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

YouTube Channels for Teachers & Learners

YouTube app icon

YouTube is a powerful and ever-growing source for videos about teaching, learning, and growing up in our ever-changing world. But, because there is so much out there it can be difficult to find videos of good quality and that are appropriate for the classroom. Luckily, there are fellow educators out there who have been hard at work curating such lists to share with the rest of us.

In a recent post on the Know Your Why! blog, Steve Wick shares his top six YouTube Channels designed with teaching and learning in mind including Edutopia, Google for Education, and others. And for you history enthusiasts out there, take a moment to watch the first video ever uploaded to YouTube (it’s 19 seconds long, so I think you can fit it in).

However, Steve Wick is only one person and to truly create a worthwhile list of resources requires the help of others. That’s why he has created a community Padlet board for other educators to contribute YouTube channels that they have found beneficial to teaching and learning. The Padlet board is organized into 15 categories ranging from science and math to empathy and physical education. There’s even a category called “Anything Goes” for those channels that don’t quite fit one particular mold. If you have discovered a YouTube channel that is share-worthy then please consider adding it to the list.

Padlet board screenshot

Google Forms & Chromebooks “Lock” Hands

Google Forms Locked Mode icon

Back in late summer Google announced that they would allow educators the ability to administer assessments with Google Forms in a distraction-free or “locked” environment. Last week they finally announced that the beta program is finally ready and are looking for help from us to test this new feature out (pun intended).

[NOTE: This feature is currently in beta and not available to all users yet. If you’d like to try it out, then you can sign up using this form.]

How it works

  • Once enabled, navigate to a Google Forms file that you have setup to act as a quiz and click on the Settings gear icon.
Google Forms Settings icon
  • In Settings click on the QUIZZES tab to locate the Locked mode on Chromebooks option that is currently in Beta.
  • Check off the box below to Turn on locked mode.

Notifications (teachers)

  • Once enabled, a notification will be added to the front page of the Google Form stating that this assessment has the locked mode option enabled.
Google Forms locked mode notification msg.
  • A similar reminder will be displayed on the assignment description window for teachers in Google Classroom.
Google Forms locked mode indicator inside of a Google Classroom assignment
  • Note that once locked mode has been enabled, certain options under the GENERAL tab in Settings will be turned off as well.
Google Forms General tab in Settings

Notifications (students)

  • If a student attempts to access the Google Forms assessment from a non-Chromebook device, they will receive an error message:
Google Forms locked mode error msg.
  • Otherwise, students using managed Chromebooks will be greeted with the following message window upon accessing the assessment:
gForms locked mode student notification
  • Once students click the START QUIZ button, the browser window will switch to full screen mode and disable any shortcuts, touchpad gestures, etc. that could allow them to leave the Google Form. Students do have the option to exit by clicking on the CLOSE QUIZ button located in the top-right corner, but if so then none of their responses will be saved.
  • NOTE: In addition to the window/tab navigation tools being locked down, other features like taking a screenshot have also been disabled.

For more information please visit Google’s The Keyword blog which contains additional information include a step-by-step guide, Help Center directions, and a link to sign-up to participate in the beta program. And if you do decide to sign-up please don’t forget to send Google lots of constructive feedback.

A Dashboard of Activity in Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides

UPDATE (March 19, 2019): Google announced several changes to the Activity Dashboard.

  • The “View time” tab has been renamed to “Viewers.”
  • The new “Viewers” tab icon has been changed from a clock to that of a pair of people.
  • For more information, please refer to this article from the G Suite Updates blog.

(The original post continues below)…

Activity Dashboard icon

When working in a collaborative environment it can be helpful to know who and how many users are taking advantage of the resources you have shared. Google provides various tools with this in mind, from the Details tool in Drive to Version History inside of any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide file. Now there is a new player joining the team called Activity Dashboard.

Activity Dashboard menu option

How it works

  1. Open any Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide.
  2. Locate the Tools menu option.
  3. From the drop-down list, choose Activity Dashboard.

