Monday, August 24, 2015

Google Classroom Adds Calendar Integration and Other Frequently Requested Functions

Just in time for the start of the new school year, Google has added a bunch of new features to Google Classroom. All of the features added are things that I've heard teachers request since last year's initial launch of Classroom.

The most significant update to Classroom is the integration of Google Calendar. Now when you create an assignment in Google Classroom the due date will be automatically added to a Google Calendar for the class. You will, of course, also be able to manually add events to that same calendar. This feature will be rolling out to all Google Classroom users over the next month.

A new feature that is live for all Google Classroom users is the option to re-use any assignments, announcements, and discussion questions. So if you have items from a class that you taught last year, you will now be able to quickly copy them into this year's class.

To further encourage online discussions, Google Classroom now allows students to reply to their classmates' responses to the discussion questions that you post in your classroom. This sound create a more message board-like discussion environment. You can also turn off that feature if you don't feel that it will be beneficial to your students.

You've always been able to link to Google Forms in a Google Classroom post. Over the next month a new feature will be rolled out to allow you to attach Forms to announcements and assignments. The attachment will also include an option to link to the Form responses within Classroom.

Finally, you can now "bump" a post to the top of your Classroom's stream. This is similar to making a blog post sticky so that it always appears at the top of the page for students to see. Bumping a post could be a good way to make sure that students see an important message from you whenever they sign into your Google Classroom.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Week in Review - On the Road Again

Good morning from Woodstock, Maine where the weather is clearing and it looks like it will be a great day. This weekend I'm hitting the road in two ways. First, I'm heading out on my bike. Second, I'm hitting the highway with some friends to go see Willie Nelson perform (I know, I was also  surprised to find that he's still touring). Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you have time to do something fun too.

This week I hosted a short series of webinars called Classroom Blog Jumpstart. A big thank you to the folks who joined me for those webinars. If you missed it, I will be offering a similar series again in September.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. The Practical Ed Tech Handbook - Download It Today
2. How to Quickly Create Vocabulary Lists from a Document
3. 5 Tools Students Can Use to Keep Track of Assignments This Year
4. Coordinate Back-to-School with Choice Eliminator and Google Forms
5. 135 Practical Ed Tech Tips
6. How Students Can Create Movies and Digital Posters With Artifacts from the National Archives
7. CNN Student News is Back for 2015-2016

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference?
Click here to learn about my professional development services. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
BoomWriter provides a fantastic tool for creating writing lessons. 
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards and cartoon stories.
HelloTalk is a mobile community for learning a new language.
MasteryConnect offers a series of apps for identifying standards. 
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is hosting host workshops in six cities in the U.S. in the summer.
SeeSaw is a great iPad app for creating digital portfolios.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Updated Comparison of Backchannel & Informal Assessment Tools

Last winter I published a series of charts in which I compared popular ed tech tools for things like blogging, informal assessment, and video production. As is to be expected in the tech world, some of the tools in those charts have changed. Therefore, I'm now going through each chart and updating it.

Yesterday, I published an update to my blogging platforms comparison chart. Today, I updated my chart comparing tools for backchannels and informal assessment. The most notable difference in this chart compared to the previous version is the removal of Infuse Learning which shut down in April and the addition of Formative. The updated chart can be seen as a PDF embedded below. You can get a Google Docs version of the chart here.

Copyright Lessons for Kids

Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is a resource for kids produced by the Library of Congress. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright is intended to help elementary school students understand the purposes and functions of copyright.

There are four sections to Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright. The first section, Copyright Exposed, features a short cartoon that explains how copyright protects artists. Files on Record, the second section, chronicles important historical developments in copyright law. The third section, Reading the Fine Print, answers common questions and addresses common myths about copyright laws. The last section, Steps to Copyright, instructs students on registering their own works for copyright protection.

Applications for Education
Copyright can be a difficult subject for some students to understand. That said, in a world filled with digital media, it is very important for students to learn how copyright affects them. Taking the Mystery Out of Copyright could be a great resource for introducing elementary school students to the regulations and rights associated with copyright.

Try This Handy Widget for Making Random Selections

Earlier this month I shared a method for selecting random names from a Google Sheet and in the past I've shared other random name selector tools. Those tools are great if you have names to enter. However, if you really want to randomly select people for a task or a prize, try using a random number selector from Using one of's widgets you can specify a range of numbers from which a random number will be generated each time someone clicks "generate" on the widget. Try a widget below.

Applications for Education
The next time you need to draw numbers for a PTA raffle or you need to assign numbers to students, give a try.