Safer Internet Day – Security Checkup

Internet Safer Day was last week on Tuesday, February 5th. To celebrate, Google spent the entire week covering a variety of topics relating to being safe online (you can check out their series of articles here). For users who have Google accounts, one thing that you can and should do on a regular basis is perform a Security Checkup on all of your Google accounts.

Google Security Checkup homepage

Google’s Security Checkup is a three-step process where you will be asked to check on three important areas of your account safety:

Options menu for each app, site, and service that has access to your account info.
  • Third-party access: This is the list of sites, apps, and services that have access to some of the personal information found in your account. Sources that you haven’t used in a while may no longer need access and can be removed, and if you see an entry you don’t recognize or don’t remember giving permission to access your account should most definitely have their access revoked.
  • Your devices: This is the list of all of the devices that have been used to login to your Google account. If you don’t recognize a device, then it might be a good idea to remove the device from the list and then consider changing your password. (Click here to see how to use Gmail to force a sign-out of all of your active web sessions.)
  • Recent security events: This drop-down list will show any recent requests to connect to your account. Again, if you don’t recognize a request then your account may be at risk.
Google Security Checkup - recent security events list

It is a good idea to perform a Security Checkup on your Google account about once a month, and if you have more than one account (e.g. a professional account for work and a personal account) then don’t forget to run the Security Checkup on each one. For other web accounts, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the security options that they provide:

Parents’ Ultimate Guide to “Fortnite”

It is a frenzy that shows no sign of slowing down. Many of my students are not only swept up in playing the game “Fortnite” but are also watching video after video of others playing the game. While some of these games can involve intense strategic planning and a sense of teamwork as players work together toward a common goal, they are also places where screen time can get out of control, excessive violence encouraged, and cyberbullying run rampant.

Both teachers and parents need to make the effort to at least be aware of the games that our students and children are engaging in, so that we can help them to recognize their positive contributions to learning and caution them about their potential dangers and pitfalls. Common Sense Media has put together a nice resource about the game Fortnite and, while their target audience is parents, teachers can benefit from this awareness too.

Watch the short video below, then follow this link to their website for more in-depth information including different versions of the game, game vocabulary, and some of its other social features.

Google Classroom Update: Is This the End of the ‘About’ Tool?

Google Classroom About section text link

When Google Classroom took the stage, one of the primary tabs present in each class was the ‘About’ tab. Here teachers could enter the class name, description, location, and upload resources that they wanted students to have access to throughout their enrollment in the class. This past summer Google Classroom received a major update that demoted the ‘About’ tab to a link on the Classroom banner of the Stream tab, but it still served a purpose and was linked to the new Class Settings tool. With the latest changes to Google Classroom being rolled out, the ‘About’ tool has been changed yet again.

In the latest version of Classroom, the Class Settings tool is still available and includes a place to add a class description that can include resource links.

Classroom Class Settings/Details window.
Class Settings Info – Teacher view

For students, this information is now accessible from a drop-down drawer underneath the Classroom banner on the Stream tab. Unfortunately the text formatting has been removed and any resource links are displayed in plain text.

Classroom drop-down drawer with Class Settings info. displayed.
Class Settings Info – Student view

Maybe I’m being too nostalgic in wanting the ‘About’ tool to continue to act as a place to store resources for students. Perhaps I need to make piece with this and make the transition to using the Materials post option in the Classwork tab. If this is the case then so be it, and I will bid a final fond farewell to the ‘About’ tool; you served teachers and students well.

Google Classroom Update: A Themes Expansion

gClassroom music theme banner

It has been a long time coming, and in the most recent update to Google Classroom the number of available themes has exploded to 78 possible choices!

  • The gallery has expanded from two categories to six.
  • Categories include English & History, Math & Science, Arts, Sports, and Other.
  • The primary color of the banner theme will dictate the color scheme for the tabs, post icons, and Topics menus.
  • Note that the class code is now available directly from the Classroom banner as is the option to display it in both large font and full screen.

Users still have the option to upload their own image to be their Classroom banner. Unfortunately the Upload photo option still does not support inserting an image from Google Photos (hint-hint Google).


