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What’s The Big Deal About Google Classroom?

What’s The Big Deal About Google Classroom?

Katherine Livick

Katherine Livick

Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112 at ESD 112
Katherine is the Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112. She is a Google Certified Administrator and manages ESD 112’s GAFE training domain. She’s also a Google Education Trainer who trains district personnel on best practices for managing and using Google apps in an educational setting, as well as providing general tech integration training.
Katherine Livick

Latest posts by Katherine Livick (see all)

If you’re a teacher or an administrator, you’ve probably heard about Google Classroom. But unless you’ve seen it, you’re probably left wondering what it actually is. How does a “paperless” classroom function? What can you do in this digital workspace? And how do we get the kids to use it?

Google Classroom Admin ScreenshotGoogle Classroom: Online Workspace, Digital Home Base, Robot Assistant?


Google Classroom is a web-based platform that helps you integrate the Google tools you and your students use. It’s your online “homeroom”–use it to create different classes to organize your students, distribute assignments, communicate with students and parents, and reduce the amount of paper you use in your classroom. It’s intended to be used in a technology-rich classroom environment–you’ll find it’s a good fit if you have enough devices for all the students in your classroom to use at once, or close to it. Classroom can really help you take advantage of all those devices and make your digital workflow seamless.

Since you can already share documents and files with students using Google’s built-in collaboration functions, you might be wondering why you need Classroom. The answer is that it’s not imperative–but it does simplify your digital classroom workflow and organization of assignments, and gives your students one specific “home base” for interacting with you online. This is especially handy if you don’t have (or don’t want to maintain) a teacher website, though many teachers integrate Google Classroom into their websites and use both.

Google Classroom How to set Up

Your First Visit


If you’ve never signed in to Google Classroom before, there are a couple of steps you (and your students) will have to go through. You’ll want to ensure that your students are logged in with their school Google accounts, and that they choose “student” when asked to choose their role. (Don’t panic if you have a jokester who selects “teacher” – just let your IT administrator know after class and they can fix the problem. Both students and teachers can join classes in Google Classroom, so you’ll be able to continue introducing the tool without leaving that student in the dust!)

 

Create A ClassSetting up google classroom


Once you’re logged in, use the plus sign at upper right to create your first class. Name it carefully – consider adding a year and semester or other grading period to differentiate it from other classes you’ll create this year. Your class page will have three tabs across the top: Stream, Students, and About. Your Stream is the chronological “feed” of things you post for your students to see. New assignments will be at the top unless you choose to bump an older one up. Assignments, announcements, and questions (quick polls) will appear here. The Students tab lists your roster of students and permits you to customize some options, such as allowing students to post on your Stream, changing or displaying your class join code (more on that in a moment), and entering the emails of your students’ guardians so they can receive automated summaries of class work each week. The About tab is where you can add a co-teacher and post a syllabus, class expectations, links, or other persistent information.

Add Your Students

To add students to your class, visit the Students tab. You’ll see an option to “invite students” via email. This works if your students have email enabled in their school Google accounts, and if they know how to check the email. However, it’s usually easier to spend about 15 minutes of class time to get everyone added at once. You can easily talk students through the process of navigating to Classroom (check the App Launcher which looks like a grid or “waffle” in the upper right-hand corner of almost any Google page, or send them to classroom.google.com and have them set a bookmark using the star in the omnibar). Once there and signed in, they’ll click “student”, click the plus sign, and enter the join code you’ve found on your Students tab. Click the small triangle next to the code to display the code in large print on your screen for students to view.

Creating Assignments

To create an assignment for your students, be sure you’re in the Stream tab. Click the large plus in the circle at bottom right, select “Create assignment”, and follow the prompts. You can add directions, add a topic to the post to help your students filter posts from different subjects or units of study and add videos, documents, links, or pictures, and more. You can also choose whether attachments are copied and distributed to each student for editing or posted as read-only. You also have the option to choose to assign the work to an entire class, several class sections, individuals, or groups of students.

Behind The Scenes

Google Classroom saves student work and assignment templates in your Google Drive. You’ll see a folder named “Classroom” appear in your Drive once you start using it. Feel free to look inside this folder – but please DON’T move folders or files into or out of this folder! Putting a file in the Classroom folder doesn’t upload it to the Classroom interface, and removing files from the Classroom folder can really confuse the “robots” that make Classroom work –you’ll find that student sharing permissions get messed up in a hurry. Resist the temptation to move files around in that folder and you’ll be fine!

