Google Classroom For All

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.35.50 PMOh. My. Goodness! I am so giddy, I can hardly contain myself. Google Classroom is open to everyone. Since Google rolled out Classroom (beta) in the summer of 2014, it has only been available to G Suite users (organizations): this included schools and non-profit organizations. Now, it is available on personal accounts.

One of the limitations of having it available to G Suite users was that you could only join a classroom if you had an account within the organization. Now that everyone has it, we can join each others’ classrooms. So why would a person want to create a classroom? Well, last summer a friend wanted to have book discussions and tried using another product. It just didn’t work very well. However, since Google Classroom has many features that educators and non-educators alike are familiar with, Classroom lends itself easily to book clubs. In addition, I was thinking of starting ‘how to’ tutorials that were more personalized. This will accomplish the task.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 6.36.16 PMSeriously, I’m so excited! Check it out. Go to Classroom.Google.com While you cannot currently set up or join a classroom, you can request early access. For more information on what Google Classroom can do check out my video series.

Chrome: Find Bar

One of my favorite features to show students is Control + f  or f3 on Windows, Linux, and Chromebooks, or Command +f on Macs. This will open up the ‘Find Bar’ for that page. What is Find Bar? Well, it’s a handy feature to narrow your field when looking for specific text. Have you ever done a search and found a great website, but there was so much text it took a while to find the exact information you needed? The Find Bar solves that problem for you!

Here I am on Google’s Wikipedia page. There is a lot of text on the page, but I only want to find out about “BackRub”, which I was told was the original name of Google. I could go to the Contents section, find History (which would be the most logical place for it to be), or I could use the Find Bar and locate Back Rub instantly.

Open up Find Bar: Control + f (Windows) or Command + f (Mac). A small bar appears in the upper right corner.

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Type in the desired text. In this case, I’ll type BackRub and hit the enter key. There are 2 places on the page where BackRub is written.

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I can either click on the arrows to the right of the Find Bar or use Control + g (Windows) or Command + g (Mac) to navigate to the next location of the text. The orange highlight denotes the current match while a yellow highlight denotes previous or an upcoming match.

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It’s pretty slick and so much more efficient. Give it a try!

Searching Google Drive

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been using Google for a while. This means that I have A LOT of items in my drive. For the most part, things are organized. However, there are those times when I can’t find what I want. I have somehow organized it in a ‘unique’ way: some way that made sense to my crazy brain that day. Thankfully, Google has my back.

On occasion, typing in the name of the document, spreadsheet, etc. yields me a quick search. Make sure you are in Google Drive to start your search:

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However, more often than not I need to do an advanced search. At times, I know who shared the item with me. Other times, I know I am the owner, and sometimes I’m looking for a particular type of item (doc, draw, etc). In these cases, I click on the small down arrow to the right in the search bar.

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This brings up a wonderful array of options:

Search by ‘Type’

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Search by ‘Date Modified’

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I can also search by ‘Item Name’, or if I can’t remember the name and I know it has a specific word or phrase in it, I can search by that too in ‘Has the Words’.  Finally, I can search ‘Shared with’ if I know who I shared it with.

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I love the search by owner feature. Often times, I can remember the person who shared it with me – secretary, principal, or fellow 5th-grade teacher.

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Lastly, the ‘Located in’ search has come in handy. I often ‘star’ my original items or important ones.

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Hope this helps you find what you’re looking for!

Point of View

In Social Studies, my 5th graders have been learning about the causes of the American Revolution. Recently, they were researching ‘The Boston Massacre’. Being that we are in the US, the texts that we have, have a colonist/American point of view. This lead to; what was the British take on it? This lead us to a Google Search. However, we didn’t want to view anything that was written in the US, we wanted information from the UK. So how did we find out the UK point of view?

We navigated to a new tab, which brought up Google. While being logged in, we typed our query ‘Boston Massacre’. Now to filter our results for information from the UK. Located on the upper right side is a ‘gear’. Choosing it brings up a drop down menu. From this, click on ‘Advanced search’.

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This sends us to a new page with several search filters. For our Boston Massacre example, we located ‘region’. This allowed us to narrow the region in which the information was published. We chose United Kingdom (this lead to a side conversation about ‘What is the United Kingdom?’). Then clicked the blue Advanced Search button on the lower right side.

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This brought up the search results with the filter in place. All results were from the UK.

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This, of course, led to an interesting discussion on why the accounts that we had been reading about and the accounts according to the UK were different.It was a great opportunity for my students to experience different points of view, why they exist, practice critical thinking skills, and begin to learn to question what really happened.

Save A Playlist in YouTube

There have been times that I have come across a playlist or two that I wanted to save. Recently, there was a yoga playlist that I wanted to save so that I could quickly access it. This is how to do that:

Navigate to YouTube (this requires that you have a YouTube channel) and locate the desired Playlist. Click on it:

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This will bring you to the first video in the playlist. In the top right corner, you will see a ‘+’ sign. This allows you to save the playlist on your channel. Once you select the + it will change to a checkmark (√).

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Now when I navigate back to my playlists (on my channel), I see two categories. The first are playlists that I have created and the second are my Saved Playlists, including my newest one.

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Google Classroom – Adding Materials

One feature that I really like in Google Classroom is the ability to add materials. My class is currently working on a project, with a digital text. I want them to be able to access the text at any point.

After logging into Google Classroom, I navigate to the classroom where I’d like to add materials. From the Stream page, I click on About.

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Now that I am on the ‘About’ page, I can add the desired materials. The first box on the page contains Course Information. The second box allows you to ‘Add Materials’.

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Simply by clicking on ‘Add materials’, the box changes to give you choices.

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You’ll notice that after adding a title to your materials, you have the option to add a file from your computer, Google Drive, YouTube, or a link. You have the ability to add as many as needed.

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The three dots in the right corner allow you to edit or delete the materials.

This feature is a great way to keep all important materials in one place. In Writing, you can house all your rubrics. Math can house tutorials. The possibilities are endless, syllabus, study guides, videos, whatever you can think of!

Playlists in YouTube

I’m a huge fan of YouTube, but then again who isn’t? One of my favorite features is the ability to create Playlists. These are a collection of videos of your choice. For example, I have a playlist for grammar to help students who are struggling with various grammar issues.

In YouTube, on the left side is my menu. The second section shows my ‘Library’ (aka playlists). creating them is SUPER easy!

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When I find a video I like, I add it to (or create a new) playlist. The ‘Add to’ choice appears just below the video.

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If you are creating a new playlist, you will have the option to have it ‘Public’ (open for anyone to find), ‘Unlisted’ (other can view if they have the link), or ‘Private’ (must be shared directly with others).

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After you name your playlist, select ‘Create’. Viola! You now have started your playlist collection

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