It’s the start to a brand new school year, and brand new adventures are on the horizon! As we guide students on those adventures, we want to ensure they have the best experience possible. Putting safety parameters in place helps to make that experience a successful one, and this year, the district is moving to a more secure password protocol. Keep reading to find out how this will affect you!
First, all elementary students will have their passwords reset to a default password (which is currently their 8-digit birthdate without punctuation and without spaces), including those students who have previously set up their own passwords in order to gain access to Google Drive. This will alleviate the management of trying to remember passwords from last year or tracking down the password cards from last year’s teacher(s). It will also make a more seamless experience to walk all students through the password set up, rather than attempting to figure out who does and does not need to set up passwords. Expect setting up passwords to be an annual process, as passwords will expire after one year.
All third through sixth grade students will now have personal logins, so it will be important that these teachers schedule time in the computer labs to walk students through setting up their passwords for this year. Setting up passwords in order to gain access to Google Drive and/or Office 365 MUST be done on a computer in the lab, NOT on a Chromebook. Once passwords are set up on the computer in the lab, then students can successfully log on to Chromebooks and Google Drive.
Second, there will be a new password protocol. One way to create a more secure password is to make it a complex one with a combination of UPPERCASE, lowercase, numeric and special characters. The new password protocol will require a combination of at least three of those options. For example, GFps1234 would meet this requirement because it has uppercase, lowercase, and numeric characters. You’ll also notice that this password example has the minimum requirement of eight characters. Lastly, the password CANNOT contain any part of the student’s name.
New Password Protocol
I have active directory cards that can help teachers manage the password setup process and have a reference for students as they learn their new passwords. I find these cards extremely helpful for both teachers and students in simplifying the process. Please feel free to contact your instructional coach or myself if you need support with this process.
P.S. As a last thought, this new password protocol will also apply to staff beginning in October. If you have not changed your password within the last year, you will be prompted to do so. And the new password will need to meet the complexity requirements listed above.
As the year is winding down and you take a moment to breathe, celebrate the many successes of this school year! We, as a district, have made great strides with integrating technology with our core instruction, and hopefully, you are experiencing a more engaged, thought-provoking, problem solving classroom of students.
The district has designed this permission slip so that you can list all the websites you intend to use for the school year on one page. Unfortunately, we cannot send home a general permission slip that covers all websites, but as long as each website that requires parent permission is listed, parents have been rightly informed. As you prepare for next year, take the time to preview some of the tools you think you will use, and then click the link for the permission slip. You will need to log in to your Google Drive, select File, and click “Make a copy.” You now have an editable copy of the permission slip. Anything in bold, italicized, and underlined print is yours to replace with your information.
For more support, be sure to check out our Instructional Technology webpages. Start the 2017-18 year off with a customized and comprehensive list of the websites you want to use for fabulous project based learning opportunities and send it home on Day One. A few minutes of preplanning your year will make for a successful start in technology!
Happy summer to you!
Citations are a big deal...but at elementary, do we really need to worry about it? Just as with any other concept we teach kids, giving credit where credit is due is a big deal! Ask any student who puts time and effort into a project if he/she would be willing to let someone else share the glory, and more than likely, he/she will answer with a firm no! And rightly so, as students should receive credit for their hard work.
So how do we begin teaching students to cite? I would argue that while there are a variety of formats to choose from, at the elementary level, we should be less concerned with formatting and more focused on the big idea of teaching kids to acknowledge when they use the work of others to support their own ideas. Google Drive is constantly making improvements, and sometimes with success. When changing the “Research” function to the “Explore” tool, they initially removed the citation feature. Happily, they have brought it back, new and improved!
Researching within Google Docs has become a useful process, with the citation tool built right into the search results.
Click the Explore button in the bottom right corner and begin seeing results immediately. After using a source, students would hover over the website to see quotation marks appear. With a simple click of the button, students now have a footnote with a full, ready-made citation.
For example, here’s a citation for a quote regarding my favorite food:
There are few foods that people feel as passionate about--
a passion that goes beyond a love for the ‘sweetness’ of most candies or desserts…”
Citing images in Google Docs is a little trickier, but when using the Explore tool and selecting the tab for Images, students can click and drag an image right into his/her Google Doc, and it comes with the link to the website from which it belongs. Students at least have a web address to give credit in their list of sources.