For more information on this and other updates coming to Google Classroom, please check out Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google Classroom Update: Drag-&-Drop Finally Arrives!

Drag-&-Drop a Topic with assignments to a new location in Classroom

When Google introduced the new Classwork tab last fall, one of its new features was the ability to move individual assignment posts and Topics up or down the list. The downside of this was that you could only move an item up or down one space at a time. Last week Google announced that they were enhancing this organizational feature to include drag-&-drop support. No need to click on a specific icon or menu option, just click-&-hold on the item you wish to re-organize and drag it to its new location.


For more information on this and other updates coming to Google Classroom, please check out Google’s The Keyword blog.

Developing a Healthy Media Diet

Social media is an ever-present part of our lives, and even more so for our students and children. As a result, teachers and parents need to take the time to investigate strategies on how to balance the consumption of social media with the other aspects of our lives. Common Sense Media as put together 5 Simple Steps to help you, your students, and your children achieve this balance.

Follow this link to access the full article from the Common Sense Media website.

If you’d like to learn more, then use this link to access additional videos relating to this topic including Common Sense Media’s #DeviceFreeDinner series.

Does Google Classroom’s “Gradebook” Make the Grade?

gClassroom Card with Gradebook beta con

A few weeks ago I shared that Google had released the beta version of their locked mode option for Google Forms with managed Chromebooks. At the same time, Google announced the beta version of a new Gradebook tool inside of Google Classroom. To request early access to the Gradebook tool, you can sign up using this form


The Interface

  • The new beta Gradebook can be accessed from any Google Classroom card that you are a teacher of by clicking on the upward-inching arrow to the left of the Google Drive folder shortcut. From inside a class, you will now see a Gradebook tab across the top as well.

  • Inside the Gradebook beta tool, you have access to all of your assignments that have been currently posted to the Classwork tab along the top row of the interface.
  • All of the assignment names are clickable and will take you to the details page when clicked.
  • Hovering over any assignment will display the three stacked dots to access the ability to Edit or Delete the assignment.
  • Additional information including due date (if provided) and point value (out of # or ungraded) can also be found here.
Classroom assignments row

  • Down the left-hand column will be your student roster and can be sorted by first or last name.
  • Clicking on a student’s name will take you directly to the YOUR WORK interface (click here for more on this tool).

  • At the center is the grade information for each student for each assignment.
  • Assignments set to Ungraded will be blank until students TURN IN the assignment, then will display a checkmark when you return it to them.
  • Assignments that have passed the due date and still have not been turned in will show the Missing status in red font.
Classroom Gradebook assignment grades & status info.
  • Hovering over any grade box will display the three stacked dots to access the ability to Return the assignment (assignments that have already been Returned will have the text grayed out).
  • Select the View submission option to go directly into the assignment details screen and view any artifacts assigned and/or added to the assignment by the student.
Classroom Gradebook stacked dots option for grades

Grade Calculations & Categories

Once the Gradebook option has been enabled, two additional options will be added to the Settings page in Classroom:

  • Grade Calculation: Allows you to choose a grading system that best fits your needs. Options include:
    • No overall grade calculation
    • Total points calculation
    • Percentage-based category weighting
  • You also have the option to make overall grades visible to students or not.
Classroom Settings Grade Calculations and Categories
  • Grade Categories: Assign categories and their desired weight/point value. Once created, these categories will show up when creating assignments from the Classwork tab as a drop-down menu option.
Classroom Gradebook Categories option from assignment details window

My Assessment

Because my school uses standards-based grading, much of the grade calculations and weighted categories do little benefit to my situation. Where I do find value in the Gradebook tool is having a big-picture overview of how each of my students are doing in my class by assignment and over time. I really like the ease with which I can scan for students who have missing work and who have been consistently turning in assignments late, as this affects their HOWL’s score for Responsibility.


For more information on the new Gradebook beta please check out the post on Google’s The Keyword blog. If you’d like to take the Gradebook beta tool for a test drive, then you can sign up using this form