Calendar Comes to Google Classroom

Shortly after Google Classroom debuted, one of the components that teachers asked to be integrated into the app was Google Calendar. As the 2015-16 school year got underway, Classroom was still devoid of a calendar option. All appeared to be lost. But in reality, Google was on the case and in late September Google Calendar came to Classroom.

Calendar_Classroom

There are two ways for students and teachers to access their Classroom’s Calendar:

  1. From the ‘sandwich’ menu in the top-left corner of Classroom
  2. From the ‘About’ tab

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.21.56 PMA third option is to access the Classroom’s Calendar directly from the Calendar app (there is also a shortcut to this option under the ‘About’ tab). Any assignment that is posted in Classroom that has a due date will appear in that Classroom’s calendar. And, just as in the Calendar App, teachers and students can filter assignments by specific classes or see all of the assignments from all of their classes on one screen. If teachers do not see their Classroom’s calendar in the Calendar App, then Google suggests that they may need to “Add a post to the class stream to create the calendar.”

Finally, now that a Classroom’s calendar can be accessed in the Calendar App there are more options at the teacher’s disposal to easily share this information with parents. Teachers can open up the sharing permissions on the Classroom calendar, then embed it on their teacher website. Parents who have Google accounts themselves will have the additional option to add their child’s Classroom calendar to their own Calendar App.

If a video would help explain these exciting new developments, then I would recommend checking out these two by Jenn Scheffer:


Google Forms Gets Cozy With Classroom

gClassroom add menuIn my Digital Citizenship class, I sometimes use a Google Form as an assessment tool with my students. While a Google Form cannot be embedded into Google Classroom’s Stream (soon Google, yes?), one can easily attach the link to the live form. The first time I did this I posted the Form link as an Announcement, but then couldn’t tell when students actually completed the assessment. The second time around I posted the Form link as part of an Assignment, but while students remembered to ‘Submit’ the completed Form many forgot to ‘Turn In’ the assignment in Classroom. Now, I realize that I could just open up the Form Responses spreadsheet to check for completion, but I was so hoping for a more…efficient way to spot-check completion. That’s when Google does what it does best: change.

Assignment attachment optionsLast week in the Google for Education feed on Google Plus, they announced improved integration between Classroom and Forms (click here for the post). Now you can attach a Google Form to an assignment in Classroom (i.e. forgo the paper clip option and instead choose ‘Attach Google Drive Item’).  Then, when students go to submit your Form, they will be prompted to also TURN IN the assignment in Classroom. As an added bonus, when teachers go to the Google Forms assignment in Classroom there is now a direct link to the Form Responses spreadsheet.

 

View_Responses_in_Sheets

Sometimes you just have to embrace “Living in Beta.”

Calm (Gr. K-12)

Calm – Taking a mental break from the school day

We’ve all been there. You’re trying to transition your students from one activity to another but the energy levels are just too high to bring them back down to earth. If only you had a tool to help calm things down (pun intended). Enter Calm, a website containing relaxing sounds and animated imagery. Choose from 25 different themes from ocean surf to forest raindrops. Use the sound bar located in the bottom-right corner of the site to change the volume level or mute the audio altogether. There is also a timer tool with five different presets. The timer tool can also be used in ‘Guided Relaxation’ mode where a voice will provide calming tips during the designated time period.

NOTE: Calm is also available, for free, as an app from the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores.

INTEGRATION

  • Use as a transition tool from a physically intense activity to a more stationary one.
  • Use to help students mentally prepare for quizzes, tests, or other assessments.
  • Expose students to just the audio track and ask them to visualize the scene, then compare their images to that of the site.
  • Use the various scenes as the trigger for a writing prompt.

Calm site screenshot

PAC-Maps

PAC-MAN & Google MapsScreen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.20.26 AM

One of Google’s many catch phrases is that they are always “Living in Beta.” This week Google decided to take a trip back in time and visit an old friend from the 80’s. When you navigate to http://maps.google.com and then direct your eyes to the bottom-left corner you will see, in addition to the tool to activate the Google Earth overlay, the option to activate PAC-Maps. PAC-Maps will turn turn the streets of your current map view into a PAC-MAN game board. The whole gang is there including Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde, invincibility wafers, and even the occasional piece of fruit for bonus points. Use the arrow keys to move PAC-MAN around the board. Now, students can take PAC-MAN on a tour of the world’s greatest population centers from Paris to Dubai to Sydney to New York City!

PAC-Maps screenshot

PAC-Maps is also available on iOS and Android devices with the latest download of the Google Maps app. Just click on Settings and choose the “Insert Coin” option. PAC-MAN can only be played in a few places on your mobile device but have no fear, Google has left clues for us to try and figure out where.

 

Bla | Bla | Bla…App

One of my duties as technology coordinator for two elementary schools is to film various student productions. One of the challenges when filming students is getting them to speak loudly and clearly so that the camera can pick up their voices. For someone who hated presenting in grade school, I can sympathize, but public speaking is a part of one’s career as a student.

Enter Bla | Bla | Bla.Bla Bla Bla screenshot

This app comes with a library of 16 faces that will stretch, contort, and otherwise move in response to how loud the student speaks. This gives the student a visual meter that they can use to measure the volume of their voice and adapt accordingly. Right now, it’s a tie between the frog and the cat as the student’s favorite avatar.

  • For iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch – Download
  • My thanks to Mrs. Keating, Music Teacher at Village Elementary, for introducing me to this app.