Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Using Google Classroom for Staff Communications

image from classroom.google.com
Earlier today I was asked by an administrator:
"Is there a way to use Google Classroom for staff communications?"
My answer: "yes, Yes, YES!!!"

Google Classroom is a GREAT tool to create a private school environment to share documents, ideas, and announcements with staff!

UPDATE: Google Classroom will be updating this summer. I'm told that if you create a Google Classroom environment prior to the rollout of the update you'll have to use the old version all year long. However, you can sign up to be a beta tester and gain early access to the new features. It takes about a week for approval, but it's worth it! The beta-test program has ended.

Ideas for using Classroom with staff

Here are some ideas you might consider:

  1. Enrolling Staff: Set up a Google Classroom environment and either enter all of the names of your staff, or email them the class code to self-enroll
    1. Create separate Classroom "classes" for each grade level, team or department, then post items to multiple "classes" ...OR... 
    2. Create a single Classroom "class" for the school, and post items to specific "students" if needed
  2. Add Assistants as Co-Teachers so they can post, too. This is a nice way to demonstrate shared leadership in larger schools. 
  3. Remember that each time you create a Classroom environment you also create 
    1. a shared Google Drive folder that holds all documents you post, 
    2. a shared Google Calendar that appears for all of your "students"
    3. an email every time you post something to the Stream
    4. a backchannel that allows your "students" to post comments and reply to others who comment
    5. an easy way to email staff from the Students page
  4. Use the About page to post documents that teachers will need to refer to all year long (Think permission slips, handbooks, etc.)
    1. UPDATE: The About page changed with the summer update (after this post was originally published). HOWEVER, we can now post RESOURCES related to any TOPIC on the Classwork page! This would be a great place for school forms, documents, etc.! 
  5. Use an Announcement to post weekly staff bulletins as a Google Doc - or even a YouTube video!  
    1. Staff will then receive an email with a link each time you post
    2. You can schedule the announcement to appear at a regular time, and just update the Google Doc as needed throughout the week
  6. Use an Assignment to distribute materials that staff must address
    1. This is a great way to flip your staff meetings! 
    2. You can instruct staff to "Turn In" an assignment by a due date you set as evidence of having viewed/read material prior to a meeting
  7. Use the Create Question feature to get quick feedback from staff
  8. Create different Topics for posts to allow for quick access to various posts, like...
    1. Weekly Bulletin
    2. Policy/Procedure
    3. Staff Meeting
    4. School Improvement Plan
    5. Climate & Culture
    6. ... etc... each school is different, so make topics to reflect your needs!


The amazing Alice Keeler has an extensive list of Google Classroom ideas, and has written a book that I highly recommend: 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom.

Here's a great blog post entitled "Meet Your Staff Where They Are: Streamlining with Google Classroom" that looks at some other aspects of this idea.

Here's a great YouTube Video showing how a school principal in Kentucky implemented the concept. (screencast starts at about the 19 min 30 sec point)

Thursday, July 19, 2018


Shift-Z is one of my favorite keyboard Shortcuts!

Shift-Z allows you to save almost any file into multiple folders in Google Drive.  Check out the video walkthrough, below.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

More Details On Google Classroom Updates

image clipped from classroom.google.com
Recently I blogged about upcoming changes to Google Classroom in August.

A Deeper Dive

John Sowash, author of The Chromebook Classroom and blogger at The Electric Educator,has posted a YouTube video and blog post that goes into greater detail about these upcoming changes. Using screenshots and narration, this video takes a deeper dive into the new features and how each could impact the way you use Google Classroom with your instructional activities.

Just a quick note

The previous video noted that, when the updates do apply, they will not change the way existing Classroom environments look or behave. So, if you want to utilize the new features, wait to create & set up your Google Classroom sites until Google rolls out the update.


Video not displaying correctly? Watch on YouTube

See the Official Google Announcement

Monday, July 16, 2018

Create Your Google Classroom Strategy with John Sowash

Google Classroom clip
image from classroom.google.com
Google Classroom is a great tool to help teachers organize & manage digitally-enhanced classrooms. John Sowash, blogger at The Electric Educator and author of The Chromebook Classroom, offers some great tips for you to consider when organizing your online learning environment.
  • Create a new class every year or semester when your roster changes
  • Create a separate section for each period 
  • Create a unique environment for each subject (elementary) OR use topics to organize them
  • Break up year-long courses into semesters
  • Avoid reusing courses - you can reuse content from old, archived courses
  • Include grade, year, period, etc., in course title to help organize your Drive folders 
One item I learned from this: If you don't yet have access to the new Google Classroom tools, wait until you do or your class will have to go through the whole semester using the old Classroom interface, and you'll miss out on a lot of the new features. I would encourage you to follow John's advice and wait until these new features become more widely available.
Watch & listen to all of John's tips in the video below: 