Limitations

While Classroom has come a long way since it was introduced in 2014, there are still some features you might wish were a bit stronger. As of this writing, Google Classroom’s gradebook does not directly interact with several of the most frequently used gradebook systems. There are workarounds–Google Classroom grades can be exported to a .csv (spreadsheet) file for import into another system–but it can be inconvenient to make your gradebook “play nicely” with Google. Be sure you understand how to export grades before using it. Here’s a list of some student information system programs that do interface directly with Classroom’s gradebook.
Classroom for iOS/Android also has some features not available in the web version of Classroom, like marking up PDFs. If you use mobile devices in your classroom, or if your students have their own smartphones, you may want to familiarize yourself with how these mobile versions of Classroom work.

There’s currently no way to view a “student view” of work that is assigned to students–unless you have access to a student account so that you can log in and see what it looks like. It’s a good idea for you and colleagues to join each other’s classes so you can get familiar with the workflow from a student perspective and give feedback to your peers.
Classroom is a great tool for you to use to take control of your digital classroom. Introduce it to your students with some low-stakes tasks (entry and exit tickets, routine practice assignments, etc.) and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they pick up the routine of checking the stream every day. Spend some time learning your way around it–you’ll be glad you did!

Want to learn more and see a live demo of this blog in action? Join Katherine Livick and CTL for a Professional Development Webinar on Google Classroom on October 18th at 9am PST. Click here to register for this webinar, and to watch all of our past webinars!

 

CTL Donates J5’s to help with hurricane relief efforts

CTL Donates J5’s to help with hurricane relief efforts

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have spent the past few weeks devastating the coasts in Puerto Rico, Florida, and United States Virgin Islands.The damage from these storms have left millions without power, and many without housing or access to food or potable water. As relief agencies flock to the worst hit areas, , the task of helping people find loved ones and obtain access to food, water, and shelter has become an overwhelming priority. However, due to the damaged infrastructure lack of communications and  power, organizing these relief efforts has presented a unique challenge.

CTL has partnered with the Google Crisis Access Response Team (GoCART)  to get much needed help to those in the hurricane’s destructive path, making a donation of 20 J5 Chromebook units to GoCART to be distributed to the United States Virgin Islands. GoCART teams are highly trained volunteer technology professionals who work diligently with state and local agencies to provide connectivity (phones, Internet, WiFi) and other technology resources to communities in times of large scale crisis, aiding in the recovery process.

CTL president, Erik Stromquist said of the efforts,

“We’re concerned and heartbroken for the families affected by these disasters. It is critical that those affected by the storms are able to access resources to help them provide for themselves and their families, many of which require online access. We hope that the donation of the J5 Chromebooks will aid volunteers in helping those in need.”

The CTL Chromebooks  will be put to the task of helping those needing to access emergency supplemental food and cash programs like D-SNAP, Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which aids low-income households with food loss or damage caused by natural disasters. The donated J5’s will be used for their registration tables, facilitating access to those needing to sign-up for the program.

PocketLab Weather for your Chromebooks for Education

PocketLab Weather for your Chromebooks for Education

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

Why does lightning strike? What is global warming? Why is the grass wet in the morning? Answering students’ science questions just got a little cooler with PocketLab Weather, a tiny portable weather sensor that measures temperature, humidity, light, barometric pressure, altitude, heat index, and dew point.

From global to local, it’s hard to avoid talk of climate and weather in news and media, and chances are your students have are curious about climate change and weather systems. Now PocketLab Weather can help you explore those answers in the classroom. This smart little weather sensor fits in even the smallest hands, but allows students to track, monitor, and see real-time weather and climate information.

PocketLab Weather Features:

PocketLab Weather connects via BlueTooth 4.0 to allow the sending of information wirelessly to the PocketLab app on your Chromebook. You can view, graph, store, and export data for real-time learning and data sharing in the classroom.

PocketLab Weather also has the ability for measuring temperature via a plug-in external probe. The probe accurately reads the temperature, so dip the probe in liquids, measure temperatures inside the classroom, fridge, soil and so much more.

This small but powerful device boasts on-Board Memory which records up to 30,000 data readings and has a wireless range of 250 ft with a 6ft durable drop protection.

