Using YouTube as a Teacher’s Aid

YouTube app icon

I remember the day that I walked into an elementary art classroom and saw that the students were hard a work learning how to sculpt and manipulate clay. But the teacher was not at the front of the classroom leading the students in the lesson, rather it was a video from YouTube. While the “virtual” teacher continued with the lesson, the “real” was free to make the rounds in her classroom and provide students with 1-on-1 individualized support and direction.

YouTube continues to grow at an amazing pace with videos on a wide variety of topics. Common Sense Education has put together a list of their Top YouTube Channels to Boost Classroom Lessons that teachers could use both in and outside of the classroom.


In addition to their list, here are a couple of channels that I’ve used to support my Digital Citizenship lessons:

  • Brooke Gibbs – Author/speaker and authority on bullying in the schoolyard and workplace.
  • Bystander Revolution – Simple acts of kindness, courage, and inclusion anyone can use to take the power out of bullying.

And a couple more that cover a variety of topics:

Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego – Episode #2

A while back I posted about the return of The Elusive Carmen Sandiego via Google Earth with the hope that this would be the first in a series of new capers for a new generation of gumshoes to solve. Thankfully Google has not disappointed us and last week they announced Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego: The Tutankhamun’s Mask Caper.

Splash screen for The Tutankhamun's Mask Cap;er

For more information, please check out this post from Google’s The Keyword blog.

Google Drive Offline: New Features

In a previous post I talked about how to setup offline access to your files inside of Google Drive. Now Google has added several features to make offline access clearer and give users more control over what files they will have access to offline.

Offline Preview

Once enabled, Google Drive offline will make certain files available for access even when you are offline. But, it will not make ALL of your files available offline. To see which files/folders are currently available offline:

  1. Move your cursor to the top-right corner of the Google Drive window and find a checkmark icon labeled, Ready for offline.
  2. Click the checkmark icon to reveal a drop-down menu with the option to toggle Offline preview on/off.
  3. When ON, icons that are grayed out are NOT currently available offline. Remember that only recently accessed Docs, Sheets, and Slides files will be made available offline by default.
Google Drive Offline preview menu


Manually mark files available offline

Google

If you would like to permanently make a file available offline, you can do so by right+clicking on any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slides file. From the context menu select the toggle switch next to Available offline. Once enabled, a checkmark icon will appear to the right of the filename denoting that this file will always be available offline.


For more information, please refer to this post on the G Suite Updates blog.

Google Classroom: 3 Updates for “Classwork” Tab

Last week Google announced three changes they’ve made to the Classwork tab inside of Google Classroom designed to make finding and organizing information easier.


New attachments display with preview

All attachments to a post will now be given more space for the file name. For those that still are not displayed in full, hovering over the file will display the entire title. In addition, attachments will once again display a thumbnail preview of the file/link, making it easier for users to quickly identify the content they want to access. These features also apply to how posts are displayed on the Stream tab.

Attachment preview thumbnails and full file name via hover button

Filter by Topic is BACK!

You can again filter the Classwork page by topic using the topics list displayed in the top-left corner of the page. When filtering by topic you will see:

Topics filter list in Classroom
  • Each post expanded to show the entirety of text entered in the directions area of the post.
  • All attachments added to the post.
  • Turned-in, Assigned, and Graded counts for teachers.
  • Post status for students (Assigned, Turned In, Missing, Returned, and Graded).

Clicking on the “All topics” heading will return the Classwork page to its original layout.

New items post to the TOP

Starting with all newly created classes, when using the ‘Create’ option to make a new Assignment, Question, Material, or Reusing an old post, Classroom will add that post to the TOP of the Classwork page instead of at the bottom. NOTE: This feature is not available in current classes to: “…prevent this change from impacting classes you’ve already organized.”


For more information on these updates, please refer to this Google Classroom Help Center article.

WeVideo Welcomes Google Docs, Sheets & Slides

WeVideo side panel showing the LINK A RESOURCE button and one linked Google Doc thumbnail.

Earlier this month WeVideo announced that they are providing integration with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. What does this mean?

  • Users can link these files from their Google Drive to WeVideo projects.
  • Once the files are linked to a project, users can access them from both the Projects tab as well as directly inside the WeVideo editor. These Google files can be edited directly from within the WeVideo interface and the changes are automatically saved back to Google Drive.
  • WeVideo will respect the privacy settings set in Google Drive, so if a project member does not have access to the file in Google Drive then they will not have access in WeVideo either. Project members can request access to a file from within the WeVideo interface.

  • For more information, please check out this post from the WeVideo Blog.
  • Get detailed step-by-step directions on how to setup Linked Resources from Google Drive by referring to this WeVideo Support Article.

The Elusive Carmen Sandiego Comes to Google Earth

magnifying glass

Where on Google Earth is Carmen Sandiego is a fresh take on the classic detective game from the 1990’s. As a newly graduated “gumshoe” from the ACME Detective Agency, you are given your first assignment: track down the elusive Carmen Sandiego who has recently stolen the Crown Jewels of London! You will need to use all of your globe-trotting skills, and an awareness of Google Earth, in order to catch this slippery crook!


How it works

Carmen Sandiego is a built-in component of the Google Earth app and can be accessed from the Voyager option in the main menu for both Chrome and mobile versions.

Google Earth menu with Voyager option highlighted

The interface is pretty basic, with a magnifying glass button to help you search for clues and interview witnesses. Each stage provides multiple locations (between three and four) to investigate. Once you have an idea of where to go to next, you can click on the plane button to book your flight.

Interface buttons: blue magnifying glass, orange plane, green question mark

This is just the first in what will hopefully be a series of Carmen Sandiego adventures for us to solve. Already in the works are two additional capers: “The Tutankhamen’s Mask Caper” and “The Keys to the Kremlin Caper!”


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

Google Classroom Update: Classwork on the Stream

Class settings icon inside of a Google Classroom class

In an attempt to give teachers more control over how the Stream tab displays content, Google has added an additional option under the Class settings tool called Classwork on the stream.


How does it work?

  1. Select a class card from the Classes homescreen of Google Classroom.
  2. Click on the Class settings gear icon in the top-right corner of a class.
  3. Scan down to the General section to locate the Classwork on the stream setting.
Classwork on the stream option under Class settings in Google Classroom

Show attachments and details: This will show the full text the teacher has added to the Instructions section and any attachments added to the Classwork post. If the post is an assignment, then students will also see the status of the assignment (Assigned, Turned In, Graded, Returned, and Missing) in the top-right corner.

Show attachments and details display example from the Classwork on the stream setting

Show condensed notifications: This is the standard view that was established with the changes made to Classroom back in the fall.

Show condensed notifications display example from the Classwork on the stream setting

Hide notifications: This option will remove all Classwork posts from the Stream tab. Posts that the teacher creates from the Stream tab will still be visible. Class comments made by students will also remain visible if the teacher has enabled this option.


For more information on the new Classwork on the stream setting, please refer to this page from the Classroom Help site.

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.