Google Classroom Add-Ons!

Google has just unveiled Add-Ons for Google Classroom. 📚

Now, before I go too far, I want to point out – these are only for educators on the Google Workspace for Education Plus edition or the Teaching & Learning Upgrade. If you’re in the free Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals or the lowest paid version, called Education Standard, you won’t have these Add-Ons.  Don’t cry too much – you can still use all of these tools, just without the added convenience of the Classroom Add-Ons.

While those users cry in their Cheerios, I’ll talk to those of you who are in those special accounts about what you’re getting. ⬇️

Google has partnered with 18 different tools to make it easier to assign stuff from their tools within Classroom.

Those tools include Edpuzzle, Kahoot!, PBS Learning Media, Google Play Books, Sora, Newsela, Safari Montage, Google Arts and Culture, IXL, cK-12, BookWidgets, Adobe Express, WeVideo, Formative, Pear Deck, Nearpod, Wordwall, and Genially.

On the student end, this is nice because these tools become easy, one-click logins from within Google Classroom. The less jumping around we make our students do, the better.

On the teacher end, assigning things is streamlined, but the real bonus is the grading piece. While some tools – like Edpuzzle – have long synced grades into Classroom others – like Pear Deck – have not. Now you can access many of those tools with that trademark grading sidebar right there. So, you can enter grades into Classroom while looking at the actual tool. Plus, more of them now sync like Edpuzzle has for a while.

⬇️Let’s take a peek at a few of these.

First up, let’s look at Kahoot. For the most part, nothing new is happening here – Kahoot works the same and Google Classroom works the same, but now you can assign a Kahoot from within Classroom, without going to Kahoot in a separate tab, and the students just click that link and Kahoot pops up.

The behavior with Pear Deck is similar, but I’m extra excited about this one. Last year, if I wanted to assign a Pear Deck assignment for my students to complete on their own time, I typically opened the slide deck, click the Pear Deck Add-On, started a student-paced activity, then clicked the share to Google Classroom link in the pop up menu.  Now, with the Add-On, you assign directly from classroom.  You still have to have a slide deck that’s ready to go, but the process is much smoother for you. And it’s easy for your students too, click, go, and then – the new step – turn it in.

Edpuzzle behaves similarly. Edpuzzle has sent scores to Classroom for some time, so the main bonus here is that you can add comments in Google Classroom while looking at the Edpuzzle screen.

Similarly, with Nearpod, you can see the robust assessment data that Nearpod provides from within the Classroom grading window and manually type the score and any comments from right there. Not a major improvement, but we know that every second counts. And for a high school teacher, if you can make your grading 1 second faster for each of your 120 students, you just might have time for a bathroom break. Yay you!

There are a bunch of other tools that I didn’t share specifics about – PBS Learning Media, Google Play Books, Sora, Newsela, Safari Montage, Google Arts and Culture, IXL, cK-12, BookWidgets, Adobe Express, WeVideo, Formative, Wordwall, and Genially. It’s pretty similar for all of those – faster assigning, faster student access, and smoother feedback processes.

Google is hinting that there will be more than just these 18 tools in the future too.

Again though, this is only for schools with Google Workspace for Education Plus edition or the Teaching & Learning Upgrade.

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Google Classroom “Practice Sets”

Google is beta testing a formative assessment tool…

Illustration of students using Google Classroom's Practice Sets

Back in March Google announced a new Google Classroom feature called Practice Sets. Before I get too deep into this one, I want to point out: it’ll only be in the Teaching and Learning Upgrade or the Google Workspace for Education Plus (i.e. part of the paid plans).  It’s still in beta at this point, but I think it’s something that, if you have access to it, you’ll probably use. It’s a tool that combines formative assessment and automated feedback right inside Google Classroom

The teacher starts by adding (or typing up) a question, or set of questions. Practice Sets jumps right into gear by scanning the question using AI, tagging the content and skill, and preparing automated chatbot style hints and resources. I’m skeptical of this part – I mean, haven’t we all had that chatbot pop up on a site that we really needed help from and suggest irrelevant resources to us when we just wanted to talk to a human? We’ll see what we think of this!

Anyhow, it looks like it’ll have multiple choice, short answer, and extended response and will provide a math keyboard as well. Plus, students can respond with text or a drawing tool and, check this out math teachers, if the kids show their work, you’ll be able to see that too.

Most importantly, this tool auto-grades for you right inside Google Classroom, and your students will see if they were correct right away. Those built in hints and resources will pop up automatically if they’re wrong—or kids can click a button to see them if they need them.

