The NEW Gmail “Offline”

A little over a year ago, as part of my blog series on how to use your Chromebook effectively and efficiently, I did a post on how to access your Gmail even when you are offline. With the recent release of the NEW Gmail last month Google has chosen to integrate the offline app into the new interface.

When you enable Gmail offline you are enabling access to your email data so that you can manage your mailbox (e.g. search, label, delete, and archive). You can even compose new messages despite the fact that you are offline. Any changes made will be synced up to the cloud when your device is able to go online again.

Where is it?NEW Gmail Settings menu

From the NEW Gmail home screen…

  • Click on the Settings gear icon in the top-right corner of the window and from the drop-down menu choose Settings.
  • Move right across the row of tabs until you find the Offline tab.

NOTE: If you are using an organizational Gmail account, then your Google Admin will need to enable Gmail offline before you can access this feature. If you are using a personal Gmail account than this feature is already available.

New Gmail Offline unavailable message

How it works

  • To start, place a checkmark in the box to Enable offline mail.
  • Gmail will analyze the current size of your mailbox and determine how much local storage space will be needed from your device’s hard drive.
  • Select how long you want Gmail offline to store your emails. Your choices are 7, 30, or 90 days.
  • Choose whether or not to download attachments with your email. Checking off this box will increase the amount of storage space needed.
  • Determine what Gmail offline should do when you log out of your Google account on the device:
    • Keep offline data on my computer: Selecting this option will keep your data saved locally on the device’s hard drive even after you sign out, shut down, or changing your password. This option is recommended if you are the only user of the device.
    • Remove offline data from my computer: Selecting this option will delete the offline data when you log out of your account and will need to be resynced when you log back in to Gmail. This option is recommended if you are using a shared or public device.
  • Remember to click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the window to enable/update your Gmail offline preferences.

New Gmail Offline Settings options

For more information, please check out this post on the G Suite Updates blog.


Socratica: Beautiful Science, Math & More!

Socratica is a YouTube channel chalk-full of high-quality videos on a variety of subjects with a focus on math, science, and arts and humanities. Clicking on the Playlists tab will show the variety of subtopics available on the channel, 25 in total, ranging from Astronomy and Biology to Algebra and Geometric Constructions to even a Glossary of Art terms and Shakespeare Sonnets.

Socratica YouTube playlists screenshot

The number of videos in each playlist varies as does the length of individual videos. For the longer videos that you might want to use only a portion of, check out my post on how to clip the beginning AND end points of a YouTube video.

Ever since I started using the quiz feature in Google Forms to conduct assessments I have been on the lookout for high-quality videos like these. I will insert them into the “Add feedback” panel of a Form question so that students can use them to help “brush up” on the material and as a study tool if a re-assessment is needed.

Google Forms quiz question "Add feedback" panel

Gmail Gets a Facelift & It’s Looking Good!

Last week Google announced a major refit to one of their core GSuite apps: Gmail. The updates to Gmail blend many different tools and settings together, with some pulled from what used to be available only through their Gmail Labs tab or from their other Email app: Inbox. The new Gmail can be activated now on personal accounts from the Settings gear icon; organization Gmail accounts (i.e. enterprise and education) will need to wait for their Google admin to turn this feature on.

Try new Gmail menu option

To get a quick rundown of the features that come with the new Gmail you can check out this summary on their Keyword blog, or you can read this product guide from the Gmail Help Desk. I would also encourage you to check out this video from our Technology Department that shows some of the key features in action:

NOTE: I mentioned earlier the Labs tab in the classic Gmail. This information is still available but the tab has been renamed to “Advanced” in the new Gmail interface.

Behold! Custom Links for your Google Sites Navigation

It has been a long time in coming, but the often-requested feature of being able to add custom links to the new Google Sites navigation bar has arrived. Adding custom links allows the user to connect to other pages and whole sites that are outside of the immediate website. As a teacher, the immediate use for this is to add a link back to my school’s homepage. If you work as part of a team and that team has a team website, then that is another example of how the custom navigation link can find value.

Where is it?Old Google Sites menu

  • If you go to, (which is the old interface) then use the link in the left-hand column to access the new Google Sites. You can also add /new to the address above to go directly to the new Sites interface.
  • Remember that the new Google Sites can also be accessed from Google Drive, both pre-existing sites as well as the ability to create a new one from the menu.


Create a new Site from Drive

How it works

  • New Sites Pages tab with Home, pages, and subpage examplesOnce you are in the new Google Sites editor, look to the tools panel along the right-side of the editor and at the top there are three menu tabs: INSERT, PAGES, and THEMES, with INSERT active by default.
  • Select the PAGES tab. This will show you an outline of all of the pages that have been made for this site. It is also where you can designate the order that the pages will be displayed in your navigation bar as well as which pages are to be subpages (i.e. creating a drop-down menu of pages connected to a theme like field trips, classes, galleries, etc.).
  • At the bottom of the PAGES tab there used to be a circular button that would allow you to create new pages. This has been upgraded to now include the ability to add a new link to your navigation bar.

