Share to Classroom Extension…Awesome Addition, Google Classroom!

Today, the “Share to Classroom” extension for Google Classroom was pushed out to students in my building.

After reading about the new extension, and reading about teachers’ experiences on Twitter, I admit I was a bit hesitant about the purpose and effectiveness of this tool.

However, my fears were assuaged today when I tried the extension with my students.

I opened a website I needed my students to see, selected the Share to Classroom extension, and chose “push to students.” I was immediately met with “whoa, what just happened?!” and “did you just hack into my computer?!”

As soon as I selected “push to students,” the website I shared immediately popped up in a new tab (which was pushed to the front) on their screen.

Share to ClassroomAwesome, right?!

The Share to Classroom extension also allows students to “push” website to their teacher. Of course, we experimented with this feature as well! When students “pushed” a website to me, a notification appeared in the bottom corner of my screen, which included the student’s name and the website they shared. Their website suggestion DID NOT appear in a new tab on my screen!

Sharing or “pushing” websites to students, posting assignments and announcements is definitely easier with the Share to Classroom extension.

Think how great this would be with a sub…just as a friendly reminder to your students about what they should be doing during the class period you’re away :)
Give it a try!

Thanks for reading :)



Curate and Share Educational Resources with Appolearning

appolearning 2I stumbled upon Appolearning about a year ago when I was frantically searching for iOS apps to use in my classroom. Appolearning popped up as a wonderful, FREE search tool for educational apps. Appolearning not only allows teachers to locate new apps for their classroom, but also provides an “expert” review of how those tools can be used in the classroom.

In it’s infancy, Appolearning provided teachers with a much needed reliable database of apps for classroom use. Searching through your device’s app store is great, but sometimes not efficient. Enter Appolearning!

appolearning 4Recently, Appolearning has added some really amazing new features!

Teachers can now move their apps to “collections” they’ve created, SHARE  those collections and COLLABORATE with colleagues!

Appolearning isn’t just for educational apps. Teachers can add videos, websites, and documents to their collections, which encourages  great collaboration and transparency among teachers!

Think of a Pinterest-like website for teachers…it’s seriously amazing!

appolearningIf you’re interested in learning more about how Appolearning can help you locate, organize, and share AWESOME educational resources, please send an email to I would LOVE to show you some neat features of Appolearning through a Google Hangout!

Thanks for reading!




Google Classroom Updates: September 2015 (Part Two)

Welcome to the second installment of Google Classroom Updates, September 2015!

Classroom 3When I see new updates to Classroom, it’s almost like Christmas morning!

Almost :)



In case you missed it, Google has added a Calendar feature to Classroom. Now, by simply selecting “Calendar” on your Google Classroom homepage, you can view (and interact with) posts you make to the class stream. Students can view and access all of their upcoming (and previous) assignments directly in their Calendar.

You may not be able to see the Calendar Classroom 2feature … if you can’t see this feature, then log out of Classroom and log back in.



Classroom 1

Voila! The Calendar feature appears.

I’m excited to see what else Google adds to the increasingly amazing Classroom!

Thanks for reading :)


Use Remind Chat in Your Classroom

Remind (formerly Remind 101) has recently made some FANTASTIC updates to their already amazing program.

Remind Chat allows teachers and students to initiate safe, two-way text based conversations that are DOCUMENTED without showing either party’s phone number.

Remind Chat is wonderful for so many reasons, but the ability to communicate quickly and efficiently with students while I AM ABSENT from the classroom is by far the most amazing feature.

This year has been unique in that I have had to be out of my classroom much more than usual.

My oldest daughter started Pre-Kindergarten…I had to take the morning off to take her to her classroom, and also to recover from the fact that my first baby started school!!

I had an emergency root canal, which didn’t go well, and I had to miss half a day.

I got sick…more severe than my typical back to school cold.

I attended a conference.

My youngest daughter was sick and needed her mommy time.

Needless to say, it’s been quite crazy. However, without Remind Chat it is safe to say that my classroom, content, and communication with my students would have gone down the tubes.

My students know that I will respond to email as quickly as possible, especially when I’m out of the classroom. They’ve quickly figured out, though, that I’ll respond much quicker if they start a Remind Chat with me.

Many issues have been averted because of Remind Chat. Questions about the day’s activities, projects, due dates, group members, and once in a while…a reminder to ME to post the day’s task list on Google Classroom.

Teachers never forget things, right? 😉

I have also been able to communicate directly with students who haven’t completed activities, who are struggling, or who are knocking activities out of the park. It has seriously been fantastic!

Teachers can set “office hours” during which students can expect a quick response, and can also limit who can initiate conversations in Remind Chat. If you are uncomfortable with students beginning a conversation, simply turn off that feature.


Remind has really tapped into a huge need in the classroom. Remind Chat allows teachers and students to communicate even outside the four walls of the classroom in a safe, secure, and efficient manner.

