can organize the responses from this view. You can also create a spreadsheet and view the responses from that sheet. 

Include a "Name Question"

Always, always, always add a question that prompts students to type their names! This might sound obvious, but sometimes teachers new to Google Forms don't think about this. When you assign Slides or Docs in Google Classroom, this doesn't really matter because Classroom automatically matches up the student names with their work. However, as I mentioned above, you have to go back to the form to see student responses. If you don't add a question with a name, the only information you will get is their email address (if you have the form set up to collect email addresses). It can be super time-consuming to try to match up emails and student names later. 

You can add one simple question that asks for students' names, or you can break it into two separate questions for first name and last name. It can be helpful to separate the two names if you would like to be able to sort by last name in the spreadsheet generated by your form.

Add from Drive vs. Add a Link

You can add a Google Form to an assignment in two different ways. However, adding the form directly from your Drive has an added benefit for students. 

To add a form, open the assignment and click the "Add" button in the bottom left corner. Then, choose one of these options:
  1. Google Drive: Pull the form out of your Drive. When students complete the form and select the "Submit" button, Classroom will automatically recognize that the student has turned in that assignment. Students will not have to click anything else.
  2. Link: Paste the form link. After students complete the form and select the "Submit" button, they will still need to click the "Mark as done" button. Otherwise, it will look like they still need to turn in that assignment.

Link to Your Own Copy

It's great when we can take a Google Form that has been created and shared by another teacher and repurpose it for our own students! However, we need to remember to "Make a copy" of that form and share the link from that new form. If you share the link to a form created by another teacher, your students' responses will be sent to the original creator of the form. You will not be able to access those responses.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

5 Tips for Posting Assignments in Google Classroom

Our teachers officially start next week! We will be rolling out the digital lessons and resources that our teacher teams have been working hard to create for the past month, and all of our teachers will be learning how to use Google Classroom to organize resources and assign learning materials for their students. 

While some of our teachers are comfortable using Google Classroom with their students, many of our teachers have little to no experience using it. This got me thinking about some of the most common questions I get and things that confuse teachers about creating and posting assignments in Google Classroom. 

So, here are five tips for posting assignments in Google Classroom:

#1 - Making a copy for each student

One of the options you have when creating an assignment is to add files and change the setting to "Make a copy for each student." Students will get their own copy with their name added to the title of the file. 

One thing that sometimes confuses people is that you only have this option BEFORE you post an assignment. After you post it, you cannot go back and change the setting to "Make a copy for each student." You'll have to delete the assignment and recreate it in order to choose this setting.

#2 - Editing a linked document after posting

What happens if you link a document (such as a Google Doc), post the assignment, and then you realize you made a mistake and need to change it? Well, that depends on the setting you chose. If you chose "Students can view file" or "Students can edit file," then you can make your edits and students will see them. 

However, if you chose "Make a copy for each student," then you're going to have to delete the assignment and recreate it all over again. So, you really want to keep things in draft form until you are SURE that you are ready to post it!

#3 - Posting assignments to multiple classes

I know a lot of middle school teachers like to create multiple classrooms so that each of their "sections" has its own class. Luckily, it's super easy to post an assignment to multiple classes at the same time. All you have to do is click the button under the word "For" at the top of the menu on the right side. Then you can select all of the classes you want to assign this to.

#4 - Adding a Google Form to an assignment

You can add a Google Form to an assignment and push it out to your students. This can be useful to create activities such as surveys or quizzes. You will notice that when you add the Google Form, you don't get the same options you have when you attach other files, such as Google Docs or Slides. Google Forms collect information. Students aren't editing the actual Form like they are with other types of files. They will just fill it out and, as long as you are the creator of the Form, you will receive their responses. 

#5 - Adding a due date to an assignment

One great part about using Google Classroom is that each class automatically generates its own Google Calendar. This can be a really great tool for helping students develop time management skills. When you post assignments, you can make sure that students see these on their Calendar and they know exactly when each assignment is due. In order for an assignment to appear on the Calendar, you just need to make sure you give it a due date. 