With a rechargeable internal battery, the light rugged sensor is great for taking on a hike for earth science lessons. Now students can measure the barometric pressure and altitude change while hiking up a hill on a field trip.

PocketLab: Community Beyond the Classroom

For weather monitoring beyond the classroom, there is an awesome online community with lesson plans and experiments that you can use your Pocketlab Weather light, temperature, heat transfer works, or to study climate and share data with others around the world. With lesson plans like creating and monitoring climate change in a bottle these classroom lessons have never been more applicable to real-world learning.

Instill a deep understanding of climate and weather patterns in your students for years to come with PocketLab Weather.

PocketLab and PocketLab Weather is available for purchase on the CTL website, and also is an option for our 1:1 program participants! Contact a CTL Sales rep today to get more information on getting PocketLab devices for your student’s Chromebook!

NR21 Becomes Law after Successful 2nd Year

NR21 Becomes Law after Successful 2nd Year

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

After an independent evaluation showed that Nevada’s one-to-one (1:1) partnership with CTL delivered transformative results, Governor Sandoval signed SB 467 formally putting the Nevada Ready 21 (NR21) program into state law. In signing SB 467, Governor Sandoval noted,

“We have started the work of building a K-12 system that will carry Nevada’s students into the future. I was proud to sponsor the Nevada Ready 21 program so that students can have the newest technology to help them be prepared for 21st-century jobs. We must remain committed to our students so they can develop the skills and proficiency they need to fully participate in the New Nevada economy.”

In case you haven’t heard, NR21 is a state-funded 1:1 student learning program that focuses on transforming education in Nevada to a student-centered, technology-rich 21st-century experience. Furthermore, NR21 addresses the year’s top #edtech trends including the shift to more affordable Chromebooks, blended learning opportunities, classroom management tools, and wireless solutions for all students no matter how remote.

History

In 2015, Governor Sandoval allocated $20 million in his budget to create a statewide 1:1 program in Nevada. The Nevada Ready 21 digital learning program was launched, and in 2016, CTL was awarded the contract to provide their Chromebook solution for the state’s 1:1 program. The Nevada Ready 21 program was launched to “help students develop the 21st-century skills they will need as citizens, in the workplace, and in college,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero.

CTL’s partnership with NR21 provides Nevada’s students with 24-hour access to computers and much more. Students are more engaged than ever thanks to a range of applications that support learning including NCLab (a platform for coding and 3D modeling developed in Reno), Pocket Lab which puts scientific experiments into students’ hands, and web filtering software for safe browsing and CIPA compliance. CTL worked with the Nevada Department of Education to ensure that each NR21 school had IT support and a tech coach to support the teachers’ transition to a technology-rich learning environment that teaches students such 21st-century skills as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.

NR21 Highlight Success in Students

Highlights from the NR21 Implementation Report show that 21st-century learning is indeed taking place in Nevada. “Over 19,000 5th-8th graders across the state have a Chromebook that is theirs to use in school and at home during the academic year. Students are becoming self-directed learners, utilizing the tools and resources at hand to solve real problems. Across the state, 69 percent of students reported that they are asked to collaborate online with their classmates at least monthly; 59 percent are asked to solve authentic problems using technology at least monthly.”

It may be easiest to see the transformative power of this comprehensive 1:1 program by the way it engages students with special needs. The report notes “Teachers are using web-based resources to modify and adapt lessons for IEP and ELL students. In a 1:1 classroom, this means that all students are engaged in the content.”

The success of NR21’s pilot year led the legislature to consider and pass SB 467 to enshrine the program into state law. Additionally, the legislature funded the program for the 2017-2019 biennium. Legislators committed to completing funding for Cohort One that launched at the beginning of the 2016-17. Continuity in funding is essential for obtaining accurate data on the effectiveness of the program.

Since CTL was awarded the Nevada Ready 21 program contract, and in addition to the impressive numbers of students, NR21 schools utilizing the networking option have Wi-Fi access covering every instructional space on campus. A full report on program implementation shows remarkable progress.

CTL is proud to work hand in hand with legislators, administrators, and teachers to ensure the success of NR21 1:1 solutions. If you’re interested in learning more about how CTL’s 1:1 Chromebooks for education can work for your state, district, school, or classroom, contact one of our reps today to find out more information on going 1:1.