Another option for inserting an image is to click on the image in the search results and enlarge it for a clearer view. Then with a click on the blue “Insert” button at the top, it is quickly inserted into the document. The website (and link) appears when the image is highlighted in the document itself. For example, here is the result of inserting my selected image:
As elementary teachers, we do have the responsibility of laying a firm foundation for students and their success in education, and thankfully, Google Docs has made citation very user-friendly.
Having recently participated in Lesson Study with the fabulous teachers at Lewis & Clark, one common focus area in writing is teaching students how to cite text evidence. Not only does citing text evidence and sources create good writing habits, it is also assessed through both our writing assessments and SBAC testing. So let’s take a look at the expectations, the rubrics, and finally some resources to support instruction for citing text evidence.
First, the district’s 3rd - 6th grade informative writing rubric references the use of text evidence:
SBAC’s 6th grade Practice Test Scoring Guide explains the rubric:
The exemplar provides specific language:
Preparing students to support their writing with facts from the text can be a challenging task, and extra support is always appreciated. Sentence stems, as highlighted in the exemplar above, are helpful for students to frame their thoughts while referencing the text.
One Lewis & Clark teacher found a resource that provided a variety of sentence stems to display in the classroom. With this goal in mind, I have recreated a few options that can be shared, printed, and posted as an anchor chart. Here are some choices.
If you like your poster to be large enough to see across the room, you may prefer that each sentence stem appears on its own 8.5x11 piece of paper:
One sentence stem per printed page
If you prefer one large poster, then this option can be sent to Graphix to be enlarged to your choice of size:
These are already in PDF form, so they should be print-center ready. Hopefully, this will be a valuable resource to support your writing instruction.
Graphs can tell more about data than words, and as a result, are a powerful tool for students to represent supporting information in their work. Not all graphs tell the same story, however, and students have to determine which type of graph best tells the story they want. As students learn the art of graphing, they can use some of the following tools to help in their selection of the best graph for the best storytelling.
Createagraph, a site sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, features the following graph types:
Students work their way through each tab, beginning with the Design tab to select the type of graph and style choices, then the Data tab to put in collected data, and finally the Labels tab to refine choices with data labels and fonts. The Preview tab allows students to view their final product, and if edits or revisions are needed, they simply click back to the previous tabs. The Print/Save tab is for either printing or downloading a JPG image as a final product. If downloading as a JPG image, this graph can be inserted into a presentation.
Illuminations, a site sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, has many options to support math instruction, but the two graphing tools are the Data Grapher and the Advanced Data Grapher.
The Data Grapher is similar to Createagraph, with the ability to create the following graph types:
This tool may be more friendly for primary classrooms, with a simpler layout. Students can add more rows or columns with the click of the + buttons. Row and column text can be edited, so rows and columns can also be added by simply tabbing after editing text.
After inputting data, students click the Preview button to see additional editing tools.
For intermediate grades, the Advanced Data Grapher on Illuminations’ site offers the following graph types:
Similar in layout to the Data Grapher, many of the learned skills transfer well to using this tool efficiently. An added bonus with the Advanced Data Grapher, though, is the ability to use suggested data sets for Box Plotter, Histogram, and Stem-Leaf graph types, using the dropdown menu at the bottom of the graphing tool.
Encouraging students to not only read graphs but also to build their own graphical representation of data is an engaging task that promotes critical thinking and analysis. If you’d like further support, be sure to check in with your instructional coach or the tech coach for planning a lesson or project incorporating one of these options.
Geography and history can come alive when students create an interactive map with one of the apps recently added to our Google Drive/G Suite for Education. “Google My Maps” now shows up when clicking New and then More.
Students can pin locations, and with each pin, add photos and text to share information interactively with their audiences.
Some additional features including changing the type of base map used, latitude and longitude noted on each pin, and a ruler tool that will measure distances between locations. These options expand the possibilities of using My Maps as a presentation tool, a geography lesson, or a math lesson. Check out this sample interactive map to see the potential of this tool. Instructional and tech coaches are a great source of support for planning these type of lessons, integrating technology with content to create an engaging project with students.