On the back end, teachers get good data, a view of what students did, and automated insights. Again, it’s still in beta and it’s part of the paid plans, but it looks like it’s going to have lots of potential when it comes out! 

[Image Source:]

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Scheduling for Multiple Classes in Google Classroom

Google has rolled out a long-awaited Google Classroom feature . . . 

On St. Patrick’s Day (better known as my birthday), Google for Education announced on the Google Workspace Updates page that, after a long wait, the ability to schedule stream posts, assignments, and materials for multiple classes in Google Classroom was available

It’s even better than I could have imagined because it also lets you select different due dates and different topics for your assignments!

I also really like the “Copy settings to all” option which lets you set it up for the first class, then copy those settings to all of the classes, then make changes. 

Let’s go over an example:

Say I want the assignment to launch simultaneously for all classes, but have different due times based on when I have that class period. Or maybe I just want to put them all in the same topic within the classes first, copy that, then modify the post times. I also like that I can select “post now” for some classes, but schedule for others.

Tutorial example in Google Classroom of scheduling posts for multiple classes.

I’m really happy with how this came out! Assignment and post scheduling is available in Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals, Education Standard, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Education Plus customers (it can also be seen in my gmail account.)

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Using Answer Tables in Google Docs

A few weeks ago, I posted a little hack that I like to use for making student answers in Google Docs easier to find.  You can see that post here.  Multiple people reminded me of a practice that many elementary educators love using:

Instead of just pre-formatting the answer space, actually create an answer table.  This makes it less likely that students accidentally mess up the pre-existing content in the doc and makes their answers easier to find.  This is a great practice when assigning these Docs as Make a Copy for Each Student in Google Classroom.

There are 3 different ways to do this.  I’ll show each in the GIF below and then go over them in some additional detail below the GIF.

Tables in Docs for Answers

More details on what you see in the GIF below . . . Continue reading Using Answer Tables in Google Docs

Google Drawings in Google Classroom

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about putting Drawings in Google Docs that are assigned in Google Classroom. After seeing some of the reactions, I realized that some educators either weren’t aware of the powers of Google Drawings or had never thought of using them in assignments with Google Classroom.  I was all “whaaaaat!?”  So, now I’m here to dial it back a notch…  Let’s talk about assigning Google Drawings (not Drawings in Docs, just Drawings) in Google Classroom.  First up: an animated GIF for your viewing pleasure; and then: a quick step-by-step of how to use Drawings in Classroom.

Google Drawings in Classroom Animation

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Creating & Locking Google Slides Backgrounds

If you’ve ever created assignments in Google Docs, Slides or Drawings for students to complete, you’re all too familiar with this struggle: students accidentally deleting, moving or modifying elements of the assignment.

Well, in Google Slides, there are 2 ways to prevent this from happening and here’s the easier of the two: put the content of the assignment in as a background.  Then, the only way a student can delete, move or modify it would be to actually go into the background settings and change it…. which can’t be done by accident.

Let me show you how, first with an animated GIF and then with step-by-step instructions.Creating & Locking Google Slides Backgrounds Animation

  1. Set up your slide with any text, images, etc.
  2. File > Download as > PNG Image (JPEG will work too)
  3. Clear off the slide.
  4. Click Background, then, next to Image, click Choose.
  5. Click the downloaded image file from Step 2.
  6. Voila!  Send your assignment out in Classroom (or share it with students or have them make a copy).

Insert Drawings into Docs Being Assigned in Classroom

When given the chance, I’m always going to pick an assignment where students are creating their own representations of their mastery of learning standards.  However, I know that it’s not realistic to expect this all the time.  So, I can see the value in annotating images rather than just typing.  Google Drawings and Google Slides are great platforms for this . . . but what if it’s part of a bigger activity that does involve typing?  Well, insert a drawing into a document, put the picture in, and tell the students to annotate it!  Check it out in the animated GIF below (typed instructions follow the GIF).

Drawings in Docs with Google Classroom Animation

  1. In the Google Docs menu, click Insert > Drawing.
  2. In the Drawing that pops up, copy and paste in an image (or drag it in from a separate tab as I did in the GIF).
  3. Add instructions within the Drawing as needed.
  4. Click Save and Close to finish preparing the drawing.
  5. Assign the document in Google Classroom as Make a Copy for Each Student.
  6. When students open the document, instruct them to double-click on the image that they see to open up the drawing and annotate it.

Pre-Format Student Answers

Grading stinks.  Anything that we can do to make it better–without sacrificing the quality of the pedagogy or feedback–is worth doing!  Here’s a little trick to make it easier to locate student answers in Google Docs (or other files) that you assign in Google Classroom . . .

Pre-Format Classroom Answers Animation