Monday, August 11, 2014

Classroom is Coming!

Paul Revere - Wikipedia
Classroom is coming, Classroom is coming, Classroom is coming!
I am getting set to ride around my district like Paul Revere announcing the arrival of Google Classroom

If you aren't too familiar with Google Classroom, it is Google's venture into a Learning Management System/Content Management System, an LMS or CMS for short. I got an early preview over the summer and I have been showing it off to anyone who will listen, and even some who didn't want to hear about it. For some reason the awesomeness of Google Classroom was lost on my six year old, but eventually she will come around. 

For those teachers I have shown it too, the constant question is when does Classroom come to me? I finally have an answer. It will be here this week! Let's all throw our hands in the air and celebrate like Kermit the Frog! 

from The Guardian

I am not 100% sure when it will be out for everyone... I have a feeling that Google will be releasing it like a thief in the night... You won't know when it will appear. That being said, there are a few things I wanted to share with you before you get your access. 

Classroom Important Things to Know

  1. You can easily manage a contact list of students. 
  2. Administrators can easily deploy documentation to teachers. 
  3. Student's can easily turn in assignments within their Google Drive. 
  4. It will clean up your Google Drive. 
  5. You can leverage the power of Google Forms easily to grade and deliver quizzes. 
Managing a Contact List of Students
When your Classroom access is enabled you can navigate to and create your class. There is a "+" button at the top of the screen that will allow you to create your class. You can make as many as you want and enable students to join. When you click on the "+" sign at the top of the page you will get an option to create or join a class. When students join, it is an easy process to select their names and send them an email. Also, within the Classroom you have an easy to access list of all of your students! Once students get enrolled, click on the students tab and all your hopes and dreams can come true! 

Administrators Can Deploy Documentation to Teachers
Teachers can do this for students as well, but I thought it would be good to throw the administrators of a school a little tech bone... This is by far my favorite feature of Classroom. Let's pretend I am a school level admin and I have a specific format I want my lesson plans done in. I can now go into my Google Drive, create a template, and using Google Classroom I can deploy that document out to everyone. All I have to do is create a class, have teachers enroll as students, create the assignment for them, and then they will have a copy within their Google Drive. There is also a handy Turn In button in the top of the Google Doc you assign to them. This will enable you to make sure things get done on time! 

The Turn In Button
I mentioned this in the previous section, but the upper right hand corner just got cooler. We've had the big, beautiful, share button for some time now, but Google is cranking up the heat with the Turn In button. When a teacher sets an assignment in Classroom it automagically(yes, I spelled that correctly) creates a file in the Drive account of each student. The student can access the assignment there, follow instructions, and then click Turn In when finished. Boom goes the dynamite! 

The Turn In Button live, in nature. 

Google Drive Cleanup

When a student is placed into a Google Classroom they are automagically(I will make this a word) given a file corresponding with Classroom that is placed inside of their Google Drive. When a teacher creates an assignment it goes in that file. There will also be a corresponding file in the Drive of each teacher. No more wondering where shared files went. 

Forms and Flubaroo
Now, this has been around for a while, but I really think Google Classroom will make this process easier. Teachers are presently able to go into Google Forms and create self-grading quizzes using the Flubaroo add-on. It really is a great tool. I think the key thing here for teachers is the ability to easily create class based groups and share forms with an entire class with one click. Instead of attaching from Google Drive when creating an assignment, insert a link to the Google Form. 

I have spoken to a Googler recently and one thing I asked for was easier integration with Google Forms and Classroom. I think that is the one thing missing from Classroom at this early stage. 

With a little bit of work on the front end, you can save a great amount of time on the back end! 

So all in all, I am very excited about Google Classroom! I think it simplifies many processes with working with students in Google Drive. That said, I do see a few weaknesses in the early stages. Like I said, I will be happy when they bring over the ability to embed forms into Google Classroom. Also, I would like the ability to assign things to groups instead of just single students. I think that would be great. 

So those are some initial thoughts on Google Classroom. Let me know what you think about it all. I'd love to have some dialogue! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Google Drive Add-Ons

Google Drive Add-Ons

I am so excited about this that I want to shout from the roof tops! The problem is that I would get in trouble for that so I have decided to shout from a blog! Watch out for the all caps! GOOGLE DRIVE NOW HAS THIRD PARTY ADD-ONS! 

I know you are asking, "What does this mean, and why should I care?" Well I am glad to have your question. For a full explanation of what this means see Rachel King's, @RachelKing on the twitter, has a great article on the add-ons by clicking here.  

Also, here is a great introduction video from Google: 

Why am I so excited about this? I just downloaded the EasyBib add-on and I am already blown away! The research within Drive tool is great, but I think this changes the game completely. The citations I found seem flawless, and it even double spaces the citation as well as adding a reference page. I can't wait to get in there and play with some more of the add-ons!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Make good use of snow day...

It seems to me like we have only been to school for about three days since Christmas vacation. Between the three iterations of Snow Jam and ice storms, we have been hit harder this year than in years past.

With all the days of school we have missed, what are some ways that you as teachers, parents, and students can make the most of the days and keep the learning going? If you have an Internet connection, then the world is your oyster. Here are a few suggestions if you are looking to keep learning going. 

Standardized testing (CRCT/Graduation Test) is right around the corner. Seriously, April will be here before we know it. If you would like to review content that will be on the test, the Georgia Department of Education has a great resource for students to practice. Simply go to the Georgia OAS Site and login to begin reviewing. You can choose from any core subject and begin reviewing the content. This is great drill and practice that students would be doing with teachers if they were in school. 

Username and Passwords for each grade level 
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Khan Academy doesn't directly late to Floyd County Schools curriculum, but there are SO MANY resources in here. There are videos, tutorials, and assessments available.  Create an account and explore what can happen. 
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If you want to learn from the best, with the best, then this is the place for you. Take a class on physics from the University of Virginia, a course on wellness from University of Florida, or explore what Harvard has to offer. I would recommend this site to any excited High School student or parents. This could be something great to do together. This will take more than a snow day to complete, but it is worth your time! 

Take some time over the next few days to explore the options available to you. Just make a decision to never stop learning.