Video not displaying correctly? Watch on YouTube at https://youtu.be/fFLMM9MP0Zc 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

New Google Sites Conversion Tool

Image from pixabay.com

The New Google Sites is supremely easy to use to create your own classroom website. But what if you already have a website using the older Google Sites tools? These will be deprecated later this year, but in the meantime, it is super easy to convert your old Google Sites to a New Google Sites! Just check out the video tutorial below from Richard Byrne of Free Tech For Teachers

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Big Changes for Google Classroom

Image from pixabay.com
LOTS of changes are coming that will make Google Classroom even more helpful for managing your tech-enabled classroom! Google is moving away from just document management and is starting to look even more like a full-on Learning Management System.
  • Stream page: Expand/Collapse items to see more assignments, announcements, etc.
  • Classwork page: Re-order items more easily and group into topics or units
  • People page: View & edit all Teachers/Co-Teachers, Students, and Parents/Guardians on a single page
  • Settings: Settings have all been consolidated on a single page (as it should be)
  • CREATE LOCKED QUIZZES! Finally, teachers can create a quiz/assignment directly in classroom and lock down the browser so students can't Google your answers in another tab!

These are supposed to become available to us before school starts. Will let you know as soon as these are enabled for us!

Read more: Upcoming Changes to Google Classroom - Google Support

Friday, July 13, 2018

Suicide: The Ripple Effect

image from pixabay.com
Bridgeway is hosting a special screening of the new inspirational documentary Suicide:The Ripple Effect. This event is scheduled for Tuesday August 14, 2018 at 6:30PM at the Orpheum Theatre.

Tickets can be purchased at Bridgeway in Galesburg or at the Orpheum Theatre for $5. All proceeds from this event will directly benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk on September 15, 2018.

The film chronicles the story of Kevin Hines, who at age 19 attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. Since then Kevin has been on a mission to use his story to help others find recovery and stay alive, and has become the world’s most prominent suicide prevention speaker and advocate. The film also features some of the world’s leading suicide prevention experts and shines light on people who are using personal experiences with suicide to help others find the hope they need to stay alive.

Thanks go out to Sarah Bates for sharing this information with us.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Mandated PD & EdLeaders Network

image clipped from edleadersnetwork.org
EdLeaders Network is up and running! You can log in at any time to get a head start toward satisfying our Mandated PD requirements. New staff are being loaded now and should be ready to go within a week or so.

Last year we had a lot of catching up to do. This year we are largely in-compliance, so the load should be significantly less for each of us to complete - around 6 or 7 instead of all 14 last year!

I have submitted a proposal for the scope and sequence of this to school and district administrators. I'll be happy to share the entire 2-year plan with you as soon as it is approved.

Please Note: There are programs of courses in EdLeaders Network called "IL Annual Mandated Training," and "IL Biannual Mandated Training." These contain more courses than you actually need to complete, according to ROE 33's listing. Make sure that you do the courses marked "2018-2019" though!

Getting Started with ELN 

ELN Learner Tutorial 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Learn Promethean Videos

Image clipped from YouTube
Recently our District began adopting Promethean interactive display panels. As these began to appear more frequently throughout our schools, many teachers asked where they could find just-in-time resources to help them get used to this new hardware and incorporate it into classroom activities.

This summer, Promethean has published several series of brief videos - around a minute long, more or less - explaining how to use various components and features of their products. These will be extremely helpful for those who are just getting started with this technology, and a nice reminder for those who are already using it but need a little refresher after the summertime. 

To find the videos, just visit YouTube and search for the Promethean Video channel. There are 5 main playlists to visit: 
These links are also posted in the "How Do I" section of my website.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

New Podcast & Blog Format

Hi Everyone! Welcome back!

Audio: S2E1Intro
Video: S2E1Intro

I am back from some time away to catch up on some projects, spending time with family, and just resting and relaxing. Now I'm ready to dive back into blogging & podcasting fpr you with a new podcast format and new blogging techniques.

The new podcast format will be a once-a-week format, sharing some interesting facts, a couple of professional learning tips to help you improve your practice and a couple of technology tool tips to help help you integrate technology into your instructional practices more effectively. I'll also include a look ahead at upcoming events that might interest educators as well.

On the blogging front, I'll be adding short tips in the form of screencasts published to YouTube and embedded into individual blog posts. I'll also post the entire podcast episode each week so you can listen along, too.

Many thanks for returning listeners and readers, and a hearty welcome to anyone new to my podcast and blog. I'll do my best to find something to interest you each week!


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