Give it a try! It’s free!

Thanks for reading :)

Google Forms for Everything!

As I indicated on Twitter earlier last week…I’m seriously going crazy with the sheer awesomeness that is Google Forms!

The possibilities are seriously endless!

I recently had a minor epiphany while creating a rubric for a project. I was naming columns and rows while setting up formulas, which is great. As I told you earlier in this post, I am NOT A GOOGLE SPREADSHEET GURU.

There had to be a better way.

I decided to launch myself into Google Forms, and transfer the criteria from a typical project rubric into that form. As students presented their project, I easily selected their performance level on a handy Google FormI. Voila! All of the student grades were easily added to a Spreadsheet. It. Is. Fantastic!

The success I had with this Form encouraged…

Self-Assessment Form

Getting to Know Your Students

Assignment Log Form

Group-Reflection Form

Research Form

Since I’m using a Google Form as a rubric, a question I’ve heard is “how are you going to send the students the completed rubric?”

Quick answer?

I’m not.

I’m using a Google Spreadsheet add-on…Yet Another Mail Merge…to send emails (from a draft in my gmail account) that include student performance they would typically view on a rubric.

Yes, using mail merge does require me to populate my Spreadsheet with student email addresses…which took all of about 6 minutes (I had 68 students on my Spreadsheet). I’m sure there’s an even quicker way to do this…and I’ll let you know as soon as I figure it out!

Thanks for reading :)


Google Classroom Updates: September 2015

Google Classroom Updates (1)I’m so excited that Google is making so many awesome updates to Classroom!

Today, Google unleashed a new extension to simplify Classroom even more…Share to Classroom!

This free extension allows teachers and students to share information from the web to their classes through Google Classroom.

Teachers can create an announcement or assignment directly from a website by using the extension. They can also “push” a resource to their students. Pushing a resource to students will send the students a notification. I can see this being very useful during a teacher absence, among other uses of course!

Students can also share resources with their teacher with this extension, however both teachers and students need to have the extension activated in order to use these great features.

To read more about Google’s updates to Classroom, check out this article.

I can’t wait to see what else Google has in store for Classroom!

Thanks for reading :)

Creating Rubrics with Google Forms

Today, my Government students began what has become one of my favorite projects: Creating Your Own Government.

Students are given an imaginary scenario in which they have to establish a functional government, including how to address issues such as building shelters, creating jobs, establishing an educational system, etc.

Students are also required to draft a constitution complete with established rights of citizens, as well as limits placed on the government.

The conversations I heard today while I was monitoring were absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait to see what they students come up with!

I decided to try something different this year, when it comes to the grading of these projects. I typically grade the projects during presentations, but it always seems as though I’m scribbling notes on a rubric while attempting to keep up with the content and the nuts and bolts of the presentation.

UsingThis year, to make life easier, I decided to create a Google Form and use it as a rubric.

No, my students will not complete this Google Form. This is not a document for them to complete, rather an easier way for me to grade their presentations.

I took all of the criteria that would normally be on a rubric and transferred that to a Google Form.  As you most likely know, one of the beautiful features of Google Forms (other than the relatively new ability to change the theme…which is awesome!!) is that it automatically ties to a Google Sheet where all of the student responses are collected.

Now, I can be more involved in being an active audience member, as opposed to scribbling down information on a paper rubric, that I will most likely misplace!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner???

form 1

form 2

For the next rubric I make, I will most likely add an “Additional Comments” section under each criteria.

I’m quickly going gaga for Google Forms and all of the awesome organization that accompanies this tool.

Hope your school year is off to a wonderful start!

Thanks for reading :)


Google Classroom Updates

Google Classroom has made more exciting updates! Yay!

Google has added these new features to Classroom this month:
1. Ask a question
2. Reusing posts
3. Pinning posts

I’ve seen reports on Twitter that other exciting features, like Calendar integration, are coming soon. Can’t wait for those!

I recently tried the question option with one of my dual credit classes. I am a HUGE advocate for online discussion boards/forums, and the lack of this feature was one of my main complaints about Classroom when it first debuted.classroom new

Teachers can easily ask a question (and post announcements, assignments, etc) with the new post feature.

Asking a question really couldn’t get much easier. After choosing “ask a question,” teachers simply type their question and choose “ask.”

classroom new 3Next, teachers will be prompted to adjust the settings of the question, allowing students to view and reply to their classmates’ responses, and edit their individual responses.

As I said, I tried this with one of my dual credit classes, and it worked very well. I could easily attach documents/videos/URL’s to the “question” just as I could do in a discussion board activity I would assign on my LMS. Students were able to post, and then view and comment on their classmates’ responses. My only complaint was that students were only able to comment down one level. Example…

Student A: The US Constitution should be amended to allow citizens born outside the US to become president. Etc, etc, etc…
Student B: I agree with you because …
Student C: I disagree with you because…

If Student B wanted to continue the dialogue with Student C, they would not be able to do so within their response post. Again…just a minor complaint, but nonetheless something that can occur within a traditional Learning Management System.

