All Things Google

EdTech Tip of the Week

Create a class roster in seconds with my new Chrome extension, Google Classroom Class Roster. Watch the short (<1 min) video below and then go to to get started. Full instructions & bonus tips are here.

5 classroom examples to spark your creativity from John Sowash

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using paper and pencil in the classroom. Sometimes paper IS the best option!

However, we don't need to restrict our classroom activities to the limitations of paper and pencil!

Digital tools like Google Docs, Slides, Drawing, Sheets, Classroom, etc have capabilities that go BEYOND what you can do with paper and pencil!

The following 5 activities illustrate this idea of going beyond paper and pencil. I hope they will inspire your next lesson!

**BONUS: If you are interested in breaking out of the "paper-based mindset" check out the free mini course that I just finished. Click here and I'll send it to you!**

This activity was created and shared with me by elementary teacher Angie Filice. Because it was created in Google Slides, the entire class can work on this assignment together (something you can't do with paper!). This makes it easier for the teacher to monitor and manage the class (1 document vs. 30!). This assignment could easily be extended by asking students to visit a friends snowman and leave them a comment in the speaker note section.

Tip: Younger students can use the voice typing feature in Google Slides to add a description of their snowman

I created this hyperdoc last year based off of a paper assignment from Nicole Sexton. A hyperdoc provides an opportunity to link to resources and activities that are "off the paper." This example contains individual, group, and whole-class activities packaged up in one document.

Tip: Assign this activity through Google Classroom using the "make a copy for each student" option.

This is an updated version of a classic lab in which students try to predict the color combinations in a bag of M&Ms. Because this example was created in Google Sheets, data from the entire class is recorded in real-time. The graphs that show the distribution of colors updates in real-time as well. By using Google sheets in my science classroom I was able to significantly shorten my lab activities.

Tip: You can easily extend this activity for older students by asking them to compare the class results to the statistical color mix published by the Mars candy company.

Video projects are fun, but they can take FOREEEVVVEER to finish! With Adobe Spark, that doesn't have to be the case! A Spark video is more like a narrated slideshow. With limited design options, students have to focus on the content rather than the design. The video linked above was created by my kids. We completed the entire project (writing, taking photos, narrating, etc) in 90 minutes! Videos assignments like this help students develop writing and research skills and force them to make decisions on content and design.

Tip: Adobe spark is one of the tools I will teach you how to use in my upcoming course Designing Multimedia Projects!

Poster projects are out! Instead of having students create physical posters on different biomes, I had them create a website using Google Sites. I was able to use the exact same criteria as my poster project, updated with 21st century tools! This project went far better than I anticipated. You can access my instructions, rubrics, and guidelines in this folder. The ability to add images, video, and weblinks was an improvement over the paper-based version of this project.

Tip: Develop a template site and have your students make a copy of it for their project. This will save you a ton of time!

The technology you have in your classroom opens up all kinds of new assignment possibilities! How are you using it?

All month long I will be sharing different ways that you can break free from the "paper-based mindset" and use technology to design creative, classroom assignments. Head over to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to follow along!

EdTech Tip of the Week: Student Selector in the Android Google Classroom app

The Android app for Google Classroom now has a brilliant student selector. (Hopefully the iOS and web versions will have one soon. Send feedback to Google to request it by clicking on the question mark and choosing, "Send feedback." They listen!) To use the selector, go to the People tab at the bottom of the app. In the upper right-hand corner, notice the Student Selector icon of 4 squares, one of which is rotated like a diamond. Tap on the icon and a student will be randomly selected and displayed. Tap next to select another student. The app keeps track of who has already been selected and won't choose those students again until you select reset. You can even mark students as absent. Get step by step directions with pictures here.

Updates and links you Should Know About

John Sowash Resources

Here are five resources to help help your students create with Chrome!

Today is "international podcast day!"

I have been super excited about this day for quite a while...

(Actually, no, I just heard about it last week...I had no idea that there was a podcast holiday 🤷‍♂️)

If you enjoy Netflix, DVR, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc you will love podcasts!

A podcast is simply on-demand radio; listen when you want:

  • On the treadmill
  • During your commute
  • While you walk the dog or mow the lawn.

There is a wide variety of shows on every imaginable topic.

There are a LOT of podcasts for teachers. Listening to podcasts is a great way to get new ideas and insights for your classroom.

Most people listen to podcasts on their phone. You will need one of the following apps to get started:

Next, you need to subscribe to some good shows!

Here are some of my favorites (just search for them using one of the apps above)

  • Reply All (a nerdy show about the strange stuff on the internet)
  • Check This Out (a fun show on educational technology)
  • Teachers on Fire (interviews with educators who are crushing it!)
  • Cult of Pedagogy (deep, research based classroom strategies)
  • The Gary V. Audio Experience (An intense show about business and life)
  • How I Built This (the stories behind the businesses and brands you know and love)
  • Wow in the World (A science podcast for kids, but it's super funny for adults too!)

Oh, and one more, my show, The Chromebook Classroom Podcast!

Today I am sharing my conversation with digital learning coach Andrea Derrick on the awesome professional development program she created for her district in South Carolina.

You can also listen to 14 other episodes from season 1 and 2!

Season 3 is coming in October!

Happy podcast day!

  • **MORE** Google Classroom Updates - Based on your feedback Google has added a new "resource" feature in Classroom. No word on that "form quiz" option...still waiting.
  • Update your old Classes to the NEW Classroom - if you created your classes before the big August update you haven't been able to use the new features. Now you can!
  • Check this out Podcast -this is a great show hosted by Brian Briggs and Ryan O'Donnell. In their latest episode they talk about the EdTech tools the pay for and whether it's worth it.
  • Free Chromebook Web Filtering with Securly - On my podcast I interviewed the CEO of Securly to discuss how to keep kids safe on the web.
  • The YouTube video editor is BACK!! - There aren't very many free options for editing video on the web. The editor is a part of the new Creator Studio which is rolling out to account over the next few weeks.
  • Origins of the Chrome dino game - this is a super funny article by the Googlers who built that no-wifi game your students probably love!
  • New Sidebar in Google Docs! - The neat little sidebar that appeared in the new Gmail is now available in Google Docs! Now Keep, Tasks, and Calendar are all within reach!
  • Add a button to your Google Site - a new feature for Sites makes it easy to add clickable buttons to your website!
  • Check out GradeProof for Docs - this is a pretty useful add-on for Docs that checks grammar, spelling, and uses AI to improve written work. I used it on one of my docs and it was surprisingly helpful!