Monday, April 25, 2016

Google Classroom Hack #5: Help Students Succeed in REAL Time

You can use Google Classroom to assist your students in real time! There's a function that allows you to check on the assignments your students are completed in Google Classroom, and you can send them messages, help them with their assignments, and more.I’m wrapping up the school year with Google Classroom hacks. The entire point of these hacks is to simplify your life while holding the students accountable up to the bitter end. The last six weeks are always the hardest. The weather is beautiful, the students are checked out, and we’re all exhausted. The last thing any of us want to do is focus.

Last week, I talked about color-coding to simplify the grading process in Classroom. This week, I want to show you how to use your Google Drive to monitor your students as they are working.

Google Classroom Hack #5: Help Students Succeed in REAL Time

I call it “monitoring.” My students call it “stalking.” Either way, it holds them accountable and allows me to check for understanding before they submit an assignment.

The other day, as my world history class was working on a vocabulary assignment, I sat at one of the tables in my room, opened the “classroom” folder in my Drive, and “stalked" the students’ assignments.

A few minutes into the assignment, I noticed one boy had zero work done. I left a comment on his slides for him—“get to work.” He saw it pop up on his assignment and immediately realized I wasn't going to let him slack.

A girl was dragging and dropping vocabulary words into a cloze reading passage. I noticed that three of them were wrong, so I dragged the words off from the blanks and put them back in the word bank. She got confused and dragged them back. I moved them again and messaged her by leaving a comment. 

She messaged me back that she was confused (a lot of the words in our current unit deal with imperialism and can be annoyingly similar), so I moved five of the words off to the side to narrow her choices. She felt less overwhelmed and was able to complete the assignment meaningfully by really looking at the definitions of those five words and figuring out where they belonged within the context of the passage.

Here's How It Works:

You can use Google Classroom to assist your students in real time! There's a function that allows you to check on the assignments your students are completed in Google Classroom, and you can send them messages, help them with their assignments, and more.

You can use Google Classroom to assist your students in real time! There's a function that allows you to check on the assignments your students are completed in Google Classroom, and you can send them messages, help them with their assignments, and more.

You can use Google Classroom to assist your students in real time! There's a function that allows you to check on the assignments your students are completed in Google Classroom, and you can send them messages, help them with their assignments, and more.

You can use Google Classroom to assist your students in real time! There's a function that allows you to check on the assignments your students are completed in Google Classroom, and you can send them messages, help them with their assignments, and more.

There are other implications for this besides understanding check and keeping students on task. Imagine having a particular time each week for tutoring. I used to do it on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for students who needed extra assistance, but it seemed that the students who needed it the most couldn’t get a ride.


Most of my students have some type of device (phone, tablet, computer…) that they can work on at home. We can schedule a time for me to give them extra help remotely. I obviously want my family time to be for my family, but if a student needs help and can’t stay after or come early, this is an ideal solution—kind of like virtual office hours, and I can control the times I make myself available.

Do you have a Google Classroom Hack to share or maybe just a question about this one? If so, leave it in the comments below, and I'll see you again next week for Google Classroom Hack #4!


Read the next hack in this series--CLICK HERE.



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Monday, April 18, 2016

Google Classroom Hack #6: Grade at a Glance with Colors

Google Classroom can take a while to load, so use this color-coding trick to make grading faster--without waiting for loading! If you color code your drag-and-drop or matching assignments, you can grade by simply looking at the thumbnail. Piece of cake!Last year at about this time, I started a spring survival series on my blog. And that seems to be necessary. The weather is warming, the student's wardrobes are pushing the limits, and so are their attention spans.

And why not? Down here in balmy Georgia, we only have six more weeks until that glorious moment in time called summer break that comes and goes so quickly each year, but without which we surely could not survive.

When the weather is gorgeous, so few among us actually want to work. During the dreary winter months when the rain wouldn't stop, I woke up at 5:30 each morning to drink coffee and get some work done. But now that it's pretty outside and glorious summer is within reach, I hit snooze until 7:00 and roll out the door at 7:30, yelling at my son to, "Hurry up!"

If I am struggling--I know my students are.

Google Classroom can take a while to load, so use this color-coding trick to make grading faster--without waiting for loading! If you color code your drag-and-drop or matching assignments, you can grade by simply looking at the thumbnail. Piece of cake!
When I look up and see this, I struggle to focus.
The point is, I know it happens every year at about this time, so my goal is always to make it as painless as possible for my students and me without sacrificing the vital instruction time remaining. Last year at about this time, I wrote all about giving in and going outside and gallery walks for my spring survival tips. I even wrote about making grades the star (in order to remind students that they are still accountable).