Most students become fairly proficient at building PowerPoints and Google Slideshows, and one way to redefine these useful presentation tools is to have students actually record audio or narration and add to the final product. There are a few tools to do this, but a new extension that now shows in the Chrome browser is called Screencastify.
First, let’s define an extension. This is a function that “extends” across all websites when using Chrome, meaning it will function with any website rather than just one website. An app, on the other hand, typically launches and/or is linked to just one website.
Screencastify is an extension, so it will work on whatever screen is displayed. The icon looks like a film strip because it essentially turns a Google Slideshow (or anything else displayed on the screen) into a video file, complete with audio.
Taneesha Thomas, from William J. Bogan Computer Technical High School, created a great tutorial slideshow on how to use Screencastify, detailing the step-by-step process. If Screencastify is already an added extension, go to the section marked Set Up for the first launch. Then the section on Tab Recording will walk through the process of recording. Here is an example video which uses this slideshow and Screencastify to add narration.
This can be a great extension (pun intended!) when using slideshows for presentations, especially for students who are intimidated by presenting in front of the class or students who are ready to enhance those presentations. Feel free to contact your instructional coach or the tech coach for support in planning, modeling, or supporting a lesson using Google Slides and Screencastify.
Finding the right tech tool for both a primary and an intermediate application can be challenging, but Seesaw, a digital portfolio option, can be a perfect fit for kindergarten through sixth grade. Depending on how it is used, it could potentially meet every tech standard while promoting communication with parents about student work.
It is helpful to first know what Seesaw can do and then choose your purpose for its use with students. Seesaw is a way for students to share their individual work, first with each other and secondly with any others invited to view. As one student calls it, it is a “Facebook for kids” with an academic focus. They can like each other’s posts and offer comments, while the teacher has full control of what is added to the class feed through an approval process, to include comments. However, determining your purpose is an important step for implementing Seesaw. Its original intent is simply building a student portfolio of their work and sharing it with others. However, assignments can be given directly in Seesaw itself with six different options.
Additionally, students can collaborate on a given assignment and add it to each partner’s portfolio. With the commenting feature and the ability to share with others, students can improve their communication skills and learn how to effectively interact with their peers and parents in an online forum.
Click here for my guidelines and suggestions for developing your approach to using this collaborative and interactive Web 2.0 tool, which does require parent permission (click here for the GFPS Parent Permission Slip). There are lesson ideas as well as a suggested scope and sequence for introducing students to Seesaw. Feel free to contact me or your instructional coach for additional support and begin building students' online portfolios.
What is the best way to assign a Google Docs template for my students to work on independently? What is the best tool for students to submit a link to their work? How can I monitor and/or have copies of my students’ work?
Google Classroom allows a teacher to organize digital content in an efficient platform. Once Classroom is accessed, creating a specific class space begins with a few simple clicks.
It is always best to begin by logging into Google Drive, aka Google Apps for Education and most recently renamed as G Suite for Education. Whichever name used, Classroom is only an option when logging into an educational account. Once logged in, there are two options:
If it is a user’s first experience with Classroom, it is important to select the right role. Students need to select “Student” and receive permission to “Join class.” Teachers need to select “Teacher” and receive permissions to both “Join class” and “Create class.” While it appears obvious as to which role to select, teachers often get confused if first introduced to Classroom while attending a professional development and mistakenly select “Student,” limiting permissions only to join and never to create. However, selecting the “Teacher” role affords permission to use Classroom in both capacities.
Once correctly identified and in Classroom, the user’s email will appear in the top right corner. Just to the left of the displayed email is a plus sign. When clicked, it offers those two options to “Join class” and “Create class.” Click “Create class” to begin designing an online forum for digital content. Name the class and, if desired, designate a section and/or a subject (these are optional).
In the newly created class, there will be three tabs at the top:
The default view will begin by displaying the class under the Stream tab. Google Classroom has three options to design online content for students. Each option has a different use, but creativity can also allow a teacher to develop the options to suit his/her purposes. Here is a quick highlight of each option and some potential ways to address the opening questions above.