I hope that these tips were helpful, and I'm super excited to support our teachers as they dive into Google Classroom next week!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Building Community with Google Classroom

There are many things that are unknown about the upcoming school year. However, one thing we know for sure in my district is that ALL teachers will be teaching their students online until at least Labor Day. We also know that it is going to be super important for teachers to spend some time developing relationships and building a classroom community with our students. This will be challenging, especially for teachers who are not feeling very comfortable using technology. However, with the right support, I think all teachers can find ways to do this in an online setting.

One tool that can be used to build community is Google Classroom. This is a great place to start because most of our teachers went through training with Google Classroom when schools were closed in the spring, so they have a basic understanding of how it works. 


The stream is the first page you see when you enter a Google Classroom. One thing that I always recommend is that teachers change the settings on the Stream to "Hide notifications." This will help you keep your Stream uncluttered. You can do that by clicking the gear as shown below and selecting "Hide Notifications."

Here are a few ways that you can use the stream to build community:
  • Share video messages for your students. You can use a tool such as Screencastify to create quick videos so that your students can see you and get to know you like they would do in the classroom. One idea is to create daily "morning messages" to greet students and give them an idea of what they are expected to do that day.
  • Post funny videos, pictures, or memes. One thing that's difficult about online learning is missing out on those informal, fun interactions and conversations with students. Bring some fun into your Classroom Stream. If you can entice students to log into Classroom to look at the Stream, then they're just one click away from doing the actual classwork!😁
  • Ask "community questions" to spark conversations. These can be simple questions about anything from favorite pets to least favorite foods. You can also prompt conversation with pictures. For example, you could post a picture of you wearing your favorite T-shirt and invite students to do the same. Again, this is to create a space where you and your students can get to know each other and build relationships outside of just classwork time.

Class Comments

Google Classroom gives teachers control over whether students can write posts and comments. You can change the settings by clicking on the gear as shown below and selecting the option you want.

Now, I know many teachers who usually change the settings so that students cannot comment or post. Typically they do this because they worry about students misusing the features and leaving inappropriate comments. However, I would really encourage you to allow students to use these tools. They don't have the normal spaces they would have to socialize, share, and ask each other questions. This provides that space for students in a safe environment. 

Teachers have some tools to manage student posts, such as "muting" an individual student so that they cannot post and showing deleted items. (Click here to learn how to use these settings.You can also use this as a way to teach lessons on Digital Citizenship and explain what kind of posts and comments are appropriate in this space. 

Here are a few ideas for using the class comments to build community:
  • Participating in class discussions. These can be related to class content or these can be non-academic, informal discussions like those mentioned in the previous section.
  • Sharing classwork for peer review. Students can post links to their work and get peer feedback before they turn it in for a grade.
  • Asking/answering questions about assignments. If students are confused about directions, they can post a question in the class comments. Other students can answer and help clarify. 


In the Classwork tab, you have the option to create different types of content. One option you have is to create a "Question." 

You can type in a question that students will answer, and you can adjust the settings so that students can reply to each other. You can also decide if you want the question to be short answer or multiple-choice.

Here are some ways you can use this to build community:
  • Create discussion boards. You can pose a question and invite students to respond. Once the first round of responses is done, then you can encourage students to read and reply to each other.
  • Survey students. You can ask questions to find out more about students, such as favorite movies, pet preferences, or current mood and emotional state.
  • Spark debates. You can ask questions, post statements, or even use images and videos to have students take a side and defend their opinions.

Collaborative Assignments

One of my FAVORITE ways to use Google Classroom to build community is to push out collaborative assignments. Most of the Google Apps work really well for this type of activity. You do need to be proactive about setting expectations for how students should interact in a digital space and how they can respect the work of others. However, this is a really great way to incorporate Digital Citizenship lessons and help students learn how to collaborate productively in a safe digital space. 

Remember that in order to have students collaborate in one of the tools listed below, you need to change the setting of the attached file to "Students can edit file."

Here are some ideas for collaborative activities:
  • Google Slides: This is my go-to Google tool for collaboration! The slide decks offer each student a distinct space to work, but it also allows other students to see and comment on each other's work.
  • Google Jamboard: This is a newer tool, but it has so many possibilities! It's a great way to have students do collaborative brainstorming. 
  • Google Docs: This is a really great tool to set up smaller breakout groups. You can create a sign-up list where students can choose a group (or you can pre-assign). You can then add links to digital spaces where students will work in smaller groups or even links to Google Meet sessions where students can meet to have small group discussions. Here is an example. 