 

Netop Vision Classroom Management Grabs the Attention of Chrome Unboxed

Netop Vision Classroom Management Grabs the Attention of Chrome Unboxed

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

Chrome Unboxed has been at the forefront of all the latest news and updates in the world of Chrome. They’ve even featured CTL Chromebooks on their site. It’s no surprise that when they discovered Netop Vision Classroom Management software that Chrome Unboxed decided to review it on their website.

CTL has been a partner of Netop for sometime, featuring the software in our 1:1 solutions program and making it available for general education customers. The Chrome Unboxed review points out that technology like Chromebooks for education is;

 “a powerful tool but only when used correctly and leveraged in a manner that creates, not destroys productivity. Giving teachers the ability to keep students on task with real-time monitoring can assist in maximizing precious minutes in the classroom.”

CTL understands this need, and wants to make sure that Chromebooks are utilized in the classroom to their fullest potential for students. This is why we chose to add Netop as our go-to tool for real-time classroom management solutions.

Netop allows teachers to monitor each individual student’s screen, push specific URLs to the entire class, limit access to URLs that aren’t a part of the lesson plan, and lock screens to ensure all eyes are focused on the teacher. With Netop Vision, teachers using Chromebooks in their classrooms can focus on teaching and with a push of a button have the power to stop digital distractions in their tracks.

At CTL, we admire the streamlined and clean interface that allows teachers to easily keep their students on track and monitor everything happening on their Chromebooks during class time. Gabriel Brangers from Chrome Unboxed took note of this same thing saying,

“After some research, I have found there are a number of companies that produce software similar to Vision but few do it in such a clean, simple and powerful manner.”

You can watch the video which was created by Netop and featured in Chrome Unboxed’s review which demonstrates the fabulous features of the Vision software:

Vision for Chromebooks from Netop on Vimeo.

Netop Vision is easy to implement and use, and the software integrates with Google Classroom. If you think that Netop Vision would be useful in your own classrooms, contact a CTL sales rep today to talk about pricing options.

 

CTL J5 Convertible Chromebook is an “ISTE 2017 Best of Show”

CTL J5 Convertible Chromebook is an “ISTE 2017 Best of Show”

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

The CTL team recently returned from our yearly trip to ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education conference and tradeshow. This year was exceptionally special as a record number of over 20,000 attendees and exhibitors from all 50 states and 72 different countries flocked to see the latest in ed-tech solutions. CTL brought our fleet of ruggedized Chromebooks for education. Though we’re proud to say that the CTL J5 Rugged Convertible Touch Chromebook stole the show and was voted “ISTE 2017 Best of Show” by Tech & Learning Magazine.

Each year after the ISTE conference, Tech & Learning releases its list of winners of the “ISTE Best of Show” Awards. Tech & Learning’s team of advisors dedicate their time at the conference to explore all 572 exhibiting companies. These anonymous judges review each product based on a sliding scale, evaluating areas of ease of use, quality, innovative application of technology, and effectiveness. They then meet to discuss and name “Best of Show” products which will have the most impact in classrooms. Last year, T&L took note of the CTL NL61X Chromebook for Education and awarded the device “Best of Show.”

J5 Remains a Best Selling Chromebook for Educaiton

This year, CTL’s J5 Chromebook for education caught their eye. One of our best-selling products, the J5 Chromebook stands up to daily use from students, converts to display and tablet mode, and features a drop resistant design, spill-proof keyboard, and a battery that lasts up to 10 hours. The J5’s ten point capacitive touch screen allows the user to scroll, navigate, and interact with the Chromebook with ease.

We, at CTL, always value the time we get to spend with new and old friends attending ISTE and many other tradeshows. This year was no exception. From our Educator Appreciation Reception at the Hard Rock Cafe to our talks with our attendees about digital equity, 1:1 solutions, and ed-tech innovation, we remain excited to celebrate technology in education each year at ISTE.

Were You in Attendance at ISTE 2017?

Were you at ISTE this year? Did you have a chance to stop by the CTL booth and chat with our team? Did you come away with any questions about CTL or our products? We’d love to talk more with you about our 1:1 solutions, Chromebooks for education, and educational offerings. Feel free to email or call us anytime to chat.

Thanks again to everyone who made ISTE 2017 so special. We look forward to next year’s tradeshow and hope to catch up with everyone again!