Recent Updates to Google Classroom

Google recently announced some updates to their Google Classroom app with a focus on improving communication with students as well as with parents/guardians. If you’d like to watch this review online then click here.

Comment Settings move to STREAM

Classroom commenting tool drop-down menuThe configuration box for controlling the commenting ability of students has been moved from the STUDENTS tab to the STREAM tab. The actual functions haven’t changed; you can still set the public or “class” commenting privileges for students, just that the tool is now located on the tab where the commenting actually takes place:

  • Students can post and comment
  • Students can only comment
  • Only teachers can  post and comment

Manually send Guardian Summaries

Email student or guardians envelope iconGuardian Summaries are a way for parents to get regular updates on how their child is doing in their classes through Google Classroom. Go to the STUDENT tab and click on the name of a student in the list to take you to their “Your work” tool. By clicking on the envelope icon in the top-right corner, now teachers can manually send a Guardian Summary to a student, the guardian(s) of the student, or both the student and the guardian(s). After selecting your receiver, there is a space below to enter a quick message. Don’t forget to check off the box to Include student work summary if you want that information included in the transmission. NOTE: A guardian must have accepted the invite prior to this point in order to include them in this communique.

Guardian summary email tool

Teachers & Co-Teachers

About section-teacher managementNothing much to say here except that the footprint of this module has been made smaller. You still use this tool to add co-teachers to your class, remove them, email them, or transfer ownership of the class to another. Students still see the list of co-teachers for the class and an envelope icon to send an email to them.

As always, if you like these changes or have suggestions for some new ones then please do not hesitate to send Google feedback via the question mark “?” icon located in the bottom-left corner of the window.


EDU in 90 Video Series

youtube-512From Google for Education, EDU in 90 is a YouTube video series designed to help keep you informed and up-to-date with news and information relevant to educators, administrators, and others in the teaching and learning community. And, they crunch these updates into 90-second bite-size pieces. For more information you can subscribe to the Google for Education YouTube channel, and to make sure you don’t miss you regular dose of “Google for Education goodness” you can save EDU in 90 to your YouTube playlist library.

New Embed Options for Google Sites

Google_Sites_Insert_Menu-part1Those who have used Google Sites in the past know that the app was in dire need up an update and thankfully, Google recently did just that and delivered a whole new interface for the NEW Google Sites. Since going live, Google has been working to improve the app with tools that were supported in the old version as well as tools to support emerging website technologies. The next chapter in these upgrades has arrived via the Embed URL tool.

Embed URL’s

The Embed URL tool now supports the insertion of whole webpages as an iframe, as long as the website you are trying to include supports it.

  1. Embedded website screenshotIn the new Google Sites, under the INSERT tab click on the Embed URL tool to get started.
  2. Paste the link to the website you’d like to embed into your website into the box provided. If you see a preview of the website appear, then the site supports embedding.
  3. Click the ADD button to complete the process.

One way that I see myself taking advantage of this feature is to embed YouTube Playlists into a webpage, which the Insert > YouTube option does not currently support. If you have successfully embedded other types of content into a new Google Sites webpage then please share your story in the comments below.

For more information about embedding objects into the new Google Sites, please check out their GSuite Updates blog here.

Embed HTML & Javascript

The ability to embed HTML code and Javascript in the new Google Sites has been a much requested feature and now, it is finally here. This newest feature has been added to the ‘Embed’ tool from the Google Sites INSERT menu.

  1. Sites embed code window screenshotAfter clicking on the Embed URL tool a pop-up window with be displayed.
  2. The first tab is for embedding content by URL as stated above. Click on the second tab option to embed code.
  3. Paste your HTML or Javascript code into the box provided, then click the NEXT button.
  4. Sites embed code preview window screenshotSites will test the code and if successful will show a preview of your embedded widget. If you need to edit the code, click the pencil icon located in the center of the preview image.
  5. When finished, click the INSERT button to add it to your webpage.

For more information about embedding objects into the new Google Sites, please check out their GSuite Updates blog here.


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.

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  • 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.

screenshot of 3 PDF guides available for download

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.


Create Interactives w/Google Drawings

Google Drawings, an app found inside of Google Drive, has become more and more my go-to resource for creating artifacts and activities that are interactive. You can customize the workspace to any size you need using the File -> Page Setup, access multiple line and shape tools, and insert objects from the same sources as you can from a Google Doc or Slides file. The possibilities for this tool are only limited by our own imaginations.

Case and point, I recently read a how-to article from edtechteacher by Ben Sondgeroth where he outlines the true power of Google Drawings to create interactive artifacts. Ben walks you through how to create an interactive Google Drawing using Parts of a Cell as an example, among several others. My favorite example is the interactive States of the U.S. map, where each state has been linked to a video about that state from the History Channel. You can watch his video as he goes about this step-by-step below.


  • Using interactive Google Drawings fits in quite nicely if you are using a flipped classroom setup or use Hyperdocs in your lessons.
  • Share this technique with your students and see what interactive Drawings products they can build. I decided to add this to the list of options for my students to use when creating their Upstander Superhero as part of our unit of study on Cyberbullying.

Natural History – Google Arts & Culture

Natural History – The beautiful, the dangerous, the endangered. Up close.

Welcome to the Natural History exhibit from Google’s Arts & Culture project. Here you will gain access to a wealth of information presented in multiple, interactive ways. The various exhibits that you can tour virtually come from museums all over the world (54 at my last count) including the Seodaemun Museum in Seoul, South Korea, the State Darwin Museum in Moscow, Russia, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., USA.

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Some exhibits work like Google Street View, allowing you to move through and around the exhibits. Others take advantage of 360° technology to take you on a virtual reality video tour, such as the Jurassic giant Giraffatitan in Berlin, Germany or the prehistoric sea dragon Rhomaleosaurus in London, England.

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And there is still more to be discovered! Take an interactive tour on a Brief History of Discovery, or read about animals that exist on our planet right now that are considered to have super powers! Then there is the library of over 260 curated YouTube videos on Natural History. These videos play within the Natural History website and are free of ads and suggested videos.

For more information check out this entry from the Google Keyword Blog, then let your imagination and curiosity run wild!