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Managing Chromebooks in the Classroom

Managing Chromebooks in the Classroom

So–you’re getting Chromebooks for your classroom! This is a great opportunity for you and your students. You’ve heard they’re great tools…but the thought of all the things that could go wrong makes your blood run cold. What’s an already-busy teacher to do with the influx of technology into his or her classroom? Every situation is different, but there are a few things you can consider to make the transition smooth for everyone.

Introducing Chromebooks

What is a Chromebook, anyway? How is it different from a laptop? It’s a good idea to have a background understanding of what you’re actually wrangling in your classroom. A Chromebook is essentially a netbook, or small lightweight laptop, that runs the Chrome OS operating system instead of MacOS or Windows. Don’t worry – the environment won’t look too foreign to you once you’re used to it. In order to be called a Chromebook, a laptop must meet certain standards set forth by Google that allow it to operate comfortably with Google tools. Chromebooks are designed to work smoothly with Google apps, but you can run almost any web-based application on a Chromebook, including Office 365. There are a few exceptions, but that list is shrinking by the day. Chromebooks do have some storage space, but they aren’t designed to hold all your documents and data–that’s what Google Drive is for.

Most of the time, when you use a Chromebook, you will log in with your own Google (school district) email account. This is also likely to be how your students will use the Chromebooks. The documents you create and work on will be stored in your Google Drive, which means you can log in to that same account from any device and find all your stuff. This is why your students don’t need to grab the same Chromebook every time (though some teachers prefer that they do just to keep track of how the device is being treated). Pretty cool!

Daily Routines

Think through your daily routines and storage of the devices. Depending on the number of Chromebooks you have, and on district policy, you’ll want to think about the following things:

  • Do students take the devices home? Are they responsible for arriving at school with a fully charged device? Does your district designate policies around handling of electronics, or do you need to make your own?
  • How do students know if they need a device today/this period/for this lesson? It’s a good idea to have a system or sign so you don’t have to answer the question “Can I get out my Chromebook?” a million times at the beginning of the day. Frisco ISD made some great resources for device handling and signals for use–their site is aimed at students who are bringing their own devices to school, but the resources are handy for anyone with devices in their classroom. Take a look at some great teacher advice and student-created posters.
  • If Chromebooks are stored in the classroom, how and where? What are the likely problems with traffic patterns to and from the storage area? Does everyone fetch his or her own device, or will you designate helpers who will pass them out?
  • It’s advisable to be very specific when teaching students how to handle a Chromebook, as well. Two hands on the device whenever you’re carrying it is a very good idea. Be sure to model this behavior for students…I admit that I have dropped a Chromebook in front of my class more than once!
  • Computers collect germs (yuck). Make sure you set policies around food and beverage use near the devices. Whose responsibility is it to clean the devices? How often? Is your district providing cleaning materials that are legal and safe for school use? (Please don’t Windex your Chromebook!)

Expectations and Consequences

If you haven’t used computers in your classroom much, you’ll need to adjust your classroom management style just a bit. Don’t worry too much, and don’t think of yourself as the Internet police, but it’s a good idea to be sure you’re moving about the room. Before you ask students to get their devices, be sure you have a clear purpose for their use, and clearly communicate that to students (with intermittent reminders). If your principal walks in and asks a student “What are you doing with that Chromebook”, you want them to be able to answer intelligently! To save yourself major headaches later, decide on some attention signals to use (yes, even with older students) so you aren’t doing an interpretive dance up front to get attention from a class full of students with eyes glued to screens. Some teachers say “Screens 45” to indicate that they need to interrupt student work briefly; then say “Screens closed” to indicate that they need students to turn off the devices. Be sure to give adequate time for students to respond–even adults don’t respond instantly!

Once you’ve set expectations for device use in your classroom, you’ll need to decide on consequences for misuse as well. Your district may have a policy that you’ll need to follow, or you can create your own. Make sure it allows for a learning curve and an occasional mistake (nobody’s perfect), and then be consistent and fair in enforcing it. It’s always a good idea to know how you would teach a lesson without the technology, just in case something goes wrong (behaviorally or with the network!)

After reviewing basic procedures and expectations with students, it’s a great idea to involve them in the management of their classroom by having them create presentations or posters as reminders for the whole class.

Don’t Panic–Plan!

You have a great opportunity to deepen your teaching when you have Chromebooks available in your classroom. With a little advance organization, you can have a great experience with these devices–and your students will learn some valuable new skills!

Want to learn more?