Create announcement is the first option when clicking the plus sign in the bottom right corner within a Classroom. As indicated with the name, it is a way to share information with students. At the bottom of the dialogue box, there are four options to add resources. If working from a desktop or laptop, any file can be uploaded with the attachment button. Files within Google Drive can also be added with the Drive button. Although the YouTube button is available, students in our district cannot access YouTube videos directly, making it ineffective for use with students. The last button is for adding links to websites or files. These four options appear within all three elements in the Stream.
Create assignment is the next choice when clicking the plus sign in the bottom right corner under the Stream tab. Assignments have built in accountability under the teacher view, with a count of enrolled students who are “Done” and “Not Done” with the assignment. This is also the best element to use when sharing templates with students. A template is a teacher-designed file, such as a Google Doc with specific text inserted, or a Google slideshow with designated topics on each slide. When first creating an assignment, a teacher could use the Google Drive button and access a template, and once uploaded, select “Make a copy for each student.” This selection disappears after the assignment is created, so it is important to choose it when first designing the assignment. The beauty of using a template and “Make a copy for each student” is the teacher’s file remains untouched, while students immediately receive an editable file personalized with both the assignment name and the student’s name. The teacher has access to all students’ individual files through Classroom.
Create question is the last alternative when using the plus sign to add content to the class. Just as with assignments, questions also have built in accountability under the teacher view, with a count of enrolled students who are “Done” and “Not Done” with answering the question. Questions can have two different purposes: discussion forum or checks for understanding. They also have two design options to reflect those purposes: short answer or multiple choice. There are a variety of combinations for the settings within the class to control what students can see and do when responding to a question. When first introducing discussion forums, it is important to think through the purpose and instruction so students can successfully participate on an academic level, and settings for questions can help guide that process.
There are many benefits to building a Google Classroom, but in particular, organizing digital content in a manner that makes it easily accessible to students is by far one of its best features. Your instructional coach or tech coach would be happy to support you in making this a useful tool in your classroom instruction.
I want to share a website with students. I want to see my students’ initial drafts as they type up their documents or create their presentations to provide feedback, but I don’t want to print. I want my students to comment on each other’s work through peer editing without having to print. I want to grade my students’ final drafts and/or presentations at home.
When working with technology-based assignments, a teacher has to determine how best to manage these components, and Google Apps for Education (GAFE), more commonly referred to as Google Drive, has a user-friendly learning management system known as Google Classroom. Google Classroom is not only user-friendly for teachers, but students can navigate it with minimal distractions. This first of two blog posts will provide an overview of Google Classroom.
In the Classroom, teachers have two options: join a class or create a class. This allows teachers to participate in professional development classes as “students” while still offering the option to create classes for their own students. Once a class is created, it auto-generates a class code to share with students to allow them to join the class.
There is seemingly no limit to how many classes a teacher can create in Classroom. Because the Classroom platform streams (similar to Facebook), with the latest announcement, assignment, or question posting at the top, the ability to create a class for each subject area prevents students from having to scroll endlessly searching for their next task. The only option to move elements is limited to “Move to the top,” but does enable a teacher to keep specific content at the top, if desired.
After creating a class, a Classroom folder will appear in My Drive for teachers (when students join a class, a Classroom folder will appear in My Drive for students). The use of this folder can be confusing, but it is important to remember: DO NOT DELETE THIS FOLDER. It stores all resources and student work as it is accessed and collected in the Classroom. (Note: Resources cannot be added to Classroom by putting them into the folder, resources must be added in Classroom, and then they will show up in the folder.)
As mentioned above, there are three elements used to post in the stream of a class. All three elements allow files to be uploaded, website links to be shared, or files within Google Drive to be accessed. Announcements can be used for sharing classroom news or reminders, but is a great option for simply sharing a link. Assignments are the best option for sharing teacher-created templates, complete with a “Turn In” button for students to click when work is ready to be submitted. Questions are the Classroom’s version of a discussion forum if using the short answer option or can be a check for understanding with the multiple choice option.
With the right learning management system, implementing technology-based assignments and projects becomes feasible and practical. Google Classroom has the potential to simplify the process. Next month, we’ll take a look at exactly how to create a class. Stay tuned...or contact an instructional coach or tech coach to get started now!
I am a technology integration coach for a school district supporting one preschool, fifteen elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools. Check here for the latest updates on instructional technology.