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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Google Classroom Update: Class Settings

In my post from last week I talked about how to digitally breathe new life into the ‘About’ section through the use of the new Class settings tool. But, this tool contains additional settings that you might find useful.

How it works

  • Class settings is the new place for your class description and the location (room number) of your classroom.

Class settings editor window

  • Class code drop-down menu optionsPreviously found under the STUDENTS tab, management and display of your class code can now be accessed here. The options to Display the code, Copy the code to include in an email or slide presentation, Reset your code and Disable the class code are all still available from this location.




  • Previously located to the left of posts on the STREAM tab, the ability to set student commenting permissions on the STREAM tab is now located here.

Stream settings for student commenting abilities

  • The Show deleted items toggle switch is now located here as well.

Show deleted items toggle switch in Class settings

Deleted posts displayed at the bottom of the Classwork tab

  • Finally, from here you can turn on Guardian Summaries for a particular class. Once activated, this class will be included in any Guardian Summary communication for the students who are enrolled in that class.
  • A link to what a sample guardian email summary might look is also provided.

Enable/disable Guardian Summaries for this class

For more information on this and other changes to Classroom, please visit the Google Classroom Support site.