Google Classroom Update: Another Way to Use The ‘About’ Section

Google Classroom About section text linkLast week I posted that Google had taken notice of our feedback about needing a place to store static files like syllabi, resource links, and other items that we want students to be able to access throughout the class term. They did this by creating a new option on the Classwork tab called “Materials.” What I want to show you in this post is another option available to us for posting long-term ressources that takes advantage of a connection between the Class Settings tool and the About section. The About section still exists, albeit reduced to a simple text link. It is located in the bottom-right corner of the Classroom banner on the Stream tab.

How it works

  • In the new Google Classroom, click on the gear icon located in the top-right corner of the Classroom banner to access the new Class settings page.

Classroom "Class settings" gear icon

  • Click the pencil icon to Edit and add a class description and optional room number information.

Classroom "Class settings" window with Edit option highlighted

Class settings editor window

  • Now here’s where the workaround comes in. In the Class description section add links to the resources you want students to have easy access to throughout the class term. To help keep the links clean and manageable, use a URL shortener tool such as the URL shortener Chrome extension, Bitly or a shortener tool of your own choosing.
  • When you’re done entering in resources, click SAVE. Notice that your links become active automatically.
Class settings window with info. added

Teacher view via ‘Class settings’

  • Now, when students go into your class and click the ‘About’ text link, they will see all of this information including the links to your resources.
About section student view with resource info. added

Student view via ‘About’ link

My thanks to Christy Cate for sharing this great workaround on the EdTechTeam Google Plus Community.


Google Classroom Update: Classwork “Materials”

Google Classroom Materials iconWhen Google released their updates for Google Classroom this past August, one of the changes made reduced the ‘About’ section from a major tab to a text link located in the bottom-right corner of the Classroom banner on the Stream tab. This saddened many teachers who had used the About section to store static files and resources that they wanted students to have easy access to through the class term. True to their word, Google has listened to our feedback and in their most recent update added a new feature to the Classwork tab called “Materials.”

Add Materials to Classroom animated gif

  • Materials provides fields to enter a title and description for the post.
  • Add multiple resources to a Materials post using the same options available in an Assignment post.
  • Materials posts can be saved in draft form and scheduled for publication just like an Assignment, Question, or Announcement.
  • If choose to not add a topic keyword to your Materials post, then the post will be displayed at the top of the Classwork page.

Classroom Materials Post sample

For more information, please refer to the Google Classroom Support site.


Google Classroom Update: Add Classwork Tab to a Pre-Existing Class

Google Classroom tabs without ClassworkIf you had created a class in Google Classroom prior to the major update Google released back in mid-August, then your class missed out on the new Classwork tab. With an update just released this past weekend, Google has made it easy for teachers to update their pre-existing classes to include the Classwork tab.

  1. Go to Google Classroom and select a class.
  2. Click on the “?” icon in the bottom-left corner and from the pop-up menu select, “Add Classwork page.”
  3. Confirm that you wish to update the class and Google Classroom will do the rest.

Update classes with new Classwork tab animated gif

For more information please refer to the Google Classroom Support site.

Google Classroom Update: Class Notifications

Last year Google expanded the Settings tool in Google Classroom to give teachers more control over what notifications they want to receive. A teacher can set their preferences for notifications based on Comments, activity from Classes you’re enrolled in, and Classes that you teach.  Toggle switches in blue are active and will send notifications to the teacher’s inbox in Gmail, switches in gray are inactive and will not send notifications.

Notification Settings in Google Classroom

New for the 2018-19 school year, Google Classroom now has the ability to enable/disable all notifications for a specific class. To access, scroll down to the bottom of the Settings list and click on Class notifications. A list of all of the classes that you are enrolled in and also teach will be displayed. Toggle the switch next to the class(es) that you no longer wish to receive any notifications from. This new feature could be very helpful for support staff, administrators, or perhaps long-term substitute teacher situations.

Classroom Settings > Class notifications options

My thanks to Eric Curts over at Control Alt Achieve for sharing this new update.

Texthelp “Back to School” Webinars in September

Webinar example clipartWebinars are a powerful learning opportunity for not just for the information being covered but also for the communities they create for sharing, brainstorming, and troubleshooting. In my district we have been enjoying several of the tools and services from Texthelp including Read&Write, Fluency Tutor, and EquatIO, which by the way is now FREE for teachers! And, they just so happen to be offering a suite of webinars to help educators get the most out of these tools.

So whether you are, like me, preparing to start a new school year or the school year is already in full swing for you, a webinar is a great tool to help recharge the battery and open up to new ideas and possibilities.

Google Forms Update: Theme Options Expanded

Google works and reworks their apps on a regular basis as they try to stay within that gForms Customize theme iconsweet spot of having just the right amount of customization options without going overboard or getting too complex. Google Forms is one app that has gone through many versions with options coming and going. One option that has recently made a comeback is the expanded themes option.

How it works

gForms Customize theme sidebar panel toolsWhen you click on the color palette icon inside of a Google Form file a new sidebar will appear on the right. The first thing you’ll see is the the standard option to customize the forms HEADER with an image of your choosing, either from their library or you can upload one of your own.

Next you will see a selection of theme colors, where not only have the number of choices expanded but by clicking on the plus (+) sign you can select any color on the rainbow. In addition, the list of suggested colors can change based on the HEADER image selected. If you choose not to add an image to the header then your theme color will be reflected in the header background, as well as the section titles and action buttons (e.g. BACK, NEXT, SUBMIT).

When you select a THEME COLOR, the BACKGROUND COLOR options of your Google From will also change. The number of background color choices is limited and designed to compliment your theme color selection.

Finally, now you have the option to modify the FONT STYLE of your Google Form. Currently there are four font options to choose from: Basic, Decorative, Formal, and Playful.

Remember, if at any time you are not happen with your theme selections you can use the Undo option found under the three vertical dots icon (i.e. traffic light).

For more information about these and other updates to Google Forms, please check out this post on the G Suite Updates Blog.

Google Forms Update: Total Number of Points in a Quiz is Totally Cool!

Last fall our school librarian and I were tasked with creating an online Digital Citizenship curriculum for our student population in grades seven and eight. We decided to use Google Classroom to deliver the content and Google Forms with the quiz feature enabled to assess students on their comprehension. It wasn’t until a good portion of our student population had completed several of the assessments that we discovered a discrepancy in the scores being returned by Google Forms. Specifically, we failed to assign a point value to one of the quiz questions.

How it works

  • In Google Forms, click on the Settings gear icon.
  • From the pop-up window, click on the Quizzes tab.
  • Toggle the switch at the top to “Make this a quiz,” then click SAVE.

Google Forms Settings window with the QUIZZES tab active.

  • And that’s it, you’re done!

Google Forms with Quiz feature enabled showing new total points option.

The “Total points:” option:

  • Will stay visible at the top of the gForms editor as you scroll up and down through your questions.
  • Will be visible both in the QUESTIONS and the RESPONSES windows.
  • Will update automatically in real time as you assign, change, or remove point values on your questions.

Google Forms Total points feature in the RESPONSES view.

For more information on this and other recent additions to Google Forms, please check out Google’s post on The Keyword blog.