Google Classroom updates

As more exciting updates are added to Classroom, I will test them with my students and let you know the results!

Thanks for reading :)


Gamification in American Government

Towards the end of last school year, my students and I were all suffering from end-of-the-year-itis. We had 10 snow days (nothing like 20 from the year before!) and we knew we would be making up those days AFTER Memorial Day.

We fell into the “4th Quarter Funk.”

Motivation on both “sides of the desk” was at an all time low.

I had to try something to encourage at least a little drive and effort to close out the year.

I had heard about gamification at the wonderful EdTech conference I get to attend every year, METC, and originally brushed it off as something that was too much to add to my already hectic classroom. Shortly after METC, I realized that this attitude was exactly the mentality I was trying to push my students to avoid.

Teacher face-palm moment.

Even though I had NO experience in the world of gaming…other than the Super Mario Brothers of the 90’s (lets face it…that’s real gaming!),  I decided to give it a go. After all, I want to use educational technology tools and new instructional strategies to enhance the learning environment and increase student engagement. Gamification seemed like a step in the right direction.

I started by gamifying one unit of instruction in my American Government class. I was still unsure about the process (I’m by no means an expert now!), so I decided to take baby steps.

This year, I’m diving in head first.

My year long game, Mission- American Government“Mission: American Government,” is filled with XP, levels, tools, and badges. And, after introducing the concept to my students today, I think I may have nailed it!

Creating this game has pushed me out of my comfort zone…I’m trying to think like a game designer AND I’m actually USING a Spreadsheet. Formulas and conditional formatting, oh my!

Here’s a rough outline of “Mission: American Government.”

  • Students earn XP for completing unit activities and assignments
    • For my sanity…the XP is equal to the points the students earn in the grade book
  • Four different tools are available for each level
    • “Candy Crush”
    • “High Five”
    • “50/50”
    • “Post-It Pal”
  • XP earned by students allows them to “level up” (7 levels so far…after presenting this to my students today, I may need to add more!!)
  • Each level provides students with a specific tool
  • Students earn badges (to come in a later post!) for scoring at least an 80% on their unit exam on the first try

If you’re interested in viewing my Google Spreadsheet with the above information, please click here.

In the Total XP column, I used formulas and conditional formatting…I’m slightly proud of myself!

Students Total XP is calculated, of course by adding the XP earned from the unit. Conditional formatting is used in the Total XP column to color code XP by levels. For example, students who earn between 100 and 500 XP are at the Bronze level, and their Total XP is highlighted Bronze. When they earn between 501 and 900 XP are at the Ruby level, their Total XP is highlighted Red, etc.

Seriously…I cannot tell you how proud I am that I figured out that specific feature of Spreadsheets!

In addition to earning XP for completing assignments (instructional videos, vocab activities, discussion boards, etc) students can also earn XP for other activities I throw out throughout the year. For example, if I see students voluntarily helping a classmate with a problem, I may award XP. Students were encouraged to complete their first instructional video at home tonight. If they do, they will earn XP. If students complete current events bonus activities, they earn XP.

So far, I really like the flexibility that gamification offers…by making XP available for assignments/activities as well as random “targets,” I hope to keep my students motivated and avoid the 4th Quarter (or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Quarter) Funk!

To jazz up the game even more, I think I’ll allow students to choose screen names…or gamer tags?

Stay tuned for updates!

Thanks for reading :)


Using Bookmarks in the Classroom

If you’re like me, you probably have students access multiple websites for your class.

I haven’t quite found one single website that has every feature I use in my classroom…and that’s ok!

Sometimes, students have difficulty organizing and navigating a variety of websites during a class period. Students often become frustrated with me because I typically keep about 10 tabs open at once.

That’s normal, right? :)

To prevent frustration and panic among my students, I’m trying a new route.

Thursday, our first day of school, students entered my classroom and were told to access eight different websites.

Responses ranged from, “when can I close out of all of these tabs?” to ” having so many tabs open freaks me out!”

Bookmark BarAfter I showed my students how to sign up and navigate each site,  I told them to bookmark each page. The main response was, “but I have so many bookmarks already!!”

To calm fears of a crowded bookmark bar, I showed may students how to create a folder for their bookmarks, and then how to add those super important pages to that folder.

On Friday, when my students entered the classroom, I told them to access Google Classroom for the day’s activity. I overheard a conversation that went something like…”didn’t you make a bookmark folder like we were supposed to do yesterday? It’s so much easier…”

Mission accomplished :)

If you’d like to share use this super simple strategy with your students, please click here to access the PDF instruction sheet!

Seriously, why did I not think of using bookmarks in the classroom before? Wow…

Hope your year is off to a great start!

Thanks for reading :)