Register for the May 17th Webinar on this same topic with Katherine Livick at

You can also view all our past webinars at or on the CTL YouTube Channel 

YouTube Authoring for Teachers

YouTube Authoring for Teachers

Join CTL and presenter Katherine Livick for a Free Webinar
on YouTube Authoring for Teachers

Thursday, March 16 from 9 am – 10 am PDT.


By Katherine Livick, Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112 in Vancouver, WA.

Most of us have used YouTube to search for and view videos, whether classroom related or not. But did you know you can also create your own content for YouTube? You don’t have to be a filmmaking expert or even a social media star – you can learn to use YouTube’s simple authoring and editing tools to enhance your teaching and student learning.

Why do I need YouTube?

You know that you can use YouTube to find educational videos to share with your class–but have you thought of it as a lesson presentation tool, or as a response mode for students to use? Using the built-in functions of YouTube, you can:

  • Flip (or semi-flip) your classroom by recording instructional videos and lessons for your students to preview at home
  • Record videos for supplemental instruction – for absent students, homework assistance, or enrichment
  • Share student work with an authentic audience (with parental permission, of course)
  • Connect and share with other teachers

Since YouTube is part of the G Suite family of tools, if you have access to Google Apps like Docs, Drive and Slides, you can easily incorporate YouTube into your classroom repertoire.

What can I do in YouTube?

Upload and edit videos: Using the Creator Studio, you can upload raw (unedited) video from your camera, phone, tablet or computer to YouTube, arrange clips in order to make a longer video, and add titles, photos and transitions. YouTube has a library of Creative Commons video clips you can use as part of your project, as well as hundreds of royalty-free audio clips so you can add music and sound effects to your video. You can make video and audio adjustments to your clips–brightness, contrast, clip speed, and simple audio equalization.

Caption videos: From the Creator Studio Dashboard, you can select the small triangle next to the Edit button by any of your videos. Select “Subtitles/CC” and your language, then one of the four captioning options. Captions help hearing impaired students access your videos, but they’re also great for other students – sometimes it helps with information retention to be able to see the words and hear them at the same time!

Set video privacy: Your videos on YouTube have three privacy options: Private, Unlisted, and Public. You can keep your videos unlisted to keep them out of search results on YouTube, or keep them Private and share directly with students from the “Info and Settings” tab.

Teach students to use it as a response mode: Why should teachers have all the fun? Students can upload, edit and share videos too. Your district’s Google administrator may impose restrictions on student use of YouTube, so be sure you know the limitations in your district before you assign a project requiring students to use it.

For More Information…

Check out YouTube’s Teacher channel for lots of ideas and inspiration about how to use YouTube in the classroom. There’s also an Education channel if you’re looking for pre-made videos to use. TedEd partners with YouTube to permit teachers to create interactive lessons from any videos on YouTube – even your own! Try it out – it’s a great tool.  If you’re still not convinced – check out Ednyco’s article about why you should use video in your lessons.

Katherine Livick is the Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112 in Vancouver, WA. She develops curriculum for teacher professional development around technology and acts as a technology coach and consultant, helping teachers to integrate technology in school districts around ESD 112’s region. She has quite a number of opinions about coffee, Star Trek and plants.

The NEW Google Sites: Pros and Pitfalls

The NEW Google Sites: Pros and Pitfalls

Join CTL for a Free Webinar
on the New Google Sites for Educators
Wednesday, January 18 at 9:00am PST.


If you’ve used Google Sites in the past, you probably know that it’s a convenient way to create a website and integrate items from your Google Drive without having to worry about hosting or paying for external services. You’ve probably also noticed that it was well past time for an overhaul of its complicated interface and not-exactly-modern design options. Google noticed too, and they’ve created a seriously updated Sites tool to phase in over the next year or so–but is it worth switching now?

Where is this new tool?

First of all, your Google administrator has to enable the new Sites tool. They’ve probably done this already, but if you don’t see the new Sites tool in either of the places I describe here, you might want to ask them about it. The new Sites is integrated into Drive, so you don’t have to go to a separate page to start it up. From your Drive, click the New button and hover over “More”. You should see some additional Google apps in that section, including Google Sites. Click on it it and it will create a new site for you right away. The site will be stored in your Drive, just like your other Google Apps files. You can also type in (and bookmark) the new Sites homepage, which you can find at That link will take you to a page listing all sites you’ve created in the new sites tool. The interface for that page looks a lot like the Docs or Slides homepages you may be familiar with, and you’ll be able to create a brand new site by clicking the plus sign in the bottom right corner. Alternatively, if you’re already looking at the old Sites tool (, look for the “New Google Sites” link beneath “Browse Sites” in the left sidebar.