New page button becomes New page and New link button

  • New link properties windowOnce you select the New link option, a properties pop-up window will be displayed where you can enter:
    • the name you want displayed in the navigation bar.
    • the link that you want the name to point to.
    • do you want a new tab to be created when the link is selected.
  • Click DONE to add the custom link to your navigation bar.


Making changes

Edit a custom link

  • If you need to edit or delete a custom link, then locate it by name under the PAGES tab.
  • Hover over the item to reveal the traffic light icon (three vertical dots).
  • Selecting this will display a pop-up menu with the options to edit the custom link (Properties), hide it from the navigation bar, or delete the link altogether.

Google Team Drives Now Have Email

When my school district transitioned to GSuite for Education, one of the culture changes we went through was how to notify each other when we wanted to share a file/folder. You could go with the traditional method of using the Gmail app to notify the user of your sharing, just as long as remembered to 1.) attach the item, and 2.) set the sharing permissions on the item correctly. Slowly, we learned that you could achieve this same effect by using the email feature built-in to Google Drive’s sharing tool.

Google Drive share window with email message

Enter Team Drives…

Team Drives have become a valuable addition to the Google Drive environment, allowing groups to easily manage not only their files but also who should have access to those files over time. It removes the need to manually setup sharing permissions for the team since files are permissioned automatically when they are created or added to the Team Drive. But, there still may be a need to notify the team members about a new file/folder addition or changes to the drive contents. That’s where the new “Email Members” option comes in. Think of it as having a pre-made email contact group for each Team Drive you are a member of.

How it works

  • Team Drive drop-down menu optionsSelect a Team Drive from your left-hand navigation menu inside of the Google Drive app.
  • Locate the name of your Team Drive at the top of the window interface and select the disclosure triangle at the end. This will reveal a drop-down menu with the option to Email Members of the Team Drive.
  • A pop-up window will be displayed showing the list of members for the Team Drive and several checkbox options to help you select who you would like to notify. Depending on how you’ve setup your Team Drive permissions you may see additional options such as to email only “Guests” or users who have specific levels of access such as full, edit, comment, or view.
  • Once you have selected your audience, you can compose an email with subject directly from this window.
  • When ready, select SEND to transmit your message.

Team Drive Email Members window

  • You can access the same feature from inside a Google Drive file as well. Navigate to the File menu and from the drop-down select Email Collaborators.
  • If you use this method, then the title of the file you’re in will automatically be used for the Subject line of your email so that you don’t have to spend time adding this to your message.

For more information, please refer to this post of Google’s GSuite Updates blog.

Join Google & OK Go For Some Sandbox Fun!

OK Go Sandbox logoGoogle recently announced a collaboration with the music group OK Go to use their amazing music videos to explore the worlds of science and math. Called the OK Go Sandbox, this site has been designed to facilitate exploration, imagination, and play. There are resources for both students and teachers to take advantage of.

For Students

Q&A module: The One Moment of MathIn addition to being able to watch the actual music videos, students also have access to Q&A interviews with the band members about what went on behind the scenes and the skills they needed to pull them off.  Students learn how geometry and time factor in to how video cameras capture events to change our perspective in The One Moment. Using the music video This Too Shall Pass, the band takes students on a exploration about simple machines. And last but not least, students can see how math and music are intertwined by way of their Needing/Getting music video.

For Teachers

Each of the three modules contains multiple challenge activities, from exploring how gravity affects objects of different sizes and masses based on The One Moment video to using sensors to make sounds just like they did in Needing/Getting. Each challenge comes with an Educator Guide in PDF format to download, while some challenges also include a Student Guide as well as guides that integrate with Google’s Science Journal app for Android-enabled devices.

OK Go Surrounding Sounds Challenge materials

For more information, check out Google’s Keyword blog post.

The Chrome Music Lab

Chrome Music Lab Harmonics ModuleIf you haven’t explored The Chrome Music Lab, then you have been missing out! Designed to make the learning of music more “accessible through fun, hands-on experiments,” the music lab now has 13 different modules to choose from. After I shared this out to my staff in an email, it wasn’t long before I could hear the familiar sounds of both professional and amateur music makers coming from up and down the hallway.

The different modules explore different aspects of music and sound manipulation, from Harmonics to Oscillation to their newest module: Sound Maker. Each module provides a playful space to experiment, explore, and be creative. Some modules like Spectrogram can tap into your device’s microphone so that you can be the source of the music.

Chrome Music Lab Spectrogram with microphone option

For more information, please check out the post on the Google Keyword blog.