What are some ways that you use Google Classroom to build community with students? I would love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Podcasts & Pedometers PD!

In a previous post, I wrote about how our district was trying "choice sessions" for our monthly district-wide PD days. One of the choice sessions we offered was a "Podcast & Pedometers" session. 

I LOVE listening to podcasts, and I think they are a great way to learn and really push yourself to think deeper, and sometimes differently, about topics that interest you. One of the first podcasts that I started listening to regularly was the Google Teacher (Tribe) Podcast with Matt Miller and Kasey Bell. One of the best things about that podcast was that I always learned something new, and sometimes I even learned about an idea that I could try that same day in class. I thought it would be awesome if our teachers could learn more about a topic related to education, and then they could share out their learning with each other. 

While I have seen many Twitter posts about districts trying out this type of PD, I got most of the ideas for ours from a blog post written by Merideth Akers (click here to read). I created a Google Site page to house all of the information and resources for this session. The video below was embedded at the top of the page in order to be a guide and to walk teachers through the steps of this session.

Podcast Choice Board

One of the resources on the page was a Podcast Choice Board created by Meredith Akers. I modified it a little bit in order to include different podcasts and episodes. You can click here to make a copy

Teachers could choose any podcast or episode they wanted, even if it wasn't on the choice board. The only real requirement was that their choice had to be something that would benefit their students, staff, or the school as a whole.

Learning Reflection

In order to get PD credit for this session, they had to complete a Learning Reflection that answered the following four questions:
  1. Which podcast did I listen to?
  2. Why did I choose this podcast?
  3. What were my 5 key takeaways?
  4. How will I use what I have learned?

The Learning Reflection was a Google Slide presentation. Below is an example of one of the templates they could choose to use. (I found this design on the Slides Mania website.) You can make a copy by clicking here

I also created a video to walk them through the four questions. 

Submitting the Reflection

The final step was for teachers to submit their learning reflections in a Google Form embedded on the webpage. Below the form, I embedded the spreadsheet generated by the form so that anyone in the session could access the links and read any of the reflections. I thought this was a good way for teachers to learn more about what different people are interested in, and it could also be a jumping-off point for collaboration if several teachers chose to learn about the same topic. You can view the form by clicking here

I really enjoyed reading the learning reflections, and it was awesome to learn more about each teacher's passions and challenges in the classroom! Have you ever tried using podcasts in a PD session? I would love to hear about it?

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Click-and-Drag Activities with Flippity Manipulatives

Flippity is a free website that has a wide variety of Google Sheet templates which you can use to create fun classroom activities, such as flashcards, scavenger hunts, and quiz shows. As a classroom teacher, I loved using the Random NamePicker tool because I could easily create random groups of students for classroom activities. Each activity includes a demo, instructions, and a free template. 

I recently tried a new activity on the website called Flippity Manipulatives. This template allows you to use a Google sheet to create a set of click-and-drag objects. It's pretty easy to set up, and once I started experimenting with it, I started thinking of so many different ways that teachers could use it in the classroom!

Here is a quick video I made to introduce teachers to the basics of how to get started:

Example Activities

I made a few example activities to demonstrate how this tool could be used in different content areas:

Classroom Use

There are many different ways teachers could use these activities in the classroom. Here are a few ideas:

  • Station Activity
  • Whole Group Practice
  • Partner Activity
  • "Engagement" activity at the start of a lesson
  • Pre-Assessment
  • Review
  • Student-created sort

Teachers are able to...

  • Create sorts with words, phrases, images, and/or videos
  • Add custom backgrounds, as well as remove any default background options
  • Add color to words and phrases
  • Reuse an activity as many times as they want to

Students are able to...

  • Work on an activity at the same time without affecting each other
  • "Reset" the activity when done, which is helpful if they are sharing computers
  • Take a screenshot of a completed activity and turn it into Google Classroom

I am looking forward to working with teachers and discovering all the different ways they can integrate this tool to support student learning!