New Interface, New Features

You’ll notice immediately that the Sites creation tool is much different from your old Sites. The interface is clean, simple, and allows some drag and drop functions. On the right side of the screen, there’s a sidebar that allows you to insert content and placeholders, add and re-organize pages, and apply new themes to your site. You can click on any text you see (like the placeholder for “Your page title” in the header) and edit it directly. Want more text? Just click the “text box” tool from the Insert menu in the right sidebar and it will appear on your page. Add images, links, or Google files from the right sidebar to populate your page. Once you have a few elements on your page, you can drag them around to re-order them. Google will keep things neat and tidy for you. If you want to change the look of your text, click on it and a pop-up menu will allow you to adjust alignment and give you a few options for size. The paint palette at the left will allow you to select from a limited number of styles, including choosing a photo to place behind your text (Google will adjust the contrast for readability automatically), and the trash icon will delete the text box.  Add pages and adjust the theme or design of your site with the other options in the right sidebar.

When you’re ready to share your site, click the PUBLISH button at top right. Depending upon your domain’s settings, you’ll have the option to publish your site to the world, or just to your district. Your site will be created with “responsive design”, which means it should change to accommodate any screen it’s viewed on – mobile or desktop. You can preview how your site will look by clicking the eye icon at the top of the page.

What’s missing

The new Sites tool is still in its “early release” phase, and while some functions are much more advanced than the old tool, there are still a few missing features. Themes, fonts, layout, and colors are not yet fully customizable. Many scripting, API and site-level features that were available in the old tool are still missing from the new version. Gadgets, sidebars, and iFrame embedding are missing too. has created a side-by-side comparison table of the features of both tools that is very handy. Many early users have noted these missing features and reported them to Google, so it’s likely that many of them will be added back – a few have already been changed since the first release of the tool, so stay tuned for further updates.

Making The Choice
If you’ve already got heavily used, functional sites made with the old tool, you may find that the missing features are a deal-breaker for switching to the new sites at this time. Google has stated that the old Sites will be around for a while, until at least 2018, and that migration options to move classic Sites to the new Sites will be released this year. This gives you a lot of time to play with the new Sites tool and familiarize yourself with the options. Go create a site, and don’t forget to have fun!


Katherine Livick is the Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112 in Vancouver, WA. She develops curriculum for teacher professional development around technology and acts as a technology coach and consultant, helping teachers to integrate technology in school districts around ESD 112’s region. She has quite a number of opinions about coffee, Star Trek and plants.


Introducing Google Cast for Educators

Introducing Google Cast for Educators

Google Cast: It’s Not All About You

By Katherine Livick, ESD 112

Don’t miss CTL’s professional development webinar on Google Cast for Education presented by Katherine Livick. Join us Thursday, December 8 from 9-10am, PST. REGISTER HERE:

There’s a lot going on in your classroom. Most of it is great stuff and should be shared with the rest of the class…and you need to be free to move around the room to deal with the stuff that isn’t! Enter Cast for Education, a Google tool that’s built right into Chrome. Cast facilitates collaboration in your classroom using tools you’ve already got. You don’t need to be chained to your desktop computer to present to your class–and neither do your students!

What is Cast for Education?
Similar Google Cast for Education Menuto Chromecast, Cast for Education takes a Chrome tab (or your entire desktop) and displays it on another device’s screen. With Cast, students can request permission to share their screens to your device that is connected to a projector. Cast for Education works via Chrome, so any PC or Mac with Chrome installed (or any Chromebook) can get in on the fun. As the teacher, you can control who can request access to your display, and then approve or deny individual requests as they come in.

How do I (and my students) use Cast?
Setup is simple. The teacher needs to install and run the Chrome app Google Cast for Education, available from the Chrome Web Store. (If you can’t install Chrome Web Store apps yourself, ask your Google administrator to install it for you.) When the teacher is running the app, students have the ability to cast directly from Chrome using the three dots or three lines menu (where your settings are located). Students don’t need to install anything special in order to cast, but the teacher must be running the Cast for Education app in order for their display to
show up as a source.

Before students have the ability to cast to a teacher’s computer, the teacher must run the app and use the Settings button to “share” the ability to cast to it. This allows the teacher to specify who can cast to his or her display, and whether they need to ask permission first. Students must be logged in to the same Google Apps domain (district) as their teacher in order to cast. Teachers can choose to share Cast permission to an entire class in Google Classroom or to individual students or teachers in their domain.