View time

  • In the first of three panels, the View time panel lets you see who the file has been shared with and when they last accessed it.
  • Click on the Last viewed column header to adjust the sorting of users.
  • Think of this as a way to see how many students have chosen to take advantage of a resource you’ve shared with them.
Activity Dashboard's View time window
  • If you would like to contact select users and send a follow-up email, then you can do this directly from within the Activity Dashboard.
Activity Dashboard's Email follow-up window

Viewer trend

  • In the second panel, Viewer trend lets you see access activity over time.
  • Use the drop-down menu in the top-right corner to adjust the time frame, or use the line graph across the top to set a custom time frame.
  • Think of this as a way to track how often students have chosen to use a resource you’ve shared with them. Did they access the resource only when you first introduced it? Did they access it right before an assessment? Have they been using the resource throughout the unit of study?
Activity Dashboard Viewer trend window

Privacy settings

  • In the third panel, use Privacy settings to control access to the Activity Dashboard for all Docs, Sheets, and Slides files or for this specific file.
Activity Dashboard Privacy settings window
  • The details on the Activity Dashboard are only accessible to users who have “Edit” permissions to the Doc/Sheet/Slide file.
Activity Dashboard access denied message

For more information on the Activity Dashboard please refer this post on the G Suite Updates Blog.

Gmail Mobile Update: All Inboxes

Gmail iconOne of the things I love about the mobile Gmail app is that it can support multiple Gmail accounts and makes it relatively easy to switch between your different inboxes. However, for some the ultimate interface would include a way to see all of one’s emails from across different accounts in one inbox. Now you can.

How it works

  • The best part of the All Inboxes feature is that it doesn’t require any setup on the user’s part. Just use the app update procedure on your device and get the latest version of the Gmail app.
  • Now, when you click the sandwich icon in the top-left corner of the app you will see at the top of your labels list the new All Inboxes option.
  • Note that this configuration affects your VIEW of your email only and does not share emails across accounts.

Gmail mobile app with All Inboxes option highlighted

A couple of other points to note:

  • Gmail mobile compose iconOnce you have entered into All Inboxes view and you click on the compose pencil icon, the email address that will be used to send the email will be the account that you were in last. So for example, if the last account I was in before I turned on All Inboxes was my school Gmail account, then that will be the account used to send my email and not my personal gmail account.
  • To exit out of All Inboxes, click the sandwich icon in the top-left corner to slide out the side drawer and then select the Everything label. Otherwise, the app will remember your choice and continue showing you All Inboxes under that account until you choose to switch it off.

Gmail mobile All Inboxes and Everything options

For more information, please check out the post from the G Suite Updates Blog.

Create “.new” Docs, Sheets, Slides, & More!

The New button inside of Google DriveIn a recent episode of the Google Teacher Tribe Podcast, co-host Matt Miller shared a new, interesting, and quick way to create “new” files in various Google Drive apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

How it works

With the entry of new domain name types into the World Wide Web playground (to add to veterans like .com, .net, and .edu), Google took advantage of the .new domain and acquired several of them to match its suite of Google Drive apps. So for example, if you type into your browser’s address bar then you will instantaneously get a new blank Google Docs file. The same is true if you swap out the keyword “docs” and replace it with sheets, slides, forms, and even sites. Once you give the file a name, then it will automatically save into the main directory of your Google Drive app.

If you want to stay traditional then you can certainly still go to Google Drive and create a new file of your choice from the NEW button located in the top-left corner. And, if you want to access the template gallery you can go to each file types Google Slides Template Galleryrespective website:

But, now we have one more way to quickly create new blank files in many of the native Google Drive apps thanks to the new “.new” domain type.

Google Drive – “Offline”

It’s no fun when you experience intermittent WiFi connectivity or heaven forbid a total Internet outage. It can be even worse when you are trying to work with 20+ students inside of Google Docs when this happens. Thankfully, with a little preparation ahead of time you can minimize the impact of an Internet outage and remain productive even offline.

How it works

If you would like access to your Google Drive files when there is no WiFi/Internet available, then you can enable Google Drive Offline. This will allow you to edit files native to Google Drive (e.g. Docs, Sheets, Slides, & Drawings) offline and then have the changes synced back to the cloud automatically when WiFi service is restored.

