Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Indestructible Hyperdoc

What's a Hyperdoc?

I've written several posts on hyperdocs varying in content and purpose. In a nutshell, the purpose of a hyperdoc is merely to provide learning space. It might be an organized collaborative space or a document chock full of links, graphics, and resources to guide a learning experience. Either way, the real advantage of a hyperdoc is to buy the teacher time to collaborate with students and personalize learning. Students work through learning experiences as the teacher meets with individuals or small groups. This is much like the reader's workshop model I utilized in my classroom. Students worked in small groups on a text, independently on their own text, or were writing about their reading through a notebook or our class blog. In the meantime, I was conferencing and meeting students in the trenches of their work. In the end, the teacher will have a collection of responses that give a wealth of information about the students' discussions or level of knowledge on the topic that adds to the conferences the teacher held during class. In the end, the student may have opportunities to further explore and expand their understanding on the specific content taught or branch off into other related skills.

So enough about hyperdocs in general, how do you make one indestructible? For this project, you'll need a Chrome tab for Google Slides and one for Google Drawings. You're going to make a custom background for your Google Slides hyperdoc.

The Indestructible Hyperdoc

I've used Google Drawings for custom backgrounds in Google Slides in the past. I like the idea of having my own unique Google Slides template according to my liking. Honestly, it wasn't until I attended the EdTech in the Bend conference that I saw it being used to set a template for a hyperdoc. I attended a session by Andy Wallace about non-traditional assessment. Basically, it was about using Google Slides as a collaborative experience for students to respond creatively. What I hadn't thought of before was creating the directions for each slide in the background so that it could not be manipulated. A common question I get about hyperdocs is how to keep students from changing what is already there. A custom background isn't full proof as the background  of the slide deck can be changed, but it would keep items from being moved around so easily. 

This method would work really well for lower elementary classrooms. Then students have clear expectations laid out by the teacher as it can be color coded and the integrity not changed. Using color cues are a great way to set clear expectations for students. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Google Classroom Guardian Summaries

Guardian Summaries are Here!

I'm very excited about the opportunity to connect family members with Google Classroom. It has been a major piece missing since Classroom debuted. Parents were reliant on students to open their classroom and decipher the information teachers put in there. To a person that has never seen/used Classroom, it could seem pretty overwhelming. If you look at the example above, you can see that Guardian Summaries will provide an overview of all classroom activity.

With Guardian Summaries, caretakers can choose to get a daily or weekly summary of their child's classes. It arrives in their email so no account setup/password is required. Teachers merely attach a guardian's email address to the students and an alert will be sent to them to confirm the address. Once the parent is attached to a student, other classes will automatically add the same email address. 

Not so Fast!

This is not yet available for teachers in MSD of Steuben County. The tech director, Chantell Manahan, and myself decided that it would be best to inform parents first before they start receiving email requests to connect to their child through Google Classroom. We will first develop a plan of action for informing parents and then open the opportunity to launch to parents. We have the ability to turn Guardian Summaries on at any time. 

Getting Started

In the following video, I demonstrate how to get started with Guardian Summaries. Please keep in mind that you do not want to automatically launch it for every class. If you do, every single classroom will have Guardian Summaries running. Many teachers utilize Google Classroom as a collaborative space for students to work in groups. Some small group activities probably do not require a summary for parents. 

Guardian Tutorial

I put together a video showing parents what to expect when Guardian Summaries is launched in my school district. I attempted to make it as general as possible in case other school districts would like to utilize it. I hope you find it to be helpful. 

Google Classroom: Handwrite Feedback

A Little Something for Your iPad

This year is the first time that the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County is going to be a full Chromebook 1:1 technology district. In the past, we had a combination of iPads and Chromebooks. As our fleet of iPads have aged, we've come to the point that we were ready to make a switch. So what do we do with all of our old iPads? Put one in the hands of all our teachers. 

For many of our teachers, this is the first experience they have had with an iPad in a classroom setting. So the question I'm getting is how can a single iPad be beneficial to a classroom? I have a few ideas listed on a previous post in April of 2016. If you'd like to see it, click here. One item that is not on that list is the new launch in the Google Classroom app for Android and iOS devices. Users can now give handwritten feedback on assignments. 

Why Give Feedback on an iPad?

Do you prefer handwriting over typing? Do you like to quickly mark a page with your red pen and move on to the next assignment? The new feedback feature in the Google Classroom app for iPad might be your answer. When students turn in their Google Docs assignment, the app creates a PDF copy of the existing doc and allows you to mark on the copy. The teacher can assign the grade and move on to the next student. This is great as the original document is never disrupted. The student merely has a PDF copy of the teacher's remarks. 

I recommend every teacher at least try it once. See if it is a time efficient way for you to give feedback to your students. View my video below and download the iPad app (click here) to get started. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Google Classroom Topics

Let's Get Organized!

My biggest beef with Google Classroom for quite some time has been the organization of it. Teachers have been at the mercy of "the stream" since it debuted. Last year, teachers rejoiced when they could finally move items to the top of their stream of assignments, announcements and questions. It wasn't enough though because the teacher still had to scroll through all those materials to find the resource they wanted to bring to the top. With all of Google's expertise in search, it always surprised me that there wasn't a way to categorize those posts. Well, the time has come!


I'm very excited that Google Classroom now has "topics" added to the stream. Now teachers can essentially group posts with a single tag. This is great if you have several items in relation to one topic or study. Students and teachers can then easily trounce through only those items with the associated tag. Setting up topics is easy. Here is how to get started:

Need More Assistance?

If you need more assistance with Google Classroom, look no further. Click here to visit my Google Classroom Guide

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Google Cast for Education

What Teachers Need...

Eight years ago I was still teaching fourth grade and was getting a brand new building. I remember how excited I was because of how amazing it would be that I would have a projector that I didn't have to share with other teachers and wheel in on a cart. I was even more surprised when we were going to receive a tablet PC that would work completely wire-free. It completely changed my style of teaching:
  1. I no longer taught with my back turned to the board. 
  2. I experienced less interruption because I could better locate myself in proximity to a student that needed to refocus. (I rarely had to stop a lesson because I had my laptop in my hands.) 
  3. I could pull up an unlimited amount of content at any moment. 
For the last couple years, Apple TV has given iPad teachers the same experiences I had several years ago. Now that all of my teachers are going to be utilizing Chromebooks in the classroom, what options do teachers have? 

What is Google Cast for Education?

In June of 2016, Google announced the launch of Google Cast for Education. It allows teachers to make their Chrome device a place for students to cast their presentations, Chrome tabs, or entire desktops. The teacher merely needs to download the Chrome App and launch it. The teacher will need to grant either request or presentation access to the students. This can be accomplished through Google Classroom or by individually selecting students by their email address. Teachers can also cast to their device via another Chrome device. 

Google Cast is not a seamless process as of yet. I've found it to be buggy from time to time. I do see a lot of potential for the future of Chrome devices. I foresee students being able to cast their presentations and screens anytime they want to share their learning experiences straight from their own Chromebook. I foresee teachers being able to travel around the classroom while teaching with fewer disruptions. I'm excited for the possibilities it may hold. 

See It in Action

Feel free to check out my video of the process. I go through the launch of the app and a student device connecting to Google Cast for Education. I also demonstrate how to connect a presentation, tab, and the entire desktop of the student device. I hope you find this video to be a valuable resource.