As the summer break comes to an end and educators begin preparations for the return of students (and with some already in session), now seems like a good time to chat about the benefits that Google Classroom can have on your class. Google has been hard at work during the summer hiatus listening to the feedback they’ve received from educators like you and have introduced significant improvements to the app. We will spend the next weeks going over these changes, some of which are very, very cool!
To begin, Google has announced a new resource for educators called #FirstDayofClassroom, which has a little something for everyone.
- If you’re new to Classroom, then check out “The Basics” with YouTube videos that cover setting up your class, adding students, assigning work, and grading assignments inside of Classroom.
- If you’ve tried Classroom before and are looking for the next steps, then check out the “Teacher’s Lounge” with videos on tips, tricks, and best practices from fellow educators.
- Do you prefer documents over videos that you can print out and have in-hand at a moment’s notice? Then scroll down to the “Handy Guides” section.
If you or someone you know is new to Google Classroom then this site is definitely bookmark-worthy. If you are familiar with Classroom or perhaps even a veteran, then check back often for news and updates as additional resources and support materials are in the works.
Google likes to promote their cloud services and specifically the ability to work on artifacts in real-time that reflect real-time changes. However, there are still times when hard copies of artifacts are needed and Google recognizes this. Because users cannot install printer software on their Chromebooks, Google has created a cloud-based printing service.
The ‘Select a destination’ Window
1. The print destination selection window is divided into three groups:
- Recent Destinations: This is where your recent print destination will be listed, with the most recent one listed at the top.
- Local Destinations: This option allows you to download a file instead of printing it.
- Google Cloud Print: This option lists all of the printers your account has been given access to. NOTE: This option by default shows the top 5/6 recently selected devices. To see the entire list of available printers, scroll to the bottom of the list and click on the “Show All…” button.
2. Once a printer is selected, use the left-hand sidebar to configure the printer for the desired output from the printer.
3. If you desire more customization options, then go to the bottom of the sidebar and click on the plus sign for “More settings.”
Additional Print Options
If you know the name of the printer you’d like to use, then you can easily start typing the name of that printer into the Search destinations box at the top of the window.
Save to Google Drive
This feature allows you to create a digital file out of the information you have on the screen and save it directly to your Google Drive. This can come in handy when, for example, you want to save a copy of a webpage.
Save as PDF
This feature allows you to create a digital file out of the information you have on the screen and save it to the Files App on your Chromebook. This feature can come in handy when you want to create a local copy of a webpage, or when you want to convert a file to a read-only PDF.
CleanPrint Chrome Extension
Many of today’s webpages are not formatted to print neatly on an 8 ½ by 11 in. piece of paper. When printing in this situation, you may want to consider using the CleanPrint Chrome extension. This tool will remove any ads, images, and other items that take up extra space (and paper), leaving only the important text to be printed. We have deployed this extension to all of our users at York Middle School to help with reducing printer consumables.
To use CleanPrint:
- Navigate to the webpage you want to print.
- Click on the CleanPrint extension icon to have the webpage “optimized” for printing.
- In the CleanPrint preview window, remove any items that you do not need included in the print job, then select the desired output option from the left-hand sidebar menu
Saving Squad is an interactive website designed to help students understand the concepts of banking, earning/spending money, and overall financial management. Start by creating an avatar, then head on over to the bank to open a checking account. Afterward, travel around the map looking for opportunities to earn cash by solving a variety of problems. Problem scenarios are broken up into three difficulty levels. Access the Teachers section of the site for lesson plans that can be downloaded in PDF format. The site is free to use and students may enter as a guest without having to sign in (an account is required in order to save student progress). Please note that some of the financial symbols are in English pounds.
NOTE: For younger learners, the site creators have developed Fun to Save for students aged 5-7 years.
- Use the word problems provided in the site to have students create their own using local prices and establishments.
- Ask students to reflect on their reasoning for their financial choices and whether or not such choices would be fiscally responsible in today’s economy.
Recently, Richard Byrne over at FreeTech4Teachers.com shared a Civil War resource (General Lee’s map of Gettysburg) from the historical documents section of the U.S. National Archives website. In addition to the Civil War, the site has additional documents around the Constitution, Emancipation, the Louisiana Purchase, and even the Apollo 11 flight plan. These documents can be viewed online as well as downloaded to your computer, often in hi-resolution format.
In addition to historical documents the site has sections devoted to ancestry research, World War II photography, and the recently released 1940 Census. There is also a section devoted specifically to teachers that contains lesson plans along with materials for school tours, getting started with primary resources research, and where to find related resources from their network of state and regional locations.
In an article from EducatorsTechnology.com, the author shares two posters designed for the classroom that have been graciously shared by the site LearningToday with the online community. The first is depicted on a butterfly’s wing with the Blooms stages spreading out from the body in colorful waves. The second poster looks like a cross-section of an orange with each wedge containing vocabulary words to help students connect their actions with the appropriate category. Use the link provided above each poster on the EducatorsTechnology.com site to download a full-size version in PDF format.
“I AM A BLOOMING BUTTERFLY”
“A BLOOMING ORANGE”
Squishy Circuits is a wonderful hands-on activity that is designed to teach students of all ages about electrical engineering and circuits in particular using play dough. The site includes directions with materials and measurements on how to make your own conductive and insulating dough. Click on the Circuits link to access eight different circuit projects with more to be added soon. Each activity comes as a downloadable PDF with written directions and screenshots. Access the videos section to see upperclassmen demonstrating how to mix your dough and/or build a variety of circuits.
- This is a great hands-on activity for younger students because the materials are safe and easily recognizable by them.
- Use this site with older students to have them create their own instructional “howto” videos that could then be passed down to your elementary schools; who better to teach students then other students!
Find That File – Search for content by file type (Gr. 6-12)
Find That File is an Internet search engine designed to help users find content by media file type. For example, let’s say you would like to find an audio recording of MLK Jr. “I Have A Dream” speech. Simply enter your search criteria into the text box, then use the filtering tools on the left-hand side of the screen to filter the results into specific file types (mp3., wma, .m4a, etc).
- This could be a valuable tool for students who are looking for specific types of media to include with their project presentations.
- This service can be made even more powerful when paired with a file conversion website like Zamzar.com If you find the right type of media but it’s in the wrong format, then you can use Zamzar to convert the file to a format that does work for you and your computer.
- See Richard Byrne’s review in his blog Free Tech4Teachers.