  1. Google Drive Settings drop-down menuGo to, then locate the Settings gear icon at the far-right end of the Drive toolbar.
  2. From the drop-down menu choose ‘Settings’
  3. Under the General tab, locate the ‘Offline’ heading.
  4. Place a check in the checkbox to enable offline syncing of Google Drive files.
  5. Click the blue Done button to save your settings.


NOTE: Not all files will be available for offline access. This includes PDF’s, Google Forms, images, videos, and files that haven’t been accessed by you in some time. Files that have been shared with you and therefore you are not the owner of will also be inaccessible during this time.

Enabling Drive Offline is now part of my Chromebook orientation unit with 5th grade students when they come up to the middle school.

Google Classroom Update: Copy a Class

Classroom class card with Copy option displayed

For teachers who work at the middle/high school level, using Google Classroom means creating multiple classes for each section of the content area taught. This has meant recreating, adding, and uploading the same starting materials for each class section. NO LONGER! Now, when you create a class in Classroom you can use the Copy Class option to quickly duplicate much of your content.


How it works

  • Once you have your first class section created, return to the Classroom home screen and click on the “traffic light” in the top-right corner of the class card you wish to duplicate. From the pop-up menu, select “Copy.”
  • A new pop-up window will be displayed where you can fill in the new Class name, section title, Subject (optional), and Room (found in the new Class settings window).
  • Note that Announcement posts, comments and student rosters will not be included within the new “copied” class.

Classroom Copy class setup window

  • Depending on how much content you have added to the master class, it make take some time for Classroom to complete the Copy class process. Once you have clicked COPY and started the process, you may navigate away from Classroom and an email notification will be sent to you when the process is complete.

Email confirmation that a class was successfully copied

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

Google Classroom Update: Topic Tool Transformed

In the past, teachers could use the Topic tool to add a specific keyword to a post. Teachers and students could then filter the Stream to show only those posts that had been “tagged” with that particular keyword. With the introduction of the new Classwork page, the Topic tool has also been transformed to allow teachers to organize posts into groups by Topic. In addition, both posts and topics can now be arranged and re-arranged on the Classwork page.

How it works

First, Topics can be created from two locations:

  1. From the Create menu at the top of the Classwork page.
  2. From the Topic option inside the edit post window. It is from here that posts are tagged with a topic keyword.


Once you have some topics created, they will show up as headers on the Classwork page.

Classwork page with Topics as Headers

To re-arrange Topics or individual posts under a Topic, select the 3-dots icon (a.k.a. the traffic light icon) to move them up or down on the Classwork page.

Traffic light icon to arrange Topics & Posts

Google Classroom Update: The New Stream Tab

Google Classroom navigation tabs

The Stream tab in Google Classroom has undergone a major refit this summer and, while it is still the landing page when a user selects a Class Card, the content it displays has been streamlined to better fit its name. No longer the hub of activity that it was (that job has been taken over by the Classwork tab), the Stream keeps a running record of the activity taking place within the class. This was done to give students an overview of the goings on in the class and a place to ask questions and leave comments.

  • UPCOMING: Assignments with due dates will still be displayed in this box in the top-left corner of the Stream page.
  • To create an Announcement, click on the box at the top of the Stream labeled, “Share something with your class…” This will active the editor to enter text and access familiar tools like for which classes and/or students you want to see the post, add supporting materials, and then choose between Post, Schedule, or Save draft.

Create an Announcement editor window

  • To reuse an Announcement post, click on the icon to the right of the “Share something with your class…” box, then locate the class containing the desired Announcement post.

Reuse Announcement Post

  • Activity from the Classwork tab will be displayed in chronological order, with the most recent posts listed at the top. Assignments will include a clipboard icon and questions will include a speech bubble with “?” icon.
  • If the teacher has enabled the ability for students to leave comments, then the Add class comment… option will be visible beneath any Announcement post in the Stream. To enable/disable this setting, navigate to the Class settings tool by clicking on the gear icon in the menu bar.

New Stream tab in Google Classroom

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