I still do all of these things; however, this year, I have made quite a change in my classroom. As my district is rolling out the 1:1 model (one Chromebook for every student), I am blending my classroom (mixing technology with traditional instruction).

So, my spring survival tips this year will take the form of "Google Classroom Hacks." And with that said, here goes number 6 (I'll be counting down to 1):

Grade at a Glance with Colors

If you are color blind, I apologize here and now, as this will not help you, just as any recipe containing flour will not help me (I have the autoimmune disorder Celiac--I cannot digest the protein gluten that is found in oh so many delicious things), and I know it's frustrating.  

But for the rest of us, this is pretty cool.

As great as it is not to have to deal with stacks of paper and to have all assignments right in the same place, one of the nuisances of Google Classroom is having to open each of your students' submitted assignments and wait for it to load. 

Well, if you have a simple one-page assignment that is matching or drag-and-drop, wait no more! Remember the color pattern, and open nothing. Just click on the assignment title from your desktop, and you will see small thumbnails of everyone's submission lined up.

Glance at each thumbnail.  If all of the colors are lined up, it's a 100. Mark down for incorrect answers from there.

Google Classroom can take a while to load, so use this color-coding trick to make grading faster--without waiting for loading! If you color code your drag-and-drop or matching assignments, you can grade by simply looking at the thumbnail. Piece of cake!


I am currently working on more color-coded drag and drop Google Drive activities, but I have a few on TPT now. And here's a special just for this week. I have this French Revolution Timeline that is a one-pager and color-coded for "grading at a glance." I will be adding interactive Google Drive notes to go with it, but until I add them, the timeline will be over half off--just $1.50.

French Revolution Interactive Timeline
Go on and snag it HERE


It's a steal because if you get the timeline now, in a week you can download the notes, too at no additional charge.

What Google Classroom Hacks do you have? What Google Classroom problems would you like to see solved? Let me know in the comments below.



Read the next hack in this series--CLICK HERE.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Is Quizlet Live or Quizizz Best for Your Class?

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.
 Kahoot before, but so much is new since then. So I thought I'd compare two really good vocabulary review tools that I've been experimenting with in my classroom to maybe save you some sifting time.
The availability of so many tools to support review and formative assessment can be both a blessing and a curse for the blended classroom (traditional/technology hybrid) . There is literally something for everything, but it's so easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in all the apps and tools out there. I've blogged about

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.

Quizlet Live

Most of us know all about Quizlet. I've been using it for years in my own classes, so all of my vocabulary is already in there. This makes Quizlet Live appealing for me. It's absolutely no extra prep.

In the past, I've given students a link to the set, had them study the flash cards, play the games, and take practice quizzes. Quizlet Live is a new feature that is still in beta version. You simply click on Quizlet Live and Quizlet does all the work for you. Here's how it works:

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.
What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.
1. Students go to quizlet.live and enter the code for your game.
2. They type their name to enter the game.
3. Quizlet groups them.
4. They take their devices to their groups. This is where it gets fun. They have to collaborate with their group, as only one of them will have the correct answer on their screen.
5. The first group to finish wins (I give each member a piece of candy--that really motivates my kids).

You can play again in the same groups, but I think it's way more fun to have Quizlet re-group them each time. That way they are always moving and getting to work with different students.

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.Quizizz

Quizizz.com is an individual quiz game. The class is all playing at the same time, but they work separately on their own screens. When everyone finishes, Quizizz ranks them.

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.
You can create your own quizzes or use existing public ones.  I tend to get overwhelmed sifting through existing ones and editing, so I generally create one from scratch.

A bonus feature of Quizizz is that you can assign a quiz for homework--it will post right to Google Classroom for you, or you can grab the link and send it to your students on another platform. You can control the time that the link is live right down to the minute.


What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.

So, What's the Verdict?

What's the deal with Quizlet Live and Quizzizz? I've broken down the similarities and differences between these two tools to help you decide which one might be a better fit for your blended classroom.


I think it's valuable for students to both collaborate and work individually, so I will continue to use both of these tools in the future. I like that Quizlet Live requires no prep on my part. Quizizz takes a bit more upfront planning, since I have to generate the quizzes, but the homework feature is very useful.

What types of tools do you use in your blended classroom for review and formative assessment? Leave a comment below to let me know!



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