What can I do with Cast in the classroom?Google Cast Menu
The possibilities for Cast in the classroom are limited only by your imagination. You can use a mobile device to teach from anywhere in the room, while still presenting information on a screen at the front. You can invite students to share research discoveries, processes and problem-solving, projects and assignments directly to the screen. While you could always show a Google document shared by a student on your own screen, using Cast for Education allows a more direct formative process for collaboration — a student who is stuck on a problem or needs writing feedback can show his or her work to the entire class at once. Students report that they find it “fun” to ask for help in this way. Teachers can work with individuals or small groups, while a student shares to a larger group using Cast. Cast allows student-driven collaboration to be shared with the whole class in an immediate, flexible way.

What’s next for Cast?
For now, Cast works on Macs, PCs, and Chrome devices (like Chromebooks or Chromeboxes). Currently, you can’t cast from iOS or Android devices, and there’s no official word from Google about it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that feature is available someday. If you use Cast in the classroom, share your adventures – post on Google + or Twitter and tag your posts #castforeducation so other teachers can discover this tool!

Google Forms for Educators: Save Time and Work More Efficiently

Google Forms for Educators: Save Time and Work More Efficiently

Google Forms for Educators: Your Secret Weapon

Join CTL and Katherine Livick of ESD 112 on Wednesday, October 19 at 9am PDT for a Google Forms for Educators webinar. REGISTER HERE:

All of us are pressed for time, but nobody is more squeezed than teachers, secretaries, and administrators! Anyone who works in a school setting could benefit from a secret weapon that helps them collect information, assess students, and organize data into its most useful form. Google Forms is that secret weapon–and it’s already included in G Suite for Education (your Google Apps toolbox that also contains Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides).

Google Forms for EducatorsWhat’s Forms?
If you’ve ever used SurveyMonkey or filled out an online form, you might have an idea of what Google Forms looks like. It’s an online survey and assessment tool with myriad possibilities for use in the classroom, office or home. You can find Forms under the NEW button in your Google Drive (hover over “More” and you’ll see it in the pop-out,) or visit the Forms homepage by finding it in your App Launcher (the “waffle” at top right of any Google page) when you’re logged into Google services.

What can I do with Forms?
Forms is a powerful tool for any sort of  information collection. You can gather data from parents, students, and colleagues for almost any purpose:


  • Feedback and reflection forms
  • Parent night
  • Behavioral data
  • Entry and exit tasks
  • Book, Chromebook, iPad, other equipment check-out (for staff or students)
  • Observation forms (for staff observing students, admin observing teachers, teachers observing peers, etc.)
  • Worksheets
  • Appointment sign-ups (parent conferences, individual student conferencing, etc.)
  • Create quizzes and tests (even self-grading ones!)
  • Streamline your workflow by “form-ifying” your data entry tasks

Forms Basics
When you create a new form, you can customize almost every aspect to meet your needs. Change the title and name of the form, include brief directions in the “form description” field, and start creating questions. You can create multiple choice, checkbox, dropdown, short or extended paragraph, linear scale, or multiple choice grid questions.  You can also request a date or time response from your recipients.

Add a collaborator if you have a partner you wish to have edit the form or view the response data. Select a color theme or images to suit your form, then choose your form’s privacy and response collection settings. Preview your form to see how it looks to recipients, then share your form via Drive, email, or embedding a link. The form is automatically saved in your Google Drive, so you can go back to view or edit it with ease. Once you have some responses, you can view them right in your form, or have Forms automatically create a spreadsheet for you in Google Sheets so you can view and manipulate the data more carefully.

Getting Fancy
If you’ve mastered basic Forms creation and want to do more, there are many add-ons for both Forms and Sheets that can help you take things to the next level. Have forms export data to PDFs or Google Docs, eliminate choices as they’re selected by respondents, add math equations, set up email notifications, create bubble sheets for paper testing from a form, and more. You can even write and run your own custom scripts to really personalize the experience. Within the original Forms tool are dozens of settings to help you create adaptive tests or self-grading quizzes. “Borrow” and adapt forms by making a copy from a colleague or from the template gallery (just click “More” at the top right of the ribbon of example forms). You can even view or create forms on a mobile device. The possibilities are endless once you dive in!

Cool Ideas
Thousands of teachers and school personnel are using Google Forms around the world–and they’re sharing their ideas! Check out FollowMolly’s ideas for using Forms. Ditch That Textbook has some simple and practical examples and templates. Cult of Pedagogy includes Forms in its list of essential Google Apps student project ideas. A simple search for “Google Forms classroom ideas” will turn up many more sources of inspiration. Jump right in and give Forms a try – you’ve got nothing to lose (except a few piles of paper)!


Katherine Livick is the Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112 in Vancouver, WA. She develops curriculum for teacher professional development around technology and acts as a technology coach and consultant, helping teachers to integrate technology in school districts around ESD 112’s region. She has quite a number of opinions about coffee, Star Trek and plants.